Excuse my French, but what the shit is going on with DJ duo the Chainsmokers right now? Can we even call them a DJ duo anymore? They’ve pivoted hard from radio pop-rock EDM, or whatever the hell their inescapable single with pop’s edgy queen Halsey was (“Closer,” we’re talking about “Closer”) and are apparently hoping to fill an angsty, dare I say, alternative music hole in our collective hearts.
On Tuesday, The Chainsmokies dropped “Sick Boy,” which truly sounds like a politically-tinged take on a soft Twenty One Pilots song (another duo, but of the alt-rock persuasion. You might’ve heard “Stressed Out” in your grocery store in 2015). The irony ain’t lost on us!
The song kicks off with the singing Chainsmoker boy offering a dystopian refrain:
I’m from the East side of America
Where we choose pride over character
And we can pick sides but this is us, this is us, this is
I live on the West side of America
Where they spin lies into fairy dust
And we can pick sides, but this is us, this is us, this is.
It’s all fine and good, until the non-singing Chainsmoker boy layers in some heavy-ass synth, an overwhelming bummer background-sound that eventually takes us to a post-chorus: “I am the, I am the, I am the Sick Boy.” This is classic Twenty One Pilots, a la “Lane Boy” and “Stressed Out.”
This particular sonic shift is super shocking because, like, if these dueling duos were in high school, Twenty One Pilots are your art-room weirdos and the Chainsmokers are, 100%, for sure, the cool kids, skipping class to smoke weed and figure out how the heck they’re gonna get to Coachella next Spring. They are diametrically opposed, but also maybe everyone is the same, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT THIS DAMN SONG IS ABOUT. “We can pick sides, but this is us, this is us, this is.” Heavy. This is heavy.