David Guetta: Nothing But The Beat (Album Review)
David Guetta has been at the forefront of house music for a reason. He releases huge tracks every year and has been one of the few transcendent DJs of the last decade or so. Nothing But The Beat was released on August 26th and features two discs, one being a vocal mix and the other an instrumental disc. Does this album have what it takes to topple the success of Guetta’s previous album One Love? Read our ‘transcript’ of each disc (and grades for each song) below as we go through one of the biggest album releases of the year.
Part I: Vocal Album
Release: May 2nd, 2011
“Where Them Girls At” reached no. 14 on the Billboard Top 100, Guetta’s third top 20 hit. The bassline is classic David Guetta electro house, with a touch of hip hop oriented vocals by two of the biggest rappers. While people get all worked up about Guetta ‘selling out’ (complete bullshit) this tune set the groundwork for some massive remixes (most notably Nicky Romero’s). “Where Them Girls At” was a club anthem no matter how you think of it, and was played numerous times no matter what type of club you frequent.
Grade: A- (the only reason this doesn’t get a straight up A is because a few remixes may arguably be better)
2. “Little Bad Girl” (featuring Taio Cruz & Ludacris)
Release: June 27th, 2011
The addicting trance like synths accompany Taio Cruz’s vocals very well, the breakdown has that uplifting feel that normal EDM fiends look for. Our one doubt about the composition of the tune is the drop leaves a little more to be desired. We also feel as though Ludacris’ could have been left out, that is not to say he is not a very talented artist, just reflecting that they could have been incorporated into “Little Bad Girl” a bit better. The Norman Doray remix is an absolute bomb which features a more spiritual progressive bassline, which the folks at DA play on repeat.
Grade: B (While this song did well in the box office, the instrumental club mix and Norman Doray’s version take the cake)
3. “Turn Me On” (featuring Nicki Minaj)
The hard hitting drums and club oriented vocals from Nicki Minaj mesh really well together. We actually n-joy Nicki’s singing portions throughout the track, who knew she had a Wynter Gordon like voice? While “Turn Me On” is solid no matter which way you look at it, when we associate Guetta’s name to a song we instantly think “classic”. Unfortunately, this falls a little short in the ‘raise your hands in the air’ category.
Grade: B (getting an A is reserved for exceptional tracks, not just good ones)
4. “Sweat” (Snoop Dogg vs. David Guetta)
Release: May 23rd, 2011
Everyone will agree what makes this track is the uplifting synths that surround Snoop Dogg’s chant of “I want to make you sweat”. Outside of the breakdown and drop we feel as though there is a little spice missing from the rest of the tune. The folks at DA also feel that the Afrojack Dub mix may have outdone the original.
Grade: B- (pleasant listening, but can we get a little more?)
5. “Without You” (featuring Usher)
The first emotional track on an album that has gained notoriety for generating numerous fist pumps. The sweeping and rolling bassline does compliment Usher’s vocals well, and while this may do well on the radio (infact we guarantee it will) this tune lacks the club element. No matter how you feel about “Without You”, you have to love the fact that Guetta can dive into different forms of music and still create a gem.
Grade: B- (lacking the club element reduces the amount of appeal this tune can truly have)
6. “Nothing Really Matters” (featuring Will.I.Am)
Where do we start? The first word that pops into our head after listening is “average”. Nothing special or terrible about this tune. If you were to play this in a live set no one would go crazy, but no one would boo you. If there was a slightly bigger drop or some uplifting synths (a la Avicii) maybe that would improve the appeal.
Grade: C (a chilled out track gets a chilled out grade)
7. “I Can Only Imagine” (featuring Chris Brown & Lil Wayne)
We feel that this is the funkiest tune out of the entire album. “The Big Three” (Miami Heat reference = bonus points) bring their talents together to form a hard hitting electro-pop tune that will destroy the box office. Is this due to the greatness of the song, or due to the power of their names? We think that it is a healthy combination of both, the variety of chords and synths used does add a little flavor.
Grade: C+ (a bit better than satisfactory)
8. “Crank It Up” (featuring Akon)
Guetta has a serious history with Akon. Remember “Sexy Bitch“? That was a straight up anthem, “Crank It Up” is not quite on the same level, but it is still playful and has a banging bassline. This has a catchy hook that will become easily chant-able at any venue. Is it just us or does Akon have the most identifiable voice in music today? Either way energy will be spewing out of the speakers when you crank this up!
Grade: B (high level energy meshed with a solid yet repetitive bassline)
9. “I Just Wanna F” (featuring Timbaland & DEV)
David Guetta using some moombahton influences with risky vocals to create a dirty sexy track? You can notice some direct connections to the likes of Diplo and Dillon Francis. Afrojack helped produce “I Just Wanna F” as his signature bleeps encompass the entirety of the tune. DEV’s small vocal portion is downright sexy.
Grade: B- (unique, but not unbelievable)
10. “Night Of Your Life” (featuring Jennifer Hudson)
Release Date: August 22nd, 2011
Fast paced bassline, uplifting synths, Daft Punk influenced chord progression, along with Jennifer Hudson’s amazing vocals equals a winning combination. We missed Guetta’s old piano influence breakdowns, however he has found a way to rekindle his relationship with EDM’s premiere instrument. Yes, we like.
Grade: B+ (great sound, but does playing this tune equate to having the “Night Of Your Life? Questionable.)
11. “Repeat” (featuring Jesse J)
A combination of a chill melody, emotional vocals, and a more progressive tune make this a first for Guetta. “Repeat” reminds us a little of “When Love Takes Over”, not as big room but same sort of transition. While the vocals of Jesse J are pleasant, they don’t lead us to believe that this will be any sort of genre transcending track.
