Why do we love to hate The Chainsmokers, or hate to love them? It’s a constant battle between the two, but we still can’t stop listening.
The Chainsmokers are an American DJ duo consisting of Drew Taggart and Alex Pall. They formed in 2012, but Pall wasn’t in the group yet. At that time, it was Taggart and another producer named Rhett Bixler.
The Chainsmokers may not know this, but they are successful public relations professionals. PR often entails social media and press releases; however, this DJ duo uses their music equation as their own personal form of PR.
A commonly heard complaint about these artists is that all of their songs sound the same.
Here’s the catch–they do that on purpose. Let’s dive deeper.
The Chainsmokers’ first ever live performance and popularity breakthrough was with their ever-so-trendy (and ever-so-hated-on) single, #Selfie, released in 2013. #Selfie reached top hit charts internationally. The beat is catchy and words are fun to mock, think: Friday.
Although the most popularly used beats per minute for top hits is 120 BPM, all of these tracks are within a slower range of 80-100 BPM. The Chainsmokers chose a beat that matches our resting heart rates, making the songs easy to listen to.
We sing along with the vocals effortlessly. This is because they commonly consist of a small variation of notes that are within our mid-range, or natural speaking pitch.
The lyrics are simple and to-the-point with minimal need for imagination. We don’t need to wonder what he means when he says, “Baby pull me closer in the back seat of your Rover.” The picture is crystal clear. Our brains fully grasp what is going on in the song; we learn the lyrics quickly.
Lastly, The Chainsmokers follow something called a simple verse-chorus form. The verses and choruses use the same tempo and notes. This makes the songs satisfying and pleasing to the ear. By the time the drop comes, you’ve already heard those notes- in that order. But this time, it’s just done with a synthesizer instead of vocals. Our brains love patterns, and we can hear them time and time again in The Chainsmokers’ music.
By combining a soothing beat, simple melodies that are easy to sing and a satisfying song form, The Chainsmokers have roped us in without us even realizing.
As musicians or PR professionals, it is important to take note of the tactics The Chainsmokers use to ensure their optimum success. By using their crafted equation, they are able to keep listeners tuned in.
Are The Chainsmokers musical sellouts or simply clever public relations practitioners? That’s up to you to decide.