Every song on Calvin Harris’ feature-filled ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1,’ ranked
Calvin Harris has taken the latter part of the decade to solidify himself as one of dance music’s crossover kings. From dominating the progressive house scene into radio, to becoming Coachella’s first-ever Sunday DJ headliner, the Scottish producer is certainly at the pinnacle of mainstream electronic music. For his fifth studio album, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, Harris decides to continue looking for the next frontier of dance-pop and lands in a space that converges funk, disco, urban, pop, and dance all in one.
The album recruits a plethora of radio champions like Nick Minaj, Katy Perry, and Migos; rap royalty like Future, Snoop Dogg, and Schoolboy Q; as well as rising newcomers Khalid and Jessie Reyez. Overall, this album screams moods of summer and, for many, could be the album of the summer, but here is a ranking of each track on the LP.
10) Prayers Up (feat. Travis Scott, A-Trak)
Upon first listen, Calvin Harris’ only dance collaboration, “Prayers Up” with A-Trak and Travis Scott, has two overarching problems that lands it at the bottom of the list. First, Calvin Harris and A-Trak’s production is not any better than any of the other tracks on the album if not below those in standard. Second, Travis Scott’s verses rely on taboo rap lyrics to try and be relatable but generally miss the mark.
9) Heatstroke (feat. Young Thug, Pharrell Williams, Ariana Grande)
As the sophomore single off the album, “Heatstroke” represents Harris’ effort to flex in his ability to attract A-list stars with Young Thug, Pharrell Williams, and Ariana Grande, however, the overall product does not live up to the hype behind the four names. While Young Thug may hold his own and the production is solid, Pharrell’s hook is trying too hard to be a summer pop anthem and Ariana’s lyrics seem lackadaisical.
8) Hard to Love (feat. Jessie Reyez)
For “Hard to Love,” Calvin Harris strides in shining a light on Jessie Reyez’s sonic identity as well as creating a great acoustic pop instrumental to showcase his calculated yet creative production abilities. However, the track will seem to steer a little too pop for dance fans.
7) Faking It (feat. Kehlani, Lil Yachty)
“Faking It” is an incredibly well produced R&B-meets-pop track with impressive appearances by Kehlani and Lil Yachty, however, it doesn’t bring more to the table than any of its fellow pieces.
6) Skrt On Me (feat. Nicki Minaj)
“Skrt on Me” earns its spot in the top 6 for its ability to still embody the aura of the entire album whilst leaving the disco elements at home for more a more island-leaning ensemble. Nicki Minaj does an unexpectedly stand up job at not trying to go over the top, and overall, this track will be rinsed its fair share throughout the summer.
5) Holiday (feat. Snoop Dogg, John Legend, Takeoff)
The best choice Calvin made with this record is having Snoop Dogg as a primary voice to flood listeners with nostalgia right as they press play. Had John Legend played a bigger role and really brought his A-game, this track could have cracked the top 3.
4) Rollin’ (feat. Future, Khalid)
For “Rollin,’” Calvin Harris taps one of rap’s hottest commodities at the moment, Future, and one of R&B’s fastest rising star, Khalid, to produce a smoothly cruising piece of California ear candy. Instead of trying to be a hit, the song brings together two of music’s top talents for a great piece of funk, landing it towards the top of the pack.
3) Cash Out (feat. Schoolboy Q, PARTYNEXTDOOR, D.R.A.M.)
“Cash Out” is probably the most urban-leaning cut from album with SchoolBoy Q instilling an edgier atmosphere right out of the gates and PARTYNEXTDOOR bringing a likable hook to the table. “Cash Out” is the type of track many will call a favorite but its fate on radio is still yet to be decided.
2) Feels (feat. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, Big Sean)
“Feels” is what “Heatstroke” attempted to be in by uniting three hit-level singers for an undeniable radio-ready combination. Pharrell shines in operating as the bridge between Katy Perry’s short but sweet hook, Harris’ reggae-inspired instrumental, and Big Sean’s applause-worthy appearance.
1) Slide (feat. Frank Ocean, Migos)
The lead track of Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, “Slide,” not only marked an introduction to the Scottish trailblazer’s sonic pivot, but it also set the tone for the star-studded cast he would be employing for the album with Frank Ocean and Migos as collaborators. Whether the listener is in it for Ocean’s unexpected appearance on the track or Migos’ smoother than velvet verses, “Slide” is engineered to be a summer hit and Harris made the right call leading the charge with it.