Imagine, if you will, a douchebag. Just close your eyes and picture them. Imagine them standing there, in the blackness of your mind, staring back at you. What do they look like? They’re male, right? Standing with a cocky nonchalance. Maybe with a quiff? Now look closer. Whether you realise it or not, you are picturing one (or both) of The Chainsmokers.
Now, no one really knows what The Chainsmokers look like, regardless of how many photos we see. For all intents and purposes, The Chainsmokers are two white dudes who are seen rather than heard, their douche-bro dance tunes a staple of the modern music landscape. Following a chain of mega-hits, most notably the ubiquitous ‘Paris’, the duo are back to besiege the top 40 anew with their latest track ‘Everybody Hates Me’.
If we thought The Chainsmokers were capable of modesty, we’d say the title of their new song is a nod to their status as chart pests. Because, for all their success, The Chainsmokers have picked up their fair share of haters in their short careers, their brand of anonymous dance music not to everyone’s taste. But instead, ‘Everybody Hates Me’ is about a lonely dude who turns to nightlife for validation, only to be overcome by a feeling of dread, the inescapable sensation that everyone is an enemy.
As a study of male isolation in a culture of dance music, tequila and douchebags, ‘Everybody Hates Me’ hits its mark pretty well. Like the group’s previous material, it’s a fairly standoffish affair, a tepid dance track that – whether intentionally or not – reflects the vaguely hostile atmosphere of nightlife, an experience that can be both jubilantly unifying or horribly alienating. Here, The Chainsmokers explore the latter, their protagonist searching for meaning amidst the cold blare of club music but finding only a barren, lonely wasteland.
Like them or loathe them, The Chainsmokers have a knack for dissecting the melancholy side of dance music, a genre normally characterised by speed and euphoria. Though ‘Everybody Hates Me’ often strays into whingey-white-guy territory, and certainly comes with the obligatory serving of douchebag bro-ness, it’s also an interesting look at the underwhelming side of nightlife, offering a curious peek into hetero-masculine vulnerability via the medium of wistful dance pop.