She Wolf (Falling To Pieces)
In my teenage years the vilified ones, the poster boys for musical evil, were Stock, Aitken and Waterman. Hugely successful as a production team for an army of pop artists, they were Sauron for the generation of indie kids and authenticity addicts that believe everyone’d listen to their chosen miserablists if all that pop stuff wasn’t in the charts.
For this generation, there are three contenders for the title of real music’s nemesis: Will.I.Am, Calvin Harris and David Guetta. All are loftily despised in proportion to their outsized success, their seemingly boundless ability to spin a thumping beat and a guest vocalist into chart gold. And, as ever, the hatred ignores but perhaps stems from how innovative they are, how studiously they ignore the traditions alternative bands respectfully follow. The Black Eyed Peas’ Boom Boom Pow is sonically unique, a dancefloor banger with almost everything stripped away, just the bare skeleton lurching onwards and somehow succeeding. Judged as part of the pop continuum, it’s astonishing. But still it’s nothing but manufactured crap to some.
Guetta is probably the original of the three, pioneering an unholy fusion of Eurodance and slick R&B into an imprint which bangs out global hit after global hit and to which no star seems immune. If he wanted David Bowie to provide vocals for a track about how awesome it is showing bottles in the club, he’d likely sigh and walk down the beach in the video and suck up the millions it made. Consequently, the Guetta imprint has begun to seem a very cheesy brand to bear, the Laughing Cow logo of music. And working with Sia Furler, revered by pop fans for the hits she’s written for Rihanna and Beyonce and Katy Perry, you’d expect a track that’s seamless pop, that doesn’t take an iota of risk in getting everyone on the floor.
Instead there’s this. Almost all the melody, the drive of the tune, contained in an overwrought, epic vocal line given a pretty piano backing which doesn’t really complement the emotional scale of it. A chorus that’s more of a fade. And when that fade comes, when the swooping strings should (and do) come in, suddenly the towering house banger that’s been simmering in the background crashes in, overwhelming the song, stamping it into it’s own shape until it’s gone and the vocals return. It’s like two songs warring, vying for supremacy, pouncing on each others’ weaknesses until their battle becomes a dance and the dance becomes the song.
15 years ago I was in clubs dancing to the antecedent of this song: Silence, by Delerium featuring Sarah McLachlan. There was that same feeling, of one genre attempting to do violence to another and instead synthesising something new. Now it’s mainstream and unremarkable. You don’t get more mainstream than Guetta. And maybe people don’t bother listening to it in the same way. Because it still sounds extraordinary, incredible, revolutionary to me.
Artist: David Guetta feat. Sia
Title: She Wolf (Falling To Pieces)
Compilation: Coyote Summer