According to Spotify, the Chainsmokers’ “Don’t Let Me Down” was the third most-streamed song of 2016. But to the members of the Mercury Prize-winning group the xx, the earworm-inducing single's popularity isn't the only reason it sounds so familiar.
“I would always say to people, 'Doesn't that sound like us?'” guitarist and singer Romy Madley Croft tells CBC Music. “People didn't really respond so I felt like an asshole.”
If Madley Croft’s inner circle was less than forthcoming, the band’s relatives certainly heard the resemblance.
“Three members of my family have come up and asked if we had any involvement in [that song],” xx bassist and co-singer Oliver Sim explains, leading his cohort to recall that she “got a text the other day from my auntie just being like, 'Did you play guitar on a song by someone called the Chainsmokers?'
“Don’t Let Me Down,” which topped out at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and currently sits in the top 25, begins with a picked out chord sequence that bears a strong sonic resemblance to the xx’s signature, reverb-drenched guitar sound, The similarity even led some Reddit commenters to compare it to the xx track “Angels.”
Speaking with the New York Times earlier this year, Chainsmokers’ Andrew Taggart admitted that he was aiming to create “a big, echoey guitar sound like something from Explosions in the Sky or the xx” for the song.
“It's [generally] difficult to hear yourself in other things,” Sim adds. “I can hear it there, though.”
The Chainsmokers recently wrapped up a banner 2016 by following up “Don’t Bring Me Down” with their chart-topping single “Closer” (which, too, faces allegations of plagiarism). After a three-year hiatus, the xx will release its new album I See You on Jan. 13, 2017. Check back in the new year for a major feature with the group.