Tired of hearing about Taylor Swift and “Gangnam Style?” Well don’t worry, y’all. The music world has other singles for you to enjoy.
For instance, here’s a scoop of Florence Welch (of Florence + the Machine), bringing her big voice to “Sweet Nothing,” a club track by Calvin Harris.
Their artistic relationship started a few months ago, when Harris helped Flo land her first U.K. number one by remixing “Spectrum,” an amazing track from her latest album. (Which I finally learned to love.)
You might know Harris better, however, as the producer behind Rihanna’s “We Found Love.” He also got top billing on “Feel So Close” and “Let’s Go.” All those songs are good—especially “We Found Love”—but “Sweet Nothing” proves how much Florence adds to the mix. Her haunted warbling, which flies from half-whispered phrases to desperate yelps, always makes her sound like she’s about to lose her mind. But that’s a compliment. There’s just such drama in her voice that you have to pay attention. Like… what could make someone sound this unhinged?
And that creates a fascinating tension with Harris’ rollicking production, which drops out for long sections but always roars back with these staccato video game bleeps. While Florence sounds half-mad, the track feels relentlessly excitable. It’s a good-time beat clanging with a nuthouse diva. You don’t know if you should dance or feel uncomfortable at the naked emotional collapse. (This is kind of what happens when Sia hollers her way through David Guetta’s “Titanium.”)
On top of all that, you’ve got Welch’s typically devastated lyrics, about how her relationship is hollowing her out inside. Somehow, though, she’s thriving on the “sweet nothing” her lover gives her. That just deepens the perception that the woman in this song is about to spin out of control… that she’s dancing and hollering because she’s breaking down. I appreciate a song that subverts the mindless fun of dancing with some darker undertones.
Previously: My weird journey with Madonna’s Sex book.
Mark Blankenship also thinks that Janet Jackson subverts the mindless of dancing, but that’s another story. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship.