With an illustrious discography that’s as heady as the smoke they’re named after, The Chainsmokers have redefined the boundaries of pop music in the 21st century. Their tunes, like earworms set loose, have a knack for securing real estate in our brains – and making themselves at home. Their style? A cocktail of EDM and pop, shaken not stirred, that often leaves listeners with a musical hangover they don’t mind nursing. Their meteoric rise from remix maestros to chart-topping hitmakers is evident in tracks like “Paris”, “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Roses”. But even amidst their platinum-certified smashes, there lies a vivid range in their oeuvre, from the introspective echoes of “Sick Boy” to the unabashed viral audacity of “#SELFIE”.
This dynamic duo, composed of Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart, have carved a niche for themselves in the annals of pop music with a catalog that’s as diverse as it is catchy. But, as with any act, not all hits are created equal. Some rise to the occasion, others fall into the background. In the spirit of celebrating and critiquing, we’re diving headfirst into their back catalog.
So let’s get into it. From the forgettable “Up & Down” to the spellbinding “Something Just Like This”, here are the Top 25 Chainsmokers Songs Ranked, from Worst to Best.
25. Up & Down
The lyrics reveal the struggle of finding oneself amidst the tumultuous highs and lows of life and fame. From jet lag to drink-drowned existential questioning, it’s a tale of resilience and the desire to be seen and understood. The repetitions of “wish that you could see me now” and the constant juxtaposition between ‘up and down’ can be seen as either a cry for validation or a celebration of personal growth against adversity. It’s Chainsmokers’ cookie-cutter pattern of blending cloudy EDM elements with pop sensibilities. Though it resonates with the sentiment of overcoming one’s struggles, “Up & Down” wobbles in its execution, failing to give the lyrical depth its due diligence, settling it in the last spot on our list.
24. I Love U
It’s a tribute to the complexities of love, specifically unrequited love, with heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics that still somehow manage to have a bit of a wink. The narrative shuffles through memories, yearnings, and dashed dreams, taking us on a ride through the pain of loving someone who doesn’t reciprocate the feelings. The Chainsmokers are in top form here, their electronic grooves heightening the emotions. It’s all about the melancholy of trying to figure out why the relationship didn’t work, and the desperate plea for that elusive second chance. The eloquent yearning and catchy electronic groove make it a memorable, even if somewhat heartbreaking, pop song.
Sung from the perspective of an aspirational individual navigating a world filled with superficial allurements like “fancy cars,” “crowded bars,” and “supermodels,” the lyrics poignantly depict the struggle to maintain one’s identity. Constantly in pursuit of things they think they need, the unnamed subject of the song realizes the one thing they can’t afford is losing themselves by trying to become “somebody” else. This track serves as a critique of the fickle and often ephemeral nature of fame and success, underlining the common but risky human tendency to change according to the ‘weather’ or societal trends. Ultimately, “Somebody” delivers a relatable narrative on self-discovery, embracing individuality, and the fraught journey to find authenticity in a world that often encourages the opposite.
The track illuminates the plight of digital-era love, with its lyrics drawing rich allusions to the pervasive role of social media and how it can shape–and warp–our perceptions of intimacy. The song heavily leverages the metaphor of browsing through an ex’s iPad as a symbol of seeking elusive closure in the aftermath of a soured relationship. Underneath the upbeat production, there’s a poignant narrative about struggling to reconcile fond memories of a former love with their current, unfamiliar digital persona. The track ultimately circles back to the painful yet profound realization that erstwhile lovers have become strangers again. While “iPad” may not be The Chainsmokers’ highest charting hit, it provides a raw, authentic glimpse into the illusory world of online love, making it a key entry in their discography.
21. Don’t Let Me Down (feat. Daya) – Illenium Remix
Daya) – Illenium Remix” first hit your eardrums, you know you’re in for a true Chainsmokers experience. The track is a breathtaking rollercoaster of emotions, showcasing the raw vulnerability that underlies much of the duo’s work. The song captures the desperate plea of a person yearning for support, a hand to clutch in the dark abyss of solitude. The intensity is amplified by Daya’s power-packed vocals that insistently ring out, “Don’t let me down.” Illenium’s twist on the remix adds a new depth to the desperation, fusing the song with his signature melodic bass style, crescendoing with an urgency that pushes the edge of intensity. This track is the Chainsmokers at their best, playing with elements of pop and EDM, while remaining deeply rooted in the art of telling a human story.
