10 songs that showcase the musical evolution of Avicii: from 'Levels' to 'Hey Brother'

Swedish DJ and producer's life will be celebrated by dance music festival Tomorrowland

One of the world's biggest dance music festivals will pay tribute to Avicii.

On Tuesday, Tomorrowland's One World Radio will mark the third anniversary of his death with a programme dedicated to his career.

Avicii, whose real name was Tim Bergling, died aged 28 in a resort in Oman. His death triggered not only a global public outpouring of grief but also much needed discussions in the dance music industry about mental health.

These themes will be touched upon in the programme, which includes interviews and reflections from colleagues as well as highlights from Avicii’s past performances in the festival.

From all the Avicii bangers to be played on Tuesday, here are 10 songs that best showcase the sound that took electronic dance music to unprecedented cultural and commercial success.

1.'Seek Bromance' (2010)

After four years of practising his production skills at home, Avicii began officially releasing singles from 2010 to almost instant success.

His second single, under the name Tim Berg, was Seek Bromance and cracked a range of European Top 20 charts. The song displayed the ebullient dance-pop style he would go on to master.

2. 'Levels' (2011)

Ten years on and this remains the quintessential Avicii anthem. You can't overestimate how huge this track was as it ruled both dance festivals and the small screen with its copious use in advertising campaigns.

Built upon an irresistible piano chord progression and vocal sample from Etta James's Something's Got a Hold on Me, Levels provided an early insight into his love for soul music.

It was a passion he would return to throughout his career.

3. 'I Could Be the One' (2012)

Released in collaboration with Nicky Romero, I Could Be The One is fine merging of the Ibiza club sounds favoured by the Dutch DJ and Avicii's radio-friendly sensibilities.

4. 'Wake Me Up' (2013)

The ground-breaking track resulted in an unforgettable moment at the 2013 Ultra Music Festival in Miami.

Similar to the moment when Bob Dylan "went electric" at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, Avicii performed the folk-dance melange that is Wake Me Up to an unsuspecting crowd complete with a live band featuring soul singer Aloe Blacc and members of rock group Incubus.

Sections of the audience went ballistic in the wrong way. However, once the song was officially released it didn’t take long to become one of the biggest hits of the year.

5. 'You Make Me' (2013)

One characteristic of Avicii's sound that often goes unnoticed is the melancholy at its heart. From Levels to Heaven, amid the euphoric synths a sense of sadness and nostalgia pervades.

You Make Me is an example of this dichotomy: a club ready tune with some existential angst thrown into the mix.

6. 'Hey Brother' (2013)

When was the last time you heard this much twang in a dance track?

The great thing about Hey Brother is how Avicii managed to bring two of the most contrasting genres together by collaborating with bluegrass singer Dan Tyminski for this career highlight.

Hey Brother doesn’t need categorisation, it is simply a great pop song.

7. 'The Days' (2014)

Fun fact: it was The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers that was supposed to be on lead vocals, not pop star Robbie Williams.

Reportedly disappointed with how his take turned out, Avicii replaced Flowers with Williams and this breezy number went on to become a hit across Europe.

8. 'Without You' (2017)

While Avicii's country pop shtick may have been creatively exhausted by this stage, there is no denying his knack for producing anthemic hits fit for radio and arenas. Without You did the trick, once again, and remained a fan favourite in festivals.

9. ‘SOS’ (2019)

The lead single from the posthumous album Tim, the track was practically completed just before Avicii's death.

Judging by the catchy ringtone hooks and guest artist Aloe Blacc's soulful vocals, it looks like Avicii may have been a fan of Ed Sheeran's Shape of You.

10. 'Heaven' (2019)

Avicii fans will be familiar with the tune long before its official release, as it was recorded back in 2014 and it was one the DJ regularly dropped in his sets.

What makes it extra special and heart-rending, however, is the accompanying video which includes footage (taken on camera and mobile phones) of Avicii unwinding on holiday in Madagascar months after calling time on his career.

The fact that he looked happy and relaxed in retirement only made the tragedy to come unfathomable.

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Read more:

Avicii's friend gives us an insight into his last few years

Avicii dies in Oman at 28: Dance pioneer rejigged life after touring took its toll on his health

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Updated: April 20, 2021 10:40 AM

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