“He said, one day you’ll leave this world behind
So live a life you will remember.
My father told me when I was just a child
These are the nights that never die.”
– The Nights, Avicii
It’s unmistakable that the past decade was dominated by a flurry of progressive house music – among other EDM genres – and with DJs such as Calvin Harris, David Guetta, and Swedish House Mafia churning out hits after hits, one name stood out to me, more than any other: Avicii.
As one of the few pioneers in the EDM house music scene, Tim Bergling, playing under the moniker Avicii, was often reserved and avoided the spotlight. The 28-year-old openly admitted to being introverted and insecure about himself, yet despite that, his music rocked a positive vibe most of the time. Catchy lyrics and melodious tunes resonate with the masses – from the hardcore partygoers to casual listeners – unifying many under his following. I was never his biggest fan or follower, but as a young and impressionable teenager, his influence on me was unprecedented, and soon, he gained another follower. His passing brings me grief, but I want to celebrate the greatest gift he has blessed us with: his music.
Avicii debuted on the international scene with his most identifiable single, LE7ELS (Levels). The iconic five and a half minute full mix of the song has all the elements that makes an EDM track addictive. It starts out with a minute of a bass kick, a crisp clap, and the unmistakable synth sample. The track builds up slowly into the first melodious synth hook that continues throughout the track, building up excitement and adrenaline, before reaching its first apex and dissipating, like the clearing of fog.
Then, enter the haunting vocal sample version of Etta James’ “Something’s Got a Hold on Me“, a simple line that reinforces the importance for having good vibes; something everyone can easily chant together at a festival or a club. Next, the track features a brief portion of chill synth instrumental tunes, before the song restarts the entire buildup into the final drop of the song, with a rising backing chime that elevates the drop to a higher level. The entire experience is an occasion, and to me, it sits upon an untouchable throne in my playlist – the charm of a song that can evoke and amplify emotions with ease has earned itself that very spot.
The largely instrumental track was, and still is, an anthem for many like myself, and it also paved a new direction for House music, where electronically generated beats were usually accompanied by euphoric vocals that transforms a simple 4-beat club mix into something much more abstract. Its popularity is proven too, with amateur DJs mixing the sample track with various songs. A more successful attempt garnered 5.3 million views to date, when YouTube user jswann2005 layered the EDM track on top of Gotye’s indie chart-topper, “Somebody That I Used To Know”.
Such is but a small portion of the versatility that Avicii’s prolific discography champions. Each of his chart-topping hits has a different vibe to them, but they do so much more than just being the next dance hit. He constantly innovates new ways to blend EDM with more mainstream music, and continually seeks to propel his songs into mainstream popularity, while still satisfying the EDM crowd.
The Swedish DJ’s 2013 debut studio album, True, was a departure from his regular style, twisting his House influence into a largely unexplored genre: Folktronica. The album largely features elements of Folk/Country seamlessly blended with Progressive House and hints of Pop, and is easily recognisable through songs like Hey Brother, and Wake Me Up, which is arguably his most popular track. The effortless fusion between multiple genres catapulted the latter single into multiple weekly number 1 spots in various countries, as well as peaking at the number 4 spot on the Billboard Top 100 charts.
In the following year, Avicii released a two-song EP titled The Days / Nights, featuring two main singles, The Days and The Nights, along with accompanying remixes. It was this duo that soon became two of my favourites songs that he has released. The choruses of both songs are meaningful and catchy, and resonates well with many – it is not uncommon to see the songs used not just in clubs, but as tracks for dance choreographies, vlogs, montage videos, and many more. The entire vibe of both songs serves to remind people about cherishing life and remembering the good times; to me, it helps me cope with struggles, and spurs me to stay resilient through tribulations.
“These are the days we’ve been waiting for
On days like these, who could ask for more?
Keep them coming ’cause we’re not done yet
These are the days we won’t regret
These are the days we won’t forget.”
– The Days, Avicii
His declining health in 2016 prompted his retirement from live events and touring. Prior to that in 2015, he released his second album, Stories, which gave listeners’ a glimpse into the DJ’s mind where he explored the world around him in order to discover himself.
In spite of his personal and health issues, Avicii managed to help many others find themselves and he is an inspiration to fans, producers, DJs, musicians, and more. It was no surprise when the sudden announcement of his death last Friday (April 20) spawned numerous tributes from musicians and DJs all around the world.
Myrne, Singaporean DJ
the first thing I tried to do in my torrented version of FL in late 2011 was to recreate 'fade into darkness.' I did a…
Kygo, Norwegian DJ
Kygo also played on the main stage at Coachella 2018 a day after Avicii’s passing, and ended his set with an emotional speech, dedicating his career to Avicii’s influence. He said, “Avicii was my biggest musical inspiration, and he was the reason why I started making electronic music, so I don’t think I would’ve been on this stage tonight if it wasn’t for him,” before closing his set with his favourite Avicii song, Without You.
Diplo, American DJ
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You set the precedent for the rest of us producers/ opened doors and set the trends . A real groundbreaker and influencer to all your peers . You should have lived to be 150.. but your music is gonna live forever . I'm not just saying that.. but you are the only one to always make timeless songs. You were the gold standard . You made me want try and make dance music when i first heard "seek bromance" . And then u kept making feel like shit cause you kept gettin better and i couldn't even mix a snare right .. you were the best of this generation . A real superstar ? I know you had your demons and maybe this wasn't the right place for you sometimes , but we need to protect true artists like you at all costs because there are not enough left and we are losing too many .. be good Tim
Calvin Harris, Scottish DJ
Devastating news about Avicii, a beautiful soul, passionate and extremely talented with so much more to do. My heart goes out to his family. God bless you Tim x
— Calvin Harris (@CalvinHarris) April 20, 2018
Hardwell, Dutch DJ
Can’t believe this, I’m gonna miss you so bad. From your first show where we played together, to all the amazing memories we shared. Thank you for changing the world with your amazing music and for being such an inspiration. I’m gonna miss you brother, until we meet again! ❤ pic.twitter.com/FjJyLA5Ohc
— Hardwell (@HARDWELL) April 20, 2018
Martin Garrix, Dutch DJ
I regret never having the chance to see Avicii perform live, and now, I never will. His music coaxed me into a world of EDM that I never knew I enjoyed. It helped me tide over personal struggles, and set me in the mood when I needed it. His songs are raw, emotional, and it helped me feel hopeful in dire times. The magic of his music goes beyond that of aural enjoyment – it connects people on deeper levels, and speaks to many. He knew how to draw EDM into the mainstream scene, and broke boundaries no one else would have imagined possible.
Avicii, even with your passing, your magnificent music lives on forever in our spirit, our emotions, and our hearts. We mourn the loss of a legend, but will forever celebrate his brilliance.
Rest in peace, Tim. You were the voice of a generation, and we will miss you!
Cover photo courtesy of Sean Eriksson.