Anatomy of a Hit: Marshmello & Bastille Break Down How 'Happier' Became Their Biggest Hit

Marshmello & Dan Smith of Bastille
Courtesy of Universal Music Group

Marshmello & Dan Smith of Bastille 

When “Happier” reached its current peak of No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, DJ-producer Marshmello and British band Bastille both hit new career highs: The former made his top five debut, while the latter made its first return to the Hot 100 since 2013 breakthrough single “Pompeii” (No. 5). Since its Aug. 17 release, the dance-rock track has been propelled by a robust combination of streaming (No. 2 on Dance/Electronic Streaming Songs), sales (No. 4 on Digital Song Sales) and radio airplay (No. 5 on Radio Songs). But for Marshmello’s manager, Moe Shalizi, the song’s relatability is the biggest factor behind its rapid rise: “It just hits you in the feels immediately.”

The Manager: MOE SHALIZI

"My colleague James Sandom, who manages Bastille, sent an email asking if I [would] take a listen to a demo he had from Dan [Smith, frontman of Bastille]. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I immediately sent it to Marshmello, who felt the exact same way. He loved it so much that he finished a new version of the song in three days.”


“Mello and Moe gave me a lift from Ultra Music Festival to Story nightclub in March. After berating them about how we hadn’t worked on something together, Moe took the aux cord and played the demo of ‘Happier.’ I stood in front of the door to the sprinter and wouldn’t let them out until we made a deal for the record. It felt special from the first few bars.”


“The original version felt unusual for our band, so we were keen to collaborate. I’ve always been a fan of Marshmello’s production and love his song with Khalid ['Silence'], so we reached out to him. We fired back and forth while both touring different parts of the world -- I’ve never worked like that before. We then got together to finish it at his studio in L.A.”

The Producer: MARSHMELLO

“I spent the most time on making the ‘drop’ the lead melody. I went through about 15 different options and finally landed on the one that you hear in the song now. Everything else in the song fit perfectly, and it was my job to complement it. [Dan is] a very creative person and open to new ideas, which made the whole writing process inspiring and fun.”

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 10 issue of Billboard.