20. See You Again
It’s a tune steeped in a post-breakup ambience, with lyrics reflecting the internal conflicts and emotional armouring one undergoes after a relationship ends. The recurring line, “When I see you again, I’ll be on guard”, serves as a poignant reminder of the walls we erect to shield ourselves from re-experienced pain. But it’s not all shadows and heartbreak. There are subtle undertones of acceptance and moving on, symbolized by hope for the significant other’s happiness and their own prospect of letting go. All these layers, wrapped up in The Chainsmokers’ signature EDM-infused pop sound, make “See You Again” a complex and relatable track in their discography.
19. Self Destruction Mode
The infamous duo are at their lyrical best here, narrating a personal journey in chaotic moral quandary. “Waking up in self-destruction mode” is a recurring phrase in the song, suggesting an everyday struggle with destructive habits or impulses. It’s a nod to the fight against one’s own demons, harking to the darker side of fame and success. The track juxtaposes the glamour of reckless living (‘Triple seven on the dash, guess I’m feeling lucky’) with the inherent emptiness it entails (‘I kinda got a thing for cash, I just want your money’). The Chainsmokers showcase their emotional acuity, inviting listeners in for a ride of self-examination. While not their lushest composition, “Self Destruction Mode” rises on the strength of its sincere storytelling and candid introspection.
18. My Bad
The lyrics reveal a narrator wrestling with a palpable attraction that’s meant to remain unspoken. Despite the characters setting “rules”, the desire for intimacy manifests in every thought, every solitude. The repetition of the phrase “Don’t go thinking like that” becomes an internal mantra, a futile effort to combat the relentless waves of desire. In the catchy chorus, the protagonist admits – “my bad, I didn’t mean to fall in love like that.” It’s a confession that encapsulates the power dynamics of the situation, trapped in a limbo of passion and denial. Through “My Bad”, The Chainsmokers articulate the universal struggle of navigating emotional landscapes, making it an engaging narrative soaked in pop sensibilities.
17. The Fall
The lyrics paint a picture of a toxic relationship stuck in a cycle of indulgence and regret. The protagonist is drawn to the intoxicating thrill of their love interest’s presence, symbolized by the ‘same drugs’ they share. This magnetic attraction, however, is tinged with a sense of impending doom – a fall.
The repetition of the haunting phrase ‘You’re gonna wish you left, but you never leave’ underscores the addictive yet damaging dynamic at play. And there’s a profound sadness in the realization that you ‘can’t put your arms ’round a memory.’ This track veers away from the band’s typical party anthems, providing a more complex look at the pitfalls of modern love and the ephemeral nature of human connection. A deep cut with a painfully relatable message, “The Fall” truly demands your attention.
The song is less about melody and more about its spoken-word narration, presenting a running commentary from a female club-goer character obsessed with social validation, partying, and of course, selfies. Its lyrics take us through her inner dialogue, filled with superficial concerns, from choosing the perfect Instagram filter to dealing with her frenemies. She’s emblematic of a generation’s vanity, providing a sarcastic yet pointed critique of our digital-age narcissism.
At the same time, these candid, over-the-top monologues, slid over an infectious EDM beat, create a song that’s undeniably catchy and ridiculously relatable for many. However, whether you consider “#SELFIE” a tongue-in-cheek mockery or an anthem for the self-obsessed, it certainly stamped The Chainsmokers’ identity as pop music’s clever social commentators.
Emulating a journey through an emotional battlefield, the lyrics express the protagonist’s struggle dealing with the residues of a toxic relationship. Symbolized through vivid imagery of old apartments and constant benders, the track imbues a longing for something that was, but more importantly, the realization that what once was perceived as ‘love’, was nothing more than a misplaced ‘hope’. This exploration of the dichotomy between hope and love is one of The Chainsmokers’ most candid, as they grapple with themes of growth, maturity, illusion, and reality. Indeed, “Hope” serves as a testament to emotional resilience and the often painful beauty that lies in understanding the very nature of love.
The lyrics unflinchingly probe into a relationship wherein declarations of love are only made under the influence, leading to perpetual cycles of disappointment and promises of change that never materialize. The Chainsmokers dig deep into the emotional complexities of such a dynamic, portraying the vulnerability and desperation of a partner compelled to hold on to the hollow echoes of love, glimpsed only in episodes of intoxication. The song’s sobering realism is thinly veiled beneath the surface of a dance-worthy beat, creating a compelling contrast that resonates strongly with fans. However, this track sparks a testament to the Chainsmoker’s ability to meld lighthearted pop aesthetics with introspective and emotionally charged lyricism, thus solidifying their standing as more than just party anthem manufacturers.
