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“Finally Moving” – Pretty Lights

Etta James, born January 25, 1938 in Los Angeles, CA is one of the most celebrated R&B stars of our time, according to allmusic.com. While she is most commonly known for her hit “At Last, ” I’d like to focus primarily on one small vocal sample that changed the course of popular music today. While only one song is featured today, I encourage you to take a quick listen to all of the links provided to fully understand how the transformation of this song has manifested itself through popular music.

Today’s song is entitled, “Finally Moving” by Pretty Lights. Derek Vincent Smith, a Colorado native, finds his musical style somewhere between moody downtempo and upbeat, densely layered material geared more for clubs or massive concert venues. His tracks often apply vintage samples to hard-hitting abstract hip-hop beats and layers of bold synthesizer patterns. He self-describes his music as “electro hip-hop soul,” but I would go so far as to add the word “trip” or “glitch” somewhere in there as well. He releases all the music on his label, Pretty Lights Music (PLM), for free and I highly encourage you to listen and download his stuff: here.

“Finally Moving” is track #4 off his first album: Taking Up Your Precious Time (2006) co-produced with label mate, Michael Menert. The track features the introductory vocal sample from Etta James’ song “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.” Lyrics Here. Two years later, “Finally Moving” was remixed and released on Pretty Lights’ next album Filling Up the City Skies (2008).

The “Finally Moving (remix)” features the same prominent vocal sample, but also incorporates a resampled chopped up bit of the guitar from the original “Finally Moving” track. The darker, more aggressive quality of the remix continued to gain popularity among Pretty Lights fans and most likely caught the attention of Swedish producer Tim Bergling aka Avicii.

That’s right, if you haven’t caught on already, or have been living under a rock for the last year, these tracks inspired “Levels” (Le7els) by Avicii. Released (officially) almost exactly one year ago, track first premiered as ID (stands for identification – or an unknown track released by an artist) on Avicii’s Essential Mix on BBC Radio 1 (11/12/10). “Levels” has since peaked at number one in Sweden and on the Dance music charts in United States, and became a top ten hit in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Without a doubt, one of the most influential songs in popular music in the last year, “Levels” bridged the gap between the slowly emerging underground world of EDM to the masses.

Hip-hop, mainstream, pop rapper/producer/musician Flo Rida decided to use the popularity of “Levels” to launch his single “Good Feeling” in late August of 2011, almost a year later. “Good Feeling” has peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming his sixth top-10 and fourth top-five single on the chart. The song also became a top ten hit in 16 countries.

Even the growing trend of Dubstep in the United States got a little slice of “Levels.” Skrillex changed the key and dropped the tempo, but the fundamentals of “Levels” are still present. Take a listen, but remember where the inspiration came from first, and enjoy the serene, simplistic mood of “Finally Moving” by Pretty Lights.

More about Pretty Lights here.
More about Etta James here.
More about Avicci here.
Download Pretty Lights Music here.

And last but not least, all the songs mentioned in this post!

Something’s Got a Hold on Me by Etta James.
Finally Moving by Pretty Lights.
Finally Moving (Remix) by Pretty Lights.
Levels by Avicii.
Good Feeling by Flo Rida.
Levels (Skrillex Remix) by Skrillex.

Finally Moving - Taking Up Your Precious Time