Even though Imagine Dragons have established themselves as a hugely popular, mainstream force in the music world, they’ve always had a sense of counter culture about them. On their most recent single “Thunder,” the Las Vegas rockers show us again how they toe the line between pop sensibilities and more edgy, self-affirming material, all with their signature heavy beats and crisp vocal harmonies.
The instrumentation and production is noticeably more minimal than some of the band’s other songs. At its core is a simple bass drum pattern and finger snaps to keep the pulse. Even in terms of composition, they keep the chord changes to a minimum, with one chord in the verses and a well-known progression in the hooks. They slightly change things up in the bridge chords while maintaining a restrained delivery.
The lyrics of “Thunder” are empowering, with lead singer Dan Reynolds writing about being original without conforming to society’s expectations. In what comes off as somewhat autobiographical, he describes his youth: “Just a young gun with a quick fuse / I was uptight, wanna let lose / I was dreaming of bigger things and / wanna leave my own life behind.” The lyrics in the chorus may not be the most artistically inspiring as Reynolds opts for a more repetitive approach, but they hammer home the idea of harnessing the explosive power of originality. In the second and final verse, he makes things slightly more personal, perhaps taking shots at people in his past as he sings, “You say you’re basic, you say you’re easy / you’re always riding in the back seat / now I’m smiling from the stage, while you’re clapping in the nosebleeds.”
Perhaps the most impressive trait about “Thunder” is how Imagine Dragons is able to seemingly effortlessly churn out another song that may not be the most musically impressive, but still holds a valid message and will certainly resonate with swaths of listeners. Add in their succinct writing, restrained production, and pristine vocal harmonies on “Thunder” and it’s easy to understand how they have achieve continued success.
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