Song of the Day: Calvin Harris

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Artist: Calvin Harris Track: "Acceptable in the '80s," "Merrymaking at My Place" Album: I Created Disco


Most readers of this blog were born after the demise of dance-club music known as disco, so I'll set the record straight: Calvin Harris did not create this wonderful music.

But the young Scottish mixer, producer and musician does his best to revive the style and frivolity, using synthesizers, pounding electronic beats and layers of sound that sway, shatter and swirl. Occasional strings and vocals complete a thoroughly enjoyable set of songs.

The title's just a bold-faced lie.

Little on this disc sounds like disco - it's much closer to Jamiroquai, Cornershop and Michael Jackson's funkier stuff than The Bee Gees and Tavares. The title's reference to disco is relevant only because Harris makes dance music, and people in their 20s equate all dance music with disco.

(Remember, friends, we were brought up in a time when feel-good dancing was not a part of our favorite popular music. Dancing together was not how we were socialized; that's not what we knew. Now that dance music has returned, we liken it to the frivolous indiscretions of our parents' days at the discotheque.)

The closest Harris gets to classic disco music is in terms of attitude, which some could argue was as important as any offering during the genre's peak during the late '70s. Harris tries vehemently to rekindle the flip, blank-eyed, hedonistic nature of disco, and he often succeeds.

Though sounding quite contemporary, Harris' music uses an avaricious code of ethics similar to one that governed disco: (1) Anything could count as disco, as long as it was filtered and manipulated appropriately; (2) people should be dancing at all times, so artists are required to transform everything into songs that make people move.

The best example of this, of course, is Walter Murphy's appropriation of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony on the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. [Listen]A consummate bedroom maestro, Harris mixes influences, sounds and textures with the same amoral freedom.

It's a headstrong philosophy, and tracks like "Disco Heat," "Merrymaking at My Place" and "Colours" are as fun as any to be released this year.