20. Scissor Sisters – Only Horses (2012)
After meeting Jake Shears during sessions for Kylie Minogue’s 2010 album Aphrodite, Harris was asked to do some additional manipulation on this barnstorming single from the band’s Magic Hour album. The lyrics eschew camp in favor of wistful introspection, while Harris guides the song through its chorus with an audible snap, like a discharging party popper.
19. Calvin Harris – Hard to Love with Jessie Reyez (2017)
While the Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, which redefined his career in 2017, mixed with laid-back funk, 80s rebound and disco, it was this closer album – anchored by the rough-hewn vocals of Canadian-Colombian Reyez – that showed Harris could do downtempo. Over a simple scratchy guitar figure and pitter-patter rhythms, Reyez has the space to draw the listener into his orbit.
18. Love Regenerator – Solitaire with Riva Starr and Sananda Maitreya (2022)
In recent years, Harris has channeled his more danceable output through his alias Love Regenerator, crafting ad hoc singles that feel less pressured than his major production. Best of the bunch is the slow-paced Lonely, which features additional production from Riva Starr and a gorgeous central performance from the artist formerly known as Terence Trent D’Arby.
17. Sophie Ellis Bextor – Off & On (2011)
Originally recorded, though not used, by Róisín Murphy for her 2007 pop opus Overpowered, this Cathy Dennis co-writing eventually found its way to Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Using a swaying synth riff to anchor the confusing feeling of the lyrics, it eventually begins to disintegrate like the relationship Ellis-Bextor casually describes.
16. Calvin Harris – New Money ft 21 Savage (2022)
Of the handful of Funk Wav Bounces Vol 2 singles to have emerged so far – all packed with guest stars fighting for their 10 seconds in the sun – only this svelte slice of cascading funk has a chorus that sticks. And what a chorus it is, with Atlanta rapper 21 Savage cooing, “Gucci/Kush clothes smell like armpits,” over Harris’ strutting bass.
15. Calvin Harris – Acceptable in the 80s (2007)
With an instantly recognizable central riff – used endlessly on various Channel 4 TV shows – Acceptable in the channels of the 80s, the titular decade and the playful electronic mode of round the world era Daft Punk. However, any hint of French whimsy is undermined by Harris’ tongue-in-cheek singing style.
14. Dizzee Rascal – Dance With Me (2008)
Head turned by Acceptable in the 80s, Dizzee Rascal asked Harris to be part of his pop-leaning fourth album, Tongue n’ Cheek. As well as evoking the song’s gloriously sloshed backing track – referred to by Pitchfork as sounding like “H&M disco” – Harris delivers some key lines, including the brilliant instruction: “Tell your boyfriend to hold your potty. “
13. Cheryl – Call My Name (2012)
While it definitely suffers from being a We Found Love redux, there’s something beautifully basic about the way Call My Name hovers over various EDM strands. From simple synth riffs and flagged drops to lackluster “ah, oh, oh, oh” ad-libs, much of it sounds called, but overall it carries a strange magic.
12. Calvin Harris – Slide with Frank Ocean and Migos (2017)
As the first single from Funk Wav Bounces Vol 1 – and Harris’ slinky step away from pure dance – Slide had some pretty heavy work to do. Built around a light beat and warm handclaps and organ sounds, it features a horizontal-sounding Frank Ocean who sleepily listens to the song’s chorus before Migos quickly counteracts that energy with a delirious verse.
11. Calvin Harris – Outside with Ellie Goulding (2014)
Outside – the duo’s second collaboration after 2012’s I Need Your Love – places Goulding’s ethereal vocals lightly above a swirl of strings that ultimately form the song’s piercing riff. While other songs from 2014’s hit album Motion strove to tick the dance-pop boxes, Outside feels relatively restrained.
10. Normani x Calvin Harris – Checklist with Wizkid (2018)
Six months after the demise of sporadically good girl group Fifth Harmony, every savvy pop fan’s favorite member Normani has teamed up with Harris for two singles. The pick of the pair is this Afroswing-inspired, Wizkid-assisted banger, which finds Normani half-rapping his frustrations over a club-ready night beat that seems to ooze sweat from his pores.
