Sometimes people challenge me to do things, and sometimes I take them up on it. This week my friend Ian challenged me “in the name of science” to see how long I could watch Pharrell Williams ‘Happy’ video. Now this would seem a simple task, were it not for the fact he has made a 24 hour video.

It has been a quite stressful week at work which has led to me having to keep my head down and zone out of most things, so Thursday felt like the perfect opportunity to take up the challenge – though not watching the video as I am working, just listening to the song on repeat. This is what happened…

pharrell happy

10 minutes. I’m on listen number 3. I feel quite jolly actually. Things are good, I’m tapping my feet along. Fun fun, etc.

30 minutes. Feeling a little tired. I still feel jolly but jolly tired. Or tired jolly. Or something. I get an email from Uniqlo who tell me Pharrell is doing a range for them which may involve the word Happy. It’s like they know what I’m doing. Start to feel mildly paranoid and check over my shoulder.

pharrell uniqlo50 minutes. So close to the first hour I suddenly have a moment where I think that maybe I should stop and start again another day but have people sponsor me to keep at it, as it’s a bit of an aural marathon. Suggest the idea to my Facebook friends who tell me to keep going (actually, only Emma did but as I like and respect Emma I was obedient).

1 hour! Rejoice! One hour down, 23 to go. Someone put on the new St Vincent album and turned the volume right up, giving me a soundclash from hell. So Pharrell got turned up a little more. Pharrell and St Vincent make a dreadful racket but are fine when listened to separately.

1 hour and 20 minutes, and I start to wonder how many times I’ve heard the song.  It is 3:53 in length so therefore if I could correctly add up minutes and work out how many times it gets played in an hour that would get my brain going a little. It may be easier rounding it up to 4 minutes. So that’s 15 times an hour. Which makes this number 20. After that I felt a little bit less happy until the “Happy! Happy! Happy! Happy!” bit came in and promptly forgot.

1 hour and 30 minutes. Getting a headache now and feeling a bit nauseous. I dare not tell anyone in the office what I’m doing. St Vincent still going strong, as is Pharrell. I am starting to think that Pharrell must have watched all 24 of his hour long videos to approve them, mustn’t he? Feet still tapping.

1 hour 45 minutes. St Vincent ends and Pharrell is turned down again. I start to have just one earphone in to join in conversations but find my conversation isn’t there any more, like my brain is being wiped of all ability to interact with any other humans. Maybe. Or I’m just happy. Clappy. Clap. That and when I do talk I whisper at people in case I sound too jolly and they ask me why.

Karl from Room 23

2 hours! I’m feeling unwell, like I’m in a spinning room with Pharrell dancing around me clapping except nobody else can see it. I am also reminded of the episode of Lost when they were in Room 23 and Karl was strapped into a chair, made to listen to thrash metal to brainwash him. Very much so. Except I’m doing this and nobody is forcing me to. As someone will ask “Why?” I have no idea. It seemed like a good idea.

2 hours 15. This is now approximately 35 times or somewhere in the 35th listen and I feel a bit weird. Fortunately my work is keeping me busy and at times Pharrell just disappears into the background, going fainter and fainter, further and further away. It’s like Happy and I are becoming ONE. Pharrell is HYPNOTISING ME.

pharrell hypnotising

2 hours 16. My earphone fell out.

2 hours 30. I kind of want to peep at a video to see what’s happening, so do. It lasts about two seconds.

2 hours 45. This is getting hard. One of my workmates arrives into the office. I know she’ll talk to me so I know it’s almost time to stop. I will make it to three hours. I am determined, woozy, giddy, fully earwormed and so much more. I will I will I will.

2 hours 50. I quit. I couldn’t do it. I needed regular conversation which felt really weird after not really talking much for nearly three hours or just whispering. Fortunately we’re all such odd kinds around our table nobody noticed. (or if they did they thought I was being moody)


Several hours later. Showing H the video from 3am with minions, and I find myself kind of missing the song a teeny weeny little bit. It’s like we spent so long together that to spend any time apart just feels strange, especially when reunited. I also wonder if this is what it feels like when you have a hit single and maybe Pharrell is trapped in a Happy Nightmare, stuck at number one in the charts forever, bouncing back because everyone keeps streaming or buying his record and the only thing he can do is remove it from sale everywhere to keep his sanity. Wet Wet Wet and Bryan Adams had a much easier time of it before digital downloads. Maybe he’ll never get out? Maybe we’re all going down together.

Weekend Plan : watch Despicable Me 2.