Review: David Guetta – Listen

David Guetta has proved again and again he’s the master of the dance floor hook. The Frenchman’s sixth album, “Listen”, brings an army of reasons to support this without veering too much into club territory — from the myriad collaborators that elevate the dance tunes to a collection of well-crafted tracks to the mix and match of genres.

For his sixth album, the mega-popular French DJ-producer has changed his working methods, building tracks acoustically rather than adding vocals to a beat. It’s not easy to gauge the difference: Listen still delivers the familiar crowd-pleasing builds and drops, the formulaic song structures. Some credit is due for bringing together such a diverse bunch of guest vocalists, from the Script to John Legend to Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Nicki Minaj etc.

’Dangerous’ brings the best out of Martin’s elastic, edgy vocal. Featuring potent bass sounds, as well as entrancing synth-string work, Martin’s performance gives the tune direction, intention and a piercing quality.

‘Lovers on the Sun’, featuring Sam Martin, is an unlikely Western spaghetti dance tune that touches on post-modernist sensibilities. It’s the album’s standout track. Sam Martin’s belting vocals strike upon first play and go hand in hand with the tune’s synth hook, without over-relying on it.

Singer/songwriter Sia, who worked with Guetta on the massive hit “Titanium”, works a double shift on the new album. She contributes to “Bang My Head” and “The Whisperer” and presents two faces of the same coin: techno euphoria on one hand and piano soulfulness on the other.

The album’s chill out factor comes from three Caribbean-flavoured tracks: the catchy “Lift Me Up”, the tongue-in-cheek yet affable “No Money No Love” and “Sun Goes Down” with MAGIC!

Nicki Minaj and Afrojack deliver a startling R&B bump and funk gem in “Hey Mama”. The track samples a gravely gospel hook, builds quickly with high-energy synth notes and drops with a throbbing bass line. Minaj raps swiftly and even shows off her singing ability.

John Legend, another uniquely gifted performer, offers another brilliant reason to love this album — his ballad – “Listen” wrangles both the ears and the hips into action. He lends his dreamy vocals to this title track. The tune starts with swelling orchestral instruments, which then turn into an electro-dance chorus.

Emeli Sandé contributes tenderly to “What I Did For Love”, a cut that elevates itself with genuine heartfelt, soulful elements. The record never colours too far outside the lines, but still has an anthemic quality to it.

With its golden hook and dubby production flourishes, Ms. Dynamite plays her part well on “No Money, No Love.” The tune becomes more irresistible after repeated plays and would thrive on radio.

New York singer/songwriter Bebe Rexha gives a three-dimensional performance on “Yesterday.” With Guetta’s production vividly peaking on the tune’s hook, the song effortlessly generates a passing interest.

Meanwhile, Norwegian singer/songwriting duo Nico and Vinz look to recreate the appeal of their hit international hit single ‘Am I Wrong?’ on “Lift Me Up.” The cut doesn’t truly elevate from where it starts though, over-relying on a vacant synth hook to create impact – however, the inclusion of South African male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo is an interesting touch.

Inspired by Cher’s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down),” later covered by Nancy Sinatra and then pushed into peoples’ hearts via Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Volume 1 – the Frenchman gives the classic song a new twist. Alongside Skylar Grey, “Shot Me Down” sees the decades-old track enveloped by Guetta’s rampant, pulsating club sounds for a modern, worthwhile remake.

Not content with hooking up with Grey again on the darker, primal “Rise”, “Bad” featuring Showtek and Vassy, also races towards the dance floor with its thumping bassline and laser sharp synths.

Ryan Tedder commits sincerely to the throwaway “S.T.O.P” and bringing the reggae flavour from their debut smash hit “Rude” into the mix.

Canadian band MAGIC! provide boisterous vocals for “Sun Goes Down.” The spirited, carnival-licked dance tune has no real staying power, but it’s hard to ignore the track’s celebratory bounce.

The album’s ability to move the world’s feet will ensure that it does some damage in the charts. It seems that everyone is invited here, as “Listen” brings together artists as diverse as Birdy, The Script and Afrojack – even The Dream has a writing credit on the record. In short, a handful of cuts stuck onto the end of “Listen” are more intriguing and daring than the majority of the material found within the all the tracks listed on the album.

You can grab the deluxe edition of the album here.

– Review by Samir Goyal.

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AfrojackDavid Guettajohn legendListennicki minajskylar grey
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