Ear-whiplash: David Guetta’s “Listen”

U-News Staff

David Guetta’s “Listen” was released Nov. 21, and it is distinctly different from his 2011 success “Nothing But the Beat.” The best part about this album is that it’s a worldwide collaboration, featuring artists Nicki Minaj, John Legend, and even South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

After 22 years of marriage, Guetta and his wife divorced in 2014. He says “Listen” is supposed to reflect his emotions, unlike his previous work which was focused on making people dance, party and feel sexy.

If Guetta’s emotions are composed of random rhyming rants injected with mediocre builds and breakdowns at predictable moments, then yes, he has successfully shared his feelings.

Guetta branched out with “Listen,” charting territory beyond feeling good and throwing your hands up, but he did not blend his goal for compelling content with his talent of irresistible beats.

For instance, “Shot Me Down,” featuring female pop star Skylar Grey, opens with ambient crooning, blues guitar and relatable lyrics similar to Lana Del Rey’s. However, 40 seconds into the song, Guetta jumps into a crude transition of pounding four-on-the-floor bass with typical trebles, only to awkwardly simmer back down to the verse 50 seconds later.

The breakdown and chorus of “Shot Me Down” stand alone as beautifully produced and catchy melodies. But together, Guetta delivers high-speed ear-whiplash. Guetta’s intentions of evoking sincere emotion could be detected throughout “Listen,” but should have been rearranged into distinct dance tracks or ballads.

Listening to “Listen” feels like having a cigarette between your lips but no lighter in sight — the desire is there but not the tools for enjoyment. The album sounds conflicting, as if Guetta was too scared to change his style entirely without upsetting the fans addicted to his iconic EDM beats.

Perhaps the album is a metaphor of Guetta’s inability to create transitions of sound. Hopefully, “Listen” is a transition album to the new Guetta who will offer something better on the next release.