Listen Again

Listen Again

Where does a superstar DJ-producer go after conquering the world’s festival stages, song charts, and radio airwaves? David Guetta wasn’t sure. Between 2009 and 2014, the French dance veteran had played a vital role in EDM’s mainstream takeover, releasing two massively successful, collaboration-stacked albums—2009’s One Love and 2011’s Nothing But the Beat—producing for major artists (Rihanna, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga) and winning two Grammys along the way. At the top of his game with seemingly nowhere to go, Guetta faced an existential crisis compounded by a divorce from his wife (and business partner) of 22 years. Guetta channeled that restless energy into making his next full-length album, Listen, seeking a creative refresh. As a DJ-turned-producer, his M.O. throughout his career had been simply making people dance. But with Listen, he thought deeply about a song’s mechanics and emotion. Instead of starting with fist-pumping beats, he tried carving out his tracks with acoustic instruments and then produced around them. “The Whisperer,” on which Sia sings of finding light at rock bottom over simple piano and strings, isn’t dancey at all, while the Emeli Sandé–fronted “What I Did for Love,” a reflection on heartbreak, slowly turns solemn piano chords into an uplifting house groove. Don’t worry: There are still plenty of opportunities to party throughout Listen—Guetta simply pulled his outside inspirations onto the dance floor. The folk- and country-influenced “Lovers on the Sun” (co-produced by Avicii) turns the club into a neon Wild West with reverb-soaked guitar strums and a cinematic whistle melody; “No Money No Love” creates a balmy fusion of house and reggae; and “Dangerous” oozes funk with its bubbling bass guitar and old-school synth arpeggios. On the album’s blaring crown jewel, the multi-Platinum “Hey Mama,” featuring Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha, and Afrojack, Guetta once again nails the sweet spot between serotonin-spiking festival weapon and radio earworm, proving he’s still got it. In 2015, he rereleased Listen as Listen Again with eight additional tracks that return to the club in all its confettied glory.

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