GEAR TALK TUESDAY: How The Chainsmokers Milked 'Closer'
    • TUESDAY, JULY 25, 2017

    • Posted by: Peter Hammel


    That YouTube video is as real as it is hilarious, and that YouTuber now even has videos mocking Ed Sheeran, Drake, and Lana Del Ray.

    "Closer" by The Chainsmokers currently has over a billion plays on Spotify. Yeah, that's a lot. And what goes on in theory-wise in the 2016 hit track was extremely simple, but most pop songs take a simple route, establishing relatability lyrically and sonically. For "Closer", three chords that exist a whole step apart from each other controlled the song, and it was just barely innovative but super catchy enough to grab listeners' ears. Add lyrics about college, a Halsey vocal feature, and a semi-EDM feel, and you've got a billion plays on Spotify.

    To be honest, I was initially fine with "Closer". Listening to it was like chowing down on a bag of M&Ms. They're cheap and taste consistently sugary. Essentially, as a listener, you know what you're getting into with that track. It's junk food, but sometimes you crave a Big Mac, a tall root beer, or a king size bag of candy.

    However, with further releases of singles from their 2017 album, The Chainsmokers began to milk the three chord formula that gathered them over a billion streams with one song. "Something Just Like This" featuring Coldplay duplicates the three chord structure but in a different key. "Young" does the exact same, and furthermore tries to hide their formula by starting the song with an acoustic guitar instead of a keyboard.

    Their 2017 album, Memories… Do Not Open, has already gotten enough shtick for its lack of sonic variety and impressively embarrassing lyrics ("I've been drunk three times this week"), but I think it's paramount that we, as listeners, keep our ears open to these songwriting tricks. The Chainsmokers gave us "Closer", and with a popular and mildly positive reaction they decided to give almost two identical copies of the 2016 song, one of which has gained and continues to gain over half a billion plays on Spotify.
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