One moment on Eric Saade’s first international single “Hotter Than Fire,” right at the beginning, counts for fifty. Officially and by the track’s ratios of singing, the artist billing is Eric Saade ft. Dev, in that order. “Hotter than Fire” is one of those lumbering hits that starts out with a fanfare of its performers’ names. This one goes: “DEV! And Eric Saade.” in that order with that emphasis. It’s telling; Saade might have represented his native Sweden at Eurovision, but that alone isn’t enough to launch an international career, particularly for the subset of the international listening public for which that isn’t a coup but a demerit.
Enter Dev, stoker of bubblers-under like Far*East Movement, New Boyz and Demi Lovato, here in hopes that her presence will bring the lead single from Saade’s second album this year to a global boil. As for the results, listen below:
Eric Saade doesn’t do subtle. This can be good or bad, depending on whether the track in question is a more poised, much more Eurovision “I Wanna Go” like “Popular” or a bro-beat single like “Hearts in the Air.” “Hotter than Fire” isn’t in any way a departure. RedOne didn’t produce it, but the synth stabs and snapping beat could be pasted from his template. Dr. Luke wasn’t involved either, but “Hotter Than Fire” resembles nothing more than Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,” itself a template for so many songs.
Neither of these are criticisms, precisely; whatever you think of “Dynamite” and its imitators, or of subtlety, there are results to be had and club playlists that constantly demand new fodder. Ideally, the songs that fill that role will seem as inevitable an effect of the dance floor filling as the temperature rising or the mood quickening. The problem with “Hotter Than Fire” is it seems too labored. Saade sings competently enough, and Dev’s cool delivery is better than competent. But the lyrics sound like a first draft, its verses littered with clunkers like “now the club is overcrowded.” Even if you’ve shrugged off the fire-is-hot metaphor on the chorus as convention, not cliche, there’s still “she’s cooler than ice / she’s flyer than wind” to reconcile, every single time. Even the title has issues; you wonder how nobody involved in its recording, production, marketing or distribution took the time to Google the track and make sure the No. 1 result didn’t come with its own minimum age limit.
There’s another moment in “Hotter Than Fire,” its best, that’s equally telling; it’s where the bosh recedes slightly and Dev takes over vocal duties for her bridge. It’s compelling, you want to hear more of it, and it reminds you that Dev’s solo album is overdue. But “Hotter Than Fire” isn’t a Dev track; it’s an Eric Saade track, meant to be his international launch. This is a problem. Getting people to dance isn’t hard given the right beat and right atmosphere. Taking over the world is harder. At very least, you should take over your own track first.