David Guetta believes in love, and he wants One Love to show it. With his electronic music and many guest vocalists, he has quite a few raw materials with which to work. He stands against a tall order: making the kind of dance song that makes listeners forget troubles and believe in the beat, if only for the duration of the song. There are some songs here that do that convincingly and others that don’t, but the album as a whole is a sincere effort at examining many sides of love from a dancefloor’s perspective.
The clear highlight is the leading track, “When Love Takes Over”, featuring Kelly Rowland on vocals. It’s a classic, triumphant dance number, and Rowland’s powerhouse vocals ensure that this song has anthemic potential for years to come. This song just feels good to listen to, in addition to reinforcing the love-spreading message Guetta delivers on the album as a whole. The title track, featuring Estelle, pulls off similar magic. Her rich voice is welcome here and works well with the music, which is slightly jungle-inflected, but seems toned down from its usual flashiness. The message of the song—staying together and remaining optimistic—is easy to feel while listening to this song.
That same spirit of celebration and freedom that Guetta seems to covet, one which runs rampant throughout “I Gotta Feeling”. This song invites all the Black-Eyed Peas on board for another happy-making anthem. “I gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night” is repeated as the music slowly starts, using subtle flourishes to build tension. Some of the long instrumental fills go on a bit too long, but they smooth themselves out nicely when the vocals return.
“I Wanna Go Crazy”, featuring Will.I.AM, is a perfect close to the album, a full realization of Guetta’s vision. The relentless energy informs the vocals and music that fuse perfectly to become a singular entity of bliss. You might even say that one love has been achieved.
Such sincerity and jouissance would be nice on a song like “Sexy Bitch”. This is a song that could hold such loving energy while adding a sexual groove to it, but the final product makes you wonder just how sexy this bitch actually is. “Sexy Bitch” features a spot-on Akon on vocals, but lines like “I’m trying to find ways to describe this girl without being disrespectful” are more at home in Take Back the Night ballads than electronica, not to mention that such sentiments are undercut with a juvenile “damn, girl!” The driving beats make this song a lot of fun, though, and the glorious keys at the chorus help to make the titular character feel every bit the sexy bitch (without, of course, being disrespectful).
“Missing You Anymore” is, on all accounts, one of the album’s weaker moments. Vocalist Novel doesn’t add much to the song, especially given the weak lyrics with which he has to work. Guetta’s music here is confused as well, lacking the singular vision which informs the other songs. Here, the industrial and dancehall elements don’t merge pleasantly but rather awkwardly stare at each other from across the dance floor. Or, rather, they are forced to dance together and do so uncomfortably. Will.I.AM and APL appear on “On the Dancefloor”, which is easily the album’s most annoying song. All the elements of the song are so trite as to sound like a dance number that might be manufactured as a Law and Order plot point. The ‘80s lyrics and elastic music don’t do each other any favors. The less said about this one, the better.
It’s admirable that Guetta entered the making of this album with such a heartwarming vision and a grand concept with so much collaboration involved. If he had stuck to the album’s high points, who knows what kind of love could have been spread through the universe?
// Notes from the Road
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