“I don’t want to be the man in front of the microphone,” says Calvin Harris.
It seems a strange confession from a musician whose latest effort, “Feel So Close,” has climbed into the upper echelons of the Billboard Hot 100. But it’s exactly the kind of thing you might expect to hear from a multitalented singer/songwriter/DJ/producer who’s thus far spent more time helping other people craft hits than trying to release his own.
Scottish-born Harris (real name: Adam Wiles) is probably best-known in the United States for his collaboration with Rihanna on her recent hit ” We Found Love.” But in addition to two previous solo albums (which have had limited success in the U.S.), he’s also worked with a growing list of top-shelf artists, including Katy Perry, Ne-Yo, Ke$ha, Coldplay and Shakira.
In his own assessment, Harris feels he’s a better producer than singer. “I want each track to be as good as it can possibly be,” he recently told Billboard, “and that usually means me not singing on it. … It takes a long time to make me sound good, which is why I stopped singing live as well. I’d like to think of someone who’s better-looking, a better singer, better dancer to be the frontperson for the song.”
Perhaps that explains, in part, why the lyrics on “Feel So Close” are sparse. So sparse, in fact, that I can relay them all in a single short paragraph:
“I feel my heart is close to you right now/It’s a force field/I wear my heart upon my sleeve, like a big deal/Your love pours down on me, surrounds me like a waterfall/And there’s no stopping us right now/I feel so close to you right now.”
An up-to-the-minute, club-approved dance beat serves as the song’s sonic backdrop. And a kind of quiet romanticism pervades the video—along with a couple of problematic moments:
A wistful feel emanates from the screen as a diverse cast of characters tries, in various ways, to close the relational distance between them. Mockery turns to camaraderie as cheerleaders and “tough guys” move past their prejudices. And a group hiking in the desert expresses amity too. But a line gets crossed when a particularly affectionate couple heads off on their own and begins passionately kissing. By the end of the video, she’s removed her shirt and bra (we glimpse her bare back), while friends spray-paint the song’s title on big rocks in the area.
Elsewhere, we see teens trading obscene hand gestures and witness an old cowboy knocking back a beer—all of which serves to undermine the song’s otherwise earnest, feel-good vibe. Maybe Harris should rather say, “I don’t want to be the man in front of the video camera.”
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews.