Scottish producer and DJ Calvin Harris went from self-releasing his music online to selling millions in the 2000s and 2010s with radio-friendly, electronic dance crossover anthems such as "Feel So Close," "This Is What You Came For," "Slide," and "One Kiss." In addition to winning a Grammy in 2013, he also broke Michael Jackson's record for the most U.K. Top Ten singles from one album and was named Forbes' highest-earning DJ in 2013. After issuing his first two efforts -- 2007's I Created Disco and 2009's Ready for the Weekend -- he made his 2012 mainstream breakthrough with 18 Months, which recruited high-profile guest vocalists such as Rihanna, Kelis, Ellie Goulding, and Florence Welch, resulting in multiple chart hits and platinum certifications. With this successful electronic-pop crossover formula, he issued the U.S. Top Five Motion in 2014 before reaching a chart peak in 2017 with the hip-hop and retro-R&B summertime hit Funk Wav Bounces, Vol. 1. More Top 20 U.K. songs followed, including 2018's "One Kiss" with Dua Lipa, 2019's "Giant" with Rag'n'Bone Man, and 2021's "By Your Side" with Tom Grennan. Born Adam Richard Wiles on January 17, 1984 in the southern Scotland city of Dumfries, Harris was first attracted to electronic music in his teens and was recording bedroom demos by 1999. Two of these songs, "Da Bongos" and "Brighter Days," were released as a 12" club single and an EP by the Prima Facie label in early 2002 under the artist name Stouffer. With that single to his credit, the still-teenaged Harris moved from Scotland to London, but as a very small fish in one of the world's largest and most competitive ponds, he floundered; only one of his songs was released during his time in London, "Let Me Know" with vocalist Ayah on the Unabombers' 2004 live-mix CD Electric Soul, Vol. 2. Returning home to Dumfries, Harris began posting homemade solo recordings to his MySpace page. An A&R representative from EMI liked what he heard and signed Harris to the label in 2006. Following a pair of successful singles, Harris released his debut album, I Created Disco, in the summer of 2007. It featured two Top Ten hits ("Acceptable in the 80s" and "The Girls"), and climbed high in the album charts. Along with his work as a solo artist and touring in front of a full live band, Harris quickly became an in-demand remixer, working on singles by Jamiroquai, Groove Armada, All Saints, and CSS. He also wrote and produced songs for Kylie Minogue's 2007 comeback album, and collaborated with Dizzee Rascal on "Dance wiv Me," which reached number one in the U.K. "I'm Not Alone," the first single from his second album, also hit number one upon release in April 2009, as did the album when it appeared that August. That album, Ready for the Weekend, topped the U.K. albums chart and peaked at number 12 on Billboard's U.S. dance/electronic chart. Through 2011, Harris took on production work for Example, Tinchy Stryder, and Rihanna ("We Found Love," a quadruple-platinum hit in the U.S.), and issued two of his own singles (the Kelis collaboration "Bounce" and "Feel So Close"). Harris' third solo album, 18 Months, was a collaboration-filled affair that featured "We Found Love" and "Bounce," plus vocal spots from Ellie Goulding, Florence Welch, and Ne-Yo, among others. It was released in October 2012, hit number one on the U.K. albums chart, and reached number 19 in the U.S. Nine singles from the album went Top Ten in the U.K. -- an astonishing feat. The following May, his songwriting was acknowledged when he was given the top Ivor Novello Award. Forbes reported that he was the highest-earning DJ of 2013; according to the publication, he made $46 million -- $14 million more than runner-up Tiësto. Harris continued to roll. Each one of the first three singles from 2014's Motion topped the U.K. pop chart, while the album itself debuted at number two in the U.K. and at number five in the U.S. A successful collaboration with Disciples, "How Deep Is Your Love," followed in 2015. The song was a hit, reaching number two in the U.K. and number one in Australia, and securing Harris his eighth Top Ten on the Billboard Dance chart, the most for any artist up to that point. The next year he returned with two further hits: the Top Five U.S. "This Is What You Came For" with Rihanna, and the Top Five U.K. "My Way" with his own lead vocals. Despite the popularity of those singles, they would not appear on his next album and remained standalone releases. His fifth effort, Funk Wav Bounces, Vol. 1, arrived in the summer of 2017. Boasting a festival's worth of inspired guest artists, Bounces featured Frank Ocean and Migos on "Slide," Young Thug, Pharrell Williams, and Ariana Grande on "Heatstroke," Future and Khalid on "Rollin'," and Katy Perry, Big Sean, and Williams on "Feels," in addition to further collaborations with John Legend, Schoolboy Q, D.R.A.M., Nicki Minaj, Lil Yachty, Snoop Dogg, and more. In 2018, Harris began to roll out a series of standalone singles, starting with "Nuh Ready, Nuh Ready" featuring Canadian rapper PartyNextDoor. Later that year, Harris scored a pair of '90s-house-tinged U.K. chart-toppers: one with Dua Lipa ("One Kiss") and another with Sam Smith ("Promises"). He also reached number two in the U.K. with his song "Giant" with Rag'n'Bone Man. More collaborations followed, including 2020's "Over Now" with the Weeknd, which arrived in August 2020 and "By Your Side" with Tom Grennan, which appeared in June 2021.
© Stewart Mason /TiVo
© Stewart Mason /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 15, 2007 | Columbia
Scottish remixer, songwriter, former bedroom artist, MySpace star, and finally, major-label recording artist on EMI, Calvin Harris released his debut album of electronic dance music with snatches of the Human League, or maybe more accurately the League Unlimited Orchestra, in the summer of 2007, including two Top Ten singles, "Acceptable in the 80s" and "The Girls." The former track is a slice of tongue-in-cheek disco-pop for all those born in the decade after dance music took over the world, and the latter extols the virtues of all types of girls (even those carrying a little bitty extra weight), with political correctness abounding as he name-checks that he likes black, white, Asian, and mixed-race girls along with at least half-a-dozen different nationalities. "Vegas" was released as a vinyl-only track, and one can picture cruising down the Strip in an open-top car, the mobile equivalent of a boogie box or ghetto blaster turned up to maximum, as all the local girls' heads turn to see who's in town. Several of the tracks are instrumentals, including "Certified," "Love Souvenir" (a cool, end-of-the-evening jazzy number), and the title track, although this does have a monologue of Harris explaining how and when he really did create disco. "Traffic Cops" is less than a minute of honking horns, but if you thought that was short, blink once and you would certainly miss the track "Vault Character," eight seconds long with just four electronic notes down the scale. Harris doesn't need to sing -- his electronic noises from the keyboard are quite sufficient -- but when he does sing there is a hint of the accent and attitude of the Streets' Mike Skinner, especially on "Colours" as he sings "I don't care what you dress like or what you wear/But please make sure baby you've got some colours in there," and his rhyming of the title phrase from "Neon Rocks" with "pink socks," which comes with a reminder: "Stop me if I've said it before/I keep my secret stash in the drawer." In keeping with the gaudy neon disco theme, the album was also released as a limited edition with a glow-in-the-dark cover. © Sharon Mawer /TiVo
Calvin Harris in the magazine
The Annual 2021: The Best in Dance Music!
Ministry of Sound’s selection of the greatest dance tracks of the year doesn’t disappoint. This yearly compilation album kicks off with Paul Woodford and Diplo’s sensual Looking for me, a chill piano house track featuring 90s classic house basslines and synth pads. Imanbek brings his iconic gritt...