When it comes to specific artists, I tend to only do Top Twelve lists for my all-time favorites, such as Lindsey Stirling and Coldplay, and even without the sad news of Avicii’s death on April 20, he would have gotten a Top Twelve from me eventually. Due to his passing, though, now seems like the best time to honor this giant of EDM music. (That’s Electronic Dance Music, for the uninitiated.)
When celebrities die, it usually doesn’t hit me personally. It’s sad, and I have sympathy for those who are hit hard, but the grief that many showed over David Bowie or Chester Bennington wasn’t the same for me because I wasn’t a fan of theirs at the time. But in this case, I listen to Avicii’s songs on a daily basis so not since Robin Williams committed suicide has a celebrity death saddened my heart this much, and it’s even sadder that, after many health issues, Avicii reportedly took his own life as well, at only 28 years old no less. I’m not even the hard-partying type or one to go “clubbing,” but I know a jam when I hear it.
Avicii, or Tim Bergling, was a Swedish DJ and producer with a prolific discography of electronic hits. I’ve even turned my mom into an EDM fan thanks to his repertoire of electronic earworms. He had a talent for finding just the right combination of notes for a brilliantly catchy hook that gets the head bopping and that lives on in the memory. That’s where Avicii will live on through his music, and his talent will be sorely missed.
Apparently one of Avicii’s last tracks, “Heaven” has still not been released officially, but it shows his talent certainly wasn’t waning at the end. The lyrics “I think I just died and went to heaven” make me suspect that he knew what he was going to do long before his death.
11. “Waiting For Love”
Avicii has a wealth of great lyrics, but I especially love singing/listing the days of the week in this toe-tapping jam.
10. “We Write the Story” (collaboration with Benny and Bjorn of ABBA, with choir)
When I heard this, I thought it sounded like the theme for an Olympic ceremony, and close enough, it boasted a unique rock opera grandeur as the opening anthem for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest (which I hadn’t heard of till recently but is apparently a huge deal in Europe, having been televised for the last sixty-two years).
9. “I Could Be the One” (with Nicky Romero)
Sadly, the head-banging climax at the end isn’t nearly long enough.
8. “Without You” (featuring Sandro Cavazza)
This was #3 on my Top Twelve List of 2017 Songs, and it’s also special to Norwegian DJ Kygo (another favorite artist of mine), who played it recently at Coachella as a tribute to Avicii.
7. “Broken Arrows”
Between the inspirational music video, the endlessly catchy hook, and country-ish vocals from Zac Brown, this song should absolutely have earned more notice.
6. “The Days”
Sometimes Avicii’s songs end too soon, but with two verses and a climax, “The Days” feels like one of his most complete songs, at least to me.
5. “Lay Me Down”
Why the heck was this not all over the radio? Sung by Adam Lambert, it makes me want to find the nearest dance floor.
4. “Hey Brother”
I think I’ve come to realize that I really enjoy the genre mix called “folktronica,” and “Hey Brother” is an outstanding example. In 2014, it was Avicii’s last song to place in the U.S. Top 40 charts.
“Levels” is where Avicii and EDM as a whole started to earn some real notice outside their niche. Sampling “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” by Etta James (which has been sampled elsewhere as well), “Levels” boasts one of Avicii’s most recognizable riffs and my favorite video of his and is often ranked as his best work (and my mom’s favorite too). Except for “Sunshine” with David Guetta, it’s also his only song to warrant a Grammy nomination, which doesn’t say much for the Grammies if they can’t award a song and artist who clearly deserved more.
2. “Wake Me Up” (with Aloe Blacc)
Not too long ago, this folktronica hit would have been an effortless #1, but it’s been barely edged out, maybe because I’ve heard it so darn much. This is easily Avicii’s most played song on the radio and placed #1 on my Top Twelve List of Head-Banging Songs.
1. “The Nights”
The more I hear “The Nights,” the more I love it! Written with and sung by Nicholas Furlong, it’s more progressive house mixed with folktronica and just a little bit of a Celtic lilt. The lyrics put it over the edge for me and carry even more emotional weight now that Avicii is gone. “One day, you’ll leave this world behind, so live a life you will remember.” He did, and we’ll remember for him.
Runners-Up (from next to least favorite and not counting remixes):
“Fade into Darkness”
“For a Better Day”
“I’ll Be Gone” (still unreleased)
“Lonely Together” (featuring Rita Ora)
“You Make Me”
“Faster Than Light”
“Somewhere in Stockholm”
“Sunshine” (with David Guetta)
“Friend of Mine”
“Taste the Feeling” (with Conrad Sewell)
“You Be Love (with Billy Raffoul)
“Heart Upon My Sleeve”
“Stay with You” (with Mike Posner)
“Addicted to You”
“Dancing in My Head” (with Eric Turner)
Farewell, Avicii. May you rest in peace.
For the end, here’s one man’s brilliant remix of Avicii’s biggest songs, showing how he’s still inspiring his fans.