5 essential tracks from Calvin Harris’ ‘Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2’

At first it looked like a mirage. Heading to Coachella 2022, in the middle of the California desert, a sign appeared. No date, no details – just a billboard teasing the Scottish superstar producer and master collaborator Calvin Harris was on his way back.


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On Friday (August 5), the thirst that started that afternoon in the desert has been quenched. Six years after the first installment of Funk Wav Bounces – Which one debuted at No. 2 on it Billboard 200 and spent 42 weeks on the chart – Harris is back with Funk Wav Bounces Vol 2.

In our singles-driven release cycle, Harris doesn’t need to make albums. He could surprise-drop funky, disco-inspired singles with A-list pop vocalists and still dominate every playlist and get radio play. In the years since his last full-length, he did just that, bringing us “One Kiss.” Dua Lipa“Promises” with Sam Smithand even one Benny Blanco collaboration (“I Found You”) that got Harris back on the mic to do vocals for the first time in years.

This year, Harris has stepped away from the non-stop touring lifestyle, playing only select festivals, a few Ibiza residency dates and a Vegas club night at XS in September. 17. (To wit, having dominated Forbes‘ highest paid DJs list from 2013-18, he was finally bumped from No. 1 to 2 by The chain smokersa duo clearly inspired by his vocal-driven, radio-friendly dance music.)

But Club Calvin and Record Calvin have been different beats for different folks for a while. With pleasure Vol. 1the tracks on Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 doesn’t fit into the bottle-service pyrotechnics that his “Summer” anthem did in 2014, further widening the gap between producer Harris and performer Calvin.

On Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2Harris recruits a huge 23 featured artistsfrom Busta Rhymes to Charlie Puth to Dua Lipa, across 14 songs. Presented as an album, the 43-minute compendium is more like a summer soundtrack, with each song bleeding into the next, almost fading into the background, save for a few standouts — but that’s not bad. It’s perfect for lounging by the pool and turning warm days into warm nights.

In contrast to Vol. 1, where collaborators are listed as featured artists, here Harris made the subtle shift of crediting vocalists as equals. This nuanced shift in language may represent a maturity in Harris who, despite being as famous, if not more so, than his collaborators, sees himself as a piece of the puzzle. It’s humbling and fitting as the world has shifted from being fast to worshiping DJs as the new rock stars. Listeners want to see who he brings to the table. It’s not just that Calvin Harris show.

Far from his humble roots, performing electro-disco songs and singing live on small stages in all-over T-shirts, Harris’ pop crossover work is responsible for the shift towards danceable pop music in the US over the last Ten years. 2011’s “We Found Love” featuring Rihanna cemented him as the poster child for the mainstream EDM explosion. But hitmaker Harris wants to remind us that he’s more than just singles, and that his music isn’t just fodder for soliciting multi-million dollar gigs in Vegas.

Even when Drake and Beyoncé drop tracks that do as well on the radio as they do in a warehouse, Harris sticks to the same hazy summer track as on Vol. 1. This new album makes it clear that he has done his time underground and has no plans to return to his roots. On Funk Wav Bounce Vol. 2, Harris balances expected favorites with legends of the past century and reunites collaborators. It’s uncertain which is the biggest milestone for a pop star: having a Harris-produced track on their own album or being included on his.

Here are five standout tracks that sound like summer time.

“Stay With Me” (with Justin Timberlake, Halsey & Pharrell)

This funky, star-studded jam wastes no time. From the first moment of the track, Halsey’s breathy hook gives way to a performance from Timberlake channeling him at his best – far from Man in the woods and much closer to his career-defining collaborations with Pharrell from 20 years ago. There is an argument that “Stay With Me”, the third single from the album, should have been the first. But perhaps that would be misleading. Landing halfway through the album, it provides some much needed energy.

“Somebody Else” with Jorja Smith & Lil Durk

Hungry crooner Jorja Smith does what she does best over funky bass lines and rock guitars. Her lovelorn lyrics are contrasted with Lil Durk’s Auto-Tuned feel: “The media treat me like I ain’t The voice and I’m under the blogs/ Life’s too dangerous at 22, I can’t ignore her calls/ I called her a ‘bee—’ the other day, she says she ain’t nobody’s dog.” While Smith’s biggest songs are crossover dance hits with garage producer Preditah and collaborations with Nigerian songstress Burna Boy, this collaboration is truer to the effortless jazz-club style demonstrated in her solo tracks.

“Day One” featuring Pharrell & Pusha T

Whether it’s Jay-Z’s or Calvin Harris’ idea, we’re grateful when something brings Pharrell and Pusha T together. Fresh off their last collaboration, “Neck and Wrist,” Pusha’s single with Jay-Z from April, the last track on Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 continuing the funky, wedding-friendly style of the whole project. When Pusha ends his verse asking “Who you know chart #1 likes Bruno [ Mars]?” the obvious answer is his partners in crime on the court: Pharrell and Harris.

“Ready or Not” featuring Busta Rhymes

One of Vol. 2The funniest songs, “Ready or Not,” break the record’s one note. Busta Rhymes is one of only two artists on the Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 to be the sole vocalist on a track – and he immediately proves why. This awakens the listeners from a stony haze and dares them to try to follow along. While Rhymes has been active in 2022, spitting feature verses on tracks with Diplo and Dominican rapper El Alfa, this is his first in a long time, giving him his well-deserved spot.

“Obsessed” with Charlie Puth & Shenseea

Dancehall artist Sheensea rejects Charlie Puth’s desperate pleas in this tropical summer anthem. The song even has its own visualizer, featuring dreamy images of flamingos and crashing waves. Combining ’80s yacht-rock crooning with a hot-girl verse, the curation behind this unlikely duet is refreshing, upbeat, and something Diplo probably wishes he’d done first.

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