The recent release of the Chainsmokers’ 2018 single “Sick Boy” has many people talking. It is unlike anything they have released before. Although it sounds like a traditional dance song, sporting a catchy back beat overlaid with masterful electronic soundscapes, the single contains a sobering message about today’s society. The Chainsmokers have never been a traditional EDM group. The DJ duo of Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart have pushed the boundaries of their chosen genre numerous times. Both artists are heavily involved in the songwriting, and Andrew Taggart even goes as far as to sing lead vocals. “Sick Boy” is their latest attempt to remain relevant, establish themselves as true artists, and better connect with their listeners.
Since the release of 2016 hit “Closer” the Chainsmokers have tried to insert themselves as the human element within their music. For most DJ’s that element is provided by other artists in collaboration, but as Taggart continues to provide lead vocals, that element has become the duo themselves. According to Alex Pall it stems from a choice to wrap an identity around their work. “We want our songs to be a cohesive body of work that illustrates who we are” Pall said. In a recent interview the duo alluded that at one point they decided they did not want to make regular dance music anymore. They looked around, saw that most EDM groups did not use their own vocals, and said why not. The decision has paid off considerably as the Chainsmokers are more popular than ever.
“Sick Boy” is a continuation of Pall’s desire to stay away from typical DJ format. A few singles, a collection of good songs, some dance records, and an interlude shoved in their somewhere. For him relevance is found in identity and a song like “Sick Boy” provides that identity. The song alludes to the frustration of celebrity in the thrall of overexposure on social media, and also touches on the loss of identity social media generates.