Almost SoS: 2003 – Pharrell’s “Frontin'”

Posted: July 13, 2010 by RA in Music

Pharrell vs. BeyonceSong of the Summer: “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé
The first salvo in what was to be Beyoncé’s all-out war on the public’s consciousness almost ended in a whimper. No, I’m not talking about the oft-repeated tale of Rich Harrison’s tardiness. I’m talking about the fact that the crazy brilliance of “Crazy in Love” almost went unnoticed altogether, greeted with the same mild interest audiences showed “Work it Out”. But thanks to one of the greatest videos of the 2000s, as directed by Jake Nava, the greatest glamour video director of the  2000s, “Crazy” ceased to be heard as a percussive paean to the Harlem Shake. The high-gloss sexuality of the video drew the world’s attention to the sexier, catchier, all-around most infectious element of the song… those horns.

We all remember where we were when we first saw that video. That fakeout fall at the beginning is the JFK assasination of our time. There, I said it.

Almost SoS: “Frontin'” by Pharrell & Jay-Z
Pharrell and Jay are great together. P. has inspired Jay’s most daring (and maligned) attempts at musicality, and Jay challenges P. to challenge him. The track’s sweetly languid mood suits the laid-back summer vibe so perfectly, the Neps recycled it on two other summer near-hits: another Jay/Pharrell collab, “Change Clothes”, and the Mariah/Pharrell/Snoop event record, “Say Somethin'”.

Why it Could’ve Been:
A Pop genius finally getting his recognition meets a Hip-Hop juggernaut seconds away from his complete break into the mainstream. Combined with its house party, beach party, road-trip-ready brilliance, this could have been a contender.

Why it Wasn’t:
Fair Play. Truth is, I’d love to wax poetic about how its breezy awesomeness somehow made it a more deserving SoS than “Crazy in Love”, but that would be a damn lie. And I speaks the troof. The fact is, “Crazy in Love” is one of the few cases where pure Pop songcraft actually won out. The Chi-Lites’ estate should be well-funded for years to come.

Honorable Mention: “Ignition” by R. Kelly. Ineligible due to its fall release, but would have been the only viable candidate to compete with Beyoncé’s career-defining single.

The Video:

NEXT: 2004


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