What is The Chainsmokers ‘Closer’ Really About?
Published by Michelle Martin on March 6, 2017
The Chainsmoker’s new hit Closer isn’t your average love song
Lead by Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart, the electro-pop duo The Chainsmokers is taking the billboard 100 by storm. ‘Closer’ was their 3rd hit to go double-platinum in 2016, and like the song says– they just
Featuring superstar singer-songwriter, Halsey, the hit has quickly risen in the charts as a somewhat dark, but mostly honest love song– or so it seems.
The single represents a vapid, wild, and yet somehow endearing millennial experience of love, materialism, and as you may or may not have guessed– getting back together with an ex.
So baby pull me closer in the backseat of your Rover
That I know you can’t afford
Bite that tattoo on your shoulder
Pull the sheets right off the corner
Of the mattress that you stole
From your roommate back in Boulder
We ain’t ever getting older
At first glance, these upbeat lyrics have a tinge of sexy, maybe even bordering on a love song about a partners-in-crime-style relationship, but if you listen closely it may not be the romantic song you’d expect.
Pall describes the song a little differently: “The song is sort of comical in nature, we wanted to make a feel-good song about meeting your ex, falling for them on a physical level and them remembering all the horrible truths about why it didn’t work out.”
But we aren’t entirely convinced it’s a comedy, and if it is, it’s a dark one.
Hey, I was doing just fine before I met you,
I drink too much and that’s an issue but I’m okay.
In case you haven’t already felt the tinge of disdain, think about it: the lyrics describe someone who sees someone they haven’t seen in a while, and you can rest assured they have a romantic history that fell flat:
I know it breaks your heart,
Moved to the city in a broke down car.
… And of course Halsey thinks it’s her who broke it off– a classic post-modern breakup, and the perfect scenario for a passionate, yet fleeting reunion :
You look as good as the day I met you
I forget just why I left you, I was insane
Seems like both characters in this duet are in denial, which is the perfect formula for one very confusing hookup. We can assume things ended badly– and we can also assume that neither character can resist:
I can’t stop, no, I can’t stop.
…And neither can listeners.
In one interview with Genius, Pall says the song represents
that sort of rush of memories and emotions, mostly physical, leading to a hook up, making this a no-frills, true-life, and very relatable pop experience.
Everyone loves a song about bad decisions (
Blame It on the alcohol), and this song perfectly fits the bill. From
looking pretty in a hotel bar, to
pull me closer in the backseat of your Rover, it’s pretty clear the duo is getting drunk, and probably making a regrettable decision.
Considering The Chainsmokers party lifestyle, it’s no wonder their lyrics have a touch of alcoholism and an edge of naughty. In one interview with Billboard, Alex Pall said (of his career so far)–
“It’s always ‘work hard, play hard’… But you’ll never see us getting carried out of a club. We’re way too good at drinking.”
But in spite of everything, there’s still something hopelessly romantic about the song, prompting young couples everywhere to take it on as a duet:
Inspiration Behind the Song
By now we can guess that the song is about a run-in singer Alex Pall had with his ex-girlfriend, and it’s exactly what prompted him to write the song– while they were on tour.
Though Halsey wrote her part of the duet, the inspiration remains true to the experience, all thanks to their affinity with 2000’s alt-rock.
Inspired by the likes of Blink-182 and 90’s R&B, The Chainsmoker’s duet is nothing short of a youth-pop anthem, and it knows exactly where it’s roots lie.
They even give Blink-182 a shout out in the song– and we can’t help but think that it’s the band’s hit “Miss You” that they’re referencing.
Describing the song as “conversational and literal” in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, The Chainsmokers aim was to produce a nostalgic piece of music that says what it means– no mushy romantic metaphors needed:
“…we were talking about how we haven’t heard a conversational song where a person is so literal about what they mean, and we wanted to do something like that. We had this concept for a song that was like an un-sexy sex scene, basically. ”
But with millions of people listening, it’s probably not all that un-sexy. The sound is in the ear of the beholder, after all.
One thing is certain: we’ll be sure to keep a
Closer eye on what The Chainsmokers do next.