13. Sick Boy
Depicting the East-West divide in America, the lyrics sassily seethe on the spitfire of social media, the commoditization of lives, and the vanity that feeds this machine. The ‘sick boy’ character is a symbol of how society restricts and expects individuals to conform to a certain mold. The song confronts the notion of projected narcissism where everyone’s hyperbolically preoccupied with public validation. This contradiction weaves a rich tapestry of societal angst, questioning the worth of a life in ‘likes’. It’s the Chainsmokers at their lyrical best, deftly fabricating a landscape of indifference and deception. In the funky beat and catchy chorus, they deliver a pill on the ills of modern society.
12. Think Of Us
It’s a poignant narrative, walking us through the painful journey of untangling oneself from the relics of a past relationship. Drawing on powerful imagery of a city bus and a quiet neighborhood, this intimate tune is a testament to longing and residual feelings. The Chainsmokers don’t hold back, laying bare the emotional mess of memories, the gnawing curiosity, and the lurking ‘what ifs’. The track is a question addressed to a former lover, yet it surreptitiously incites listeners to reflect on their emotional baggage. It propels us to confront the haunting specter of past relationships, which despite our best efforts, insidiously creep into the periphery of our consciousness. “Think of Us” is not just a song, it’s an exquisitely painful mirror held up to our own vulnerabilities and lingering attachments.
11. Who Do You Love
The track unpacks the tale of a lover suspicious of their partner’s fidelity with a slick blend of electronic, pop, and dance music elements. The sentiment of paranoia is exemplified in addictive hooks, found cigarettes, changing access codes, and alleged lies, which become the bread and butter of this evocative number. Combining with the pulsating beats and the catchy melody, the lyrics encapsulate the confusion, hurt, and devastation of suspecting one’s love is placed elsewhere. The Chainsmokers have crystallized the modern angst of mistrust in relationships, coupling it with a danceable tune that gets one’s feet tapping as much as the heart pounding. This is pop music at its most raw and vulnerable, and it’s no wonder the track resonates so deeply with listeners.
10. Call You Mine
It presents a sort of recklessness often reserved for the young; explored through running wild in the city, intoxicated subway rides, and impulsive kisses. Instead of romanticizing the emotion, though, it probes layers of uncertainty and doubt – a sense of ‘us against the world’ attitude.
The track iterates on this ebullient first flush of love, when every meeting seems accidental but necessary, and every parting feels like a looming end. It’s these uncertainties that the song insists on calling into question – understanding the importance of commitment and asking if a relationship can withstand the test of time. The lyrics are a testament to the power of declaring love, with the titular line, ‘I call you mine’, symbolizing a moment of affirmation amidst an unknown future.
“Call You Mine” remains a bold depiction of nascent love, capturing the beautiful chaos of youth, while also pondering if such fast-paced, unbridled affection can evolve into something enduring and true.
9. Summertime Friends
The track masterly explores the inevitability of lost love and the ephemeral nature of summertime romances. Yet, like the season’s fleeting nature, the Chainsmokers understand this love to be fleeting and fragile. The protagonist yearns for a connection that transcends the superficiality of the season, battling feelings of frustration, longing, and passionate desire. The drama of the narrative is amplified through its vibrant sonic palette, embodying the emotional rollercoaster of a summer fling. The synth-heavy production, imbued with the Chainsmokers’ signature anthemic sound, adds a layer of euphoria, while the lyrical content grounds the track in a relatable human experience. “Summertime Friends” is a testament to the Chainsmokers’ ability to balance club-ready beats with emotionally charged narratives, making it one of their standout tracks.
8. All We Know
This song paints a vivid picture of a relationship hanging by a thread, yet still existing in the familiar rhythms of life. The lyrics use rich imagery to portray an emotional state where lovers are metaphorically “Fighting flames of fire” and hanging onto “burning wires”. It’s about two people who “don’t care anymore” but are kind of stuck, unable to let go of this relationship they’ve grown accustomed to.
As the protagonist navigates the streets of the city, from Chicago to the coast, it becomes clear that this lifestyle and this relationship is all they know. Ambivalence is a strong undercurrent in this track, mirroring today’s “no-label” relationships. The song is an emblem of millennial romantic turbulence, capturing the intense indecisiveness that marks many modern relationships. The Chainsmokers have nailed the zeitgeist again with “All We Know” and its blend of emotional storytelling wrapped in addictive, head-bobbing beats.
7. This Feeling
The Chainsmokers, with their knack for spinning evocative tales over infectious beats, drafted a narrative yielding the inner struggle between head and heart. Underneath those pulsating electronica soundscapes, the lyrics illuminate a story of defiance and emotional resilience, even as “they got their hands at my neck this time”. The track is an ode to anyone who’s dared to trust their chest over their head, capturing that defiant rush of chasing a love that others can’t comprehend. “If that’s really so wrong”, The Chainsmokers bluntly argue, “then they don’t know what this feeling is like”. It’s both an anthem for rebellious romantics and a testament to The Chainsmokers’ storytelling prowess, turning an everyday struggle into a dancefloor-ready triumph.
