CAST your mind back to 2007 and to the beginning of Calvin Harris’ professional career. His debut, I Created Disco, was a funky, and sometimes funny, release, with hit tracks ‘The Girls’ and ‘Acceptable in the 80s’. Sure, it wasn’t great but, hell, I would go far enough to say it was at the very least enjoyable. Enter 2009 and Ready for the Weekend. Again, by no means groundbreaking, but at least Harris stuck to his roots and produced some good tracks. Then we had 18 Months back in 2012. This is where things started to go wrong.
I’ll admit it: I have never listened to 18 Months in full. Let’s be honest, though, did I really need to? At least eight or nine of the 15 tracks received heavy video and radio play, with Harris seemingly cramming every big name in the known universe onto his new album. Gone were the days of funny spoken word of ‘I Created Disco’ or the almost heartfelt ‘I’m Not Alone’. Instead, Harris was parading half naked women around and pretending to be going out with Ellie Goulding. If you looked up ‘Americanised’ in the dictionary, I’m sure you’d find a picture of Harris.
Well guess what? Calvin Harris has found a few more names from the known universe, and you can bet he’s crammed them all on his new album. Motion is annoyingly full of ‘club bangers’, or if you look up the album on Wikipedia: ‘Progressive-House’. There is nothing progressive about Motion. Each song on this album follows what I like the call ‘The Calvin Harris Theorem’. It goes a little something like this:
Big name feature artist x ((big beat choruses)2 + stripped back (bridge + intro))
I have no idea if that makes any sense, but it doesn’t need to. It just demonstrates how predictable this album is. You could swap around the titles of these songs and it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference. Progressive? This album wipes its arse with Progressive. If Motion shows us anything, it’s how the tattered the remains of mainstream Electronic music are. It’s albums like this that show why Daft Punk abandoned the genre altogether.
It doesn’t matter how famous or talented your collaborator is, your song is going to suck if you can’t produce a unique, individual and, quite frankly, good song. Why do you think Disclosure did so well? Because their debut was fantastic and they utilised their collaborators talents in a way that fitted their music. It’s all very well recording Big Sean or Gwen Stefani singing and then sticking a big beat over the top and some simple synth, but that doesn’t make it good. It would be pointless of me to analyse single tracks on the album because I find it difficult to tell them apart. Motion is about as imaginative as a rap by Pitbull.
I suppose I should think of something good. Well, Harris isn’t a bad DJ per se. He’s certainly better than me or Paris Hilton. I’m sure he can put together a good set. The problem is his new music is as bland as a rice cake. The horde of artists he has roped into performing on his record (a whopping 12 in comparison to the 10 on 18 Months) are by no means to blame for the downfall of Motion. Despite her lacklustre music, Ellie Goulding is a good singer. Gwen Stefani and Hurts also have their merits. I actually feel embarrassed for Haim; their talents are wasted on this. Still, it’s pleasant enough to hear them, and ‘Pray to God’ is probably the most salvageable track on the album.
Motion will find its place in the world, but that place will most likely be in the sweatiest, dankest university clubs, for drunk, horny people to gyrate to. Harris’ once half decent music is now as 2D as an early 90s animated film. There is no character or personality to this release; it’s another throwaway Dance album. Mr. Harris will of course make a shit ton of money from this; he’ll be asked to perform at tripe like the BRITs and V Festival. The collaborators will come thick and fast because he’s the hot thing, and it’s another chance to exhibit themselves. But, in 30 years time, will people be looking back at Calvin Harris as a great pioneer of Electronic music? No. Because, at the end of the day his stuff just isn’t that good.
You can follow Andrew on Twitter.