How to pronounce AVICII

The "Avicii" phenomenonHow millennials mourn their pop stars in 2018

Adalbert Siniawski: Number one of the Google trends in 2018 is the search term "World Cup", number two, directly behind it: "Avicii". The Swedish DJ and producer killed himself on April 20th at the age of 28; he was one of the most successful DJs in the so-called Electronic Dance Music, or EDM for short.

"Wake Me Up" was Tim Bergling aka Avicii's most successful track in 2013. It was also the most searched for track on the Shazam music recognition app to date. Avicii's pieces have been listened to billions of times on streaming services. Nevertheless, his death was only worth marginal reports in the arts section. How can it be that such a popular artist receives so little attention from pop critics? What does his death say about fan culture in 2018? I would like to talk to music critic Christoph Möller about that. "Avicii" ranked second in the Google Trends 2018, did that surprise you?

Internationalized, global fan scene

Christoph Möller: Yes, I was very surprised. You could think that Donald Trump or Brexit would end up in the top places in search queries, but no. "Avicii" in second place. This shows that we are dealing with an internationalized, global fan scene that may no longer find the information it needs in traditional mass media. And then simply googles them.

Siniawski: One possible explanation. Avicii's music sounds a lot like bombastic stadium electro-pop at first. What was so special about it?

Möller: The special thing about him is that he was the representative of a generation that grew up normally online. And representative of a generation of electronic music producers that grew up on online forums. He exchanged songs online while he was still at school. And then it became the prototype of a new type of pop that didn't even exist before - the mainstream DJ, closely linked to EDM. The DJ was suddenly a superstar. His sound was global, hybrid. You can't say what genre that is. A wild mix of dance, country, pop, but it has appealed to a lot of people all over the world. Avicii, this fragile, introverted Swede, became successful very quickly. He played over 800 concerts, three to four a week. He suffered from an anxiety disorder, drug and alcohol problems. He always had a problem with his role as a star and has not performed since 2016. And then just committed suicide in April.

Siniawski: The mourning for the death of Avicii on the Internet was great, otherwise he would probably not be number two in the Google trends. One has the impression that there are youth cultures online that the general public does not even notice. How do you see it

Fan culture on the net develops different intensities

Möller: Yes, I see it that way too. For me, pop in 2018 felt as if youth cultures on the internet were moving away from older fans even more rapidly than before. You can see it in Avicii, but you can also see it in a South Korean boy group like BTS. The most successful boy band of the present, but which many over 18 years old don't even know. For me it's a bit of "The 1975 Effect", the young British band that is now high on the online leaderboards. Especially the song "Love It if We Made It" - that is the soundtrack of the political catastrophes of the year for young pop fans. For the elderly, superficial plastic music. It is not really noticed by them, not even by pop critics. Because that is just not perceived as qualitative music. But I find it a bit fatal to ignore it. Because these musicians shape the present and they mean something, especially for young fans.

Siniawski: Aretha Franklin died this year. There was the big ceremony, lots of obituaries. But her name is not among the most searched for terms. Do you mourn differently online and how do you explain that?

Möller: At least with other intensities and speeds. Aretha Franklin doesn't show up because it's a completely different generation. Whereby Aretha Franklin is a different generation, big oeuvre, older, more established and these young fans that online culture doesn't necessarily appeal to. But yes: the death of young pop stars triggers new dynamics. On the one hand, you have such a boulevard-like element. That goes in the direction of conspiracy theories, why did someone die. Who is responsible for that. But then again, you have this big international suggestion box on the internet. We have to get used to it, and this is also shown by the massive reaction to the death of Avicii: that pop stars are more and more products of a pop culture on the net, that they grow up there, that their life and death affect many. And I think you have to take cultural practices on the internet much more seriously.