Biography of The Chainsmokers
The Chainsmokers are a pop act consisting of two DJs named Drew Taggart (born December 31, 1989) and Alex Pall (born May 16, 1985). They first hit the charts with the novelty song “#Selfie.” Two years later, in 2016, they soared to the top of the charts with “Closer,” one of the biggest pop hit singles of all time.
Drew Taggart grew up in Freeport, Maine. His mother is a teacher, and his father is a prosthetics salesperson. He discovered electronic dance music while in Argentina at the age of 15. He attended Syracuse University and became an intern at the record label, Interscope Records.
Alex Pall grew up in Westchester County, New York. His mother is a housewife, and his father is an art dealer. He attended New York University as an art major.
The Chainsmokers first came together in 2012 as a dance music DJ duo of Alex Pall and Rhett Bixler. In New York City, Alex Pall was introduced to Drew Taggart by the Chainsmokers’ manager Adam Alpert. When Rhett Bixler left the duo, Drew Taggart moved from Maine to New York City to work with Alex Pall. They worked with Indian actress and singer Priyanka Chopra on their first single “Erase” in late 2012. It was released via the online dance community Beatport in November, and in December it was made available for sale via iTunes.
According to entertainment industry reports, Drew Taggart broke up with his girlfriend, Haley Rowe around the time of a steamy live performance of the song “Closer” with the singer Halsey at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards. Rumors have persisted that they might be dating, but the Chainsmokers have offered no confirmations. Alex Pall’s girlfriend is Tori Woodward.
- 2015 – Bouquet – After their breakthrough single “#Selfie” was criticized for being shallow and self-indulgent, the Chainsmokers returned to the studio to put together their first EP. The single “Roses” became their first top 10 pop hit. Bouquet was released four months later and landed at #31 on the album chart. It went all the way to #2 on the dance albums chart. The EP also included the song “Until You Were Gone,” a collaboration with the DJ duo Tritonal and singer-songwriter Emily Warren.
- 2016 – Collage – This is the second EP released by The Chainsmokers. It was released while the duo’s single “Closer” was still at #1 on the US pop chart. All five tracks on the EP were released as singles. Three of them reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Collage hit #6 on the US album chart and reached the top of the dance album chart. It helped the Chainsmokers earn a Grammy Award nomination for Best New Artist.
Top Hit Singles
- 2014 – “#Selfie” – This is the single that brought the Chainsmokers to widespread attention. It is a novelty song about a woman at a club talking about taking photos of herself, or “selfies.” The accompanying music video includes selfies from celebrities such as David Hasselhoff, Snoop Dogg, and Steve Aoki. The song quickly drew attention, much of it criticizing the song for being shallow and derivative. “#Selfie” peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached the top 10 on the dance chart.
- 2015 – “Roses” featuring Rozes – Featuring vocals from singer Elizabeth Roze Mencel, recording under the name Rozes, the song “Roses” earned the Chainsmokers attention as serious pop artists. The duo claimed influence from both Taylor Swift and Max Martin. “Roses” became their first top 10 pop hit peaking at #6 and breaking into both the mainstream pop and adult pop radio charts.
- 2016 – “Don’t Let Me Down” featuring Daya – The Chainsmokers decided to pursue 17-year-old pop singer Daya to record “Don’t Let Me Down” after they heard her debut hit “Hide Away.” “Don’t Let Me Down” was co-written by Emily Warren, who previously wrote songs for Fifth Harmony and Shawn Mendes, and Scott Harris, a frequent collaborator with Shawn Mendes. “Don’t Let Me Down” eclipsed “Roses” by climbing to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and hitting #4 on the dance club chart. It earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Dance Recording.
- 2016 – “Closer” featuring Halsey – “Closer” was written by a team that included featured vocalist Freddy Kennett of the duo Louis, the Child. After some noted similarities between “Closer” and The Fray’s song “Over My Head (Cable Car),” Isaac Slade and Joe King from the group were given songwriting credit. Praised for its ability to capture the moment in time both lyrically and musically, “Closer” became the biggest pop hit of 2016 in the US spending twelve weeks at #1. It went to #1 in countries around the world and earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Duo or Group Performance.
- 2021 – “Paris” – This song features uncredited guest vocals from Emily Warren, co-songwriter of the Chainsmokers’ top 10 pop hit “Don’t Let Me Down.” It reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Chainsmokers have mentioned both Pharrell Williams and DJ Deadmau5 as influences on their sound. With spare, sharp beats, they captured the pop music zeitgeist. In retrospect, the single “#Selfie” looks almost like a false start. The true sound of the Chainsmokers wasn’t evident until their top 10 smash “Roses.” The duo have mentioned in interviews their praise for the alternative pop duo Twenty One Pilots. Like that duo, the music of the Chainsmokers crosses boundaries pulling in elements of pop and hip hop making it ultra-catchy with an infectious dance beat.