April 20, 2023 marked the fifth anniversary since the tragic passing of the beloved Tim Bergling aka Avicii. Away from the spotlights, stages, and stardom, Bergling had long battled with not only mental health struggles, but also with excessive alcohol use and an opioid addiction.
His death was a seismic blow to the EDM community, but it was also an important turning point as well. There was a realization that the scene needs an honest conversation about how mental health and addiction are affecting both artists and fans alike.
Since then, more and more artists have started using their music to not only speak on their own personal struggles, but to also give hope to listeners who may be experiencing the same hardships and to let them know that they are not alone.
Here are 10 EDM songs that are dedicated to mental health and addiction:
1. “Disappearing Now” – NURKO, Chandler Leighton
Amid battling with personal issues, there is often a sense of losing touch with not only who you are, but also with the world itself. In “Disappearing Now” by NURKO and powerhouse vocalist Chandler Leighton, Leighton’s lyrics such as “I feel like I am disappearing now”, “Don’t recognize myself”, and “Maybe I need help” paint a vivid portrait of loneliness that is complimented perfectly by NURKO’s ethereal instrumental feel.
2. “Take You Down” – ILLENIUM
Shortly before the release of “Take You Down” in 2018, ILLENIUM released a statement on Twitter revealing that he had struggled with an opiate addiction from a young age and had overdosed on heroin in 2012.
“Take You Down” is an immensely personal song about his battles with addiction, and the song is dedicated to his mother, who, he stated, “never gave up on me and always continued to see the good even though all I was doing was fucking up”.
3. “One More Light” – Steve Aoki (Chester Forever Remix)
In July 2017, Chester Bennington, lead singer of the legendary alternative band Linkin Park, tragically passed away from suicide. “One More Light”, which was originally written about a close friend of the band that passed away suddenly from cancer, took on a new interpretation following Bennington’s death.
Contrasting the stripped-down nature of the original, Steve Aoki’s remix, made in dedication to Bennington, is much more upbeat and energetic which evokes a feeling of hope in the face of tragedy.
4. “Favorite Sound” – Audien, Echosmith
Progressive house champion Audien built the ultimate uplifting and comforting track for those times of anxiety with “Favorite Sound.”
The electro-pop song has a strong sense of relatability with lyrics such as “All the voices in my head just try to fill me up doubt,” and “But I find when I’m alone it gets so hard to breathe.”
Most importantly, it reminds the listener that “I want you to know that it’s okay to ask for help / We all need help”.
5. “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” – Seeb Remix
Seeb’s remix of “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” by Mike Posner is a song of yin and yang. While its tropical house-like instrumental and massive commercial success gives the impression that it’s just another party song, the lyrics offer quite a stark depiction of addiction and loneliness.
Mike Posner at one point in the song states “But you don’t want to be high like me / Never really knowing why like me / You don’t ever wanna step off that roller coaster and be all alone”.
6. “Down the Line” – Alison Wonderland
If there were an “EDM Ambassador for Mental Health,” Alison Wonderland would be it.
Over the years, through interviews and her music, Alison has spoken extensively on her own history of depression, anxiety, and emotional abuse.
Any number of her tracks could make this list, but “Down the Line” offers such a strong feeling of hope and determination as she sings “We need the dark times to get our life right / I’m gonna be okay down the line”.
7. “Save Me From Myself” – Louis the Child, NoMBe, Big Gigantic
In the indie dance style of Louis the Child that we all know and love, “Save Me From Myself” tells the story of how hard it can be to reach out for help when we need it the most.
Singer NoMBe states in the song that “The pain is real, my laughter is pretend / So I light the matches, ready to forget” and “Never would admit that I’m depressed / ‘Cause I was raised to take the bitter with a twist”.
8. “Hurts Sometimes” – SLANDER, Fairlane, Jonathan Mendelsohn
“But doesn’t everybody hurt sometimes?” That is the main question posed in the iconic duo SLANDER’s track “Hurt Sometimes”, a song about bottling up emotions and hurt when we feel at our lowest.
There is an all-too-familiar feeling of putting on a straight face while on the brink of breaking down with lyrics like “And man I really am breaking down inside / Could you see it in my eyes?”
9. “Drown the Sky” – William Black, RØRY
“Drown the Sky” by William Black and RØRY was inspired by both artists’ struggle with addiction and their journey to sobriety.
Black stated that “Right before I got sober, I had this moment where I finally realized that I couldn’t go on with all the pain I was causing to myself, and more importantly, those who cared for me.”
He would go on to say, “The hope is that ‘Drown The Sky’ helps others to know they’re not alone and that there is a way forward.”
10. “Wake Me When It’s Quiet” – Don Diablo, Hilda
Mourning the loss of Avicii, Don Diablo and Hilda would go on to release “Wake Me When It’s Quiet” in his honor.
When speaking about the track, Don Diablo stated “As artists, the best way to express our emotions is through music so I locked myself up in the studio […] I truly felt this song needed to get heard. So many people are struggling with mental health problems and we have to make sure to never turn a blind eye to this.”
Featured image from Dan Meyers