Charlie Puth and Calvin Harris and Shenseea’s ‘Obsessed’ is remarkable, because three things are happening simultaneously:
1. Charlie Puth is doing his classic jazz-inflected vocal production magic,
2. Calvin Harris is employing his distinctive discopop sonic skills that dominated the 2010s club scene, and
3. Shenseea is rapping well — sulkily, smoothly, and skilfully.
Hip hop, jazz, and disco/funk all influence this infectious piece of pop music, which also intriguingly juxtaposes both sides of the obsessive dialectic — lover and beloved — while not quite collapsing the two as on the much less musically interesting, and morally confounding, ‘Obsessed’ by Addison Rae.
I think the future of popular music lies between these two positions: musical fusion and moral fusion. A true balance lies in integrating technical poles and artistic probes into a musical whole.
But what of the rest of Harris’ record?
Jazz influences the ‘dance’ LP through Timberlake and Puth, while hip hop giants also influence the record: from ‘90s-era titans like Snoop Dogg to contemporary newcomers to the rap scene, influenced by the middle era superpowers like Kanye West.
Calvin Harris is known for making DJ’s life easier — or harder, depending on how you look at it. The obvious comparison is to producers like Pharrell, who collaborates with Mr. Harris on the last track, ‘Day One’.
Two things are missing from this record: rock, and artistry. I think this reflects the technical emphasis of dance/jazz fusion, via funk/disco. The emphasis is on the moves, not the morals. That’s fine. But there must be more to the future than this preliminary Beagle voyage hints at. I think there is. Let’s move onwards, and take the next steps. We can thank Mr. Harris & Company for these excellent first steps. Now, for something extraordinary …