Flashback: Why the Music Video for Avicii’s Levels hits so Hard


Flashback: Why the Music Video for Avicii’s Levels hits so Hard

In 2013, and again in 2014, at Miami’s annual Music Week, the late Tim Bergling (Avicii) had his hotel at Miami Music Week. Yes, Miami’s SLS Hotel rebranded itself to ‘The Avicii Hotel’ for the whole week. In 2014, he also decided to launch an Avicii shop, selling all kinds of branded merchandise.

Here in 2022, with Miami Music Week in full throttle, we’ve been thinking back to Avicii and to the incredible performances he gave. That’s why, in this week’s flashback, we’ve decided to talk about the song “Levels”–the hit that started it all–and what it was about Avicii that made his music stand out from the crowd.
Without a doubt, Avicii was one of the most accomplished musicians of the last few decades. He was immensely popular, but his songs succeeded in being profoundly innovative and memorable. Much of this can be attributed to the music itself, how vibrant and energetic it all feels, but there’s another side to what makes Avicii’s music so engaging.
Behind the melodies, there’s a real sense that his songs have a deep and powerful meaning. One only has to listen to the iconic opening bars of a song like “Hey Brother” or the chorus of “Wake Me Up” to get a sense of real emotions.
In short, Avicii did what all the best artists can do. He didn’t just create music that’s fun to listen to; he made music that inspires emotions.
“Levels” is a song released in 2011 that, as with much of Avicii’s music, topped charts, was played on every radio station and cemented its status as an instantly recognizable hit. It was the first of many big hits, and for a good reason.
The tune is, in a word, liberating. There’s real freedom to it, a feeling of unrestrained happiness.
Avicii has said in interviews that his main reason for writing the song was to sample Etta James’ “Something’s Got a Hold on Me”–a gospel-inspired song from 1962.

“Oh oh sometimes, I get a good feeling. Yeah Get a feeling that I never never never never had before. “

Those lines define the song, and if the music wasn’t clear enough, the music video goes even deeper into this theme.
For those who’ve not seen it–and it is well worth a watch–the video goes as follows:
A tired man, played by Richie Greenfield, works in an office and begins to dance. The people around him notice and appear to think he’s acting strange, but he keeps dancing.
The scene escalates until, finally, a security officer uses a taser on him, and the man passes out. As he sleeps, we see him pushing a boulder up a hill, and we hear that famous line from Etta James.

Next, we see him lying, under restraint, in a hospital bed. A flower grows out of his mouth, and one man eats a petal from it. From there, the dance passes from person to person while the other doctors run in fear.

It’s a strange a surreal video, but it’s uniquely artistic and, for many, quite relatable. It’s filled with symbolism–from the myth of Sisyphus to Buddhist imagery–but you don’t need to understand any of that to relate to what the song is about.
The song is about the repetitive drudgery of everyday life and how music and art can set us free from that. Those are almost universally relatable emotions, and Avicii can tap into those feelings that make his music so popular.

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