The Meaning Behind “Feels” by Calvin Harris Ft. Pharrell, Katy Perry, and Big Sean, and the Long-Running Feud It Ended

Before Calvin Harris completed work on his hit “Feels,” he had to end a long-running feud with Katy Perry.

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Meanwhile, Pharrell reimagines one of his biggest hits and again looks to 1970s disco and funk to create a modern summer dancehall anthem, with Big Sean joining in on the tropical fun.

Get Lucky

Pharrell joins Calvin Harris on “Feels” as the Neptune tries to persuade a woman to kiss him. It’s a summer disco-funk jam and sounds like Pharrell echoing a laid-back version of his own 2013 collaboration on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”

Do you mind if I steal a kiss? (Chop, chop)
A little souvenir. Can I steal it from you?
To memorize the way you shock me (yeah)
The way you move it here (hey)
Just wanna feel it from you (hey, ooh)

Katy Perry is the quintessential summery pop star, and she appears in the song to encourage Pharrell’s affections. Perry released a summer smash in 2010, “California Gurls,” with its spelling an homage to Big Star’s “September Gurls.” Her California love hit also features Snoop Dogg.

The song combines disco with a ska groove for its yachty feel. Furthermore, Perry’s vocals are reminiscent of Gwen Stefani, whom Pharrell collaborated with on Love Angel Music Baby and The Sweet Escape.

Don’t be afraid to catch feels (ha)
Ride drop top and chase thrills (hey)
I know you ain’t afraid to pop pills (hey)
Baby, I know you ain’t scared to catch feels
Feels with me

Meanwhile, Big Sean enters and declares his intentions. He’s ditched his exes and said his “old flings” were just preparation for real love.

When I say I want you, say it back, parakeet
Flyin’ first class through the air, Airbnb
I’m the best you had. You just be comparing me to me
Ima ‘at’ this at you if I put you on my phone
And upload it, it’d get maximum views
I came through in the clutch with the lipsticks and phones
Wear your fave cologne just to get you alone

Earth, Wind & Fire

Harris wrote “Feels” with Pharrell, Perry, Big Sean, and Starrah (born Brittany Hazzard). The song borrows from Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Let’s Groove.” As a result, “Let’s Groove’s” composers Maurice White and Wayne Vaughn received writing credits.

“Feels” is the fourth single from the Scottish DJ’s fifth album, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 (2017). The single topped the UK singles chart and reached No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Harris’ star-studded album also features collaborations with John Legend, Ariana Grande, Frank Ocean, Migos, Young Thug, Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg, Future, and Khalid.

Tropical Music Video

Emil Nava directed the vivid music video for “Feels.” Nava’s video features the artists lounging on a desert island. Nava said the biggest challenge was getting everyone together for the shoot.

He created a 360-degree world “where the camera can see anyone and shoot everywhere.” He added, “I’m a firm believer in trying to capture a feeling that you can translate to the audience on screen.”

Nava has also directed Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t” and “Photograph,” Charlie Puth’s “Attention,” and Selena Gomez’s “Kill ’em with Kindness.”

He explained his creative style to Billboard: “It took a long time for me to really develop my voice as a director. I never went to film school or was educated in film. For me, it was always very much about how I feel. For a lot of directors they’re known for planning with storyboards and very forward-thinking with how they want to end up. Whereas I like to find the magic in it. I like to make it a journey of discovery, I guess.”

Calvin Harris and Katy Perry Feud

In 2011, NME reported the two fell out when Harris, who was booked to open for Perry, pulled out of the tour at the last minute over production issues.

A Twitter spat occurred when Perry wrote, “Calvin Harris will NOT be joining in on the fun and has CANCELLED last minute.”

Harris responded, “Sorry to all who wanted to see me with Katy—her team suddenly moved the goalposts and I was to appear on stage with no production.”

However, they eventually put their disagreements behind them for their collaboration on “Feels.” Perry told Ryan Seacrest, “We just bumped into each other, and he said, ‘I think I have a song that maybe you should come check out.’”

Perry said, “I was like, ‘Cool,’ because we had always meant to work together for years and years and years.” 

The quarrel lasted eight years, but they finally moved past it and came together on “Feels.”

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Photo by Joshua Sammer/Getty Images for Superbloom

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