I’d like to think that everyone goes through a phase in life where they listen solely to alternative music in hopes of coming off as edgy and cool–and I really hope this is true because if not then my personality freshman year of high school must have been a lot weirder than I thought. I already only had, like, two friends, so this really just did not help my case; but, at that point in time, way back in 2012, if you saw me with headphones in I was 200% listening to Imagine Dragon’s debut album Night Visions and pretending to be the star of a super angsty and ridiculous music video. The Las Vegas band have been becoming more and more well known since their massive hit “Radioactive” was released, and later followed up with a remix featuring Kendrick Lamar. The track spent a record breaking 87 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and came to earn the band two Grammy Award nominations, and one win, in 2014.
2012’s Night Visions was then followed up by Smoke + Mirrors in 2014 before the band embarked on a brief hiatus following the end of their Smoke + Mirrors Tour in March of 2016. Let me just say, very few things make me more nervous than my favorite bands announcing that they’re taking a “break”– I’m looking at you One Direction, you did this to me – so when Imagine Dragons released “Believer” in January, I almost cried tears of joy. The track was the first single to be released from the upcoming album EVOLVE, set to be released this upcoming Friday, June 23rd. There have already been four songs released from the album, including “Thunder” and, most recently, “Walking the Wire,” and tickets are now on sale for the band’s North American tour with Grouplove. In anticipation for the band’s first album in 3 years, we’ve composed a list of their top ten songs–just in case you aren’t already familiar with their work and need to get your life in order.
“Bleeding Out” is one of Imagine Dragon’s darkest and boldest songs to date. With lyrics like “I’ll bleed out for you / So I bare my skin / And I count my sins / And I close my eyes / And I take it in” the band leaves much to be speculated in regards to meaning. These words are laid on a bed of heavy drums to really set the tone.
This track was the third to be released from EVOLVE and got everyone listening even more hyped up for the album. The lyrics are genuine and honest, yet also empowering, as Dan Reynolds sings in the perfectly crafted bridge: “I’m an apostrophe / I’m just a symbol to remind you that there’s more to see / I’m just a product of the system, a catastrophe / And yet a masterpiece, and yet I’m half diseased.” In addition to this, the song also carries an insanely powerful chorus that connects more so with Imagine Dragons’ classic sound than that of their recent releases.
For all intents and purposes, “Radioactive” IS Imagine Dragons. This song played such a huge role in getting the band to where they are today, and looking back on it nearly 5 years after its release, it’s obvious why it did so well. This is a track that cannot be overplayed, mainly because it bangs as hard the first time you listen to it as it does each subsequent time. Like “Whatever it Takes,” “Radioactive” is another empowering track, said to be about overcoming the struggles that come along with managing mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
“Second Chances” is featured on the deluxe version of Smoke + Mirrors, which means that a lot of people probably have not heard it and that makes my heart hurt for them. They have no idea that they’ve been missing out on this masterpiece for all of this time. Imagine Dragons uses “Second Chances” to present a much more melancholic tone than their other songs, as this track utilizes less heavy instruments and relies more on soft sound and feeling. The bridge consists of Reynolds repeating a plea, “Forgive me,” twice before delving into the final chorus.
This track is another of the band’s major hits. It was released as the fifth single from Night Visions and currently has over 509 million plays on Spotify. As you can guess from the title, “Demons” is lyrically deeper than the Mariana Trench. If you weren’t already in a mood from lines like “I don’t want to let you down, but I am hell bound” and “I can’t escape this now, unless you show me how” then the accompanying music video will surely push you to the verge of tears. There should be a warning on this for people who are already constantly in their feelings. Like me. I need the warning for myself.
“Believer” is the leading single from EVOLVE and presents a good idea of the overall theme of the album. I’m so glad that this song was released when it was–just in time to be on almost every summer playlist. Nothing makes a summer track better than badass lyrics and a ridiculously catchy chorus, even if you aren’t too sure what Dan is saying at first. Seriously, I’ve never learned the words to a song so quickly. Catch me showing off my ability to recite each pre-chorus without fail as my party trick at every event I attend this summer.
Poor “Roots” never made it onto an official project, but that doesn’t make it any less iconic. This track is reminiscent of Imagine Dragons’ Night Visions sound, which made for a refreshing surprising when it was released following Smoke + Mirrors. I guess you could say they really went back to their roots. Ba dum tss.Thanks everyone I’m here every week. But really, for this to have been meant to be a dedication to their fans, the band really pulled through. The contorted drums matched with piano riffs alongside lyrics like “Hell will always come before you grow,” makes “Roots” satisfyingly honest yet relatable.
“Hopeless Opus” is so far from what you would expect to hear when listening to an Imagine Dragons song, as much of Smoke + Mirrors was, but it works so very well for them. I’m not too sure why I’ve become so drawn to this song, because it’s a bit all over the place. From the lyrics to the various instrumental breaks to chorus that contrasts so much with the verses, you’d think that it would be an entire disaster. But no. It’s remarkable and the song’s bridge is one of the coolest things I’ve heard the band do. Don’t ask me to explain why, because I can’t–just accept it, it isn’t worth fighting.
Listen to this once through and tell me you weren’t screaming the chorus at the top of your lungs by the second time around. Bet you can’t. “Round and Round” is one of 6 songs on Imagine Dragons’ Continued Silence EP, released in February of 2012. The song itself is fairly catchy and bold, even before the liberating bridge kicks in. The lyrics touch on living without a purpose as Dan sings, “All the emptiness inside you / Is hard enough to fill / Without a sense of purpose / We’re setting up to fail,” which, if you’re not planning on having an existential crisis today, is not the kind of you really want to listen to. But, something about this track makes you want to have it on repeat for hours.