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Worst Thing Ever: Imagine Dragons

Allie Tollaksen | Sunday, December 8, 2013

As 2013 comes to a close and we look back on the year, the top-10 lists start rolling in. We collectively need to know the best albums, shows and movies that took us by storm in the past 12 months. As I began to read the critics’ choices, best sellers and highest-grossers, I found myself in agreement with most lists. But when I turned to scroll through this year’s chart toppers in music, one band made an appearance over and over again, and I couldn’t help but cringe. It’s the band that undeniably took 2013 by storm – Imagine Dragons. 

I know I am voicing an extremely unpopular opinion here. I realize that I am putting my head on the chopping block with this statement. Many of my close friends and beloved family members are huge fans of the four-piece pop-rock group, but I can’t stay quiet any longer: I cannot stand Imagine Dragons. 

The first time I heard Imagine Dragons was last year when the group’s breakout hit “It’s Time” came onto everyone’s radar. It was catchy, kind of inspirational and though I wasn’t a huge fan of front man Dan Reynolds’ scream-singing, I was okay with hearing the song around every now and then. Sure, the chorus is repeated five times and makes up over half the song, but I went with it.  

Then came “Radioactive,” and everything changed. 

No matter how many times I hear the song “Radioactive,” it still completely baffles me as to how it is so popular. No part of me can find the pulsing, low-register synth and heavy, industrial crash of the percussion enjoyable. It sounds like the theme song of some sort of dystopian theme park you would never, ever want to visit. In fact, it’s like the band knew this when the created the music video for the song, which featured the group’s members dramatically locked in prison paired with some puppet cage-fighting. 

When Reynolds finally comes in on the track, we are confronted with his harsh vocals and heavy breathing in the first verse. Just when you think it can’t get any more dramatic, the chorus begins, and the song becomes a whole new kind of bad. This may be a controversial statement, but nothing about a group of people screaming the word “radioactive” paired with superfluous bass-drumming is pleasant or interesting. 

I’m pretty sure that the song is supposed to be about change and revolution and the apocalypse or something, but the lyrics are far too ambiguous and repetitive to inspire. Nevertheless, the song was called the most popular rock song of 2013, so somehow I am apparently the only person who feels like someone is yelling incoherently at me every time I heard “Radioactive.” 

After “Radioactive,” the group released two more singles that became unavoidable this year, “Demons” and “On Top of the World,” both of which are essentially just iterations of their first two singles. When I first heard “Demons,” it sounded enough like “Radioactive” for me to immediately loathe it. Again, the song is not subtle about its theme of addressing personal issues, but the lyrics are pretty much just a vapid series of couplets sung emotionally over a heavy beat. Hard pass. 

Finally, “On Top of the World” is the band’s latest single. The song is a happy-go-lucky single in the same vein as “It’s Time.” Chock-full of clichéd lyrics and a lot of clap-stomping, it’s basically a hybrid of all of the kitschy songs we love so dearly in artists like fun., The Lumineers and Train. At least no one is screaming in it. 

I know that the love of Imagine Dragons runs deep, especially at Notre Dame. I know I’m going to catch a lot of flack for my stance on the band. That’s okay. I will continue to be a “hater” and fight the anti-“Radioactive” fight every day just as Imagine Dragons will continue to make more music and rack up millions and millions of dollars. We all know the joke’s on me, because while I spew my Imagine Dragons hate, they’re the ones “on top of the world.” Ugh. 

Contact Allie Tollaksen at [email protected]