"How many likes is my life worth?"
The Chainsmokers, comprised of Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart, are growing up. Their brand new song "Sick Boy" - dark and melancholic - features the same kind of clean and masterful piano-driven production we've become accustomed to hearing from The Chainsmokers. The moderately-paced electronic track features soaring synths, hard hitting drums, some light strings, and enough reverb to drown a small animal (which, just in case there is confusion, I love). Andrew Taggart wastes no time getting into to the lyrics, with the first lyrics starting at 0:01. "Sick Boy" is bookended between a subdued and understated piano instrumental during the first verse and a haunting, beautiful, and perfectly placed 22-second piano outro.
While "Sick Boy" is not so different sonically from past hits, especially recent ones such as "Paris," their latest radio-ready ear-worm sees the group's tone and messaging move away from purely personal stories and vignettes, shifting towards a broader worldview - and the result is very real, very raw, very honest, and very much a downer. Long gone are the nostalgia filled days of pulling each other closer in the backseat of a rover - today, we are talking about a couple of sick boys. The group is becoming more attuned to - and explicitly calling out - the societal idiosyncrasies of American celebrity culture.
Make no mistake, I live in a prison
That I built myself, it is my religion
Pall and Taggart are struggling with the weight that fame brings to a person - referring to it as, inexorably, a prison - one that they themselves have created by way of their work. They call out the two foremost cultural hubs of the United States' - with Taggart proclaiming New York City as the place "where we choose pride over character, where we are desensitized by hysteria" and Los Angeles as the city "where they spin lies into fairy dust."
We can pick sides, but this is us
Welcome to the narcissism, where we're united by our indifference
This sentiment has been a pervasive one in American culture, with celebrities regularly speaking up and lashing out against the way our culture treats public figures. Some other notable examples including Britney Spears' "Piece of Me" and Mike Posner's "I Took A Pill In Ibiza.".
I'm Mrs. 'Most likely to get on the TV for slipping on the streets'
When getting the groceries, now, for real, are you kidding me?
No wonder there's panic in the industry, I mean, please
You want a piece of me?
Britney Spears - "Piece of Me"
Overall, "Sick Boy" is the compete package - high quality, thoughtful, and emotionally ambitious. The Chainsmokers, no longer anaesthetized by the perceived glamour of fame, finally have gravitas - and are pushing the boundaries of what modern electronic music can be.
Verdict: We love it!
Listen to "Sick Boy" below.