On Thursday, Spotify announced that "Wake Me Up" by Swedish disc jockey Avicii is the song that has been streamed the most times in its short history. That is so very disappointing.
"Wake Me Up" has now been played more than 200 million times on Spotify. That means there were 200 million instances of a person somewhere in the world deciding to listen to Avicii's country-EDM genre mash-up disaster. (Note: That spike of plays on New Year's Eve means a lot of people are going to have truly terrible 2014s.) Not only is it the most streamed song, but according to Spotify, "Wake Me Up" was also the fastest song to hit 100 million streams, which it did back in September. And TIME reports that "Wake Me Up" is still racking up nearly 4 million plays per week. What? How? Why?
It took the top spot from previous record holder "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons, which has somewhere around 180 million streams. While not a good song, "Radioactive" is much preferable to "Wake Me Up." Generic alt-rock is easier to tolerate than the radio blight that is Avicii's hit.
Let's be clear: this isn't about hating on "popular" music. This is about there being so many better choices than "Wake Me Up." Literally any of the current top 10 tracks on Spotify (barring, of course, "Hey Brother" on principle) would be make a better Most Streamed Song record holder. Because "Wake Me Up" is a miasma.
How exactly did Avicii get so popular? Because it capitalized on two simultaneous trends in mainstream pop music: the rise of Electronic Dance Music and the embrace of nu-folk. Slate's Chris Molanphy explains:
Having coexisted alongside club-pop on the radio, folk-pop then went to the club, thanks to Avicii, the Scandinavian EDM deejay and hit record producer. His “Wake Me Up!”—a collaboration with soul vocalist Aloe Blacc—merged folk-and-country-flavored acoustic guitar with electro-club beats, to produce a crossover smash that spread from triple-A to rock to dance to Top 40 formats. The song eventually peaked at No. 4 on the Hot 100 last fall and, by Christmas, became the most-played song at U.S. radio.
"Wake Me Up" is the bastard son of EDM and Mumford and Son's radio folk. It was seemingly engineered in a laboratory to be played in every frat house in America. It's the soft-rock version of both genres it appropriates. It's got that folkiness that lets frat-bros pretend they're deep, but it has the bass that lets them bring it in the club. It's EDM for soccer moms and country music for jocks who just can't get into "Wagon Wheel." It doesn't commit to either, and the result is the worst lite-version of both.
So that's why Avicii's travesty is so popular, but it doesn't excuse the fact that it is now the most streamed song ever on Spotify. You all should be disappointed in yourselves, for encouraging such behavior. Now we're going to get a surge in these cross-breeds (see: "Timber," which, to be fair, is at least catchy). This is what you've done.
The only thing almost as bad as "Wake Me Up" is its music video:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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