A few years ago, a collaboration between Tove Lo and Sean Paul would be an unexpected development. Sean Paul, early 2000s hip-hop staple and master of Jamaican dancehall hits, has a style that wouldn’t necessarily mesh well with Tove Lo’s bombastic, emotional pop. But with the recent release of Tove Lo’s album Sunshine Kitty, the Swedish songstress transitioned from glittery drops to Latin-inspired beats, a shift that she has attributed to her happy relationship and relocation to sun-soaked Los Angeles. In Tove Lo’s Sunshine era, she meshes beautifully with Sean Paul in a song that works with both of their catalogs.
“Calling on Me” is certainly an infectiously danceable track, albeit surface-level. Tove Lo’s voice is mostly utilized in the song’s hook, and as always, she adds shine and dynamic to a song that would otherwise fall a bit flat. Without her involvement, “Calling on Me” would be a forgettable Sean Paul tune chock full of lyrical fluff. “Calling, calling, calling on me // I’ll be there for you,” Tove Lo promises in the song’s repetitive chorus.
On this song, Jamaican hip-hop veteran Sean Paul continues to follow the formula that has solidified his presence in music for 20 — pairing his melodic rap with another dynamic performer’s hook over a dancehall beat. And it works, because the danceability of his music is timeless.
After her hit albums, Lady Wood and Blue Lips, showcased Tove Lo’s pain and vulnerabilities under a sheen of addictive pop hooks, the singer took a sharp pivot away from the darkness on Sunshine Kitty. And on her latest EP, the track “Bikini Porn,” with Billie Eilish collaborator Finneas, the titular track was a carefree poolside romp, followed by the jarringly deep “Passion and Pain Taste the Same When I’m Weak.” These days, Tove Lo has been black and white with her emotionality, releasing silly hits alongside her more vulnerable ones.
“Calling on Me” is the former: a song you might put on in the car but never fully retain the lyrics to. A closer reading isn’t warranted, but the song is definitely fun and bouncy, and it benefits from the distinctive vocal riffs that imbue all of her songs with a certain sparkle. Our first instinct is to ask for more lyrical depth (or any), but this track serves its purpose. It is impossible to get out of your head and will undoubtedly make it onto countless party soundtracks.
Featured image: Island Records