For most people, posting a selfie online will yield a couple hundred Likes across social media, but when The Chainsmokers shared their single “Selfie” in January 2014, it launched a massive crossover career.
After the tongue-in-cheek track shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart, went platinum, and earned them a high-profile (and rather divisive) appearance on American Idol, the New York duo of Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall went on to prove they’re more than just a fluky one-hit wonder.
Post-“Selfie,” their singles have netted constant radio play, thanks in part to rousing, earworm vocals from previously little-known singers (although Halsey was plenty popular prior to “Closer,” obviously).
Check out The Chainsmokers’ top 5 collaborations below and read the Billboard cover story on the chart-topping duo here.
5. The Chainsmokers – “Let You Go” ft. Great Good Fine OK
“Let You Go,” featuring New York synth-pop band Great Good Fine OK, was released in October 2015 as part of The Chainsmokers’ debut EP Bouquet, but as the duo told Billboard, they’d been working on the song before “Selfie” put a spotlight on them. The latter, being their first impression to the public, established them as high-octane producers, but if the indie-influenced stylings of “Let You Go” indicate anything, it’s that the duo’s radio days were inevitable.
4. The Chainsmokers – “Kanye” ft. SirenXX
“I want to be like Kanye,” rings the chorus of “Kanye,” The Chainsmokers’ follow-up to “Selfie”—and honestly, who doesn’t? The man has the music and fashion worlds at his fingertips. But, as the duo explained to Buzzfeed, the song isn’t really about him; rather, it’s what he represents: “It’s about just owning it no matter what you’re doing.” Regardless, “Kanye” combines SirenXX’s saccharine vocals with buzzing big-room drops and soft, rolling hills of 808s, resulting in a track that works both in the club and at a karaoke party.
3. The Chainsmokers – “Roses” ft. ROZES
The second single from Bouquet, “Roses” featuring Philly singer ROZES, was The Chainsmokers’ crossover moment. Though previous singles “Selfie” and “Kanye” had their time on the radio airwaves, “Roses” and its lighter sound signaled a creative shift that took the duo from rising dance music producers to pop artists with an ear for good songwriting.
2. The Chainsmokers – “Don’t Let Me Down” ft. Daya
In today’s digital-dominant landscape, singles often have a short shelf life on top 40 radio, but The Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down,” featuring Pittsburgh singer Daya, continues to surge through the airwaves long after its February release. Taggart told the New York Times that the “echoey” guitar sounds seeping through the track were inspired by revered indie bands Explosions in the Sky and The xx. Much of the track’s success, however, should be attributed to Daya herself, whose pleading, black velvet vocals sound far more mature than her 17 years.
1. The Chainsmokers – “Closer” ft. Halsey
“Closer” collaborator Halsey can relate to being an Internet star. Before she became the voice of “The New Americana,” she was posting songs she’d written about Taylor Swift and Harry Styles to her Tumblr account.
So what happens when two viral entities come together? Pop magic that Billboard wrote sounded like an “instant classic” — not to mention it was both acts’ first No. 1 on the Hot 100 Chart. The track, a duet between Taggart and Halsey, tells of young love, heartbreak, and reunion; its nostalgic, Blink-182-referencing lyrics make it highly quotable on angsty teen Tumblrs. Some acts might sit back and bask in their achievements, but it’s likely that The Chainsmokers are already back in the studio figuring out how to top themselves yet again.