Grade: C (first thought that comes to mind is ‘meh’)
12. “Titanium” (featuring Sia)
First thing you will notice when you listen to “Titanium” is the effort put into the build up. The high pitched vocals from Sia resonate throughout this tune, and it seems she can carry that same level for hours on end. Fast forward to the drop, it reminds me a little of the pulsing sound you get while listening to Axwell and Henrik B’s remix of “Teenage Crime”. While this is still on the poppier side of things (much like most of Disc I) this strikes us as something that can be remixed into an absolute banger.
Grade: B (not a blue chipper, but could be a red chip)
13: iTunes Bonus Track – “I’m A Machine” (featuring Crystal Nicole)
One of the more darker sounding tunes on the entire album, the bassline is deep but there is nothing playful about this tune. You get down to business almost essentially from the get go and the hook is relatively catchy. The important part to remember here is that it is a bonus track, so don’t get your hopes up during your first listen.
Grade: C+ (not bad for a bonus track)
Disc II: Instrumental Album
1. “The Alphabeat”
Daft Punk influence anyone? This is the definition of electronic music, the chord progression is unique and the best part is it gets your adrenaline running. We imagine this being the theme song when football teams run through their respective tunnels. While this type of tune does not promote the fist pump (no evident drop), it does promote violent head nodding and pelvic thrusting (just kidding).
Grade: A- (very good, borderlining on really fucking good)
2. “Lunar” (David Guetta & Afrojack)
If you thought “The Alphabeat” was Daft Punk-y, well get a dose of “Lunar”. This song is made for champions. You can listen to this in the car or shower yourself in champagne at a club, either way the utmost level of euphoria will encompass you and your crew’s surface area. This has Afrojack’s chord progression written all over it, and we are going to make a bold prediction that “Lunar” does just as well as their previous collaboration “Louder Than Words”.
Grade: A (nothing short of spectacular)
3. “Sunshine” (David Guetta & Avicii)
Quite frankly anything that Avicii touches turns to gold and having David Guetta added onto a track is just icing on the cake. This synth heavy, uplifting tune is made for the big room and has been noted by many to be the best on the album. It is hard for us to disagree, not only can the tune be mashed up with many vocals it’s beautiful melody is orchestrated throughout the track.
Grade: A (like Michael Jordan in the 4th quarter – this is a can’t miss)
4. “Little Bad Girl” (instrumental mix)
We thought the “Little Bad Girl” instrumental mix was considerably better than the vocal version. That being said we gave the vocal mix a “B”, needless to say the grade on this one has to be higher.
Grade: A- (great to mix into any live set)
5. “Metro Music”
This tune takes a back seat to “Lunar” and “The Alphabeat” as far as the Daft Punk sounding tracks go, however, don’t you dare sleep on its quality. It can still rock a dancefloor night in and night out. We think that LMFAO would be a perfect fit to construct a vocal mix to the upbeat sound (not saying it is needed, just a suggestion).
Grade: B (almost exceptional)
6. “Toy Story”
David Guetta introduces a heavy dose of distortions combined with some slight wobbles. This is the closest thing to dubstep you will find off Nothing But The Beat. The bassline is a little more mellow than that of others on Disc II, while it is a solid production it lacks that oompf we look for in club bangers.
Grade: B- (you don’t hate it, but you don’t love it)
7. “The Future”
This sounds like a combination of Tiesto and Sidney Samson, heavy bassline with the incorporation of those big room synths are what “The Future” is based around. The build up gets you going, yet the drop leaves something off the table. We think Guetta was going for the pump you up sort of feel a la Afrojack’s “Pacha On Acid”, he does the job – but not quite as well as we had originally hoped.
Grade: B (are you a contender or a pretender?)
Guetta presents a weird fusion of different sounds, chords, synths a combines them together masterfully. As you go throughout the track you do not know what to expect next, it follows no pattern of consistency. You know what? We like it. Go forward with the rolling drop and you have something you can fist pump to. The slowed down piano breakdown also puts an ear to ear smile on our faces.
Grade: B+ (mildly refreshing, like waking up next to a girl who looks just as good without make up)
Nothing overwhelming here. Paris has a couple of ‘winning’ features such as the “woo” vocals that have been used in Afrojack & R3hab’s “Prutataa”. What this song really needs is that hands in the air effect, going from solid bassline to immediate euphoria. It is like meeting an insanely hot girl who flirts with you all night, but doesn’t put out at the end of the day. You still had fun, but you leave disappointed.
Grade: C+ (there is always another night filled women to get you going again)
Did David Guetta save the best for last? Why hasn’t this song been spoken of more? We find it odd that this has not erupted in every live set across the world. This shit just rocks. You will hear this at the next Dancing Astronaut event, we may even have to make this a required song in all the podcast submissions we receive in the near future.
Grade: A (“Glasgow” should be mandatory for all pre-game sessions before dominated your local club)
Evaluating Nothing But The Beat:
Ranging from electro-pop to progressive house David Guetta covers all spectrums in his dual CD album Nothing But The Beat. Everyone in the world expects this album to do well at the box office, DA among them. As you peruse through our grades of each song, you’ll notice that we especially loved Disc II (no brainer there). Did Guetta just earn himself a spot in the top 5 off this album alone? Moderately Bold Prediction: Guetta will maintain his status as a top 3 DJ on the latest DJ Mag Top 100 list, fending off Deadmau5 and the Swedish House Mafia.
Overall Album Grade: A (encompasses the energy we have grown to love and incorporates the mainstream to increase the breadth of our audience, what more can you ask for?)