Meet The Chainsmokers, The DJs That Survived American Idol
The Chainsmokers explosive rise to fame wasn't always pretty. Despite some obstacles, the duo from New York has pulled together one of the greatest dance music upsets of the year.This article originally appeared on Forbes
The music careers of The Chainsmokers could have been over before they really got started.
In 2014, the budding DJ duo decided to appear on American Idol for a guest performance. With a single hit to their name–the garishly mocking “#Selfie”–the New York DJs appeared on the singing competition in leather jackets, pressing play on their song before prancing around the stage to snap photos with the likes of Ryan Seacrest and Jennifer Lopez.
Within hours of the cringeworthy appearance, fans and fellow artists lambasted The Chainsmokers’ Alex Pall and Drew Taggart, making them instant memes for everything that was wrong with the electronic dance music (EDM) industry.
“That was, like, the worst career move that no one warned us about on our team,” said Taggart. “We had no idea what we were doing at the time, and that was literally a year after we met.”
Their mishap, however, was not fatal. Two years after that appearance, The Chainsmokers have remade themselves from dance music punch line into festival headliners whose songs have come to dominate pop radio. While they narrowly missed the cut on FORBES’ list of top-earnings DJs in 2016, numerous promoters said they expect the groups’ booking fees to more than double this year, making them early contenders for next year’s rankings.
“The Chainsmokers are moving up to the level of Calvin Harris,” said one Las Vegas promoter who booked the group in the past and declined to be named for competitive reasons. “Not many people have had the record of commercial success that they’ve had. They’ve blown past everyone.”