Friday, January 10th, 2014

Avicii – Hey Brother

Into your hearts, a strum at a time.


Crystal Leww: Avicii is a smart guy because he knows that EDM pop is on the decline and this faux country/folk stuff is right in the middle of pop music now, so he made a whole goddamn album of EDM country.

Iain Mew: You know that thing where advertisers want to use a song by a successful act but don’t get permission, so commission a sound-alike instead? Avicii brings us an exciting new twist on the trend: a successful act creating a sound-alike to a song from an advert! And not just any song from an advert. As Nikon’s jingle of choice on European TV since 2010, Radical Face’s acoustic mewling about mason jars and impassioned turning of the word “home” into “ahhh ahhh ahhh” predates “Ho Hey”, “Little Talks” and even much of Mumford & Sons’ success. The advert feels as much catalyst for the phenomenon as product of it. That makes hearing its hook repurposed for chart pop even more like the bizarro version of yet another mangled “Hoppípolla” attempt.

Scott Mildenhall: It’s going down, he’s yelling Tim Berg! Why are you so steadfast in your refusal to credit your vocalists properly? He’s hardly alone in the practice, and Dan Tyminski doesn’t bring anything particularly special to a role that even if it did know a name would only be A M Erican, but it’s a valid question. Avicii is clearly sticking to his guns, and that kind of staunchness built into and on kinship is coincidentally a theme to run with almost as far as his whole moonshine-jaunt-at-your-nighttime-haunt thing. Just a shame that there’s too much build-up before the alternating-fist dance bit and that everything else is a letdown in comparison.

Patrick St. Michel: Let’s suspend disbelief for a second, ignore who made this and the demographic-targeting happening here, and take a sorta Pepsi-Challenge of “Hey Brother.” This sounds a bit more rustic than the Mumford-and-friends artists we’ve had to stare down for quite some time, like the people playing it started doing this before “Hey Ho” was a thing. It’s pleasant enough…but what’s with the sudden build-up and subsequent drop into dance music? It totally kills whatever charm was happening before, almost like that one Avicii song……oh, right.

Anthony Easton: Combining two kinds of uplift music into a text so saccharine it belongs in a Disney teen remake of a Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney music, but that would be more sophisticated in its irony then this. Not that this isn’t sophisticated–and i mean the uplift of EDM and of new roots music, has some kind of love, and so it’s kind of a fantastic idea, and the production has some skill, but i return to the nauseatingly false sweetness. 

Alfred Soto: Nothing if not a shrewd observer of market forces, this EDM replicant goes for the Lumineers market with a strummer that has a good chance of soundtracking a Volkswagen ad if the right agents listen. Just to remind us of his “roots” and determination to be played next to Britney or OneRepublic on the right Clear Channel radio station, the song boasts an EDM section.

Katherine St Asaph: The O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack quietly grows more and more influential; as evidence, here’s Avicii letting one of the members of Union Station chart with lightly adulterated bluegrass. It works, somehow; True may well have created an aesthetic, loud and populist, where harmonies lock in like Auto-Tune, handclaps are a common language, and a brass preset I swear is from the Yamaha I had in first grade might as well be a folk instrument. If you suspend cynicism you can see the appeal.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: In which the EDM monolith continues to take American tradition and swallow it whole, creating something newfangled (if not really sounding new) in gestation. First it was Vegas, now all your doofy folk music is getting the bottle service treatment. Pay up.

Jonathan Bradley: I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought guitars.

Jer Fairall: Rednex’ “Cotton Eye Joe” sounds no better when done with a straight face.

Brad Shoup: Avicii’s running on a parallel track with Daft Punk — the cohesive pop/dance record, the collaborations with old dudes, the huge hits — and I like his move better. At least we don’t have to luxuriate in subtextural twaddle. Just hit after streamlined hit, full of opaque yearning and and gonzo grown-man existentialism. Dan’s astride an interstellar locomotive, doubling and spewing comet dust. The bass imitates a jug! He references his pop-cultural break! The horns are obliterated by the plodding riff! It’s ridiculous and a nice little treat for the night drive.

Mallory O’Donnell: Functionally retarded lyrics (think about “there’s an endless road to rediscover” for more than ten seconds), a discarded backing track from an Irish Eurovision entry circa 1997, the FX-laden voice of a redneck from space and a hoedown chukka-chukka beat designed for cartoon animals to commit seppuku to.

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4 Responses to “Avicii – Hey Brother”

  1. Oh Scott, what a wonderful pun. All of it is wonderful, really.

  2. It’s brilliant.

  3. “like the people playing it started doing this before “Hey Ho” was a thing.”

    But they did! Well, Dan Tyminski did. It kind of blew my mind when I found out it was him on here.

  4. Thanks Brad and Will, I think there’s a really good set of blurbs here. I also thought the number of people seeming to go with the assumption that in listening to an Avicii song you might have to look through a prism of marketing and targeting and et cetera was interesting. (I don’t think I do, though I don’t imagine I’m immune to preconceptions either.) Is that what defines him for some of you?

    Regarding the talk of adverts though: the other night I saw it on an advert for electronic cigarettes, which felt pretty quick. And Iain, I think I might have actually semi-consciously connected that Nikon song with this, that is funny.

    Also I find the video very odd.