dj calvin harris

Does Calvin Harris Suck Now That He’s Big Time?

What a quick rise to the top it’s been for Calvin Harris. Born Adam Wiles, he released his first album, I Created Disco, in 2007. The album was a bleepy-bloopy, quirky collection of electroclash songs that stood out amongst the chart hits of its day. It did reasonably well, but after listening to the album, no one would have predicted that Calvin Harris would go on to rule the world.

He followed it up in 2009 with Ready For the Weekend, an album that polished his sound and gave him his first #1 in the UK. He was now on the radar, despite the fact that his music was still a little too left-of-center to be considered true “pop.”

But then Calvin Harris got popular, largely because of a featured credit on Rihanna’s 2011 hit, “We Found Love.” The song, which Harris co-wrote and co-produced, went on to become Rihanna’s biggest hit, ever. Suddenly, Harris’ services were in-demand, and when he released his 18 Months album the following year, he became a star.

The album employed an age-old trick of utilizing a bevy of guest vocalists to sing his mesmerizing hooks (Santana rode this same concept to brilliant effect on his Supernatural album, in 1999). By using everyone from Ellie Goulding to Florence Welch to Tinie Tempah, Harris nabbed nine (!) UK top 10 singles, breaking a record set by none other than the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. The former Adam Wiles had arrived.

But fame definitely changed Calvin Harris. The most obvious example of this is the (d?)evolution of his sound. While the progression has been smooth from album to album, the results, when taken out of context, are jarring: a single like “Merrymaking at My Place” (off his first album) compared to “Sweet Nothing” (off his third album) sound nothing alike; it’s as if they were crafted by two completely different artists. And notably, his trademark sound has shifted from electroclash to big-beat EDM (electronic dance music).

Purists may scoff as Harris panders to the lowest common denominator, but the public has spoken: Virtually all of Harris’ hits have come after he started creating dance-pop gems. As such, none of his more recent songs could be described as “pushing the envelope.” But when each one sounds amazing and becomes a hit, who cares?

Harris’ visuals have also changed in tandem with his rise to fame. He used to make innovative and fun videos that relied on clever concepts (“Ready For the Weekend“), bright dashes of color (“The Girls“), and, occasionally, a stuffed otter (“Acceptable in the ’80s“). Additionally, there was something charming about his dorky persona; it was like he was a slightly sexier version of a Chemical Brother. But with his arrival as a big name, the innovation in Harris’ music videos was quickly replaced with a generic template where everything looks like a rap video (the yacht in “Thinking About You“, the cars in “We’ll Be Coming Back,” the gratuitous champagne being spilled on the girls in a limo in “Under Control“). It’s a shrewd move: despite the paint-by-numbers approach, the videos are sending a message that EDM has supplanted rap as the voice of a generation.

Even Harris’ physical appearance has changed dramatically. Gone are the long, dark locks that greeted us on his first album, replaced with a short bottle-blonde ‘do. He’s also been working out, as his Instagram clearly shows. And he keeps a perpetual five-o-clock-shadow, a la Faith-era George Michael. In short, Calvin Harris has become a sexy “it” boy.


calvin harris, 2007, before picture, edm


So the question then becomes, Will Calvin Harris continue to grow as an artist? He doesn’t on his latest album, Motion. The album was preceded by the perfectly-timed hit single, “Summer.” The song sounded exactly like a modern day Calvin Harris song: it’s got a good beat, it’s fun, and it’s also a little anonymous. The follow-up single, “Blame,” despite being darker in mood, was largely the same (if you drove to the beach listening to “Summer,” you’d drive to the clubs listening to “Blame”).

Sadly, Harris used his two aces right away and didn’t leave enough trump cards to bowl us over with the album’s release. The album does have a few notable moments: there’s the instantly polarizing hip-hop inspired track, “Open Wide“; his collaboration with R3hab on floor-filler, “Burnin’“; and the syrupy slow-jam, “Ecstasy“. But everything else sounds kind of the same. Even the guest vocalists, this time ranging from HAIM to Gwen Stefani, don’t add anything truly magical like they did on 18 Months.

