Ansel Elgort's 5 Most Essential Tracks

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David Needleman
Ansel Elgort photographed May 12 at Coney Island in Brooklyn.

A guide to Ansel Elgort's musical career.

Steven Spielberg's upcoming remake of the classic musical West Side Story has found its Tony: Ansel Elgort. Even if you know him best for acting, the Baby Driver lead (and former Billboard cover star) has a substantial history with music. 

Before Ansel Elgort stole the entire world’s heart in his breakout film performance as Augustus Waters in 2014's The Fault in Our Stars, he was already making waves in the electronic dance music world under the name Ansolo. By uploading original tracks and remixes to SoundCloud as Ansolo, Elgort guaranteed himself a number lineup spots at major music festivals.

After establishing himself in the EDM world, Elgort began to branch out from producing, writing and recording under his own name as well -- and showing off his vocal chops in the process. Ahead of his turn in West Side Story, we give you a guide to Ansel Elgort’s musical career with his most essential tracks. 

"Unite" (Ansolo)

After releasing an number of remixes and songs online like "Unite" that helped Ansolo gain underground traction, his song "Totem" was his first massive dance track. A collaboration with DJ Tom Starr, the song features a bumping bass line, fuzzed-out production, and an exotic rhythm that eventually builds into sonic chaos, before releasing with a dance explosion. The song encapsulates Ansolo’s early, underground DJing pursuits -- tracks with minimal vocals that simply embody the wildness of EDM.

"To Life" (Ansolo w/ Too Many Zooz)

With its pounding bass and thumping synths, “To Life” is another Ansolo track that you can imagine thousands of ravers dancing to at a major festival. As the song consistently builds before its booming ending and features a klezmer-inflected sound that underlines its Bar Mitzvah-set cover art, the song encompasses Ansolo's vibe that EDM embodies youth culture.

“Home Alone”

In July 2016, Ansel Elgort debuted the first single released under his given name -- illustrating that he was taking a step away from Ansolo, and giving his audience a little bit more of himself. On “Home Alone,” Elgort debuted his deep vocals, which carry the track, positioning himself in the pop vein with lyrics about taking someone home at the end of the night. The song still shows Elgort’s producer chops, though, with sweeping production and loud, echoing synths. “Home Alone” differentiates Ansel Elgort from Ansolo, but because the production is not drastically different between the two projects, the transition is never too jarring.

"Thief"

Elgort followed up his first solo release with “Thief,” in February 2017. “Thief” highlights the singer’s powerhouse vocals even further, kicking off the track by showing off his range in the vibrant intro. The song continues to explore Elgort's luminous, nightlife-loving production, while taking on a playboy persona in the track's lyrics -- demonstrating just how expansive he wants his musical career to be.

“You Can Count On Me" (feat. Logic)

“You Can Count On Me (feat. Logic)” is Ansel Elgort’s most recent release, and perhaps the greatest indicator for the recording artist’s probable future. With the Billboard 200-topping rapper Logic featured on the track, "You Can Count On Me" shows the greatest variety in his work to date, featuring a slower beat layered over a piano that emphasizes the depth of Elgort’s voice. Unlike the rest of his music, the single actually features a reference to the crossover star's acting career, with a coy nod to his film Baby Driver on Logic’s verse. Rather than shying away from his celebrity status in pursuit of the underground, Ansel Elgort may be ready for superstar status and to admit that -- producing, singing, acting -- he wants to do it all. 


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