9. Calvin Harris – That’s What You Came For ft Rihanna (2016)
Co-writer Taylor Swift was originally credited under a pseudonym to prevent her brief relationship with Harris from dominating discourse; Harris later confirmed the co-writing, but pointedly noted that he “wrote the music, produced the song, arranged it and cut the vocals”. Although initially overshadowed by the drama surrounding its creation, this third Harris/Rihanna collaboration is a rhythmic yet danceable opus that swirls like a tornado.
8. Calvin Harris – I Am Not Alone (2009)
Described by Harris as “a great stadium dance track, somewhere between Snow Patrol, Faithless and Grandaddy”, the melancholy I’m Not Alone starts small, with Harris mournfully intoning over a scratchy guitar riff, before suddenly rising to his glow sticks- highlight in the air. Part of the EDM explosion in the US, in 2010 it was sampled by Chris Brown on his US Top 10 single Yeah 3x.
7. Rita Ora – I Will Never Let You Down (2014)
Channeling the overwhelming joy of ’80s Whitney, this 2014 single – written and produced solely by Harris – is built around a twisting synth riff that slowly explodes in the song’s chorus. In fact, just when you think he’s peaked, Harris unleashes a heavily filtered guitar riff for an extra dash of hysteria.
6. Kylie Minogue – In My Arms (2007)
Harris’ first high-profile production for another artist, In My Arms packs a beautiful lyric about the power of a good hug into a hermetically sealed electropop confection. Beginning with a delightful spoken word intro that asks the perennial pop question – “How do you describe a feeling?” – the song is quickly launched skyward by Harris and co-producer Biff Stannard via a cavalcade of synths.
5. Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa – A Kiss (2018)
Eschewing EDM for club-ready BPM, the sophisticated, Brit-Award winning One Kiss finds Harris dabbling in everything from UK garage to house diva, its post-chorus a wordless nostalgic spiral that returns to the dancefloors of the 90s. Dua Lipa’s distinctively aloof vocal performance makes her lyrical appearance oddly tinged with sadness.
4. Calvin Harris – Bounce ft Kelis (2011)
After a series of singles featuring his own… unique vocals, Harris used Kelis’ delightfully raspy tones on this dynamic lead track from her third album, 18 Months. “We’re bouncing on this track / And I don’t care what anybody thinks about it,” she sings nonchalantly over a stinging synth riff that slowly turns into one of her best freehand explosions.
3. Calvin Harris – Feels with Pharrell, Katy Perry and Big Sean (2017)
After helping to confirm that EDM is the biggest and loudest genre on the planet, Harris changed course on his fifth album, Funk Wav Bounces Vol 1, replacing hard-hitting house riffs and terrifying drops with a feather-light disco. The relaxed pace works perfectly on this sunny UK No. 1, in which an audibly smiling Pharrell and a restrained Perry, piña colada in hand, weave their way around Harris’ aerial production.
2. Calvin Harris and Sam Smith – Promises (2018)
With playful, silly background vocals from co-writer Reyez, the intoxicating promises feel carried by the rush of new love. Harris allows Smith’s soaring vocals to shine through and polish the production with house-style piano stabs, roaming bass, and delicate little flourishes of funk guitar. It’s a further reminder that Smith should trade the pumped-up ballad for some supple dance music for good.
1. Rihanna ft Calvin Harris – We Found Love (2011)
Originally recorded by Leona Lewis and later gifted to Nicole Scherzinger, We Found Love’s eerily deep journey to Rihanna may have been bumpy, but it’s hard to imagine it being sung so well by anyone. another. Uniquely written and produced by Harris – a rarity in a pop world where credits often read like Wikipedia entries – it’s a dance banger that celebrates simplicity even when discussing something as complex as love. . Harris conjures up a frenetic backdrop of two-fingered synth riffs and fiery EDM beats, while Rihanna’s repeated mantra “we found love in a hopeless place” shifts from ingeniously simple pop lyric to somehow encapsulating every unspoken emotion. Cementing Rihanna’s superstar status, it propelled Harris into the production big leagues.