On Tuesday morning, German EDM producer Zedd, genius brain behind my favorite pop song of the 2010s, “Clarity,” debuted a brand new song called “The Middle,” featuring country singer Maren Morris and the up-and-coming EDM duo Grey. (The latter must’ve contributed some additional production because I’ve never heard either one of them speak, certainly not on this track, anyway.)
What makes “The Middle,” and it’s immediate catchiness, blog-worthy, is that the song sounds exactly like “Closer,” the inescapable, 2016 hit song by EDM frat bro duo the Chainsmokers. And guess what? This isn’t even the first time I’ve heard a “Closer”-inspired EDM track since the single took over the airwaves two years ago.
Are “Closer” rip-offs the future of the genre? Are we doomed to hear pleasant-sounding but ultimately derivative and shitty versions of this song forevermore? Let’s investigate.
Both Zedd’s “The Middle” and the Chainsmokers’ “Closer” rely heavily on the tropes of the future bass genre: bouncy and upbeat production partnered with uplifting vocals. The similarities are not just in the music—thematically, both songs feel nostalgic and melancholic, the “We ain’t ever getting older” line in “Closer,” and the “Pull me closer, why don’t you pull me close, why don’t you come on over, I just can’t let you go,” lyrics in the “The Middle.” Same shit, different tune.
None of this is to say that Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey are alone in their blatant Chainsmokers copycat behavior. In fact, a number of post-“Closer” Chainsmokers singles: “Paris,” and the Coldplay collabo “Something Just Like This,” sound dangerously close to their recognizable hit. Don’t fix what ain’t broke, right? It doesn’t stop there: EDM producers Gryffin and Illenium, too, duplicated “Closer” on their 2017 single “Feel Good.” It. is. everywhere.
Musical trends come and go, and electronic music, especially, is always shifting and going in interesting new directions. But at the moment, all of the EDM songs suspiciously sound like “Closer.” If you don’t believe me, just listen below and decide if the Chainsmokers effectively took over all of EDM.
(Psssst. They did.)