Why This Song Sucks: The Chainsmokers and Halsey's “Closer”

The Chainsmokers' "Closer" is not a good song.EXPAND
The Chainsmokers' "Closer" is not a good song.
Courtesy of the Come Up Show via Flickr Commons

When it comes to music, oftentimes it takes several listens and many, many months to truly appreciate a song’s greatness. The same applies to the increasing disdain that results from ever-increasing spins of a terrible track.

Enter The Chainsmokers’ and Halsey’s “Closer." It’s a safe bet that the EDM duo, who play RodeoHouston on Sunday, will dub in Halsey’s vocals for what is unquestionably their biggest hit. Hell, it would be hard to argue against “Closer” being among the most popular tunes released in 2016, period. That, of course, does not make it a good song.

In fact, 2016 was littered with popular songs that won’t exactly stand the test of time. Seriously, do you think folks will be bumping “Stressed Out” or “Panda” a decade from now? Sure, artists like Drake and Rihanna can expect their careers to continue flourishing well into the future, but it’s a safe bet many of the biggest songs of a given year are produced by artists who won’t exactly maintain relevancy for years to come.

The Chainsmokers — or, more important, their biggest hit to date — make for an excellent example. Look, I get what “Closer” was going for. This was meant to be an anthem of sorts for millennials. It checks all the boxes. Tale of a broken relationship. Alcohol abuse. Random automobile hookups. Tattoos. A Blink-182 shout-out. It’s all there.

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“Closer” was designed for twentysomethings to play at parties and various social gatherings while imagining and discussing a future in which they age in all the right ways (nicer homes, better jobs, attractive significant others) but not in other ways (slower metabolism, wrinkles, the usual setbacks the thirties often bring). Jesus, it’s right there in the lyrics…over and over again...“We are never getting older.” Yes, you will, and hopefully you will then realize how terrible this song truly is.

So let’s start from the beginning. “Closer” begins with the Chainsmokers’ Drew Taggart opining about a love gone wrong. He drinks too much, her friends were nice enough, but in the end, it just didn’t work out. For starters, Taggart begins with the line, “I was doing just fine before I met you.” This is almost never true, but rather, something damaged folks say in blaming an ex for their own problems. Again, “Closer,” like the audience it so desperately craves, is a very entitled track.

From there, dude moves away and the couple parts ways for good. Four years later, they randomly bump into one another in some hotel bar. She looks great, he gets nostalgic and wonders why the two ever parted way in the first place (probably because he drinks too much and she deserved better, but I digress). A hookup takes place, he begs her to stick around and bump that Blink-182 song from back in the day — which was later confirmed to be “Feeling This,” from the band’s self-titled 2003 record (which is great, btw). Apparently, they beat the song “to death” in Tucson, which I’m pretty sure only happened because the city kinda rhymes with “song.”

It’s rinse, lather, repeat from then on as the duo spins the chorus a few more times, mostly because the song really doesn’t have much else to say. To top it off, the duo allegedly stole the melody from The Fray’s “Over My Head (Cable Car),” a song that – as “Closer” will one day be regarded – is very much of its time.

The Chainsmokers and Halsey hit the awards-show circuit in support of the song, one sexually charged but empty performance after another. They released a sappy lyrical video, only to follow that up months later with a video just as saccharine as the song from which it spawned. Funny thing is, it all worked! The song shot to No. 1 and became the unofficial anthem of fall 2016. Hell, the Chainsmokers – along with country pretty boy Sam Hunt – headlined a gig at Club Nomadic during Super Bowl weekend in February. Tickets went for upwards of $100 a pop, and yes, people shelled out for it.

Point being, success isn’t always akin to quality, nor is it a surefire signifier of longevity. And, as the Chainsmokers will no doubt learn once their run in the sun ends and some other flavor of the month takes their place, tastes and audiences evolve. People move on. Whether the duo wants to admit it or not, we’re all getting older.


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