Pulled this 2013 audio out of the vault when I heard that Pharrell Williams sent a cease and desist letter to Donald Trump after he played “Happy” at his pep rally in Illinois hours after the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.
“On the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings at the hands of a deranged ‘nationalist,’ you played his song ‘Happy’ to a crowd at a political event in Indiana,” Pharrell’s attorney Howard King states in the letter. “There was nothing ‘happy’ about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose.”
King adds that Pharrell has not and will not grant Trump permission to publicly perform or otherwise disseminate his music, and says the use of “Happy” without permission constitutes both copyright and trademark infringement.
Whether you find “Happy” adorably peppy or adorably annoying, I think we can all agree that the Trump rally team could’ve picked another song, as long as it wasn’t from Aerosmith, Prince, R.E.M. or Queen. These artists, or their estates, have also threatened legal action should their music be played at a Trump event.
During the 2013 junket for “Despicable Me 2,” Pharrell spoke about the process of writing “Happy” for the film, and…in spectacular irony…how the film’s producers and writers wanted the sentiment to counter the divisiveness going on in the country.