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Avicii: The Country Star No One Was Waiting For

Can we talk about how Avicii is kind of a genius? I say this not as a groveling fan girl, strapped with trigger-like thumbs cocked and ready to tweet this article at him as soon as it goes live, but as someone who truly enjoys observing the evolution of dance music. Since his skyrocketing fame from the release of “Levels”—perhaps the most overplayed compilation of sounds that has ever been created—Avicii has definitely spread his wings as far as production goes. This development has recently been highlighted through his collaboration with Coldplay in crafting “A Sky Full of Stars,” and most daringly with his production of “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother”—two country songs that are still running laps on American top-40 charts. Despite my general indifference to Avicii as an artist, I’ve lately been feelin’ some type of way about this EDM giant and his recent dabbling in other genres. Simply put, I think Avicii is a goddamn genius.

Considering how unusual a country-house track is, Avicii really took a huge risk in creating “Hey Brother” and “Wake Me Up.” But literally every time I hear the melodies of these songs seeping out of whatever speakers are in my vicinity, I laugh…because his risk has clearly paid off. Seriously, these songs are so absurdly popular. “Wake Me Up” has three times the YouTube views of “Levels,” which already has over 100 million views. The success of Avicii’s country music undertakings has thus paved the way for more country-house hits to be made. Soon, we are probably going to see “country-house” added to the inexhaustible list of EDM subgenres. I’m sure you all can’t wait for that day.

But alas, this is precisely why Avicii is a genius. Not only has he broken down a barrier no one expected to be breached, he is now showcasing country music to the rest of the world as an international performer, using the house elements within these tracks to make it digestible for his audience. This is cultural diffusion at its wildest. Not only did these songs transcend the realm of country into that of pop music, they’ve opened up a whole new market for house music to flourish within. EDM has become the undisputed equalizer for transitioning genre-specific hits into the pop charts, and this proves it.

Where Avicii definitely missed the mark though is with the music video for “Hey Brother;” a visual accessory to the song that targets the stereotypical country fan to the point of inauthenticity. The wartime images, the American flags, the two little white boys out in the country doing farm things and being rural folk—Avicii is speaking EDM directly to the rustic lads of America and praying that they will comprehend it.

The entire video is hilariously ridiculous. What could Avicii possibly know about being a country bumpkin in the heartland of America? Are you kidding me? The guy is from Sweden! The best part of the video is when Avicii appears at the end, as if to suggest he was one of the two brothers shown throughout the video. Does this not strike anyone as odd? It’s one thing to try and incorporate house into country music, but it is an entirely different story when a visual component is created that somehow proposes Avicii has any ties to the country fans he is trying to reach. That’s like Willie Nelson creating a Bollywood track with a music video of him doing bhangra at the end and having it reach unparalleled success.

Despite the video’s shortcomings, I still think our Swedish homie is really smart for making these songs. He now has a whole new group of followers who would otherwise never listen to his music. Regardless of my lack of desire to willingly listen to Avicii, I truly commend his ability to use elements of a completely foreign genre to widen the scope of his sound. Unfortunately, I do think this move is also going to contribute to the dilution in the quality of house music overall, and is just going to make my endless searches for repost-worthy tracks on SoundCloud that much harder. But on the bright side, I really don’t foresee there being a dramatic shift in American dance culture catering to country fans from sea to shining sea. The untz is still in full effect.

Article written by Anita Obasi

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