Scottish DJ Calvin Harris broke through the electronic dance music (EDM) scene in 2007 and has had one foot in EDM and the other in pop ever since, achieving an insurmountable decade of success. Celebrating ten years in 2017 since his first studio record release, can Harris lay claim to being the world’s best DJ?
Adam Richard Wiles, also known as Calvin Harris.
When the digital production of EDM exploded in the mid 2000s, a group of world-renowned and outstanding producers emerged. The likes of David Guetta, Skrillex, Martin Garrix, Avicii, Hardwell, Tiesto, Steve Aoki, and even three-pronged group Swedish House Mafia, at one-stage or another released killer tracks that propelled them to unfathomable success around the world.
Helping their success was the rise of EDM music festivals and the transition of popularity from traditional forms of music, to the heavily-marketed and dance-inspired genre. While the stars might certainly have aligned for these music producers during this era, their talents and work cannot be dismissed for its creativity and mega-popularity.
But trying to define who is the ‘best DJ in the world’ is not an easy task, because in the age of freely downloadable music, record sales or gigs played might not translate to who is truly the best. But Calvin Harris sure has a claim to it.
Like many modern-day DJ’s, Harris has been able to pair his creations with a plethora of pop-music stars. Most notably; Rhianna, Elle Goulding, Gwen Stefani, Florence Wench, Ne-Yo, Dizzee Rascal, Alesso, John Newman and many more.
The trend to co-produce music with the pop-world has aided the careers of many of the top DJs, with David Guetta the other most prolific pop-star collaborator.
But 33-year-old Harris also adopts the unique option of singing on some of his own tracks. In a recent interview with iHeartRadio talking about his latest hit “My Way”, Harris spoke of his spontaneous method to throw down his own vocals.
“I like to sing on a song every two or three years,” he explained. “I like the idea of just tracking something out without a celebrity guest feature, and I think the vocals work, so why not.”
To prove the success of his method, just take a look at the list of tracks he has sung on: Feel So Close, Summer (2011); I’m Not Alone, Flashback (2009); Merrymaking at My Place (2007).
The ability of the mainly U.K-based artist to consistently produce energy-inflicting hits year-after-year is a testament to his growth as an artist and continued work ethic.
Over the last six years in Australia, he has had a total of ten tracks peak inside the Top 10, achieving two No. 1’s with “How Deep Is Your Love” (2015) and “This Is What You Came For” (2016).
While in his homeland of the United Kingdom, earlier releases of “I’m Not Alone” (2009), “Sweet Nothing” (2012), “Under Control” (2013), “Summer” (2013), and “Blame” (2014) all peaked at No. 1.
While Harris burst onto the scene in the late 00s and put out two British Phonographic Industry (No, not Porn – ‘Phono’): Gold status albums in I Created Disco and Ready for the Weekend, his popularity boomed following the release of his third album 18 Months.
The 2012 album, 18 Months.
The release when 3 x Platinum with BPI and has sold close to a million copies. It was an album in which Harris chose to work most closely with various associative artists and focussed more on music production, rather than singing.
Forbes Magazine crowned Harris the “earnings champ of electronic dance music” after he finished 2016 with an annual income of $63 million (U.S). His record financial feats have seen him take the rights to the ‘Highest-paid DJ in the world’ tag for four consecutive years.
At $400,000 per Las Vegas gig, it’s no wonder that a few years Harris told Forbes he wanted to be “the number one songwriter-producer guy of all time”.
In respect to financial earnings, only Dutch-born Tiesto came close earning $38 million, while French kingpin David Guetta made $28 million. While Forbes calculate the earnings from ‘live shows, merch, endorsements, recorded music and outside business ventures’ and is a ‘pre-tax estimate’, the figures are astonishing.
Among social media popularity, Harris, at 14 million Facebook Likes, is well-behind David Guetta who has almost 55 million, but is in close range to Avicii and Tiesto who both have around 19 million.
But after all of Harris’ achievements across the billboard charts, financial success, popularity and celebrity fame, can he be defined as the best DJ of all time?
Harris is currently only playing sets in Las Vegas at Omnia, Caesars Palace.
The continued evolution of EDM and production and performance techniques will prevent that, but surely he can be given the label of the best pop-dance DJ of the last decade.
What do you think?
There is no other artist who consistently puts out summer-defining tracks that make you want to roll down the windows on the way to a night out, kick start your morning run, or lose yourself on a dancefloor to.
Why do you love Calvin Harris’ music?
Maybe it’s because of the relatable meanings he attaches to his songs that Gen-Y can so easily latch on to. Take his latest track “My Way” for example.
"[The] song's kind of about breaking out of a situation that you thought was a good thing,” Harris told iHeartRadio.
“Then, you're way more comfortable out of it.
“And it could be anything. It could be a job, or it could be a relationship.”
Relatable? No doubt.
But don’t think Harris is ready to walk out on his music career and retire just yet. With many of his peers in the EDM scene reaching the back-end of their globe-hopping careers, Harris plans to continue to make music, albeit at a slower rate.
“One song at a time,” he told iHeartRadio.
“That's my new mantra, try to make each song as good as it can possibly be.
“I'm not trying to do an album. I'm just trying to do good music."
One consistent, pre-summer mega hit at a time. That’s fine by me from the best pop-dance DJ of the last decade.