Arts and Entertainment

Appreciation For Avicii

A eulogy for an innovative artist who has passed away far too soon.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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By Darren Liang

“So wake me up when it’s all over…”

Tim Bergling, more commonly known by his stage name Avicii, was an innovative DJ who brought his own special twists to club music. While he may be considered a “progressive house” music artist, he took the experimental nature of progressive house into genres that artists normally wouldn’t think to mix with a typical house track, having implemented genres such as country, bluegrass, and pop with the synthesizers and drops of EDM (electronic dance music). Sources may claim that Avicii’s unique style began with his “Levels” album released in 2013, but arguably it existed even before then in his first album from 2011, “Strictly Miami.”

The gates of fame opened for Avicii when he collaborated with David Guetta on the single “Sunshine” in 2012. The song was a hit, managing to earn Avicii a Grammy award for Best Dance Recording. Due to this achievement, he was able to establish a large fanbase in America despite initially being based in Sweden. As a result, his popularity soared and he became the first DJ to perform at NYC’s Radio City Music Hall during the Fuse Music Week Festival. (Of course, seats were sold out.)

In 2013, Avicii released the single from the album of the same name that would give him universal recognition as an artist: “Levels.” It was a simple loop of several notes on repeat in succession, with the occasional "Oh, sometimes I get a good feeling, yeah. Get a feeling that I never, never, never, never had before, no, no. I get a good feeling, yeah,” thrown in, taken directly from R&B artist Etta James’s “Something’s Got A Hold On Me.” Such stylistic choices were simple, yet fresh enough to yield international admiration and approval, as “Levels” played (and is still played) in clubs across the globe. It also earned Avicii his second Grammy for Best Dance Recording.

This gave Avicii a chance to expose more of his individuality within his music. He released the single “Hey Brother,” initially confusing fans. The song’s genre is defined as “dance/electronica,” but it is evident even before the chorus that it is no traditional techno beat one would start shuffling to at a concert event. The song adapts country and pop elements while still retaining some of the dance/electronica, much like how other singles within that shared album, “True” expose how genres that may seem to mix like oil and water are capable of blending in beauteous harmony.

That same year, Avicii also embarked on an original project: “Avicii x You,” an opportunity for his fans worldwide to be able to collaborate on what would become the single “X You.” Over 4,000 artists from 140 countries joined in the effort. Within the first month, nearly 13,000 samples were given as submissions. Avicii mixed and remixed these samples, before adding in his own vocals to create the finished product. The result was not just a single, but a symbol that unified both the artist and his fans.

Avicii did not only reach out to individuals through musical innovation, however. He was a philanthropist as well: he founded the “House For Hunger,” a charity dedicated to hunger-relief efforts in America. Even a tour was held for the sake of raising money and awareness for the cause. All profits went toward the charity’s efforts, and Avicii raised millions in contributions. Consequently, Avicii was not only able to give the gift of his craft, but he was also able to give back to others with what he had earned with his talents.

Unfortunately, stardom brought the artist extreme pressure that he had initially tried to suppress with booze. However, his alcoholism eventually had caught up with him, forcing him to retire from touring in 2016 due to the damages he had placed on his liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. Two years later, Avicii was found dead in Muscat, Oman, on April 20, 2018, presumably of a suicide caused by self-inflicted wounds from a broken beer bottle. He was only 28 years of age, and had intended to release more music this year.

Avicii’s death stresses the importance of recognizing the fragility of the human mind. No matter what greatness it can achieve, no matter what boundaries it may break, it still possesses a vulnerability that needs to be acknowledged, and weaknesses that cannot be ignored. For when these sensitivities are swept under the carpet, the energies that are one uses to contribute to the world may end up consuming them whole.