The once-coveted Song of the Summer title has become increasingly elusive and irrelevant in the era of streaming and TikTok. However, Scottish DJ Calvin Harris apparently still has his eyes on the prize with his new single “Potion,” featuring Dua Lipa and Young Thug, which dropped today along with a trippy, tropical music video.
The new track is the first single from Harris’ forthcoming album Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2, the highly anticipated followup to 2017’s Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1. That LP primarily spawned the pop-radio staple “Feels” featuring Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams and Big Sean, and the sleeper hit “Slide” performed by Frank Ocean and Migos. (He also produced the hit single “One Kiss” off the 2018 expanded edition of Dua Lipa’s self-titled debut.) Vol. 1 preceded mainstream pop’s disco revival that kicked off at the start of the pandemic with artists like Doja Cat, Dua Lipa and Jessie Ware and sounded noticeably out of step with other music occupying the Billboard charts. Listening to Vol. 1, you could tell that Harris was still feeling things out, producing a sound that was a little too clean and polished for the late-20th-century aesthetic he was going for.
Five years later, Harris seems more confident and enthusiastic about this new era of music-making, even joining TikTok to promote “Potion.” In an interview with Apple Music 1’s Zane Lowe, the producer said about Funk Wav Bounces Vol 2., “I wanted the original essence, and I want the layers and the grit and the dirt. And I don’t want everything to be mixed perfectly. I want things to be too loud and I want things to be like, you know—I want things to be like Sly and the Family Stone when it’s just mixed on the fly.”
There’s hardly anything gritty, dirty or “on the fly” about the extremely crisp-sounding, immaculately engineered “Potion.” Similar to Lipa’s latest collaboration, “Sweetest Pie” with Megan Thee Stallion, the track is not the most interesting use of the British pop singer’s husky, R&B-adjacent alto. Neither is the melody as infectious as a song like “Feels” or Young Thug’s last collaboration with Harris, “Heatstroke.” Maybe unsurprisingly, it’s Thug’s eccentric, springy vocals that rescue the song—which doesn’t totally live up to its psychedelic ambitions—from feeling sleepy. His presence on “Potion” is otherwise notable, as it marks his first single since he was indicted on gang-related charges earlier this month, along with rapper Gunna. Both artists currently remain in jail.
With more opportunities for Harris to wow us, “Potions” hopefully won’t be the best Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2 has to offer and is maybe just a tease. Now that Harris’ breezy, post-disco contributions feel more timely, he’ll hopefully have more room to play around and experiment. Still, it’s nice to have a song-of-the-summer candidate that’s over 2 minutes and thirty seconds long and sounds seasonally appropriate. It will certainly do well with the TikTok crowd. And it won’t be much of a surprise if Lipa’s rudimentary dance moves on top of a lily pad in the music video become a phenomenon, too.