In Pharrell‘s bluesy new song “Runnin’,” written for the Hidden Figures soundtrack, he channels the fearlessness of the film’s core trio: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, three African-American mathematicians whose crucial calculations propelled early NASA missions like Apollo 11.
Over synth-bass and smooth horns, Pharrell sets the stage for a blistering “summertime in Virginia,” where the trio were hired to work for NASA’s Langley Research Center. “I don’t want no free ride/ I’m just sick and tired of runnin’,” he sings. “Some nights I cry/ Cause I can see the day comin’/ Together we fight/ Oh, but no more runnin’.”
Hidden Figures, out December 25th, stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and singer Janelle Monáe (in her film debut), alongside Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst and Glen Powell. Pharrell co-produced the film and wrote original music for the soundtrack.
Pharrell released his last solo LP, G I R L, in 2014, but he’s kept busy as a producer and coach for The Voice. He recently teamed up with A$AP Rocky for his song “Hear Me,” united with Cat Power as guests on the Cassius track “Go Up” and executive produced country band Little Big Town’s Wanderlust LP. Pharrell also joined Apple CEO Tim Cook and Late Late Show host James Corden to belt Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” on the show’s “Carpool Karaoke” in honor of the latest Apple launch.