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Pharrell Says 'Happy' Originally Recorded by Cee Lo Green

The singer-producer says Green's version was vetoed by 'the powers that be'

Pharrell performs in Indio, California.
Chelsea Lauren/WireImage
April 30, 2014 9:05 AM ET

Pharrell Williams' untouchable pop hot-streak has reached new heights with "Happy," but as it turns out, the infectious worldwide smash was originally recorded by another singer. "[Cee Lo Green] wanted to do it…and he did do it," Pharrell told Howard Stern in a recent radio interview, after the shock jock asked if he'd ever considered giving the song to "a Robin Thicke or someone," The Guardian reports

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"He sounded amazing on it," Pharrell continues, blaming the issue on "the powers that be," who vetoed Cee Lo's take. "He burns my version! But. . . how do I say this diplomatically? The powers that be, at the time, did not see it fit for him. Some folks on his team just felt that the priority should be on [Cee Lo's] album at the time [2012's Cee Lo's Magic Moment], so they elected not to do that song."

Thanks to these unnamed "powers that be," Cee Lo missed out on an iconic chart juggernaut. But he isn't harboring any bitterness. "There was a much bigger agenda for [Cee Lo], he had an album to put out," Pharrell says. "It's not his fault – he was totally down with it…. He was one of the most gracious people about it when ("Happy") came out."

"Happy" first found success on the soundtrack for Despicable Me 2, before appearing on Pharrell's new solo record Girl. And the song has made more than just a commercial impact – it's also had a major emotional effect on its creator. The producer-singer recently discussed the track (and its epic 24-hour music video, which featured grooving fans across the world) in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, and he couldn't contain his emotion.

"Why am I crying on Oprah?" he asked, after watching a handul of clips from the video. "It's overwhelming because it's like, I love what I do, and I just appreciate the fact that people have believed in me for so long that I could make it to this point to feel that." 

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