With a Grammy nomination for his mix of Lana Del Rey and a massive remix of Howard Jones “Things Can Only Get Better,” 2013 has been a big year for French born, Miami-based DJ/producer Cedric Gervais.? With his new single “The Look,” he aims to launch 2014 by blending two discordant EDM styles – the UK obsession of ’90s styled Nu-House and big room electro.? The results work surprisingly well, with the synth-pop intro leading into a very aggressive and grinding electro beat.? The melody of the synth line is repeated in drops replayed with different effects.? Something about the intro, though, sounds so familiar to me – I am not sure if I am hearing a replay of Yaz’s “Don’t Go” or Eric Prydz “Pjanoo.”? Or is it a replay of “Pjanoo” using the synths of “Don’t Go”??? Or if it’s not “Pjanoo” is it Patrice Rushen’s “I Was Tired of Being Alone” or Double You’s “Run To Me” or Ohio Players “Love Rollercoaster?”? Well, whatever it is, after this becomes the club monster that it will no doubt become, don’t be surprised if he enlists the vocal talents of an ’80s pop tart to sing a top line (how about Sheena Easton?). That would be the absolute perfect way totally mash up the decades.
Yes, “Things Can Only Get Better” is an ’80s classic by one of my first musical idols – synth-pop deity Howard Jones. I remember one summer in High School when I saw him perform five times around Florida. When I first saw signs advertising this collaboration with French-born/Miami-based DJ/producer Cedric Gervais during Winter Music Conference in March, I got so excited that I nearly tore it down to keep as a souvenir – so yes, my expectations were high. The stadium/electro update features a few lines of vocals and sounds exactly like you would expect. Yes, it’s fun and energetic and will no doubt create magic on any dance floor with the hooky synth lines and uplifting vocal bits but, and there is a big but, it really doesn’t seem as amazing as it should be. In the same way that Scandinavian Techno Society mocked the Swedish House Mafia, this seems like it could be a spoof of all the cover/sample tracks that pop up on a weekly basis. It feels like something that Royal Gigolos would have done during Benny Benassi’s atonal noise period rather than something masterful from the gifted producer who created “Spirit In My Soul” and “Love is the Answer.” Then again, maybe Cedric’s ambition is to become a novelty act in the “Molly” vein (and it makes you wonder if Tyga will do a version of this as well). The video reinforces that with a David Guetta “Play Hard”-esque comical take where the main character gets caught in a Groundhog Day-like sequence that leads him to an amazing underground party – complete with flashing lights, pretty girls, and of course the main vocal hook exploding for big emphasis. Maybe since this song was such a major part of my youth I was hoping for something more creative and epic as opposed to a two line-sampling paint-by-numbers stadium track – like maybe a full vocal version, or something more creative like the Milk and Sugar version of “What is Love” from a few years back. Couldn’t he at least thrown us a bone and used the “woh oh oh” chant which the original song was known for in the drop out? Maybe this track will inspire other electronic producers to collaborate with the genius Howard Jones to revisit his classics while creating new music with him. With all that said, this is a fun track that I am no doubt overanalyzing, and those of us nostalgic for the ’80s will enjoy this as much as punters of the 2010s.