Museum Monday: Calvin Harris – Self Made Legend

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WAX MUSEUM HAS COMPILED A MASSIVE CALVIN HARRIS ZIP FOLDER FOR YOU OF A 25 OF HIS TUNES/REMIXES. HEAD OVER TO thewaxmuseum.net TO GET IT.

This blog was created with one idea in mind – to document EDM’s journey as it infiltrated the Top 40 scene. Today, we have the proof that hostile takeover has been completed: Calvin Harris is the richest man in music.

(Original Video ViVi took of Calvin Harris at Balaton in Hungary in July 2012)

So how did the 29 year old supermarket stocker turned open-mic indie singer turned Myspace sensation actually turn into the king of pop? How did Calvin Harris break Michael Jackson’s world record for most Top 10 singles off of one album with nine? How did he make $46 million last year, more then the king of hip hop Jay-Z or princess of pop Katy Perry? What was it that pushed him beyond Tiesto, the #1 top paid DJ of our generation thus far?

Determination? Luck? Talent? We’ll take a look back at the career of Calvin Harris as we chronicle his life, music, and rise to fame.

WAX MUSEUM HAS COMPILED A MASSIVE CALVIN HARRIS ZIP FOLDER FOR YOU OF A 25 OF HIS TUNES/REMIXES. HEAD OVER TO thewaxmuseum.net TO GET IT.

From stocking shelves to working in a fish factory, this Scottish born teen began, like many of us, as an unappreciated bedroom producer. Capitalizing on the early success of MySpace, Calvin Harris began to send his first sounds out to anyone who would listen. Here is a track from 2002 when Harris worked under the guise of Stouffer.

Da Bongos – Stouffer (2002)

He was discovered by Tommy Sunshine, and recorded and released his first album, I Created Disco, in 2007, containing uptempo electroclash tunes inspired by 80’s sounds. At the time, Calvin Harris was regularly singing on his own tracks, since his pursuit of talented vocalists to work with hadn’t panned out yet. Now, Acceptable in the 80’s was a pretty dope tune, but here is his live version from 2008.

Acceptable In The 80’s – Calvin Harris LIVE (2008)

So, maybe Calvin Harris was right stop to eventually stop singing on his own songs. Or at least doing them live, because his next round of self-sung tunes were the ones that really put him on the map for Wax Museum. In 2009 he released his second album, “Ready for The Weekend,” which featured a few awesome songs, that you probably have heard but maybe don’t attribute to him. At this point, you start to hear a certain style resonating from his sound, but we don’t think anyone saw what was coming next.

You Used To Hold Me – Calvin Harris (2010)

Flashback – Calvin Harris (2009)

It’s 2010 and the world of music is about to change. David Guetta has been laying the ground work for a total EDM takeover of the mainstream. Pop has become repetitive and unbearable. (What’s new, right?) Genre’s are ceasing to exist, and what or who is the next big thing is anyone’s guess.

And then 18 Months happened.

Debuting in 2011 with lead single Bounce with Kelis, this record breaking album was ready to make waves.

Bounce – Calvin Harris ft. Kelis (2011)

Even the “B-Sides” on this album were great, as Wax Museum quickly discovered this track, which has yet to be released as a single.

Awooga – Calvin Harris (2011)

Following this was the absolute anthem “Feel So Close,” with Calvin Harris taking another shot at his singing career. This song still gives us goosebumps.

Feel So Close – Calvin Harris (2011)

A month later Calvin Harris teamed up with Rihanna for “We Found Love.” Of course, this track was a HUGE contribution to the EDM/Top 40 movement, as it was his first solo single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. As we’ve written about previously, we credited David Guetta as the pioneer of the genre destruction between what is EDM and what was Top 40. So, if this was why Calvin Harris made $46 million last year, how come Guetta only came in a $30 million. While this is just speculation, we suspect that Guetta simply sold out TOO hard, only working with very mainstream artists such as Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj, and his music just became lost in the disposable mess that is commercial music today. Calvin Harris however, outside of his pairing with Rihanna on “We Found Love” and with Ne-Yo on “Let’s Go,” tended to work with artists that were massively popular in the UK, such as Florence Welch and Ellie Goulding. We think that this twist on the monotony of the American Top 40 scene was what gave Calvin Harris his edge.

We Found Love – Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna (2011)

The release and success of “We Found Love” and “Feel So Close” paved the way for the next 3 releases that had major success in North America, and around the globe:

Let’s Go – Calvin Harris ft. Ne-Yo (2012)

Sweet Nothing – Calvin Harris ft. Florence Welch (2012)

I Need Your Love – Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding (2013)

And that brings us to today. Calvin Harris made $46 MILLION last year. And, of all of the reviews and interviews we’ve read on the wonder of Calvin Harris, we think Arwa Haider of the British Paper, Metro, had the best comment on his intense success.

“18 Months could be a capsule collection of smash singles, yet it also works brilliantly as an album. That’s partly because these are never faceless anthems; its singers […] are well judged and rise to the songs, while the catchy hooks are lovingly arranged”

And that is the reason for his unprecedented success. Calvin Harris found the perfect bridge between EDM and the mainstream. By skating just around the edges of what would otherwise be another disposable pop anthem and adding his unique flare, he has created a spot for himself in the history of music, and in retrospect, when we can no longer differentiate EDM from Top 40, he was probably the forefather of this movement.

There is one additional thing we would like to note about Calvin Harris, something that we heard in this interview (below) with him that may also attribute to his massive success. At Wax Museum, we’ve always pursued the dream that you play for your crowd until you’re famous, then you do what you want. Calvin Harris may have proved us wrong though, as in the the interview his discusses the club scene in Vegas, and points out he can’t play straight heavy EDM shows as the North American crowds demand some more mainstream familiarity in the mix. His willingness to pander to crowd, even when he’s the richest DJ in the world, speaks volumes about his selection of vocalists and sounds that he took over the world with.

WAX MUSEUM HAS COMPILED A MASSIVE CALVIN HARRIS ZIP FOLDER FOR YOU OF A 25 OF HIS TUNES/REMIXES. HEAD OVER TO thewaxmuseum.net TO GET IT.