Avicii fans are mourning his sudden death, so it’s no surprise that they are turning to his music for comfort. The 28-year-old Swedish DJ and EDM producer, whose birth name was Tim Bergling, was found dead in Muscat, Oman on April 20, 2018, just days after he was nominated for a Billboard Music Award for Top Dance/Electronic album for his EP, Avici (01).
Avicii left behind an impressive library of music that he produced for both himself and for other artists as he mixed musical styles, famous riffs, and timeless vocals and made them his own. During his short but prolific career in the music industry, he worked with big-name stars including Madonna, Robbie Williams, David Guetta, Rita Ora, Zac Brown, Leona Lewis, Lenny Kravitz and more.
As we mourn the death of Avicii, here’s a look back at some of his most iconic songs.
Avicii may be best known for the 2011 electronic dance music hit “Levels.” Still holding strong as one of the most recognizable dance songs of all time, it features the telltale vocal sample of Etta James’ 1962 classic “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.” The song earned Avicii a Grammy nomination and it remains, in most fans’ eyes, his greatest masterpiece.
Featuring vocals by Swedish singer Salem Al Kakir, a version of this progressive house number was leaked online one year before its official release. In an interview with Digital Spy, Avicii talked about how he was inspired to create the song.
— Variety (@Variety) April 20, 2018
“Some people get inspired by a feeling, but I’m mostly inspired by melodies,” Avicii said. “The person who co-produced this track with me is incredible – he can play every instrument you can think of. We took as much of that as we could and tried to make it dance-friendly and something different from what is on the charts now.”
“Wake Me Up” (2013)
Avicii’s first full-length album, True, featured the crossover smash hit lead single with Aloe Blacc, “Wake Me Up.” Somehow, Avicii’s unconventional decision to merge country and bluegrass music with electronic dance worked. Avicii debuted the song at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami in 2013 to mixed reviews, but the tune quickly gained traction and is now one of his greatest songs.
“I have always been open to listening to anything, and bluegrass, in particular, has always captured my attention when I’ve heard it,” Avicci told Yahoo Music at the time the song was released. “The sound of the acoustics is just so pure, especially the guitar. I think it added a great element to the song. It’s been really rewarding to see the success of ‘Wake Me Up.’ I can’t believe how well it’s done.”
“Hey Brother” (2013)
Avicii himself cited this as his favorite track on his True album. The song, said to be inspired by the movie Brother, Where Art Thou?, was accompanied by a music video that featured two brothers growing up in wartime America with clips of the Vietnam War. In another nod to his passion for bluegrass, American bluegrass singer Dan Tyminski provided vocals for the track.
In an interview posted by Digital Journal, Tyminski revealed he surprised himself with the song. “It’s funny how that all happened since I never thought that I would be dabbling in that genre of music,” the singer said. “It’s a big world out there and there is room for all kinds of music. That was outside of my radar and I wasn’t prepared for what it was going to bring.”
“Lay Me Down” (2014)
Avicii collaborated with superstars Nile Rodgers and Adam Lambert for this song from his debut album. American Idol alum Lambert provided vocals on the song while Rodgers played backing guitar. The music video for the song features Avicii performing the song live during his True Tour. Of the collaboration, Avicii told Yahoo everyone involved had something that fit with his vision.
“I’d been talking to Nile for over a year, and we talked about working together,” Avicii said. “He’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever met. I’m so lucky to have worked with him. And with Adam, I wasn’t even thinking that he was going to be on the track. … But his voice is incredible, and he captured something on the first take.”