The Chainsmokers EP & Live Performance
Sometimes I wonder where music is going. As we become more electronic in our music sounds many worry that the guitar is on the decline and the intimacy of music is making way to this new impersonal sound. One controlled by a DJ that lacks soul and sometimes originality. The truth is that the emotion is not out of the picture. It is being examined through different means, but at the end of the day music is music. Performers and producers like Diplo, Marshmello, the-late Avicii, and of course The Chainsmokers are making us dance, but they are also making us think if you pay enough attention to the messages hidden behind a beat to dance to.
Live Performance at Chase Center in San Francisco
On November 29th, 2019, I attended The Chainsmokers World War Joy tour. I have never been to a concert in which the main body of work of an artist involves a cornucopia of featured artists. So, I had absolutely no idea how the concert would even work or if it would feel authentic. There were definitely gags and literal fireworks throughout the show, but what struck me between the dancing and the pyrotechnics is how raw the messaging of the songs are. I was dancing to ‘Paris’ which lays out this story of escapism, restlessness, drug addiction, and this feeling of just never having your feet on the ground. I looked around and saw many inebriated folks getting lost in the beat, but my mind could not let go over what was being communicated through lyrics, vocals, and of course the beat that makes EDM so enjoyable. It was a wonderful show, I truly recommend anyone to go see them live to have that same experience of letting your mind as well as your body wrestle with the music.
2019 EP: World War Joy…Push My Luck
After the concert, it dawned on me, that I never did a proper listen to or review of the EP that their new tour is promoting. In terms of tone, this EP definitely has a tension of wanting to be happy and things getting in the way of actually attaining that happiness. This is a feeling that I think all of us today feel, especially the younger generations as they try to figure out what their new role is in this unpredictable world.
The first track is entitled ‘Push my Luck’ which has a rather melodic and rhythmic beat. Tone is happy, yet has hints of nervousness with some of the transitions. This particular lyric stuck out to me as fitting for the times.
“And I know, and I know, and I know, and I know.
That you like your space with your one roommate.
Do you mind if I see you tomorrow?
Yeah, I know, yeah, I know, yeah, I know, yeah, I know.
That you work Sundays for minimum wage.”
Anyone on the dating scene nowadays knows how hard it is to connect. Busy schedules, emotionally unavailable, desire for independence, and financial concerns are the many obstacles keeping a match from moving forward. Many of these themes are written into the song as it expresses a desire to connect, but not feeling sure the other person will feel that same desire to authentically connect as he does.
One of the biggest tracks from the EP is ‘Takeway’ featuring Illenium and Lennon Stella. The track is original and is a wonderful banger. Yet again, take away the dancing, and look at the messaging it speaks to the same themes as before. Fear of intimacy and getting close enough to get hurt. Questioning how we overcome our own hangups to make something work, but knowing those defense mechanisms are going to kick in and the love is going to be as casual as, you know, your DoorDash delivery person.
The last track is ‘Who Do You Love’, featuring Five Seconds of Summer. This song is well composed and organized. It is one of those songs that will live in your mind for days. This song is your traditional the woman I love is emotionally unavailable and is obviously in love with someone else.
The other three tracks ‘Kills you Slowly,’ ‘Do You Mean’, and ‘Call You Mine’ are all songs about not trusting the connections in your life. Losing faith and losing trust in the foundations of human condition. Now I recommend listening to this EP from Track 1 to Track 6, because it really does tell a story. Starts with ‘Push My Luck’, the nervous and looking for love song. To the middle tracks which begin to question how real these feelings are or going back to old patterns. Then ends with ‘Who Do You Love’, the paranoid ballad of when the love you seek is confirmed to be a lie or at least you are far too paranoid for it ever be maintained. The EP really is a war to maintain joy, spoiler alert, it was not maintained.
I think sometimes people do not respect the intelligence of EDM. Often linked with mindless party culture, but the truth is that this EP is an intentional critique on unhealthy relationships in this modern world. World War Joy is the story of finding it hard to achieve that feeling of contentment. Music always mirrors society whether it is EDM, metal, or even those sugar-sweet pop songs they are all telling us something about what we value, fear, or want to escape from.
Keep dancing, but make sure process the poet and not just the engineering of a good beat. The Chainsmokers definitely have a message.