The Chainsmokers (Alex Pall and Drew Taggart) have always been known for a distinctive style that is equal parts pop and equal parts electronic dance music. For a band that has only been on the national scene for about two years, they have quickly distinguished themselves as industry favorites and carved out a niche all their own.
The Chainsmokers have always had a habit of putting out a song about once a month. They say they like to do that in order to keep the themes of their music as current as possible. However, the interim before “Sick Boy” was a lot longer. Before releasing this song, they had not put out any music for about nine months. The explanation for this, as given by the duo themselves, is that they wanted this song to be the beginning of a “new chapter“. They said that they had grown a lot, as artists and as people, and that they wanted to reinvent their music in order to reflect that.
As such, this new single moves in a significantly darker direction. It is a very plain and direct statement about what the internet has become. A lot of the lyrics imply a sense of isolation and narcissism all rolled into one. It is not simply another whining critique of society’s ills. Rather, it seems to honestly accept the nature of fame in the internet age, and all the scrutiny that goes with it. In a world where every celebrity both past and present is in competition for the collective attentions of the internet, and where the average person has just as much of a voice as these celebrities, narcissism and isolation can often lead people to say and do things that destroy their careers and credibility forever. Internet fame can often turn into infamy.
When asked about the motivation for this new single, Taggart says that the song was really meant to express anger and frustration about the state of the world and the nature of social media. While this represents a shift from their earlier work, Pall and Taggart say that their fans have mostly responded well to the new sound.