Track Review: Happy Hour // Felix Cartal ft. Kiiara

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With his recently released electrifying EDM single ‘Happy Hour’, Canadian platinum producer and DJ Felix Cartal couches a story of heartbreak in unexpectedly euphoric terms. The concept of happy hour is redefined, now referring to the long, lonely hours of the night when lost souls drink away their miseries. Cartal unites this sorrowful picture with jubilant instrumentals to form a paradoxical yet compelling whole: an anthem for rejects and losers.   

Pop sensation Kiiara—the voice of electropop sleeper hit ‘Gold’—features on the track, painting a wistful vignette of a long-lost relationship with her distinct breathy vocals. “Every night I’m searchin’ for something new / How am I gonna get through? / Every face reminds me of you,” she croons in the catchy pre-chorus over resounding piano chords and synthesizers.   

The chorus dances along a tightrope, with unrelenting beats and clicks building a taut crescendo, before leaping off triumphantly into a satisfying beat drop. This instrumental movement is deliciously reflected in the accompanying lyrics, which talk of surrendering to the overwhelming darkness of heartache: “We waste our nights / from light to dark sides / like every hour is happy hour / we’re lost, not found / we’re all crashin’ down / when every hour is happy hour”.

The dimension-defying music video, which was released on 15 March, avoids wallowing in the lyrical woe; instead it chooses to celebrate reckless abandon and boundless possibility. It begins by dangling before us the irresistible allure of summer nights spent lounging in hazy bars and singing drunken karaoke. Then, after drinking a mysterious shimmering blue drink offered by the bartender, Cartal takes us through a wormhole of sorts—moving beyond the bar into different scenes of delirious adventure.  

Director Kasey Lum, who has been making videos with Cartal since the beginning of both of their artistic careers, explained the dreamlike visuals: “We decided the best move for this was to create a simple surreal narrative because we could take the viewer anywhere and it didn’t need to make sense; as long as the world looked cool, we were on the right track.”

A rich musical history precedes Vancouver-based Cartal, who has created official remixes for a variety of A-list artists—including Selena Gomez, Zedd, Ellie Goulding and Doja Cat—and collaborated with fellow DJs Kaskade and R3HAB. In 2016, he released a remix of Kiiara’s ‘Feels’, and so ‘Happy Hour’ marks a pivotal stride in his collaborative journey with the star. 

Words by Reem Ahmed


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