Here's your now-obligatory “2016 was a garbage fire” intro.
Now that that's out of the way … 2016 wasn't bad for everyone. Besides racists and billionaires (and you can't leave out racist billionaires), 2016 was huge for Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall, the white-bread duo behind conceptual art/EDM project The Chainsmokers. Not only did they become household names by embodying the Platonic ideal of douchiness but they’ve also set a new standard to which all white American bro-dudes must now aspire.
When they first appeared on the scene in 2013, their music made minor ripples on the mainstream radar with insipid singles such as “#Selfie” and “Kanye.” For a time they seemed harmless. But their brand-aware, inner Borgores were waiting patiently in the wings to be unleashed on this, the most unholiest of years. And as chance would have it, their third single from this year, “Closer” (an anthem about date-raping your ex and Land Rovers, or something?), became a chart-topping success. Last month, the inane tune was finally and thankfully ousted from its long stint atop the singles chart by Rae Sremmurd, a far more interesting and less grating young duo.
The Chainsmokers started out like the thousands of other average suburban bro-dudes who have entered the EDM ecosystem every year since 2011. But these two knuckleballs somehow broke from the pack, mutating into a hit radio and festival act. How and why did this happen? My theory is that all commercially successful dance music producers and DJs rely heavily upon the persona. At a certain point, the music is incidental.
Consciously or not, The Chainsmokers became master media manipulators as they embraced their inner shitbags in profiles, interviews and social media, trolling the press and perhaps even themselves, on their way to becoming the EDM personification of Donald Trump’s white, misogynistic, bro-dude America. It's as if you turned a website like BroBible into one brain and then gave each Chainsmoker half.
Here’s a look back at some of The ’Smokers’ “highlights” from 2016 — in other words, a series of profoundly stupid quotes, interviews, tweets and brain farts.
Taggart Tweets: “xanaxxanaxxanax.” He would tweet about taking Xanax to fly at least six times in 2016.
Like Steve Aoki, Taggart (the younger one) wants everyone to know he is good at jumping. Because good at jumping = good EDM. Over 2016, he and The ’Smokers would post dozens of photos of Taggart jumping.
This nap-inducing interview with Larry King and The ’Smokers goes live. Larry King tries to sound as if he gives a shit about Spotify and the Sahara Tent and then goes on to talk to the dudes about literal farts.
They release “Closer” featuring Halsey, which will surprisingly (even to them) go platinum many times over, proving there is no higher power.
Taggart blows his performance with Halsey at the VMAs.
Taggart learns what “ship” means, likely because he finally stumbled upon a mountain of message-board conversations shipping him and Pell (the cross-eyed one) hard.
Taggart tries to deflect blame for his horrid VMA performance:
The now-infamous Billboard profile of The ’Smokers drops and features a treasure trove of stupid sentences:
Pall: “You’ll never see us getting carried out of a club. We’re way too good at drinking.”
“Even before success, pussy was No. 1,” says Pall. “Like, ‘Why am I trying to make all this money?’ I wanted to hook up with hotter girls. I had to date a model.”
Taggart claims they were “set up to fail” at the VMAs (file this under: 2016 Crackpot Conspiracies).
Their website bio “includes the words ‘17.34 combined inches’ (Pall clarifies: ‘Oh, that’s our penises combined … tip to tip’).”
Pall: “We’ve had people looking at us longer than we’ve known who we are.”
“Inspired by Jeremy Piven’s Entourage character, Ari Gold, Taggart figured his in to EDM would be as an agent or manager.”
Steve Aoki on The ’Smokers: “I’m a DJ that throws cake at people. You’ve got to love what you do, and do it with heart and soul. These guys do that.”
Taggart: “It’s crazy to see this group of beautiful faces celebrating this glorious moment, which is only one rung on this ladder that we will continue to climb until we die … of alcohol poisoning.”
Musing about what the fuck they're actually doing, Taggart tweets:
The ’Smokers appear on weekly fall bro-dude media summit College Game Day to deliver some of the weakest sports commentary ESPN has ever broadcast. A couple of choice bits:
“I had a girlfriend that cheated on me from Iowa, so [I predict] Iowa will win at football today …”
Lee Corso: “I like your E-D-M music.”
Rolling Stone publishes a ’Smokers puff piece in which Pell (the more reserved of the two) takes a swipe at Lady Gaga, saying one of her new tunes “sucks.”
Presumably as a response to the RS piece, The ’Smokers tweet: “If you don't fuck with us at our worst then you don't deserve us at our best,” likely some sort of play on or troll of 90 percent of their audience’s Tinder profiles.
Taggart tweets to former collaborator Halsey: “fuck you bald bitch” only to later claim it was first “fake news” and later changed his story to claim he was “hacked.” Sure you were, bud. Then he had the stones to tweet this:
A week before the election (and though they are supposedly not Trump fans), Taggart bafflingly retweets Alison Wonderland’s Pepe the Frog (as Michigan J. Frogt) meme. Perhaps this is just a product of ignorance?
NRK P3 publishes a video interview where the ’Smokers talk about smelling their farts (and shitting their pants) for five minutes. Literally. Not metaphorically.
“Black Beatles” finally dethrones “Closer” to take the top spot on the Billboard singles chart.
The Trump vs. “Closer” mashup emerges, the only semi-listenable iteration of the tune.
The Chainsmokers make many “Worst of 2016” lists. A small consolation. Just Google “Worst of 2016 Chainsmokers.” There are many.
Not that this will hurt them in any way. They'll probably kill it in 2017, too.