For all the classic songs Pharrell Williams has produced, it took until today for the world to notice that the intros to many of his songs use an identical trick. A quick four-count loop of the first beat occurs in songs from this year’s hit “Happy” to last year’s “Blurred Lines” all the way back to “Right Here (Human Nature Remix)” by SWV in ’93. The blog Discopop compiled an entire mix of just the producer’s song intros so you can hear for yourself. While Discopop presents this as a sign that Pharrell can’t write a good intro, there is another way of looking at it: Many artists use a sort of subtle “maker’s mark” on their work, and maybe this is just Pharrell’s. Listen to the mix below and hear for yourself.

The songs:
01. SWV – “Right Here (Human Nature Remix)”
02. Pharrell – “Frontin’”
03. Kelis – “Milkshake”
04. Snoop Dogg – “Drop It Like It’s Hot”
05. Robin Thicke – “Blurred Lines”
06. Shakira – “Why Wait”
07. Frank Ocean – “Sweet Life”
08. Pharrell – “Brand New”
09. Paloma Faith – “Can’t Rely On You”
10. Pharrell – “Happy”
11. Pharrell – “Hunter”
12. Jay-Z – “I Know”
13. Pharrell – “Gust of Wind”

Comments (61)
  1. oh wait, you mean a count in?… like a 1234.

  2. who cares ?
    the guy is still a legend in my books!

  3. no Hollaback Girl?

  4. I’m more concerned about his hats.

  5. Honestly, this should be seen as another serious part of the mans genius. It’s way more subtle than a loud, distracting noise to signify who has produced the track. I produce as well and I WISH I could come up with such a subtle and identifiable intro. I discovered the 4 count loop pharrell does years ago and whenever I hear it I almost always know it Pharrell, even to this day. Most recent examples being ‘Feds Watching’ and of course

  6. So….Pharrell uses an intro that is very common in a lot of hip hop and pop music. “Hypnotize” by Biggie uses a somewhat similar intro. This is not a revelation nor is it Pharrell’s “mark.” At least it’s not the stuttering snare into the big sub kick drum bullshit that countless southern hip hop songs do.

  7. I hate these internet “gotcha” supercuts that make it sound like an artist is cheating somehow just because someone figured out a pattern in their work.

  8. Oh wow. In other news, the turds are brown


    fuckouttahere, mannnnn…

  9. Noreaga’s Superthug doesn’t start this way

  10. Tyler, The Creator picked this up from him, too.

  11. Justin Timberlake’s “Senorita”, “Like I Love You”, “Let’s Take A Ride”, “Rock Your Body”, SWV’s “Use Your Heart”, Joe’s “Isn’t This The World”, Jay-Z’s “Oceans”…they all don’t start this way.

  12. Frontin is a solo song not a Jay-Z song.

  13. I think the point is to just point it out.
    Not making any comment on his songwriting ability or any kind of cheating.
    Just an interesting pattern.
    That’s all.

  14. Liar Liar (Cris Cab song) also! I love Pharrell !

  15. WHO CARES ?

  16. Um, Pharrell did NOT produce “Right Here’ by SWV; that was Teddy riley…smh

  17. LOL at Jay-Z’s song being called “I Wish” when he is clearly repeating the phrase “I Know”…*face in palm*. This whole thing is essentially bogus because clearly ALL of Pharrell’s songs are not listed….because they all do not follow this pattern.

  18. that is just his trademark get over it

  19. loool you guys only just noticed this after 2 decades.. he obviously doesn’t do it in every song..

  20. Yeah with me changing the station.

  21. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  22. The only thing I learnt from that is that Pharrell is responsible for more incredible pop music than I was even aware of. Wow.

  23. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  24. it’s good for dj’s to run loop of 1-2-3-4-beat not to showing beat from song till mixing is not over

  25. Every now means.. A few . THANKS (?)

  26. bro do you guys even hip hop??? this has been a common “count-in” intro style since day 1 ! check out early grandmaster flash or BDP or Tribe or DJ Premier productions or Timbaland… good god the list is endless… this is a really shamefully misleading and inaccurate article on a site that used to know something about music…. :(


  28. The the the the – the legend of the phoenix

  29. Nearly every reggae sound starts the same way. Doesn’t detract from his talent IMO.

  30. What’s under that hat is pure genius and the secret to happiness and success!

  31. I think one of those tracks is a Franz Ferdinand song. OWWWWOOOOOOO!

  32. Wait a minute…You’ve only just noticed this???? Go back to sleep

  33. Here’s a good version of this that Mike 2600 made just a few weeks before “discopop.”

  34. And the last N.E.R.D. album had a lot of songs that started with that cymbal and good kid by Kendrick Lamar

  35. First, they aren’t all four counts. Second, this is not every song he’s ever produced. Third, more shade promoted by stereogum. smh

  36. On Clipse’s “Hell Hath No Fury” (all produced by the Neptunes):

    We Got It For Cheap
    Wamp Wamp
    Ride Around Shining
    Hello New World

  37. Is this guy who wrote this article an idiot? Talk about picking out songs to fit your article! If you ACTUALLY go through every song he has produced or co/produced you’ll see that what you’re saying is idiotic. Wow, a song has an intro, and most producers/musicians have this. Is that really that difficult to understand?

  38. Anyone who has followed this dude since 93 knows this is his signature. Weiners.

  39. TIL Pharrell fans are really, really defensive. Lighten up, this is the internet.

  40. The count is for the DJ’s, easier to mix with. Primo does the same sort of thing.

  41. That easily explained,it’s because they’re all shit. People will like what they are told to like,be it fashion,music or culture. They are desperate to be considered “cool”,and Pharrell Williams has been officially labelled “cool”. If you actually listened to some real music,you might realise how fucking awful his “music” truly is. Genius? Hardly,but he’s certainly got the world fooled into thinking so,I’ll give him that. Fake fraud of the highest order,I speak.

  42. Give me the 1st and 2nd album of N.E.R.D.

  43. You think thats bad 18 pendulum tracks at the same time same beat lol

  44. I guess my only question is what IS a good intro if none of these are decent? I’d take any of those over “YOUNGMONEY!!”

  45. wait.. are we all supposed to start hating on the guy now?? like what’s the purpose of this article? besides that kind of thing has been around forever haha.. well at least since everyone started sampling with MPCs anyways..

  46. It’s genius. Four bars max and you’ve got the beat and you’re into the song. Wayyyy too many artists today start their songs with fifteen seconds of atmospheric spacy noodling that bores you before you ever get to the first verse.

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