We’ll Be Coming Back
Calvin Harris, much as he doesn’t get any credit for it, took a huge risk with his career. His first album, all those quirky Casio toytunes tracks like Acceptable In The 80s and The Girls, was a big enough hit that people knew his name, but it was a novelty sound that probably should have been classified with the wonky pop movement. He was no bigger than Alphabeat and nobody ever heard of them again. This happens in pop and especially in Britain; we move on between an artists’ first and second album, neglecting to inform them, and Harris was certainly in danger of that. He’s smart. He probably knew it.
We were told, coming to the end of the 00s, that the musical climate had changed. Dance music, in all its clubland forms, was over. The 2xCD compilations which had been such a untouchable income stream, a new one out every fortnight, had begun to eat themselves including the same tracks again and again. Nightclubs were, the nation was reliably informed, now about R&B and conspicuously consuming buckets of champagne, not dropping an E to trance music. That scene was so over.
Calvin Harris, on the cusp between albums one and two, poised at the very point where nobody would even notice him drop back into the void of obscurity, took a gamble. He defied orthodoxy because he believed that the kids, the teenagers and the twentysomethings, still wanted to do those Es and dance to that trance. He released an album of unabashed trance and took it on tour to festivals, jumping around like it was still cool to do so. And he was proved resoundingly, jackpot-winningly right.
All that is precursor to this song, part of a victory lap which hasn’t ended. Harris’s albums are singles collections and greatest hits collections, the only tracks left unreleased because it’s time for a new cycle. This track, featuring rapper Example who saw which way the wind was blowing and let himself fly with it, is a favourite for the sheer driving run of it, the openness of its desire to start gentle and get heavy and fast and loud and then do the same again because that’s the point. That’s what you want. The guitar as foreplay to the buzzing, stepped synths and the mindless stuck-on-repeat drums. There are barely even verses, just two lines difference between each one. The structure of the whole thing crystalline and absolutely formulaic, absolutely predictable. Again, that’s what you want; that’s what you’re waiting for, if you don’t hate this. The now-venerated Nile Rodgers says that the verse is an excuse for the chorus, and the chorus is an excuse for the breakdown. In this track everything is an excuse for the moment the beat fires up and those huge slabs of synth kick in. It’s all about the teasing of the predictable.
Which is why, presumably, Harris isn’t and pop isn’t associated with risk. Success never is; it always seems so obvious in retrospect. This song will never be a classic, won’t be remembered by anyone except the Magic FM of 2030’s drivetime show. But it will always be welcome.
Artist: Calvin Harris featuring Example
Title: We’ll Be Coming Back
Compilation: Coyote Summer