In a recent post at Psychology Today, the author William Poundstone mentioned the Chainsmokers song “Closer” when illustrating research indicating that people stop listening to new music around age 33. Poundstone’s point was that a big swath of the American population may be completely unfamiliar with the song that’s No. 1 in the country—and, as of its now-11th week at the top of the charts, the longest-running No. 1 song of 2016 (placing it among the longest-running No. 1 songs of all time).
Of all the songs that might be used to illustrate an age gap, “Closer” is a particularly good one. That’s partly because it’s about aging—or rather, not aging, with the chorus insisting “we ain’t ever getting older” as the singers describe melancholically shacking up with a down-and-out ex of four years prior. Another reason is that “Closer” is a smartly crafted artifact of its time, totally suited to 2016 pop—which, in turn, has lately quite suited the drained and pissy national mood.
The Chainsmokers are the DJs Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall, who broke through with the 2014 novelty single “#SELFIE,” a jackhammering EDM ode to smartphone narcissism. They’ve since transitioned to more “serious” material with successful singles including “Roses” and “Don’t Let Me Down,” both of which like “Closer” are wistful mid-tempo dance tracks anchored by an up-and-coming female vocalist. In the process, Taggert and Pall have transcended the facelessness that sometimes afflicts EDM producers by giving colorful/reprehensible interviews such as one with Billboard, which features the quote, “We’re just frat bro dudes, you know what I mean? Loving ladies and stuff.”