The Chainsmokers should be on top of the world.
In the past year, the Manhattan-based duo of Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart have strung together five Top 10 singles, including “Closer” with Halsey, which spent 12 weeks at No. 1 and recently became only the second song to top 1 billion streams on Spotify. (Drake’s “One Dance” was the first.) The group’s debut album, “Memories . . . Do Not Open” (Columbia), entered Billboard’s album charts at No. 1 in April. And they headline Forest Hills Stadium on June 9 and 10, as part of a North American tour of mostly arenas and amphitheaters.
So what’s the problem? Well, they’ve stoked the anger of a growing segment of the population, just as they are being discovered by the mainstream. “Get Used to Hating The Chainsmokers” reads the headline of the A.V. Club review. “The Chainsmokers Are the Nickelback of EDM,” says Esquire. Even USA Today wonders, “Is this the worst album of 2017?”
“Whether by laziness, stupidity, or through market research, the duo has managed to create beer pong tournament background music that offers nothing but repackaged EDM tropes for Spotify plays,” writes Matt Miller in Esquire. “And that’s totally fine if all you care about is making Billboard lists. . . . The problem is, like Nickelback, The Chainsmokers sell their lowest-common-denominator sound using shameless sexism.”
The Chainsmokers responded by tweeting a video where they mash up their single “Paris” with Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me.”
However, they haven’t always handled themselves so well. They’ve dissed Lady Gaga, bragged about the collective size of their manhood and said their dodgy performance on the MTV Video Music Awards was due to a bad sound mix. “I was set up to fail,” Taggart told Billboard. “Now I know why you lip sync.”
It’s not clear how they explain their equally lackluster performance on “Saturday Night Live,” but they have noticed the growing rage against their skyrocketing careers. “I promise you,” Taggart recently told NME, “we’re not [expletive].”
Pall told NME that they are reconsidering some of the things they say. “It’s not about apologizing and backpedaling,” he said. “It’s about . . . just keeping it real, and understanding that not everyone’s on your team. Move forward. Make responsible decisions. Think about what it might look like to a kid who’s 10 years old, seeing what we do — how that might impact on the way they listen to our music and enjoy our antics.”
WHO The Chainsmokers
WHEN | WHERE 6 p.m. June 9 and 10, Forest Hills Stadium
INFO $79.50-$99.50; 888-929-7849, axs.com
America’s most unwanted
Yes, we all know it’s a thin line between love and hate. But in pop culture, the corollary is also important: The opposite of hate isn’t love. It’s indifference.
At any given moment, there are countless musical artists you don’t love, because you don’t know or care that they exist. But there are, hopefully, only a handful that you hate — because they are/were so inescapable that you can’t forget them or the statute of limitations on their wrongness has not yet expired. (All is forgiven, Grand Funk Railroad. The coast is clear, Hootie & the Blowfish. Cheer up, Lana Del Rey.) After all, with so much hate already in the world, why waste your time and energy by putting more of it out there?
Of course, some things can’t be avoided. Who can forget the Justin Bieber crime spree of ill-advised behavior in 2014? Sure, The Chainsmokers’ current successes are generating a backlash, but will it blossom into the seemingly never-ending parade of insults that come when complaints reach mainstream meme status?
The Chainsmokers have a long way to go before reaching the current “Most Hated” status of these acts:
BIO The rockers, led by singer Chad Kroeger, burst out of Alberta, Canada, in 1995, influenced by grunge and metal. After they transformed into a more pop-leaning rock act, they racked up 50 million album sales worldwide with a string of simple hits like “Photograph” and “Rockstar,” becoming the top-selling rock band of The Aughts.
BIGGEST HIT “How You Remind Me” (No. 1, 4 weeks, 2001-02)
THE CHARGE They took edgy, passion-filled grunge and metal and flattened it into rock of the lowest common denominator, with lyrics as simple as “I’m gonna trade this life for fortune and fame / I’d even cut my hair and change my name” in “Rockstar,” embracing the idea of selling out.
THE REVISION Um, none. Expect more when the band releases its “Feed the Machine” on June 16 and plays Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater on July 1.
BIO The Florida band led by Scott Stapp initially combined grunge rock with Christian imagery and simple lyrics to become one of music’s biggest bands in the late ’90s, selling 53 million albums worldwide, including 11 million copies of “Human Clay,” and selling out one arena tour after another.
BIGGEST HIT “With Arms Wide Open” (No. 1, one week, 2000)
THE CHARGE That it was all an act. Co-opting the real pain at the core of grunge was one thing, but co-opting the Christian rock pose, while Stapp was living a hedonistic rock and roll lifestyle so intensely, was quite another.
THE REVISION Following the band’s breakup in 2004, Stapp was addicted to drugs and alcohol and near suicide before turning his life around and releasing a successful Christian rock solo album. The rest of Creed, led by Mark Tremonti, formed Alter Bridge, which was able to evade most of the former band’s critics.
BIO Born Rob Van Winkle, Vanilla Ice’s catchy “Ice Ice Baby” became the first rap single to top the pop charts and launched him to superstardom almost overnight. His major-label debut, “To the Extreme,” topped the album charts for 16 weeks in 1990 and 1991.
BIGGEST HIT “Ice Ice Baby” (No. 1, one week, 1990)
THE CHARGE More than more organic rappers like The Beastie Boys, Vanilla Ice was seen as ripping off African-American culture for his own gain. He compounded the problem by claiming that he did not sample Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” for the song’s hook until a lawsuit was filed.
THE REVISION Ice has reinvented himself as a home remodeler with his own show “The Vanilla Ice Project” running for six seasons on the DIY Network.
BIO The Florida band, led by Fred Durst, became the best-known of a crop of nu-metal bands for their raucous cover of George Michael’s “Faith” and angry anthems like “My Way.”
BIGGEST HIT “My Way” (No. 4 rock, 2001)
THE CHARGE Taking the rap-metal hybrid championed by eloquent, socially conscious groups like Rage Against the Machine and reducing it to boorish songs like “Nookie.”
THE REVISION None.
BIO Dancer-models Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan were recruited by German producer Frank Farian to front a group of his studio musicians who had recorded an album of European-influenced dance pop.
BIGGEST HIT “Blame It on the Rain” (No. 1, 2 weeks, 1989)
THE CHARGE Though Pilatus and Morvan lip-synced and danced in all their live performances, they didn’t actually sing any of their songs. When it was revealed that they did not sing, they were stripped of their best new artist Grammy in 1990.
THE REVISION None, though anger has mellowed since Pilatus committed suicide in 1998.
— GLENN GAMBOA