Anatomy of a Hit: Calvin Harris & Alesso ft. Hurts – Under Control

I’ve set myself a challenge to analyse the highest new entry to the UK singles chart top 10 each week. This week it’s yet another Q4 dance smash…

#1 – Calvin Harris & Alesso ft. Hurts – Under Control

This year there’s been a lot of talk (mainly from Popjustice) about Q4, the music industry term for the fourth quarter of the year. This is supposed to be the season where the chart is dominated by the big comeback singles, novelty songs, Christmas songs, wintery ballads, covers, songs from adverts… but instead, the biggest hits of the past few weeks have been dance tracks. Animals by Martin Garrix, Look Right Through by Storm Queen, and now Under Control by Calvin Harris and friends. No matter how many TV adverts, tabloid stories and X Factor performances their Q4 priority acts amass, the labels are having difficulty competing with the power of the dancefloor.


Calvin Harris on his own is a big enough name to sell a song with even the slightest positive qualities, but Under Control is a three-pronged attack. While Calvin, known outside the dance music scene, ticks the mainstream box, Alesso appeals to electro geeks as an established but less well-known Swedish producer. Then there’s Theo Hutchcraft of Hurts, who contributes his distinctive vocals and supreme songwriting talent, plus a level of credibility to win over dance music sceptics. Sheep, geeks and musos all catered for in one song! Even the video manages to merge all three elements, interspersing footage of skimpily-dressed models partying with Calvin and Alesso DJing and Theo looking thoughtful and emotional. The labels who think following a formula that’s been around for 20 years is the way to win a Q4 hit need to catch up to 2013.

Come back next Monday to read my thoughts on the highest new entry in the top 10. Could it be Avicii, All About She, Afrojack, Jason Derulo or someone else entirely? Tweet me your predictions now!


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