The Chainsmokers “Sick Boy” is the Struggling Artists War Cry

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The Chainsmokers received their now perennial hat tip from The Academy, as their Billboard topping single w/ Coldplay “Something Just Like This” awarded them a nom for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 60th Annual Grammys.  While they ceded the title to “Feel It Still” by Portugal. The Man, the hometown heroes of NYC were just happy to be in the room, as their three-year tenure in the limelight is still more dream than reality.  But, on January 17th, the EDM powerhouse unveiled their newest standalone offering Sick Boy, which nails a sentiment that once challenged every artist, before notoriety was received. With 28M views (and 30M by the time you read this) Sick Boy may not bestow them with Record of the Year for show 61, but the subversive track will soon be the war cry for young artists and entrepreneurs everywhere.  Through poetic lyricism and honest satire, the siege they fire on the cynics of status quo breaking efforts finds the words all up-and-comers feel in their embryonic stage.  We’re living in a world where fame and fortune literally rests at our fingertips, but those brazen enough to reach for it, are treated like lepers.   Ridiculed and ostracized, the “sick boys” are the pariahs greeted with disdain and disgust by their peers, just for trying to actualize a dream.  The Chainsmokers question that dialogue, as they welcome you to the narcissism.


They say that he who laughs last, laughs best.  For the renaissance men and women aspiring to manifest their imagination into a career their parents will allow, this disposition pays homage to the struggle innovators/artists will inevitably suffer through.  Like Steve Jobs’ late nights in the garage or Mark Zuckerberg coding his furry little tail off in his dorm room, the humble beginnings are cold and unforgiving, but the payoff is massive.  For the onlookers, the schadenfreude tendencies are strong, as we find ourselves rooting for the failure of others rather than bolstering their efforts with love and support.  “Everyone projects and expects you to listen,” Taggart triumphs explaining our need to find confirmation through others, or as Kanye says, crowd source the confidence.  It’s no secret that the early stages of any endeavor are perpetually lonely, but it’s debilitating that awards and accolades are the only way to rationalize the path less traveled.  To the naysayers, The Chainsmokers own their shit and play the part of the Sick Boy, but are quick to point to how easy it is to say that “when don’t even try, boy.”  Check mate.

Once you get to a place where your failures are just yours, they get a lot less scary – Gary Vaynerchuk

As a young creative in my own right, I’ve long felt the weight the content I put out carries.  Burdened with criticism and flush with questions as to why I’m doing what I’m doing, I feel the eyes rolling at the words I put down on paper regularly.  Like The Chainsmokers though, I know my dreams may confine me into “a prison,” but bucking the spite is effortless when you can say that “I built it myself, and it is my religion.”  The hate is now in the rear view for Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart (if they ever felt it), so of course it’s easier to soapbox after the world has already accepted you for what you are.  But, for the neophytes inundated with stress, incapacitated by fear, and petrified of showing their true colors, it’s time we all embrace being the sick boy.  Don’t worry about “how many likes your life’s worth,” but instead be unafraid to show the world “your life’s work.”

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