Anatomy of a Hit: Avicii – Hey Brother

I’ve set myself a challenge to analyse the highest new entry to the UK singles chart top 10 each week. This week it’s a song that represents my favourite music trend of 2013…

#8 – Avicii – Hey Brother

I’ve been citing electro-country as one of my favourite genres since I discovered a brilliant Taylor Swift remix back in 2009. The contrast of country’s classic, earthy feel with the futuristic nature of electronic music creates an original sound which, when done well, appeals to both traditional and forward-thinking audiences. This year electro-country went mainstream when Swedish dance producer Avicii took influence from country music for his huge hit, Wake Me Up. Since then there have been many more examples, such as my new fave Timber (the 2013 answer to Cotton Eye Joe). As Wake Me Up was Avicii’s biggest hit yet, Hey Brother was an obvious choice as the next release from his album, True.


While Wake Me Up’s vocals were provided by soul singer Aloe Blacc (who has no more ties to country music than Avicii), Hey Brother features Dan Tyminski, a bluegrass artist who has achieved crossover success before. He won a Grammy for his recording of Man of Constant Sorrow from the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?. The collaboration resulted in a very odd live performance, but on record it works. The fact that Avicii, as one of the biggest EDM artists, had the ambition to break out of his own genre and incorporate one so different has definitely earned him my respect. And the choice of country – a genre that was already on the verge of going mainstream outside of the US, but just needed that extra push – was particularly wise. Following on from last week’s Calvin/Alesso/Hurts no.1, this is another release which proves those who think dance music is an unintelligent genre fundamentally wrong.

Come back next Monday to read my thoughts on the highest new entry in the top 10. Could it be Jason Derulo, Pharrell Williams, Awolnation, James Arthur or someone else entirely? Tweet me your predictions now!

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