By Hayden Wright
As Calvin Harris prepares to release his new album Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 (out Friday) all eyes are on his dizzying roster of collaborators. This week he dropped a star-studded video for “Feels” featuring Katy Perry, Big Sean and Pharrell—yet another testament to Harris’ unifying power for artists across the genre spectrum. Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 might have his most ambitious lineup yet.
From the pop world, the record features superstars Perry and Ariana Grande. R&B’s best John Legend and Frank Ocean are also featured along with Harris’ long list of hip-hop luminaries including Snoop Dogg, Future, Nicki Minaj, Migos and Young Thug. On first glance, the track list appears more like a lineup of presenters at the GRAMMY Awards than a collection of artists who appear on the same album. Getting high-profile artists to pick up the phone is no small feat, but Harris does it every time.
Nobody maximizes the impact (and diversity) of guest appearances like Calvin Harris—operating within his own musical vocabulary. And Harris is perhaps the greatest translator of EDM trends, sounds, and styles into pop—operating just as comfortably at Ultra Music Festival as on the Billboard Hot 100. The key is melodies: Songs composed as pop confections are presented with bubbling synths, killer beats, and electro drama. Whether he’s going for elation or detached melancholy, Harris makes genius use of his DJ tools to give us our summer staples.
For his latest, Scottish hitmaker occasionally steps outside the EDM idiom and this could be his rangiest effort to date. “Feels,” for instance, flirts with funk and tropical styles while “Slide” (featuring Ocean and Migos) is a hit with an irresistible hook and gorgeous piano arrangement.
The new soundtrack to the summer of 2017 has arrived with Calvin Harris’ Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1.