Remembering Avicii: How one man changed the music industry
After the news that shocked the world this week, Tahlia Zangari discusses why the loss of music icon, Avicii, is so tragic.
On 20 April 2018, the world was shocked by the news that 28-year-old Swedish Tim Bergling, as known by his stage name Avicii, had shockingly passed away. This article is not going to speculate why he died, or the way it occurred. Instead, I want to highlight the importance of realising how much Avicii really impacted the music industry, and what his death means for EDM music as a whole. Avicii was not just a DJ, but a pop culture icon, marking a moment in time where music producers were treated like rockstars, so much so that comedians sired complete sets about how much these new-age idols were worshipped (check out Andy Samberg’s skit that was inspired by Avicii).
Music you WILL remember
Levels by Avicii is the progressive house track that set up his promising career. The song, also known as Le7els, is considered by many to be one of the greatest EDM songs of all time. It was not only a success on the international charts, but became a part of pop culture. For instance, Good Feeling by Flo Rida heavily sampled from Avicii’s track. Without inspiration from Avicii, Flo Rida would not have been able to achieve one of the biggest songs of his own career, which saw the rapper score a #2 hit on the Billboard charts. So, what made this song have such an impact on EDM music? It's mainly because of the track’s synth hook, which makes it instantly recognisable as soon as it hits your ears. It's one of those tracks that, after hearing the first couple of seconds, makes you turn to your friend and say, “OH! I remember this song! It's Levels!" Even though the title of the song is not actually in any of the song’s lyrics, as it uses samples of Etta James’ song, Something's got a hold of me. However, Levels instead acted as a trademark for Avicii showcasing his own signature composition. From beginning to end, the song constantly elevates itself and its listeners, which is something that the DJ tried to continuously achieve throughout the span of his career.
Music that has no boundaries
One thing that made Avicii a music icon was his ability to seamlessly cross different genres together to create dance floor smashes. Take his collaboration with soul singer, Aloe Blacc, for the song, Wake Me Up, a song that has been listened to and reproduced millions of times, with one of the latest being done by our very own, Jessica Mauboy. This song is easily one of Avicii’s biggest and most memorable songs, which crossed EDM with bluegrass, rock and country. Wake Me Up is currently one of the biggest music videos on YouTube with over 1.5 billion views. The song marked a revolution in EDM through the concept of folktronica, where music of different genres is blended together to create mainstream pop. In 2014, Avicii helped write and produce the song, A Sky Full of Stars for British rock band, Coldplay, who released it as their first dance song in their at the time, 18-year career. The song saw the matrimony of a piano ballad with EDM and pop to create a global hit, which was given a nomination at the 57th Grammy Awards.
More than just a DJ
Avicii was did not want to be your stereotypical (pun intended) DJ that just made hot beats for clubs. He wanted his music to make statements about life through the language of music. Avicii continued to experiment with folktronica on his single, Hey Brother, from his 2013 album, True.
The song comments on the uncertainties of life and depicts the effects of war in its video. Apart from his cinematic-like music videos, Avicii was known for his captivating performances right up to his retirement from touring in 2016. Avicii not only is responsible for a large amount of international hits, but he also inspired both his fans and other artists. He is one of the main artists responsible for bringing EDM into the mainstream. The progressive house Seek Bromance was the world’s earliest glimpse at the up-and-coming career of Avicii; who, at this point, went by the name of Tim Berg. Fellow DJ, Diplo, took to Instagram after the news broke about Avicii’s death to explain how this song made him want to pursue a career in dance music. The song also inspired Kygo to drop out university to devote his time to learning how to make electronic music. Avicii was also well received by critics, having won an American Music Award, a Billboard Music Award (with one nomination currently pending) and being nominated for two Grammy Awards.
Avicii’s death is of course tragic, pursuant to his achievements in music or not. It's undeniable that he opened the doors for the EDM artists that follow to step outside of their boundaries. Avicii has shown that music is universal and has no rules. He may be gone, but his music will never leave the world. As tragic as his death is, he has gifted the world with hits that define their time. He was more than just a DJ; he was a lyricist, artist and an innovator. He may have lost his life, but his legacy will remain.
Tahlia Zangari is a second-year Public Communications student who is crazy about music and broke from all the concerts she attends…please send her money. You can check out the best of Avicii on Tahlia’s Spotify.