EDM pop duo The Chainsmokers have been setting fire to the streaming charts all year long, with four consecutive hit singles, including the longest running number one single of the year, "Closer." The group released another new single several weeks ago entitled "Setting Fires," which hasn't exactly burned up the charts since — but why?
Banner Year For The Chainsmokers
It's fair to say the year 2016 has been an unqualified success for EDM production duo The Chainsmokers, which consists of members Drew Taggart and Alex Pall. They started out the year with their first top 10 song on the Billboard charts, "Roses," which peaked at number 6, followed that up with worldwide hit "Don't Let Me Down" which hit number 3 on Billboard and was one of the top 5 streaming songs of the entire summer, and then simply smashed it with their next release "Closer," which hit number 1 on both the Billboard charts and the Spotify U.S. and Global Streaming charts, and remained there for months until it was recently toppled by The Weeknd's new release "Starboy."
After "Closer" had reigned on the charts for a while, The Chainsmokers came out with a new track called "All We Know," which quickly shot up the streaming charts to join it in the top 10. "All We Know" had a very similar sound to "Closer," and while many dismissed it as a somewhat inferior copy, it still managed a respectable placing, considering that, with the "Closer"/"Don't Let Me Down" juggernaut far from over, "All We Know" got shortchanged on radio play, as stations opted to continue playing the duo's former hits instead.
"Setting Fires" Is Not
On Nov. 4, after "Closer" finally began showing signs of slowing down, The Chainsmokers released a brand new single entitled "Setting Fires" featuring XYLO. The track was expected to follow in the footsteps of their recent hits and shoot to the top, especially as it was released as part of a five-song "Collage" EP which included both "Closer" and "Don't Let Me Down."
Instead, several weeks later, "Setting Fires" has stalled on both the Spotify streaming and Billboard charts. On Billboard, the song has stalled at number 71 for the past two weeks. On Spotify, "Setting Fires" peaked at number 31 mid-November, and this week sat at number 37, on a downward trajectory according to the streamer.
How could the latest song from the hit duo be underperforming so badly? One theory is that the song itself just hasn't resonated with listeners, with some observers questioning the quality of the duo's last two tracks when compared with earlier output.
Chainsmokers vs. Gaga, Ronson And Halsey
Another possibility could be the bad publicity the duo has been receiving lately. The pair received a rash of criticism after a harsh diss of the much-loved Lady Gaga in a Rolling Stone interview which many considered particularly arrogant given the pop star's longevity, compared to that of a group that just had its first real hit this year. Superproducer Mark Ronson, who helmed Gaga's new Joanne album and has worked with superstars like Bruno Mars and Amy Winehouse, chimed in on Twitter to defend Gaga, criticizing the duo's production style and "charisma bypassed" personalities.
The Chainsmokers doubled down on the beef when singer Halsey, who sings the female lead on "Closer" with Pall, also defended Gaga, only to receive an expletive laden tweet from Taggart insulting her "bald head." The tweet was soon deleted, and Pall dubiously insisted that he was hacked and never actually sent it. Halsey initially took the high road by stating that she believes him, but later posted an image of herself on Instagram at the AMAs captioned ""I love my dumb bald head" followed by another snap which showed her and Gaga in a warm embrace and captioned "Life made."
All this behavior has led some music fans to question the character of The Chainsmokers and may have affected some of the initial goodwill the duo had earned, perhaps somewhat influencing the response to "Setting Fires." While that could be true, the impact is most likely marginal.
"Closer" Marginalizing "Setting Fires"?
Another theory as to why the new song hasn't taken off has to do with the continued success of "Closer." Even though it has peaked, "Closer" still remains in the top 5 most streamed Spotify tracks, and still ranks number 1 in radio airplay. It could be that there just isn't room enough for another Chainsmokers single right now, either on listeners' or radio programmers' playlists. As "Closer" continues its slow descent, it will be interesting to see if "Setting Fires" can manage to catch on, or if fans think the quality of the new track is such that it should just burn out. Listen to the song below and let us know how you feel in our comments section.