Release Date: Sep 17, 2013
Record label: Island
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance, EDM
At 24, Swedish born DJ Avicii has got the EDM world, and beyond, in the palm of his hands. Everyone wants to hear more from the man who released one of the biggest EDM anthems in recent years, ‘‘Levels’‘, back in 2011. The song earned the DJ a Grammy nomination, and helped propel him out of the EDM world, towards the ears of the masses. He became the first DJ to headline Radio City Music Hall in New York, not just once but on two consecutive nights, with the latter selling out in less than a minute.
In March, Avicii made his reverse Dylan-goes-electric move at the EDM-centric Ultra Fest, inviting bluegrass musicians onstage during his set. The crowd was baffled, but the Swede's debut album picks up on this Mumford & Synths sound for a set of folk, soul and addictive house beats. Dan Tyminski of Union Station sings the grand Appalachian stomper "Hey Brother," and Imagine Dragons penned "Heart Upon My Sleeve." True saves room for two funky disco jams featuring banging diva vocals from Audra Mae and Adam Lambert.
With the hypnotic and bright Grammy-nominated track "Levels," Swedish EDM DJ/producer Tim Bergling aka Avicii unleashed a global dance hit the size of "Beachball," "Blue Monday," "Starships," and maybe even "The Hokey Pokey. " If the masses leave the dancefloor, "Levels" brings them back with sunshine and light, but Avicii's debut album is a sharp left turn, kicking off with the acoustic guitar strum of "Wake Me Up," a pleasant, well-written heritage pop track where "I Need a Dollar" vocalist Aloe Blacc gets thrown in a synthetic Mumford & Sons surrounding for something very non-"Levels. " It's a strange jumble that works, but even more surprising is the seductive "Addicted to You," where Oklahoma singer/songwriter Audra Mae gets sultry on a song co-written by country and pop legend Mac Davis, and don't wonder long about how the results ended up sounding so Nina Simone, because the curve balls keep coming.
According to Forbes, Avicii earned $20 million last year, making him the sixth highest paid DJ in the world—a mind-boggling factoid for those who grew up in a time when EDM was something you mostly heard live by sneaking out to warehouses in remote parts of the city. The genre is officially big business, and Avicii, born Tim Bergling, is nothing if not all business. It’s impossible not to talk about him in these terms, because the circumstances of his rise to popularity, as documented in a recent GQ profile, were so openly mercenary.
Two years ago the Swedish D.J., producer and denim model Avicii released “Levels,” a clangorous and joyful club anthem that was a global hit so vast that it reinforced the fact that the United States isn’t really the center of global pop, at least not the way it once was. America has no real radio infrastructure for dance music, which means even a song like “Levels” has little hope of moving beyond the Electric Daisy Carnival circuit and into the broader pop consciousness, although everywhere else that’s exactly where it resided. At least in this country, American sonic imperialism still works.