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Study Break: Calvin Harris’ ‘Motion’ album review

Trevor Whitney

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Photo by James via Flickr

The fact that Calvin Harris even makes albums is perplexing.

According to England’s Official Charts Company, the Scottish DJ has the most top 10 hits ever from his “18 Months” album, with nine. Even if that’s the best thing he ever does, it’s obvious that he set out to make hit singles above all else.

Before Harris, anyone not named Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson or The Beatles would have a difficult time even dreaming of setting that record. Thanks to the popularity of electronic dance music in England coupled with its growing popularity in the U.S., the market was made available.

Admittedly, none of those aforementioned musicians valued money any less than Harris. It’s just that their music is much better suited for a cohesive album.

If an album isn’t cohesive, then it shouldn’t be released as an album. All media should, at the very least, benefit from its given medium.

Some stories are better told as a TV series than a feature film. Others are better suited as novels rather than collections of short stories.

Harris’ “Motion” is like a collection of the same short story told over and over again.

The chapter that Harris has deemed worthy of copy-and-pasting around is his recent summertime feel-good jam shockingly titled “Summer.”

It’s about being in love until leaves turn brown. Harris might be saving whatever happens after that for his next album.

Unsurprisingly, the album’s saving grace appears in the form of featured artists such as Ellie Goulding, Haim and Gwen Stefani.

They dramatically offset his predictably calculated flurry of drops and relentless hooks by bringing emotion and ultimately something of interest. Harris is at his best when in collaboration mode.

Although he’s never won a Grammy for his music, he does share one with Rihanna for best music video.

In a concert setting, listening to any piece of “Motion” would be an incredible experience. But the album still isn’t meant to be played front to back.

It leaves the listener wondering things like: “Damn, is he really gonna drop again? There are five seconds left in the track.” Or “How many times have I heard this hook in two minutes — 20?”

When the same questions surface track after track, the frustration becomes too much to bear, until the only motion that the album brings is a single tear from each eye glazed over, as desperate ears beg for sweet silence.

Just release singles, Calvin Harris. Or EPs at the most. Please.

Photo courtesy of James via Flickr.

Trevor Whitney can be reached at [email protected] or @nicegrandmas on Twitter.

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Study Break: Calvin Harris’ ‘Motion’ album review