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Artist Spotlight – Calvin Harris

January 17, 2024

It’s a behemoth of an anthem, this month we’re celebrating five years of Calvin Harris’ big friendly Giant. A collaboration with English singer-songwriter Rag’n’Bone Man, this single was officially the most played song in the UK in 2019. It continued a tradition of incredible alliances between Calvin and pop’s biggest names, coming together to create some of the most important tracks of the past fifteen years. 

Today, January 17th, is also Calvin’s birthday (and this year it’s a big one). So to celebrate the DJ, producer, songwriter, heartthrob and all round talent that is Calvin Harris, we’re shining our artist spotlight on some of his finest works! 

Calvin was born in Dumfries, Scotland to English parents. He developed a love of electronic music in his teens and worked various jobs to save up enough money to buy his first pieces of DJ gear. He began to record and produce demos in his bedroom, releasing his first 12” single at the age of eighteen. 

After a brief stint in London gaining experience from the city’s vibrant DJ scene, Calvin continued to grow his profile on the early social networking site Myspace. His popularity on the platform quickly led to a string of deals and in 2007 Calvin released his debut album, I Created Disco. A bombastic and inventive first release, it captured the era’s electro-clash evolution with pop-rave tracks like Acceptable in the 80s and The Girls. 

Calvin continued creating his own unique and instantly identifiable dance-pop classics whilst expanding his remit as a producer and writer, collaborating with acts as diverse as Kylie Minogue, Dizzee Rascal and The Ting Tings’. His third record, 18 Months, brought him international acclaim, breaking the top twenty of the US Billboard 200 and featuring the global smash We Found Love. 

Across his career, Calvin has collected numerous awards and accolades including eighteen Brit Award nominations and five Grammy nominations. But it’s not all about work, last year he also married his wife, Vick Hope, sealing yet another winning partnership. Here are some of our other favourite collaborations from across his illustrious career. Happy Birthday Calvin Harris! 

‘Giant’ with Rag’n’Bone Man

Celebrating its fifth anniversary this month, this cut of triumphant dance-soul brought together two of music’s most formidable craftsmen. With his rich and powerful vocal, Rag’n’Bone Man drives an empowering refrain against Calvin’s propelling production. The pairing was such a perfect match that this track has been certified three times platinum in Australia, Poland and the UK where it also won an Ivor Novello Awards as the most played track of the year. The title works literally too, with Rag’n’Bone Man and Calvin measuring up at 6ft 5” and 6”. Everything about this track was big!

‘This is What You Came For’ with Rihanna

Released in 2016, This is What You Came For marked the third collaboration between Calvin and Rihanna, following 2011’s We Found Love and 2012’s Where Have You Been. Calvin originally composed the track for Rihanna’s Anti album, but she felt it worked better as a feature. A driving cut of instant dance-pop, Calvin co-wrote the song with then girlfriend Taylor Swift, who was originally credited under the pseudonym Nils Sjöberg to avoid overshadowing the release. Luckily Taylor didn’t need to worry, the single was a global hit going platinum in thirteen countries and becoming Harris’s highest-peaking single as a lead artist in the US.

‘Outside’ with Ellie Goulding

Continuing their previous collaboration, 2013’s I Need Your Love, Calvin and Ellie Goulding reunited on this 2014 sad banger. Picking up where their previous single left off, this time Ellie sings about an impending breakup, her incisive and stark lyrics cutting over Calvin’s euphoric crescendos. Taken from Calvin’s fourth album Motion, it was a top ten single in the UK and a top-forty release in the US where the track has since been certified two and three times platinum respectively. This banger is an outsider by name alone!  

‘One Kiss’ with Dua Lipa

It’s been certified four times platinum in the US, five times in the UK and nine times in Australia; there’s no denying that this partnership between Calvin and Dua Lipa is an epic hit. The pair wrote the track with Canadian singer Jessie Reyez at Calvin’s home studio over cups of tea. Drawing on 90s house influences, it even carries its nostalgic aesthetic into the music video, directed by Calvin’s longtime collaborator, Emil Nava. The track won best Single at the 2019 BRIT Awards where Calvin was fittingly also named British Producer of the Year. 

‘Sweet Nothing’ with Florence Welch

Taken from Calvin’s third album 18 Months, Sweet Nothing reunited him with British singer Florence Welch. The pair previously collaborated when Calvin remixed Florence and the Machine’s 2011 track Spectrum, turning the strident folk-pop hit into the explosive dance smash Spectrum (Say My Name) and giving the group their first UK number one! Here, Florence returns the favour complimenting Calvin’s evolving disco production with her rich and arresting vocal. The track became their second UK number one single in three months and gave Florence her first US top 10 hit. A very sweet partnership that only goes to further prove the power of Calvin’s collaborations!

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