There’s nothing weird about Avicii having a track near the top of a Billboard chart, but something does seem off kilter when that track is being played on what you know as, a rock radio station. According to Billboard though, Avicii’s latest release, ‘Wake Me Up‘, is gaining widespread popularity amongst a demographic typically not associated with dance music. ‘Wake Me Up’ currently sits at number ten on Billboards Triple A chart, which if you didn’t know, stands for “Adult Album Alternative”, and aims to cover indie rock, alternative rock, alternative country, folk, and jazz music.
If considering the folk music influence on Avicii’s track, than listing it under, “alternative”, doesn’t seem like much of a reach. Yet, when looking at the other groups on this chart, it’s borderline comical to think of someone attempting to compare and contrast Avicii, to say, Pearl Jam. Or even better, someone using this chart to find to new music and coming across Avicii’s other tracks, talk about unexpected. This isn’t a shot at any artist or specific style, but more just pure amazement that ‘Wake Me Up’ has successfully crossed into a niche of music that has rarely seen the likes of electronic artists.
Tim Johnstone, the program director from a Triple A Station out of Idaho commented on the track’s success, describing how the tune perfectly fits his daily programming schedule:
“There’s something unique about this record that fits really well with where we are. The Mumford & Sons-esque vocal is immediately appealing. But, the dichotomy of the EDM touch points in the chorus set this apart from everything else we’re playing.
For a triple A station that leans heavily female, this is just perfect for us, It’s a terrific bridge between Mumford & Sons, the Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men and the more pop- and alternative-flavored songs from OneRepublic, Capital Cities and Atlas Genius.”
I would certainly hope that this track distances itself from, “everything else we’re playing“, because everything else on this chart is structurally and audibly similar. One of Johnstone’s notions though is not far off, it’s likely the ‘pop’ nature of this track that is acting as the catalyst for widespread success.
Charlottesville, Virginia Triple A Program Director, Brad Savage, had some really interesting comments that will undoubtedly leave some confused, or maybe just myself:
“The dance-beat parts of the song spice it up and make it cut through. It’s a great introduction to Avicii’s catalog of music for listeners who may happen to like this song. I think that’s a great factor of what we do every day: introducing fans to new music by focusing on a single track.
I think it’s great for triple A to embrace these sounds. We got some immediate response when we first played [‘Wake’] from people who were already aware of it and were already fans of Avicii.
They’ve Tweeted, commented on Facebook or emailed, saying ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’m hearing Avicii on the radio!'”
First off, people can’t believe they’re hearing Avicii on your radio station. Secondly, did anyone at these radio stations indicate to listeners that nothing else in Avicii’s quiver sounds similar to this? That if you search for Avicii on the internet, all bets of an “alternative” style are tossed out the window? Music exploration and the expansion of personal preferences is a fantastic and wonderful thing, but Avicii’s position on this chart, is if anything, really damn interesting. It’s simply hard to fathom that adults who typically align themselves with that of country and folk music interests, would listen to Avicii’s “Catalog”, and feel that the Triple A Chart led to the discovery of an emerging alternative artist. Triple A stations focusing on this single track will inevitably leave anyone who does not follow dance music with a serious sense of confusion.
Plenty of artists and producers have released “alternative” tracks over the years, but not in the same sense of the word that is being associated with Avicii. ‘Wake Me Up’ has fallen into a category of “alternative” where the acoustic guitar riffs, folk style vocals, and inherent pop style are driving the tune forward. It’s gentle and poppy enough to receive acceptance into the Triple A Chart, yet electronically oriented enough to still sit at number two on the Billboard Dance Music chart. Millions of opinions circulate around Avicii’s hybrid creation, but at the end of the day, the best description I’ve seen, “it’s just catchy”.