On a roll after releasing January’s “Sick Boy,” February’s “You Owe Me,” and March’s “Everybody Hates Me,” The Chainsmokers jumped into the spring season on April 20, 2018, with the release of “Somebody.”
As their ever-building album keeps on getting bigger, with “Somebody” we are treated to a cautionary tale of fame and excess that fits effortlessly with the previous three songs. But don’t be fooled into thinking this is some carbon copy of the duo’s previous content. Here is how “Somebody” strikes its own cord and captures a new mood to constitute its aim for radio reign and dark, tequila-drenched dance clubs.
You may first notice a new voice sharing the microphone mayhem. Another Drew graces our ear waves along with Drew Taggart. Drew Love, or “Trap Bobby Brown” as he is known as on Instagram, is the R&B-meets-trap singer who has hit upon a pot of audio gold with G-Eazy on “Love is Gone” and with Zhu and Skrillex on the gold-selling “Working for It.” Together the two Drews fuse with Alex Pall to navigate listeners through the jubilant and treacherous road to riches that aims to take a piece of you along with it as you climb higher up into the presidential suite of popular opinion.
With an alternative rock-meets-pop flavor embedded in their dance vibrations, guest star Drew Love sets a sugary falsetto to the infectious chorus:
“In the town full of fancy cars and
Crowded bars and supermodels
Looks exactly the way it did inside my head
When I dreamed about it
All the things I could live without
I need ’em now ’cause they’re all around me
Only thing that I can’t afford is to lose myself
Tryna be somebody, somebody.”
Let’s break down these highly visual lyrics that remain simple enough to memorize and sing along with. Whether “the town” in question is Los Angeles at large, or is the nearby entertainment industry neighborhood recognized worldwide as Hollywood, “fancy cars,” “crowded bars,” and “supermodels” capture the prominent scenery of modern celebrity nature. You can imagine a young Alex Pall, Drew Taggart, and Drew Love re-watching popular music videos, watching in awe as salacious video vixens prance around in a neon-flooded nightclub jungle with exotic luxury vehicles parked outside. The Chainsmokers could also be stand-ins for any day-dreaming singer or rapper ready to fast forward into the fast lane of this race towards glamorous opulence.
The clever part of the chorus is that the lyrics actually recognize that these typical standard signs of success are still “all the things I could live without,” and that they are more wants than they are needs. They don’t fall under the essential categories of food, clothing, and shelter, but they are firmly stuck in the duo’s minds due to constant reminders of their alluring power of attraction floating all around them. Finding a humble-yet-famous face in Southern California, unfazed by the trappings of fame can be difficult. Playing a traumatizing game of identity politics and voting for a fame-fueled alias image, instead of the one that comes most naturally to you, can deflate your ego fast. Being “somebody” is not always all it is cracked up to be, especially if the artist is the one doing all of the cracking up in the process.
Speaking of cracking, but in a positive way, Drew Taggart cracks verse one wide open by singing:
“You should’ve known better
Than to listen to your heart again
People change with the weather
(You know, just know what I like)
I don’t really like anybody
So don’t tell me I’m like anybody else
You put it back together
Don’t let it fall apart again
People change with the weather.”
These words express the difficulty of trusting your own instincts as you become a “somebody,” as the people around you transform from a support system to alienated strangers. The hurt and pain that is a direct side effect of having your time absorbed by performing and recording can make you question whether it is worth trying to fill that void by reinvesting your emotions into friends and family that you assumed you would grow old with for the rest of your lives. People’s goals and priorities shift, and being caught in the crossfire of a loss of love can lead to the feeling of: “I don’t really like anybody.”
Verse two runs verse one through a new filter to switch the point of view from “you” to “I”:
“In my head I knew better (in my head I knew better)
I won’t blame it on my faults again
I know I should forget her
(You know, just know what I like).”
Whoever The Chainsmokers are trying to forget makes this moment in the song much more personal. It also showcases how easy it is to second guess your own beliefs when the fame train is whizzing you through the world at the speed of light.
Overall, you are able to feel a more triumphant vibe in “Somebody” compared to the previous three 2018 singles from The Chainsmokers. There is less dark anger, but that doesn’t wipe away a single bit of their edge. Whether the listener is merely fascinated by what it must be like to transform into a star at their place of employment, or is a willing-to-do-anything musician who is ready to become clay in the hands of the entertainment industry, “Somebody” is a wake-up call.