“Motion” lacks innovation

Ian Chu, Contributing Writer

Electronic dance music fans around the world naturally set high expectations for DJ and producer Calvin Harris’ fourth studio album, announced last September.

Harris’ third album, released in Oct. 2012, featured the worldwide hits “Feel So Close,” “Sweet Nothing,” and “I Need Your Love.”  Backed by prominent vocals and high-strung house beats, these hit songs earned Harris his second consecutive number-one album in the UK.

The world’s highest-paid DJ attempts to emulate this same formula in “Motion,” released in the first week of November, but with overall lackluster results.

Similar to his previous album, “Motion” features the vocals of well-known artists such as Big Sean, Gwen Stefani, and Ellie Goulding.  However, in many instances, these vocals fail to cooperate with instrumentals.  Harris lazily slapped on redundant verses from a pre-existing track by rapper Big Sean  to produce his underwhelming new song, “Open Wide.”

Meanwhile, Gwen Stefani’s role in “Together” has been labeled as mediocre and uninspiring, especially considering her singing potential.  Fortunately, singer Ellie Goulding comes through by delivering powerful vocals in “Outside” to produce another memorable collaboration with Harris, following “I Need Your Love.”

Three of the Scottish producer’s previously released singles are included in his latest album: “Under Control,” “Blame,” and one of 2014’s hottest tracks, “Summer.”  These songs have each climbed the Billboard charts. Despite their catchy melodies, they lack support from the album’s other, weaker songs.

Harris’ collaboration with Dutch DJ and producer R3hab for “Burnin’” resulted in a flat and unoriginal big room track.  “Slow Acid” uniquely ventures into the sub-genre of acid house, and the song represents a departure from the producer’s typical electro-house style.  Nonetheless, the overall track-list adheres closely to the big room sound prevalent at today’s raves and festivals.

Despite the disappointingly uninspired nature of “Motion,” the album is still performing well on Billboard charts.  In late October, Harris became the first EDM producer to land three songs in the Top 10—”Blame,” “Outside,” and “Summer.”

It is undeniable that many songs off “Motion” will inevitably become hits at clubs and radio stations across the globe.  However, buffered by a generic mix of pop and electro house, Harris’ latest work reflects a concerning trend in the electronic dance music industry: playing it safe.