A fire year for The Chainsmokers

If I had a dollar for every time I hear The Chainsmokers’ Closer on the radio, I would be able to pay for all my meals for the whole semester.

I kid. But in all seriousness, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has not heard the song at least once. At the time of writing, Closer has spent 20 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, holding the top spot for 12 consecutive weeks.

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The Chainsmokers: Andrew Taggart (left) and Alexander Pall (right). Image source: runthetrap.com

The Chainsmokers, made up of Alexander Pall and Andrew Taggart, first got their big break in 2014 through the annoyingly catchy #Selfie. It would have been easy to dismiss them as lucky one-hit wonders, but they have proven otherwise. After a few less commercially-successful singles, their next breakthrough was when they released their Bouquet EP in 2015. The EP’s first single, Roses, got the ball rolling, peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and being certified 3 times platinum in the United States. From then on, their profile increased steadily, becoming a regular on mainstream radio airwaves and also performing at numerous concerts and music festivals. Their success could be attributed to their market-savviness, keeping on top of trends, and being innovative with their sounds.

In view of the year ending, here is a review of 3 of their songs (and their music videos) that made it onto Billboard’s Hot 100’s 2016 year-end chart:

1. Don’t Let Me Down (feat. Daya)

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Image source: justjared.com

This track featuring Daya has been nominated for Best Dance Recording at the 2017 Grammy Awards. The song starts off with a mid-tempo guitar hook that draws you in as Daya’s husky voice begins her tale. The beat steadily increases, building up for the climax. Instead of Avicii’s signature euphoric drop, The Chainsmokers give a satisfying trap whirl, an earworm which does not diminish any of the momentum that was built up previously.

The music video has an interesting concept, reminiscent of Skrillex’s and DJ Snake’s videos, albeit more toned down. The video starts with Pall and Taggart getting into a yellow car, playing the song on the phone, while driving down a mountain road. Along the way, they meet Daya and a group of dancers. As she sings and they dance, the car begins to bounce more aggressively, throwing Pall and Taggart up in the air. Does that make any sense? For a song with such a strong message, it would have been logical to make a video based on the song’s narrative. Visually, the video is not that impressive. However, pairing the song with the video, it gives a different spin on the story. Instead of wallowing in self-pity indoors, she’s out to demand for a reason, unashamed to ask for the support that she needs.

2. Closer (feat. Halsey)

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Image source: prettyneatgrooves.com

Lyrics that you could easily sing along to? Check. Simple and catchy chorus? Check. An alt-pop darling to give a slight edge of cool? Check. Various relatable millennial cultural references? Check. This slickly produced track has all the pop sensibilities that is guaranteed to make it a hit, if not, THE track of Summer 2016. It is the type of song that you would sing in the car with a group of friends, with the radio blaring and windows down, while on a hypothetical road trip. It is that sort of feel-good song that you would still fondly bop along to when it comes on 20 years later.

The music video is 90% made up of scenes of Taggart and Halsey in the bedroom or making out, and the other 10% consists of silently staring at your ex from across the room. The video lays out the narratively plainly, going along with the good old times, the drifting apart, the separation, and the regret. In spite of that, it does leave us hanging at the end, unsure of whether they get back together, or split up for good.

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The story in a nutshell

3. Roses (feat. ROZES)

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Image source: ytimg.com

For a song about love, it has an apt title and featured artist. It opens with some synths, making one anticipate what the song could bring. When the first beat drops, it carries on a steady beat that is easy enough to follow. Again, The Chainsmokers deliver an unexpected drop after the build-up. The drop is neither faster nor slower, instead, it makes you switch from a steady foot-tapping (and/or head-nodding, whichever you fancy) to a swingy beat that would make you sway from side-to-side while snapping your fingers. The Chainsmokers have mentioned in an interview, “people are enjoying it because it doesn’t feel and sound like everything that’s on the radio right now.” They are right, because it is very different and it is a refreshing sound.

The video begins with a gorgeous sunset and the opening synths of the song, painting a beautiful picture. The video centres on a couple. They spend the night together, but the man quietly leaves in the morning and the woman searches for him. However, they reunite again by nightfall. There are also scenes of the woman dancing in dim room interspersed in between. Like roses, the beauty and pain of relationships are depicted in the music video. All in all, the most tender and artistic video of the three.

By Olivia Yeoh
Header image source: wegotthiscovered.com

I live for 90s alternative rock and Robyn's "Dancing on My Own".

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