The most damning example of this is on the Ellie-Goulding-assisted “Outside.” Whereas Goulding’s vocals carried “I Need Your Love” to dreamy pop bliss on 18 Months, she sounds the same, an obvious retread, on the new track. It doesn’t sound awful (quite the opposite, in fact). But it hammers home an important point: that this album is nothing more than a Calvin Harris’ victory lap.

Ultimately, none of this matters. Harris’ songs are as popular as ever, and he’s written and/or produced hits for everyone, from Kylie Minogue to Rita Ora. Furthermore, he’s the top-paid DJ in the world, and he has a residence at Hakkasan in Las Vegas. Harris no longer gives two fucks in a frying pan about innovation; he just needs to keep the beat going and the hits coming. And in that regard, everything Calvin Harris does turns to gold.

  • Michael Brooks

    Maybe he wants to marry his beer?

  • Cody Foret

    Wait so he’s saying marriage is something drank cold every day by billions of people, but it’s also something that is is sneezed into or used to clean up the, for lack of a better term, fruits of a hell of a lot of teenaged boys’ labor lol

  • And… this thing is running for president?!

  • Cobalt Blaze

    funny how people disrespect reality by using words that mean the opposite of what the intended meaning is, such as moral over wrong which is two very different things XD looks like he cant differentiate between the two!

  • Gillie

    So marriage requires people of two genders to do what is natural… that’s *any* two people of whatever gender, right? XD  Poor guy, talking in circles and contradicting himself.

  • michaelandfred

    Where is he speaking, Costco? I swear I saw a tuxedo for sale behind some potato’s. C’mon dude, if the election is a year away and you’re still trying to talk over the Vitamix lady you’re in more trouble than just creating paper towel analogies. You know what else paper towels are good for Rick? Cleaning up old santorum. 😉

  • Karyl L. Lounsbery

    He said that marriage existed before governments, which is probably correct.  However, he fails to mention that the earliest known references to marriage are in a legal context in the Code of Hammurabi, at least 300 years prior to the Bible being written.  Therefore, marriage is a LEGAL definition and not a religious definition.

  • What Rick Santorum is saying.


    (This has some
    length to it so I hope it all gets through. 
    It is two and a quarter pages single spaced with a 12 point font.)


    The first thing he says
    is basically, “I love the sinner but I hate the sin.”  We have all heard this before so there is no
    reason to go over this very unchristian statement again.


    The part about twenty
    people or five people marrying is just a slippery slope argument without first
    saying if you allow two men or two women to marry then you will have allow
    twenty people to marry or a father and daughter to marry.  We have heard this before with pedophilia, incest
    and bestiality being the final conclusion so I will not go into how wrong this
    argument had become; it is also as Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out a way to
    attack his Mormon opponents in the presidential campaign.


    In the part about the
    napkin he is making a metaphysical argument that is not clear unless you can
    hear it and recognize it’s as it is being made. 
    He says a (paper – here he did not say paper but he should have) napkin
    can also be called a paper towel but that does not change the fact it is a napkin.  The same argument can be made this way purple
    is the combining of two colors red and blue (the napkin) but if you change one
    part of purple.  Let’s say replace blue
    with yellow you change it into a paper towel because a paper towel is red and
    yellow which makes the color orange.

    This is all a metaphysical
    argument then he does a logic move to marriage by saying marriage is the same
    way the napkin is equal to opposite sex marriage (red and blue only to make
    purple) and if you redefine marriage to include the same sex marriage of two
    men or two women (red and yellow to make orange) you change marriage into
    something different.   Just like
    replacing yellow with blue in the color combination of red and blue argument
    turns purple into orange.

    He then goes on to say even
    though they sound the same and look the same (paper) napkin and paper towel
    they are not the same because you altered the fundamental nature of the object
    being examined.