Thematically, it delves into the paradox of wanting someone so badly, yet knowing that for the sake of both parties, it’s best to walk away. The song plays with the idea of ‘borrowed love’ – where love is given with the full knowledge that it isn’t meant to last, likened to takeout food that’s consumed and eventually discarded. The lyrics reveal a protagonist stuck in a conundrum of love; wanting to be loved, preemptively guarding against heartbreak, and yet knowing they’re going to leave. The Chainsmokers craft a narrative that’s as melancholic as it is relatable, showcasing their lyrical prowess alongside their ability to craft killer hooks. “Takeaway” is a testament to the themes The Chainsmokers explore in their music: ephemeral, bittersweet love, set to irresistible pop-dance concoctions.
The lyrics paint a vivid picture of two lovers striving to extend their time together, evoking a sense of longing, rebellion and ultimately, a promise of commitment. This infectious track marries the personal and the universal, turning a typical love story into a piece of vibrant, relatable pop art. The melody, paired with ROZES’ sultry vocals, delivers a potent dosage of auditory elixir. Yet, what sets “Roses” apart is its refusal to stick to the easy, bubble-gum version of pop music love stories. It’s a love song, sure, but it’s also a slice-of-life anthem, always reminding you of that one unforgettable fling. In sum, “Roses” is a sonic testament to the paradox of love: the more it feels like a dream, the more real it gets.
It’s a vivid narrative of escapism, where the protagonists abscond from conventional norms, seeking solace in the romantic cityscape of Paris. The protagonists are young, brash, and deeply in love, using the city as a canvas for their adolescent exploits.
Weaving a tale of seeking refuge from judgemental parents and flaunting its defiance on the internet, the song resonates with a generation entrenched in a digital era. The chorus presents a metaphorical plunge, signifying their willingness to face the consequences together, an allusion to their strong bond. The recurring line, “Let’s show them we are better,” is a cheeky challenge to societal norms and expectations, reflecting their eagerness to defy the status quo.
Overall, “Paris” encapsulates the essence of youthful rebellion and romantic escape, underscored by a catchy electro-pop beat. It’s a reminder of The Chainsmokers’ ability to mirror contemporary ethos in their music, making it a standout in their discography.
3. Don’t Let Me Down
The EDM track, blessed with Daya’s powerhouse vocals, artfully captures the universal anxiety of being left alone, especially when one is craving for the comforting presence of a significant other. The lyrical content paints a picture of a pleading protagonist at the brink of psychological unravelling, begging for the reassurance of just not being ‘let down’. It is a cry of vulnerability echoed against an elaborate backdrop of catchy beats and synths. The song’s beauty lies in the emotive collision of its upbeat tempo and heart-wrenching lyrics, making it an anthem of love-lorn optimism. Ultimately, “Don’t Let Me Down” delivers a powerful message of resilience in the face of emotional turmoil, masterfully intertwining EDM vibes with deep-seated human fears.
Incorporating elements of pop, EDM, and indie, the song recounts the raw, unabashed tale of a love affair remembered in fragments of stolen mattresses, shoulder tattoos, and old-fashion Rovers. The narrative spins around the polarity of emotions, with the joy of youthful recklessness and the pain of unresolved heartache playing tug-of-war. It’s like a snapshot of youth, handled with an uncanny grace that strikes a chord with its listeners. The infectious chorus, teamed with a simple, resonating message – that we just don’t grow older in hearts – repeats like a mantra, a timeless assertion that resonates across generations. “Closer” isn’t just a runaway pop hit. It’s MVP Chainsmokers at their best, encapsulating the ephemeral nature of young love and the bitter-sweetness of nostalgia.
1. Something Just Like This
The lyrics paint the picture of a protagonist who is overwhelmed by the grandeur of heroism in the tales of old – touched by Achilles’ gold, Hercules’ gifts, and superhero feats. This awe, however, is tinged with borderline self-deprecating humility. The protagonist recognizes a misfit between themselves and these grand characters. The song’s crux, however, is in flipping this mismatch as a call for something real, raw, and human.
The chorus is a sigh of desire for a lover who doesn’t have to be superhuman, a romantic longing for “just something” they can turn to, “somebody” they can kiss. Amidst the allure of the extraordinary, “Something Just Like This” finds its beauty in the textured simplicity of the ordinary, the down-to-earth, and the comfortably human.