Where My Head’s At: AviciiAvicii

Where My Head’s At: Avicii

“Where My Head’s At” is a new feature from Dancing Astronaut that gives readers a quick glimpse into an editor’s personal music tastes and how they developed. Subject matter will be all over the map, but we want to let you get a feel for individual editors, and where their heads are at.

We all have artists who we feel personally connected to. It’s inexplicable, really, the way a random collection of sounds can seep so seamlessly into your existence. And yet we depend on these artists, these strangers who we’ve never met and probably never will. Their music makes the bad days bearable and the good ones even better. Their art has become an indespensible part of our lives.

I’ve been passionate about dance music for a while now, but that passion went to a whole new level when when I heard Avicii for the first time. Since then, my bromance for a certain 21-year-old from Stockholm has begun to take on alarming levels of intimacy. For some reason, I feel personally invested in Avicii’s success. There’s something genuinely special about his music.

It all began back in December, when first I heard his “Essential Mix” on BBC Radio 1. It wasn’t love at first sight — the opening half-hour was largely unremarkable for me. I recall a solid collection of progressive house hits, including the SHM track of the moment, “Miami 2 Ibiza.” There wasn’t anything particularly new or exciting about it — no real hint of the magic to come.

And then suddenly, the steady groove established in the opening section melted softly away, replaced instead by a perfect piano melody. That melody lingered idly for a little while, as if it had nowhere to go, then gradually matured into an effortless progressive beat. The beat then grew into the production that we now know as “Fade into Darkness,” a song so good that today — more than seven months later — it’s still in my head, stubbornly refusing to leave.

But the melody wasn’t content with infecting my head alone. It had plans — big plans. It wanted to capture the hearts and minds of thousands of people across the world. “Fade into Darkness” has turned people who hated dance music into fans, making them swoon like teenagers falling in love for the first time. The song is so infectious that it’s even convinced another artist that it belongs to her.

Here’s what I still can’t understand: what makes Avicii’s music so universally beloved? Why do people connect to his songs so easily, so powerfully? How does he appeal equally to EDM junkies and casual fans alike? It’s simple. Avicii makes music that’s easy to listen to. That signature Avicii sound, that “easiness,” makes his tracks just work.

Think about it. Every Avicii production is effortlessly listenable. Each song is catchy, melodic, and fun. Call me crazy, but I’m the kind of person who enjoys being happy more than being sad, who’d rather dance than sit still, who’d rather smile than frown. Avicii’s music helps me do all those things. There’s something magical about music for young people, made by young people — and it’s producers like Avicii and Alesso who are leading that charge. At 21, Avicii is at the crossroads between the joy of youth and the promise of adulthood — and his music expresses that optimism perfectly.

My favorite Avicii track is his remix of Armin van Buuren’s “Drowning.” As soon as I hear the song’s opening notes, I feel a calmness wash over me. I’m soothed, comfortable, at peace. Happy. It’s the feeling makes millions of listeners tune into Armin’s weekly radio show, “A State of Trance,” the serene, poetic feeling that makes him the greatest DJ in the world.

Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but here’s my prediction: in 10 years, that honor might just belong to Avicii.

Download Avicii’s live performance from Governor’s Island, New York here (link courtesy House4DJ)