Sometime last month a friend of mine on Facebook posted the following status:
“So wake me up when it’s all over, when I’m wiser when I’m older. ~ Avicci”
As a person who only really catches up on pop music when he’s sitting in a car listening to the radio, I went to YouTube to check out what this was all about. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was a song that I could listen to 10 to 15 times an hour for days:
It wasn’t just the infectious beat that got me, though, it was also the niggling feeling I had that this was a very familiar voice singing. With that in mind I let my fingers take me over to Wikipedia to where I was met with the following words at the top of the page [emphasis added]:
“Wake Me Up” (stylized as “Wake Me Up!“) is a song by Swedish DJ and music producer Avicii, which features uncredited vocals from American soul singer Aloe Blacc and acoustic guitar from Incubus’ Mike Einziger.
Let me provide a little context here: Aloe Blacc has the voice of an angel. Aloe Blacc’s album Good Things is what helped me through my only college all-nighter. Aloe Blacc’s “Loving You Is Killing Me” has more funk in its first 10 seconds then anything on the charts right now [depending on whether or not Janelle Monae has a new single out or not]. Aloe Blacc is the reason that whenever Gordon tells me that he needs a dollar I emphatically respond “HEY HEY!” Aloe Blacc, as you might have gathered, is the artist responsible for “I Need A Dollar” and consequently the intro music to How To Make It In America as well.
Now before I catch you saying something along the lines of “Lots of artists provide vocals and aren’t credited” let me fill you in on a little more information. Here’s what Avicii had to say about how the song was created:
“None of us sing and we really needed to get that demo down and the only person I knew that lived in LA was Aloe, so I called him and he was free. Lyrics come really easy to him so he wrote them in a couple of hours and we finished the track.”
Not only did Blacc provide the vocals for the track, he also penned all of the lyrics and was one of only three people to write the song [Avicii and Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger being the other two].
Aloe Blacc’s uncredited vocals lie at the bottom of the list on the Wikipedia article for “Uncredited background singer.” Let’s make this perfectly clear, this is absolutely nothing like Mick Jagger doing background vocals on Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain”, because in “Wake Me Up” Blacc’s are the only vocals. He’s not providing backup he’s literally singing the song; the song that he wrote.
Right now two of of the three videos on Aloe Blacc’s VEVO YouTube page are dedicated to his own version of the song. Below is his music video for the track:
I don’t really want to get into how much more meaning this one has over the pretentiousness of the one that came before it, but you have to admit that Blacc’s advocation of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, which “improves the lives of day laborers in the United States,” is worthy of more than faint praise.
As of this article’s publication the latter video has 664,148 views while the former has 147,304,231 [Avicii’s lyric video has roughly 10 million less]. Nowhere on the Swedish DJ’s videos is Blacc credited nor is his name even mentioned.
I realize that this post touches on similar ground as the one I wrote on Monday concerning Dota 2 crudely adapting many iconic WarCraft designs, and my final thought on both issues is this: give credit where it’s due. Concerning Aloe Blacc this rings even more so, since these are his words and his voice, not simply his work co-opted by others.
This is not to say that Avicii’s song is without merits, my soft spot for good EDM preventing me from ever writing it off, but that by no means excuses his marketing choices. “Wake Me Up” by Avicii ft. Aloe Blacc doesn’t take the spotlight off of him, and gives credit and much-needed attention to the latter.
Shame on you, Avicii, for collaborating with this talented man without doing what you could to acknowledge him.