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18 Months’ Dancetastic

Sam Stryker | Friday, November 2, 2012

For those students who were lucky enough to study abroad, I’m sure you have your handful of songs that remind you of your time away from campus.
For me, “Titanium” reminds me of a weekend visit to London and “Moves Like Jagger” will always be associated with my semester in Rome. Usually the songs you associate with study abroad are fast-paced dance tracks you would hear during a night out on the town.
With “18 Months,” Scottish DJ Calvin Harris’s third studio album, I feel as if I am listening to an entire album of study abroad anthems. “18 Months” is 15 songs worth of dance-ready tracks, some you probably have heard before and some you may not have.
For those who have not been indoctrinated into the world of electro house music, Harris is the producer of Rihanna’s international mega-smash “We Found Love” and has found success on his own with such singles as “You Used to Hold Me” and “Acceptable in the 80s.”
“18 Months” is actually nearly that long in the making. The first single, “Bounce,” was released in June 2011 and more singles have been released sporadically leading up to the album’s release earlier in the week.
Even though nearly every track makes you want to get up and run a marathon or bust some serious moves on the dance floor, listening to “18 Months” doesn’t feel repetitive. The standout cuts each have their own signature feel, be it a different featured artist or creative beat. Harris is one of the leading minds in his craft, and it shows here.
“Bounce” featuring Kelis is a bouncing, club-ready track that proves the singer can do more than use her milkshakes to bring all the boys to the yard. The song has a serious beat drop of epic proportions and is one of the best-produced tracks on the album.
“Feel So Close” is an interesting track. It features a slow piano key and Harris’s soulful vocals, but also a steady beat in the background.
In this way, it feels as if the song almost slows down and connects more with the listener while also being worthy of being played during a night on the town.
Likewise, “Sweet Nothing” features the poignant vocals of Florence Welch from Florence + The Machine. Once again, there is a backing track of epic proportions to match Welch. This is more than just a song to run or dance to. Just like “Feel So Close,” there is raw emotion in Welch’s vocals that drives deep within the listener and grips his or her heart. “Sweet Nothing” is the type of track on “18 Months” that doesn’t just show off Harris’s skill set, but sets him apart as an industry leader.
“Thinking About You” featuring Ayah Marar has not been released as a single, but don’t let that distract you – this is a silky-smooth track with a sick beat. Listening to the song, one can imagine being transported to a club in London or Barcelona to dance the night away.
“Let’s Go” features crooner Ne-Yo, and it’s about as good of a pump-up jam as you are every going to have the pleasure of listening to. While it lacks the emotional power of “Sweet Nothing,” Ne-Yo sings with a sense of urgency that makes the listener’s heart race. This is the type of track you close a marathon out with. “Let’s Go” doesn’t let you quit.
People listen to different music for different reasons. Sometimes you need a song to calm you down after a long day at work. Maybe you need a mellow jam for when you are hanging with friends. Or maybe you want a head-banger for when you are driving cross-country.
Regardless, I always find it amusing when people criticize electropop DJs for not producing “real” music or “lesser” music. Just because I am not going to find Avicii or Justice on “MTV Unplugged” anytime soon, it does not mean they are lesser artists – it just means you listen to their music with a different purpose.
In that vein, Calvin Harris’s latest release “18 Months” is about as good of an album as you are going to get for two things – dance tracks and some solid workout music. What sets Harris apart is his tracks more than just motivate listeners to get off the couch – often their very real emotion resonates deeply.
Contact Sam Stryker at
sstryke1@nd.edu