By Patrick Doss
The day is finally upon us. Nearly three years removed from his last album Planets, world-renowned producer Robbert van de Corput, better known by his stage name, Hardwell, released his 2015 album United We Are via Cloud 9 Music. Certainly being the reigning DJ Mag #1 DJ for the past two years places a great deal of pressure on the famed Dutch producer. However, as he has done so many times in the past, Hardwell doesn’t fail to impress.
The first track on the album is entitled “Eclipse”, and the strong synths and upbeat progressive house feel start the album off with a bang. In fact, he has been playing “Eclipse” throughout many sets for the past year. The album has begun, and so far the journey has started off on the right foot. The next song is entitled “Follow Me”, featuring the vocals of American singer-songwriter Jason Derülo. Derülo’s vocals are perfect for Hardwell’s background track and it ultimately results in an uplifting song that promises to be a strong candidate for airplay on worldwide radio stations.
Next is Hardwell’s collaboration with UK songwriter and vocalist Harrison. Hardwell’s fantastic instrumental contributions make up for the rather weak lyrics. The song is a hybrid of alternative and electronic music, resulting in a stunning composition. Following that, is the collaboration between Hardwell and Heather Bright, a singer-songwriter known also by her stage name Bright Lights. Producers like Zedd, and Porter Robinson have utilized Bright’s vocals and artists like Justin Bieber, Ashley Tisdale, and Toni Braxton utilized her songwriting abilities. Bright’s vocals provide a soothing element to this slower paced song. It changes the pace of the album, which it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The song that I was most excited to hear was the collaboration between Hardwell and Tiësto. Tiësto has been an absolute force in the world of electronic dance music for many years and his collaboration with Hardwell featuring Andreas Moe, reminds audiences why. “Colors” is a nice return to the club-like feel of the album, and is certainly a great example of two giants producing a masterpiece. The next song is “Where Is Here Now” a collaboration between Hardwell and producers Funkerman, and I/Fan. The song has the classic nineties house sound and is one of my favorites.
In 2012, Hardwell produced one of the biggest tracks of the year in his collaboration with Australian sing-songwriter Amba Shepherd entitled “Apollo”. This year, the duo is at it once again with their collaboration “United We Are”. The song plays a solid three minutes before Shepherd’s vocals kick in, but when they do the result is spectacular. Following that is Hardwell’s amazing collaboration with Dutch producer duo W&W, as well as American hip-hop icon Fatman Scoop. The booming vocals of Scoop partnered with the beats of W&W and Hardwell make for one enjoyable song.
Released as a single on October 17, 2014, “Young Again” is the collaboration between Hardwell and British singer-songwriter Chris Jones. Jones’ strong voice combined with Hardwell’s pleasant beats work flawlessly together. The next song of the album is Hardwell’s collaboration with American producer, and singer-songwriter Jonathan Mendelsohn. “Echo” has the sound of some of Hardwell’s earlier works, which I love. The vocals from Mendelsohn fit the song perfectly, making it one of my favorites.
The first single from the album released on July 7, 2014, is “Arcadia”, a collaboration between Hardwell and Dutch producer Joey Dale that features the vocals of English singer-songwriter Luciana. “Arcadia” is one of my least favorite songs on the album. The vocals don’t pair well with the somewhat uneven background track. The next song on the album is entitled “Area51” and it does an acceptable job changing the album’s pace from “Arcadia”. Hardwell collaborates with American producer DallasK, and although the song isn’t horrible, it sounds generic.
The next song is certainly one of the most intriguing. Hardwell teams up with hardstyle producer Headhunterz for the song “Nothing Can Hold Us Down”. Rarely do you see two artists from different genres collaborate, producing an amazing track. The vocals from singer Haris are the icing on the cake. Following “Nothing Can Hold Us Down” is Hardwell’s collaboration with Dutch singer-songwriter Mr. Probz (known widely throughout the world for his hit song “Waves”). The song isn’t horrible, but it doesn’t seem to fit the album. The slower tempo coupled with large amounts of bass isn’t a typical Hardwell style.
The album comes to a conclusion with the acoustic version of Hardwell’s hit song “Dare You”. The vocals provided by American singer-songwriter Matthew Koma, as well as backup vocals by American singer-songwriter Bebe Rexha are spot on. Although it is a slow paced ending to the album, the song is an absolute work of art.
Overall, United We Are is definitely worth a listen and the fact that it is available for streaming on Spotify makes it easy to do so. I recommend this album to anyone who enjoys club-like music or trying to discover a new artist. Hardwell once again proves that he is the king of electronic dance music and he won’t be stopping anytime soon.