Pop Cult – April 26th, 2012 (The Agony and Ecstasy of Calvin Harris)Posted by Allen Huang
Weekly column featuring knee-jerk reactions (the best kind) to pop culture happenings all over the world.
The Agony and Ecstasy of Calvin Harris
The trends of Western Pop music are only as hot as the people behind the scenes. For the longest time, Dr. Luke’s Disney-fied Euro-house-pop was the law of the land, birthing a new generation of mega stars and even turning talentless lead into earworm gold. But all good streaks must end, and it seems, with Dr. Luke’s creative divorce from Katy Perry, coupled by the relative hibernation of his other marquee stars, that Pop music is for a new knob-twiddling king.
Enter Calvin Harris. The Scottish Producer/DJ/Songwriter is no underground name; he’s worked with some of the biggest pop sensations in the UK, names that wouldn’t register on most anyone’s mind in the US like Sophie-Ellis Bextor and Róisín Murphy, produced beats for Dizzee Rascall, and he’s put out a couple of fairly well-received solo efforts.
But Calvin Harris’s watershed moment came last year when he produced Rihanna’s lead single “We Found Love”. Featuring his signature pop simplicity that spirals into rave ecstasy, the power of that song was immutable, putting his name on the Pop Chart map. Now he’s working with Ke$ha, the Scissor Sisters, Cheryl Cole and Mary J. Blige, as well as charting all by himself with his song “Feels So Close.” Harris is now the guy with his fingers in every pot.
Kylie Minogue – “In My Heart” : C+
It’s the sound of a young producer working with a heavyweight pop star. Harris’s signatures aren’t quite as pronounced here, probably giving way to Kylie’s huge personality. What you end up getting is something that’s not quite right for her and not quite good enough for him. But everyone’s gotta start somewhere.
Dizzee Rascal – “Holiday”: B
“Dance Wiv Me” was a better hip-hop song through and through. But man, when the rave breakdown kicks in it gets everyone’s attention. That right there is pure party.
Rihanna – “We Found Love” : A+
Song is an A- but the video kicks it up a couple notches.
Calvin Harris – “Feels So Close” : B-
Doesn’t really go anywhere. Kind of a weird choice to go big on radio. That’s why I’m not an A&R guy, I guess.
Scissor Sisters – “Only The Horses” : A
This is more like it. Soaring chorus, takes the best parts of the Scissor Sisters shtick and cuts the fat.