Funky French house and electro DJ and producer David Guetta is probably the most hated man in hip hop right now. By taking the Black Eyed Peas deeper into the club than they’ve ever been before on the brilliant electro production “I Gotta Feeling,” he’s created the final backlash against a group resting ever so comfortably on a VERY narrow fence between pop superstardom and hip hop relevance. But, before you vilify David Guetta and cast him off onto the pile of evil men in music, do yourself a favor and do your homework, and listen to his latest album, “One Love.”
“One Love” is the most forward thinking and delightful pop album likely to be released this year. Even without the additions of Estelle, Akon, Kelly Rowland, Kid Cudi and the Black Eyed Peas, the album is phenomenal, and worthy of listening, as Guetta creates a dance floor ready rainbow of synths for lush voices to shine upon. In the EDM community, Guetta’s viewed as an absurd sellout, someone who has forsaken making good dance music for making pop music. Discussions on the quality of his ironic attitude leaking into the quality of his work versus that of others be damned, pop music is best and most expansive when deeply reflective and inclusive of all sides of the international spectrum. David Guetta has realized this, and armed with some of the newest and best voices to record over dance tracks, stands to be a very powerful and influential man for the time being on the global music charts.
“One Love” is an important album in the R & B community as well for a plethora of reasons. Foremost, it resuscitates the career of Destiny’s Child’s Kelly Rowland. Post Matthew Knowles’ svengali creation, Kelly’s had arguably the most difficult time in crafting a new identity and career. Michelle Williams has met success in the gospel world, and, well, Beyonce’s become the reincarnation of Diana Ross. Kelly, however, was floundering as a UK solo artist until being paired with David Guetta. “When Love Takes Over,” the lead single from Guetta’s album, is a piano driven electro paradise crafted as a showcase for Kelly’s vocal artistry. Nearly sampling Coldplay’s piano line for “Clocks” chord for chord throughout doesn’t hurt the mainstream appeal of the track either, but Kelly Rowland sings this song as if she’s fully aware that it’s about to make her tons of money and redirect her entire career. It’s debut at this year’s Winter Music Conference in Miami is seen by many as one of the musical touchpoints of the year, and it’s clear why.
But Rowland’s not the only one bowling people over on this record. “One Love,” the single featuring Britain’s Estelle is a robust and full bodied track that as a ballad would be the best piece of music Estelle has recorded in her career to date. However, as a dance track, it’s magnetic and timeless, Estelle’s juggling of her vocal range near the end of the song one of those gospel impulse moments that leaves chills. Ne-Yo duets with the aforementioned Rowland on the quiet groover “Choose,” further proof that Ne-Yo is the Smokey Robinson of our generation, not overpowering the track, but just making it better, and providing a beautiful counterpoint to Rowland’s incredible histrionics. The biggest urban radio dance track of the year is here, too, and surprise, it’s not by “Mr. 305,” Pitbull. Akon’s abilities on UK #1 “Sexy Bitch” are perfect, as Guetta turns down the synths and amps the bass, creating a banger that can fit in any top 40 or hip hop radio or club’s playlist, and for many DJs, it already has. Guetta, whose career began as a French hip hop DJ still has ear for urban radio, which he makes clear and obvious.
For house fans, and those familiar with Guetta’s history, he still has the magic touch with Chris Willis. Willis, who has a ginormous and melodious voice, and is gospel veteran, has recorded with Guetta since his 2002 debut “Just a Little More Love.” As Guetta’s production talents have increased, so have they as a backdrop for Willis, as the single “Gettin’ Over” may be their best to date, as Guetta’s racing synths and dominating bassline create a triumphant track in full, an impressive house number that, as with most of this album, have club classic written all over it.
But for all of this success, there is one lingering fail. The Black Eyed Peas. It’s this reviewer’s opinion that Will I Am is the biggest fanboy of electro, dubstep and dance music in general at the top of the pop culture mountaintop. Doing a record with this man, and his group ensures you immediate international acclaim. However, as an artist recording this type of music, he comes off as a basement DJ level hypeman whose handlers need to sit him down and shut him up. His bland and insipid excitations are garbage that ruin solid material. I urge anyone to listen to “On the Dancefloor,” “I Wanna Go Crazy,” (in which Will wants to party with ‘a Suicide Girl’) or “I Gotta Feeling,” in comparison to the rest of this record and not want to vomit immediately based on comparative quality alone. I respect Guetta’s hustle for money but the inclusion of them, as well as Kid Cudi who meanders sleepily and incongruously through “Memories,” but they drag down the album from being a total classic.
In a year where Calvin Harris’ “Ready for the Weekend” has stormed over to US shores and mixed with Pitbull’s very important forays into electronic dance music to recreate open minds towards the listening quality, pop ready nature and inherent fun of the sound, David Guetta’s “One Love” kicks it open. With some necessary adjustments, this is the start of a continuing trend.
FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS