Scottish DJ Calvin Harris & Rihanna's Hit "We Found Love" | Dance Anthem Origins

Scottish DJ Calvin Harris & Rihanna's Hit "We Found Love" | Dance Anthem Origins
Table Of Content

The Origins of "We Found Love" By Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna

The 2011 hit song "We Found Love" by Scottish DJ and producer Calvin Harris featuring Barbadian singer Rihanna became an instant classic upon its release. With its infectious dance beat and emotional lyrics about finding love in an unlikely place, "We Found Love" captivated audiences globally and spent 10 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US.

Calvin Harris' Breakthrough as a Producer

Prior to "We Found Love," Calvin Harris was best known for his solo work as a DJ and artist. Singles like "Acceptable in the 80s" and "I'm Not Alone" had achieved modest success, but failed to make major chart impact. However, Harris always had talent as a producer, which finally shone through with "We Found Love."

Drawing inspiration from the dance and electronic sounds popular in European clubs, Harris crafted a unique production featuring his signature synthesizers. When paired with Rihanna's stellar vocal delivery, the result was pop perfection.

Rihanna Cements Her Status as Pop Icon

For Rihanna, collaborating with Calvin Harris came at a pivotal point in her career. She had recently undergone a major image overhaul, ditching her innocent persona for a more provocative, daring aesthetic. Songs like "S&M" and "Only Girl (In the World)" signaled Rihanna's transition into full-fledged pop icon.

"We Found Love" completed this transformation, showcasing Rihanna's versatility as a vocalist through emotional lyrics about finding hope amidst despair. She proved capable of captivating listeners not just with dance floor anthems, but genuine pop balladry.

The Genius of Calvin Harris

As the mastermind behind "We Found Love," Scottish producer Calvin Harris demonstrated his immense talent through the track's instrumentation and composition.

Layering Synths and Vocals

From the very first seconds of "We Found Love," layers of synthesizers establish the foundation. Calvin Harris incorporates arpeggios, melodic leads, sweeping pads, and vocal chops to build texture and tension before the first drop.

When Rihanna's vocals enter, they blend seamlessly with the instrumentation, particularly during the pre-chorus build. This shows Harris' attention to detail regarding arrangements.

Crafting Unforgettable Melodies

The melodies in "We Found Love" contain a sublime balance of predictability and surprise. The 4-note synth motif repeating throughout the track provides familiarity listeners can latch onto. Yet the melodies also contain unexpected variations that keep things interesting.

From bent notes on the pre-chorus to bluesy touches in Rihanna's vocals, these variations showcase Calvin Harris' knack for infectious melody writing that crosses multiple genres.

Advancing the Pop/EDM Crossover

When it was released in 2011, "We Found Love" was ahead of the curve regarding pop's integration with EDM. The ensuing decade saw many top 40 hits emulate Harris' formula.

Through exceptional songwriting and calculated use of electronic elements, "We Found Love" paved the way for the EDM explosion in mainstream music. Calvin Harris' legacy as an innovator and visionary stems directly from this groundbreaking crossover hit.

The Enduring Legacy of Rihanna

Despite countless hits across various genres, Rihanna's collaboration with Calvin Harris on "We Found Love" remains a career highlight. By stepping slightly outside her comfort zone, Rihanna unlocked something truly special.

Showcasing Versatility

Prior to this track, Rihanna had not explored emotionally vulnerable themes over dance music to this extent. Her willingness to follow Harris' sonic vision demonstrated artistic fearlessness and versatility as a vocalist.

She proves adept at adapting her signature phrasing and smooth tone to a variety of backdrops. This versatility has enabled Rihanna to thrive across multiple decades at the forefront of pop.

A Defining Career Moment

More than sales numbers or chart placements, "We Found Love" holds significance as a definitive statement of creative purpose from Rihanna. The lyrics touch on complex themes like finding hope amidst despair that transcend typical pop fare.

By taking a chance on this unconventional single, Rihanna announcement herself as an artist with vision and relevance beyond temporary stardom. "We Found Love" will thus forever serve as career-defining moment.

Inspiring Future Generations

Given her cultural influence, Rihanna's musical output shapes tastes and trends for years to come. "We Found Love" inspired waves of artists to incorporate dance music into vocal-driven pop years after its release.

From lyrics about overcoming adversity to pioneering sonic fusions, "We Found Love" demonstrated visionary artistry that resonates through Rihanna's musical heirs. In this sense, her legacy continues taking new forms as inspired by this anthemic hit.


How did Calvin Harris and Rihanna first collaborate?

Calvin Harris first reached out to Rihanna about collaborating after hearing her 2010 album Loud. He was very impressed by her vocals and range as an artist, and sent her some instrumental tracks he had been working on. Rihanna loved Harris' production, and the two decided to get together in the studio to work on what would become "We Found Love."

What was the inspiration behind the lyrics of "We Found Love"?

In various interviews, Rihanna has shared that the lyrics for "We Found Love" are about finding hope, love, and redemption in unexpected places, when you may least expect it. She related it to overcoming difficult situations in her personal life and realizing that there is always light to be found in darkness.

Why was the music video shot in Northern Ireland?

The music video director, Melina Matsoukas, chose to shoot in the fields of County Down in Northern Ireland to capture rural open spaces. The greenery and natural beauty of the Irish countryside perfectly fit the emotional arc portrayed in the video and song.

What made "We Found Love" such a massive hit?

There are several key factors that contributed to "We Found Love" dominating the charts worldwide. The fusion of EDM and pop captured a new direction in music. Rihanna's charisma and vocals were at their peak. And the song structure includes multiple huge hook moments that became embedded cultural memories.

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