In Memoriam: Avicii

The passing of Avicii is certainly untimely. A tribute to one of the music industry’s top DJs is essential.

Two years back, he took a hiatus from touring amidst concerns around his health. He recently released a collaboration with Rita Ora entitled “Lonely Together” that made the situation seemed under control. I didn’t know his condition has escalated to an extent that I’d now be discussing his legacy.

Avicii was far from being a critical darling. But he certainly owned the clubs and was a god to those who partied on the dancefloor. He might not have satisfied the taste of the elite few. But he got approval and reverence from the masses. If you ask me, I’d say he hit the right target – helping this generation have the night of a lifetime. And that is more impact than what most of the critics can claim.

You don’t have to force yourself to be reminded of his contributions. Even today, “Levels” is a staple track on many, if not all, of the playlists in the top night clubs. Once the words “Oh, sometimes I get a good feeling” are uttered, the crowd goes wild and celebration is in the air. Even though it has been seven years since its release, the sound has hardly aged. The track is on a league of its own, alongside Sebastian Ingrosso and Tommy Trash’s “Reload”, Martin Garrix’ “Animals” and DVBBS and Borgeous’ “Tsunami”. With his death, “Levels” will live on but with a different baggage – now serving as a reminder to how fleeting life is.

He also brought us one of the most inescapable tracks of the decade. With David Guetta and “Titanium”, Zedd and “Clarity”, and Swedish House Mafia and “Don’t You Worry Child”, Avicii put the genre in a pedestal and made DJ fronted collaborations center of the radio and streaming world. His contribution to this era was “Wake Me Up” with Aloe Blacc. From time to time, I get a sense of nostalgia and decide to give it another listen. The general sentiment is that it’s overplayed. I’m sure I can remember a time when it wasn’t and I would agree that the track is in fact genius. Nowadays, EDM is integral to pop music and most mainstream musicians have co-opted the format. We have these DJs, including Avicii, to thank for it.

I might be in the minority but I have to say that the last few years of material coming from Avicii was his best. It appears to be his most personal and most vulnerable. His content evolved from club bangers to a life soundtrack that I can play on repeat – on the way to work, at work, at home and of course, at parties. Now that he is on this trajectory, this incident is a curveball no one expected.

Personally, my favorite has been “The Nights”. It was an ode to his father that has been helpful in dealing with my own loss. Any artist that can move you with his/her music on such a visceral level deserves respect and homage. I hope I’ve given him my gratitude and some justice by writing this piece.

One of his latest, “Without You” is more cathartic and helpful than any drink you can subject your liver to, any advice a friend can offer, and any medicine a doctor can prescribe. It is the perfect partner in dealing with heartache. I’d say it’s one of his masterpieces.

The power of his music is undeniable. I do not know the man personally. But his music helped me have a good time when I needed to and became my companion through some rough days. It’s heartbreaking to know only his music can survive when he has touched so many and has the capacity for more.

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