Monday, September 10th, 2018

Calvin Harris & Sam Smith – Promises

Perhaps Calvin and Sam could be directed to the clothes shop Scott mentions…


Ryo Miyauchi: It’s almost too apt for Calvin Harris to call up the singer behind “Latch” as the voice to his continued pivot to garage-house. He also seems referential to what worked well on his own material with that pitched-up “tonight!” ad lib, a cousin to the sneaky “I might!” of “Slide.” But he does quite the opposite of recreating Disclosure’s own hit by making Sam Smith more of an anonymous player, and the subtlety allures as much as it did with Dua Lipa and “One Kiss.”

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The goal of “Promises” is to create a sultry atmosphere, and Smith’s genteel voice proves to be a natural fit for the song’s simmering heat. Admittedly, his Disclosure collaborations were refreshing because they were ostentatious and enveloping, and hearing this only brings to mind how dull his presence can really be. Still, the hook subtly lodges itself into your memory, and the song mostly accomplishes what it’s trying to do. While there’s little on “Promises” that begs for the immediate ecstasy of “One Kiss,” the lyrics are just as sure of their commitment to dance floor pleasures. The only major misstep is the “I can’t do golden rings” line — redundant given that we just heard Smith say “I make no promises,” and eye-rollingly obvious given the song’s intentions. There’s a beauty to a dance track that can deliver a low-key come-on, but that line feels stiff and deflates all tension.

Kat Stevens: Underwritten and toothless. However the basic vocal melody and lack of emotional weight reveals a surprisingly less grating version of Sam Smith’s voice. I mean it’s not exactly Shipping-Forecast-soothing, but I don’t want to immediately throw my laptop in the bin when I hear it.

Stephen Eisermann: Sam Smith always sounds good, but rarely is the material as good as his voice. On “Promises,” Calvin Harris has managed to back Smith’s vocals up with a thumping house beat that, though familiar, is striking enough that you wouldn’t mind hearing it again and again on some intoxicated night as you jump from club to club. Still, it’s not quite enough to make this a mandatory listen; it’ll just make the repeat plays more bearable as the song climbs up the charts.

Vikram Joseph: Sam Smith’s vocals are soulful and strident enough to edge “Promises” towards adequacy, but he’s not given much to work with on this sleek disco-house booty-call anthem; it feels rather hollow, but I doubt it’s a self-reflexive enough song for that to be a comment on one-night stands or hook-up culture. “Tonight?” repeats a disembodied voice insistently, expectantly, but the song flatlines, lacking in tension or frisson.

Scott Mildenhall: The belated bridge hints at unspoken depths to Smith’s playing-it-cool, but that does little to suggest the same of the song. If there is a subtext of loneliness, lovelessness — whatever — it barely raises its head above a royalty-free clothes shop soundtrack that conflates assuredness with concerted inconspicuousness.

Alfred Soto: Most attractive as anonymous mirrorball worshiper, Smith commits himself to a hook instead of a full song; it’s like dancing to a snippet. What do we expect from Calvin Harris in 2018?

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One Response to “Calvin Harris & Sam Smith – Promises”

  1. didn’t get around to blurbing this but man, “are you drunk enough” has to be in the top 10 unintentionally skeevy first lines