The pop icon that Pharrell made cry in the studio
(Credit: Frank Schwichtenberg)

Old School Archives

The pop icon that Pharrell made cry in the studio

Virginia super-producer, rapper and designer Pharrell has always seemed laidback and relaxed. Bursting onto the scenes in the early-2000s, the artist always seemed to be positive in his interviews and didn’t have the aggression some infamous MCs bring. However, on one occasion, the ‘Happy’ singer got so angry in the studio that he made a renowned singer cry. 

Pharrell Williams has worked with a vast array of artists spanning several genres, including soul, R’n’B and hip-hop. However, in 2008, he was approached by a certain popstar looking to reinvent themselves and happily agreed to work with them. 

The artist who approached Williams was the undisputed ‘Queen of Pop’ Madonna, and in 2008, for her eleventh studio album, Hard Candy, Madonna sought out hip-hop producers such as Kanye, Timbaland and The Neptunes to modernise her sound. 

In a 2008 interview with vanity Fair, the Like A Prayer vocalist explained why she chose these beatmakers to help with her album, detailing, “I didn’t have any idea what kind of music I wanted to make,” 

She continued, “I just knew I wanted to collaborate with Pharrell and Justin [Timberlake]. I needed to be inspired and thought, Well, who’s making records I like? So I went, ‘I like that guy, and I like that guy.'”

Although she liked Williams’ material, it’s fair to say that when the two finally worked together, there was a clash of personalities, and according to the pop megastar, Williams once left her in tears after a heated argument.

In 2008, while in Cannes promoting her documentary I Am Because We Are, the vocalist got asked about her Hard Candy and her experience working with Pharrell, to which she responded, “He made me cry. I’ve never told that to anybody. You know when you get angry with someone, and you start spitting snot?”

Following the initial reveal, the singer faced a follow-up question about the incident during an appearance on ABC’s Nightline, where she went into more detail, explaining, “I was in a sensitive mood, I was singing, and I didn’t understand the rhythm that he wanted me to sing in, and he was kind of giving me a hard time, and I was sort of taken aback by the way he was talking to me, so I said ‘You know what? We need to talk!'”

She continued, “So we went upstairs, and I’m like, ‘You can’t talk to me that way!’ and then I just burst into tears, and he was like ‘Oh my god, Madonna has a heart!’ and I was like ‘What?!’ and I started crying even more, and we had it out. Now I love him, and we make great music together, but I think we had to go through that.”

You can listen to Madonna explain the conflict in her Nightline interview below.