    Here is where is argument
    is wrong however he is basing his argument on Natural Law an idea first wrote
    about by Saint Thomas Aquinas.  (Note for
    the record – Rick “frothy mix” Santorum is a Roman Catholic and from his
    biography has been one all his life and the Roman Catholic denomination loves Saint
    Thomas Aquinas.  So I am afraid he has
    been brain washed into thinking the Roman Catholic way of thinking is the only
    valid way of thinking.  Because we all
    know the CIA and the former KGB are little children playing at the game of
    brain washing compared to the Roman Catholic denomination.  Let’s just say Rick “frothy mix” Santorum knows
    the inside of the metaphorical Maytag washer and dryer very well.   As the
    saying goes, “You can take the fag out of the Roman Catholic denomination but
    you can’t take the Roman Catholic denomination out of the fag.”  Trust me I know more than a few fags that
    have left the Roman Catholic denomination but then went on to try to rebuild a
    gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, women for priests, marriage for priests,
    etc. mini version of the Roman Catholic denomination down to the smallest
    detail.)  Now I have to admit as a good
    Anglo Catholic I have not studied Natural Law (and if someone else knows more
    about Natural Law correct this part) that much but from what arguments I gather
    it means that God has established his law on the earth and in Roman Catholic
    terms it takes the form of Natural Law. 
    So anyone that goes against what the individual (I say individual
    because I can study Natural Law and come to an understanding of what Natural
    Law is and is not and someone else can study Natural Law and come up with a
    different understanding of what Natural Law is and is not and then we can argue
    about who is right) understands to be Natural Law is going against God’s law
    and going against God’s law is always SIN. 
    So if nature tells us it is normal (whatever normal is)for a male and a
    female procreating (red and blue makes purple) any other arrangement is going
    against nature such as two men or two women (red and yellow makes orange) and
    any such arraignments is SIN.

    Because he is Roman Catholic
    and starts with Natural Law as a premise for his argument he misses the fact
    not everyone is Roman Catholic and there are others especially in the Anglican
    tradition that follows the teachings of Saint Jean Calvin de Genève who believe
    marriage is a sacramental rite of the Church (by Church I mean the true Catholic
    Church as defined by Saint Augustine of Hippo “all of the faithful in all times
    in all places”) given by God to all of his children (I know this is redundant but
    there is still a big part of America that still needs to hear it.  All of God’s Children includes the GLBT
    community) his argument goes wrong from the beginning and should be recognized
    as a bad argument from the beginning and if he wants to make a bad argument
    just say, “Your argument is flawed and I do not believe what you are saying on
    this issue and here is why (then give your reasons why they are wrong hopefully
    in a good logical argument.” (Lawrence O’Donnell does this from a political
    position in the third clip and I think he is good from his perspective as a
    political commentator.)


    The final part of his
    talk is just Roman Catholic’s, Mormon’s and Fundamentalist’s (the

    Church as they believe it to be) fears
    of the government (the State) forcing them to recognize same sex marriage which
    is hypocritical on their part because they have no problem using the force of
    the State to control the lives of same sex couples to live by their religious
    teachings (all of the states that have constitutional amendments banning same
    sex marriage – ex. Ohio, Texas, Tennessee etc. -) and if they could they would
    ban abortions for women if it were not for Roe v. Wade.  This is because for now they have the higher
    ground in society and do not want to share the marriage privileges they enjoy
    with same sex couples.   Doing so would
    demean the superior status in society they have come to expect.


    Now for why I wrote this especially given a
    recent Infomatic about people who respond to anything and everything they see
    on the internet.  (By the way I am
    getting out al level two – meaning I have something to say and I will say it
    and stop at that.) If we in the GLBT community do not know what our opponents
    are saying we CAN NOT respond with valid arguments of our own and we are left
    with the less than intellectually valid and snarky (which is sometimes necessary)argument
    of, “Again, shut up, shut up, shut up.”  Such
    an argument does not always help but it does feel good to tell people like Rick
    “frothy mix” Santorum to, “Again, shut up, shut up, shut up.”

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