The audacity it took for an EDM DJ of Avicii's profile to begin his debut studio album with a country-fried, foot-stomping anthem featuring Aloe Blacc is astounding. But “Wake Me Up” felt like Swedish mega-DJ Tim Bergling was fulfilling a promise he had made when he announced the album—that this album wasn't just going to be a replication of his club anthems “Levels” and “Silhouettes.” Throughout True, you can hear Avicii rooting around for influences outside of the club's dark confines. His search found him in odd musical lands—country, nu metal, gospel—but it was all in the pursuit of making a record that Avicii had been ruminating on for years. Not everyone was happy about it. As the legend goes, when Avicii took the stage at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami to play “Wake Me Up” for the first time live, some of the crowd was enraged by the rendition, which featured a live instrumental band and vocalists. (Blacc performed with him, as did co-writer Mike Einziger, Ben Kenney, and José Pasillas from the band Incubus.) There was a moment when it seemed like Avicii's grand experiment might go haywire, that people just wanted him to shut up and press play. Thankfully, that didn't turn out to be the case. True became a foundational EDM album, charting in dozens of countries before going platinum in the US. It also announced Avicii as one of the preeminent talents in the electronic music scene, and put his curiosity and heterodox taste on full display—a promising career that was cut tragically short by Bergling's death in 2018. True was exactly what Avicii had wanted it to be, and he was being rewarded for his vision.

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