By Michael Boesel
Elm Staff Writer
Electronic dance music (EDM) is may be the most popular and most successful type of music of the past few years. Many people do not know that EDM is not a genre on its own but an umbrella term for different genres of electronic music such as house, techno, and bass. Nowadays it is often used as a synonym for criticizing the commercialization of electronic music, which is not affecting its success at all.
This music phenomenon does not stop with high record selling numbers though. In just a few years the electronic music festival Tomorrowland in Belgium became one of the most notable global music festivals, resulting in the tickets being sold out iterally after the first few minutes they are available. The huge success of Tomorrowland even led to the creation of the American spin-off TomorrowWorld that resides in Georgia. Big names of the electronic music scene like Avicii, Tiësto, and David Guetta are frequent guests at festivals like this.
Most of the artists of EDM collaborate with famous pop-stars for the lyrics on their tracks. Calvin Harris, whose real name is Adam Richard Wiles, however, does not solely rely on feature guests. He knows he is a decent singer himself and makes use of that.
This is exactly what differentiates him from other EDM artists, but there are only two songs on Harris’ new record “Motion” on which he trusts in his own voice.
The first song of the album “Faith” is one of those two songs. His voice sounds unfamiliar but in a good way. Too bad he is not courageous enough to use it for more than just two songs.
The pre-released singles “Under Control” featuring “Hurts”, “Summer” (the second song with Harris’ vocals on it), and “Blame” featuring John Newman are among the big hits of the album and have been played on heavy rotation at many radio stations as well as at clubs all over the world. The recently released “Open Wide” featuring Big Sean already became an unusual suspect on nearly every party playlist.
Other artists Harris collaborated with for “Motion” include Ellie Goulding (“Outside”), Gwen Stefani (“Together”), All About She (“Love Now”), and R3hab (“Burnin”), all of which bear the potential to become hit-singles too should they be released as such. Calvin Harris simply knows how to mix and match his beats with other artists’ vocals.
Harris is not only working together with singers but also with other DJs, namely Alleso (“Under Control”), Firebeatz (“It Was You”), and Ummet Ozcan (“Overdrive”) adding some more variety to the songs. The songs “It Was You” and “Overdrive” are especially rooted in purer electronic music and radiate an aura of packed underground clubs.
Among all the songs of the album, there is one that stands out significantly – “Slow Acid.” This track is slow, bulky and difficult to access at first. It almost has a Nine Inch Nails-esque touch to it, and it is most obviously lacking vocals. This song might confuse or even disturb most of Harris’ fans who like him for songs like “Summer” or “I Need Your Love,” but it is a great song nevertheless. It clearly shows that the DJ can not only produce hit-tracks for the masses but that he also did not forget his roots and his passion for electronic music that may not be played at the average radio station or birthday party.
Calvin Harris is not reinventing his music or taking any new paths with “Motion.” Instead he is simply refreshing his style he manifested with his 2012 release “18 months.” The only real surprise is “Slow Acid”, which shows a different side of Calvin Harris. It will be interesting to see if and how EDM will survive in the charts in the future, as every dominant type of music has its rise and fall, but right now it is unbeatable. Besides that, Calvin Harris is the best paid DJ in the world right now and it seems like he will remain number one on the list with this record.