Scottish DJ Calvin Harris isn’t exactly an innovator. He’s more like a craftsman — one with a deep Rolodex and an egalitarian streak. Harris, like his only real compatriots, Deadmau5 and David Guetta, is in great part responsible for the recent mainstreaming of electronic dance music. His collaboration with Rihanna, the behemoth hit “We Found Love,” (included here, in all its mopey/ecstatic awesomeness) is to EDM crossover songs what T-Rex was to dinosaurs.
On “18 Months,” a compendium of tracks created by the DJ and often made famous by other people, Harris’s beats are basic and repetitive, which is different than saying they’re bad. There’s a giddy urgency to even his middling material and a heavy reliance on collaborations. Not counting an ill-fated teaming with LMFAO (hey, a guy’s gotta eat), Harris shows impressive if unadventurous taste, and most of his partners on “18 Months” fall into three basic categories:
The Big-Voiced Diva: Florence Welch tears up the mutilated soul banger “Sweet Nothing,” in defiance of whoever unwisely decided to bury her vocals in the mix. Cockney wood sprite Ellie Goulding similarly pixilates “I Need Your Love.”
Rappers British People Like: Such as Tinie Tempah and Dizzee Rascal, who are game but unremarkable.
R&B Singers Who Haven’t Been Famous for a Few Years But Are Still Pretty Good: Kelis turns up on the burbly, would-be video game track “Bounce.” And Ne-Yo tamps down the giddy “Let’s Go,” one of countless Harris songs that sounds like the soundtrack to a Pepsi commercial, but the only one that actually was.
“We Found Love,” “Sweet Nothing,” “Bounce”