Completely departing his previous beloved mainstream sound, Calvin Harris incorporated the funk into EDM, in which was a major risk that ultimately paid off. Back in 2017, Calvin’s artistry witnessed a rebirth, as he abandoned from the rave music he’s been associated with since 2011 and approached a sound that’s the complete opposite. Calvin executed the ability to curate such simplistic production in the most fresh-modernized way, that still sounds better than it did two years ago when it was released.
Achieving the ability to curate a cohesive theme throughout the project, Harris stylized it and avoided repetition. It’s a light, refreshing and exciting soundtrack to summer, a triumphant presentation to Calvin’s versatility. Shimmering upon layers of the seasons delight, it’s bouncing and bubbling (“Cash Out”), laidback and breezy (“Heatstroke”), effortless and hypnotic (“Rollin”), while providing the dose of euphoria (“Slide”). As adventurous as it is ambitious, the album is an exciting arrangement of instrumentation, and a roster so good, that we somehow took for granted. Painting the aesthetics of palm trees and high-tides, Funk Wav is an escapism, a vacation that you’ll never want to end.
Necessary for regular rotation, Funk Wav is a rarity, in which every track had potential to be a hit. Just as the sunrises and the sunsets, the project seemingly flows into various sounds, a treat to whatever the season awaits.
Here's every song on the album ranked:
Fresh off of the heels from the release of her debut album SweetSexySavage, Kehlani keep the momentum alive with her feature on the major label release. Assisted alongside Lil Yachty, the songstress paced herself on a minimalistic funk beat that is reminiscent to her hit “Distraction”. Meanwhile, Lil Yachty turned heads with a lyric about pizza that is still polarizing to this day.
9. “Skrt On Me” featuring Nicki Minaj
With an array of exciting features on the album, many of the names hadn’t explored the territory of EDM. Even though the producer ditched the sound for this record, some of the assisted artists had felt more comfortable as they’re familiar with what to expect. Nicki Minaj is a surprising name who falls under that category when you remember she collaborated with the likes of David Guerra and Cirkut. But this song works — it’s a dancehall inspired song that the rapper flows effortlessly on. Another track that showcases her versatility, even if most of the times it’s not executed effectively.
8. “Hard To Love” featuring Jessie Reyez
Album closer “Hard To Love” stirs away from anything Calvin Harris has done before. Closing out the album, the song represents the sudden moment when the funk starts to fade away. Jessie Reyez had been in the passenger side as a songwriter, but this time she was in full control. With a distinct vocal delivery, Jessie commands the presence unlike any other guest feature as she sounds the most unique.
7. “Prayers Up” featuring A-Trak and Travis Scott
The first section of Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 set the momentum going for the rest of the album. Each of the song continuously raised the bar — allowing listeners to think if this album is “too good to be true”. And then, reality sinks in...” Prayers Up” arrives. While it’s a delightful and pleasant not-so-ordinary collaboration between not only Calvin and Travis, but Travis and A-Trak — it suffers from an awkward tracklist placement. The scratching production trick to extend the outro provides a nice little touch.
6. “Rollin” featuring Khalid and Future
The second-single off of the album arrived assisted by Khalid and Future. Khalid, another newcomer, was fresh off of the success off of his hit “Location”, so what he was going to do on this record was much anticipated. With a display of vocal chops and dark subdued synths, the song instantly captured the attention of listeners — it evoked a sudden enchantment. Meanwhile, Future does what he does best...sticking to that signature Future sound.
5. “Feels” featuring Big Sean, Katy Perry, and Pharrell Williams
It’s no surprise that the most successful song on the record features mainstream heavy hitters. “Feels” is a skillful, master display of a nostalgic attempt of a disco revival. Katy Perry provides light pop vocals that allows the song to fit right in on American Top 40, but also provide an easy listen for the ears. Big Sean arrives with a straight-to-the-point verse that doesn’t really make or break the song, but he’s welcomed with open arms. Meanwhile, Pharrell provides hints of the 2000s, as it all wraps this whimsical tune. The sunset hit.
4. “Holiday” featuring John Legend, Snoop Dogg, and Takeoff
The most California-esque sounding track on the album is assisted by Snoop Dogg. The rapper helps to curate a throwback leaning approach on a song that literally sounds like a seasonal holiday song. John Legend layers his vocals with ease meanwhile Takeoff gets his much deserving shine after getting cut from “Slide”.
3. “Slide” featuring Frank Ocean and Migos
Isn’t it fun when Frank Ocean actually sounds like he’s actually having fun? The most accessible song in the singer’s catalog proves he was made to dominate more than one genre at once, so why isn’t he? On a song where three different artists from three different spectrums collide with the ability to showcase their effortless talents with ease, allowed “Slide” to dominate the airwaves and still remain an essential three years later. Frank Ocean delivering catchy hooks, with Migos in their prime, all matched with a feel-good Calvin Harris production? A total ear worm, that has become a staple all year long, no matter the season.
2. “Cash Out” featuring D.R.A.M, PartyNextDoor, ScHoolBoy Q
Following “Slide”, Calvin Harris knew he had to meet the expectations, if not succeed them and he did. The variations of vocals that are provided by D.R.A.M, ScHoolBoy Q and PartyNextDoor is an entirely pleasant soulful croon. TDE’s very own Q steps out of his comfort zone that may or may not have inspired him for his own album CrasH Talk. Subtle, minimalistic hip-hop allowed for Q to tap in smoothly without missing a beat. Meanwhile, PND dominates the hook with a vocal outcry that helps to allow the bounce of the song shine through. Highlight of the track is D.R.A.M. Stealing the show, D.R.A.M reignites a spark that commands your attention and for you to groove.
1. “Heatstroke” featuring Young Thug, Ariana Grande and Pharrell Williams
What do you get when you combine the forces of Calvin Harris, Ariana Grande, Pharrell Williams, and Young Thug? Sheer brilliance. The outcast of the party becomes the center of the attention — Young Thug’s distinctive tricks up his sleeve makes everything sound so strange, but still sound just right. Cut straight out of the Lionel Richie “All Night Long” and Chic “I Want Your Love” textbook, Calvin studied the history of the origins of the sound he tried to emulate, and without coming across as cheesy doing so, he put his own twist to it, and Young Thug was the crucial aspect for the DJ to actually succeed with doing so.
Before pairing up a year later for the album Sweetener, Ariana Grande and Pharrell tag-team the hook and chorus, helping to formulate a connection that they extended on Grande’s next solo effort.