NFB Listens To Number Ones: “One Kiss” – Dua Lipa And Calvin Harris

Would I be exaggerating to say that this is one of the best songs of the last few years? The fact that I, a guy who generally has very little time for anything that you could describe as “club music” am really into this should be proof enough, and the music listeners of Ireland thought so too, propelling this one to the pinnacle of the charts for several weeks in the summer of 2018. It’s not really all that surprising why: this is a song that even I can imagine enjoying in a nightclub, since it lacks the blaring, annoying noise that so often comes with the genre. Harris has a well-earned reputation for making such tracks that have more than a little thought in them, and “One Kiss” might be at the very pinnacle of what he has tried to do for that scene.

There’s something just so intense yet relaxing about this song. I don’t know how else to put it: I think Dua Lipa’s sultry voice combined with Harris’ songwriting and beats manages to capture something in the middle of love and lust in the way this woman paints a picture of a kiss starting some kind of romantic adventure. The imagery, just from those lyrics, is fairly evocative without being over-wrought: we can picture two people in a club beginning something, covered in saccharine words like “One kiss is all it takes, falling in love with me” but which hits what’s probably a more realistic appraisal with the second verse: “I just want to feel your skin on mine, feel your eyes do the exploring”. There’s a potent sexuality to the song in other words, it forming a kind of ode to summertime club seduction: “Let me love you while the moon is still out”. Harris’ musical accompaniment is pretty decent too, with the synth an effective backdrop to Lipa, memorable and something to sway too without shoving the singer out of the picture.

This one probably has one of the weirdest music videos of this series thus far though, that features Lipa poolside while a bunch of strangely clad dancers do their stuff – looking vaguely like mantis shrimp at times I always thought – while the singer sips drinks served to her by Harris. All that with some intentionally bad effects mixed with kaleidoscopic colours. In an era when music videos tend to swing between the dull and the bizarre, Harris and Lipa certainly picked a side, and it’s one that confuses me to this day. But it doesn’t take away from the song. Speaking personally, Dua Lipa wasn’t someone I was strongly aware of before this, and Harris was pretty much a slightly better-than-average DJ who occasionally sang. “One Kiss” made me realise just how worthy of note the first was, and just how talented the second could be.

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