I have to admit my only insight into Giorgio Moroder, before the standout ‘Giorgio by Moroder’ off of Daft Punk’s 2013 Random Access Memories was his production work on David Bowie’s 1982 ‘Cat People (Putting Out Fire)’. Whilst ‘Cat People’ is a stellar track, the focus was chiefly upon Bowie, so it was ‘Giorgio by Moroder’ that really made me pay attention to Moroder himself. And who can blame me? Moroder delivers a spoken-word monologue about his early life and career, so it’s quite hard not to pay attention.
Fast forward to 20 January 2015. ‘Right Here, Right Now’ was released, and I was blown away. The production is flawless, and Kylie Minogue’s feature is seamless. This is a pairing that just works. Featuring a deep beat that melds into bubblegum pop and a breathy vocal, ‘Right Here, Right Now’ perfectly showcases the sound of Déjà Vu. It’s disco, only modernised, with infusions of dance and pop. Déjà Vu is contemporary.
The tracklist serves as a who’s-who of the biggest names in pop, including Britney Spears, Sia, Kelis and Foxes, but there’s a wasted opportunity here, surely. Moroder has worked with David Bowie, Blondie, Bonnie Tyler and Daft Punk, amongst many others, so I have no idea why he didn’t call in the favours. I’d have loved to have heard Bowie belting out the lyrics to the title track.
Not that Sia doesn’t do well, because ‘Déjà Vu‘ is perhaps the standout of the album. It’s funky and breathy and sweeping, and it’ll infect you with the need to dance almost immediately. Sia and Moroder needs to happen more often. On the flipside is ‘Diamonds’, featuring Charli XCX. ‘Diamonds’ is pure grunge, and a song that simply cannot be described as disco. But it works. Boy, does it work. You’ll be shouting ‘Diamonds’ along with the auto-tuned Moroder in moments.
Britney Spears pops up in a modernised cover of Suzanne Vega’s ‘Tom’s Diner’, and unfortunately, her voice lacks any real emotion. It doesn’t particularly sound auto-tuned, but it definitely sounds as though Britney could care less about featuring on the track. Indeed she reportedly didn’t even finalise the vocals in time for the album, meaning that Moroder had to autotune the lyrical breakdown towards the middle of the track. It’s not just Britney that sounds as though she can’t be bothered; the production is laboured and drawn-out, when all it really needs is to be sped up a little and this would have worked better. I love Britney, but the more I listen to this track the less excited I get.
It’s not just ‘Tom’s Diner’ that doesn’t work, though. Matthew Koma, known for working with Zedd, Hardwell and Tiesto, just doesn’t gel with the lyrics of ‘Tempted’. It’s a pretty boring song, and one that’ll definitely be overlooked. Likewise ‘I Do This For You’ and ‘La Disco’ are quick to forger. The former features Marlene (nope, I’ve never heard of her either) but fails to connect with the listener, whilst the latter, one of three instrumental tracks, just fails to excite as it falls into repetitiveness.
’74 Is The New 24’, another instrumental, just teeters on the edge of greatness, with a thumping baseline and a revving beat. It truly is a phenomenal piece of production and the perfect blend of old and new, but I can’t help but think it would have worked better had some lyrics been layered over.
Whilst there are a few duds, Déjà Vu mainly works. ‘Don’t Let Go’, featuring Mikky Ekko, is in a word stunning. With a refined beat and a vocal reminiscent of Adam Lambert and Freddie Mercury, the rousing chorus demands to be mimicked. Foxes’ turn on ‘Wildstar’ likewise is infectious and excites as much as Zedd’s ‘Clarity’; Foxes is suited to the dance and house genres, so she needs to utilise them more often. And finally ‘Back and Forth’, with Kelis providing vocals, is everything you’d expect. A raspy, unique vocal and simplistic production, mark this as a contender for standout.