The Chainsmokers are a New York City based EDM duo consisting of Andrew Taggart and Alex Pall. This bouncy party track was initially released as a free download, but got the attention of Dim Mak Records, which issued it on January 28, 2014. The duo ended up on Columbia Records, where they became a top act, scoring huge hits in 2016 with "Don't Let Me Down" and "Closer."
A "Selfie" is a self-portrait photograph, which is normally taken with a digital camera or camera phone. By the end of 2013 "Selfie" had become such a buzzword that it was chosen by The Oxford Dictionary as their "Word of the Year."
The Chainsmokers said: "The classic #Selfie, well it pretty much defines 2013… when VH1 does remember the '90s the Selfie will deserve its own section."
The song features uncredited vocals by Alexis Killacam, who according to The Chainsmokers nailed it "all in one take."
The music video features actual selfies from various celebrities including Steve Aoki, Snoop Dogg and David Hasselhoff.
The song's single-word title also serves as a promotional tool. "Today people are overloaded and constantly being sold on things," Alex Pall told Billboard magazine. "We wanted a very direct message about what the song is. The word is so identifiable, so we knew less was more."
Andrew Taggart told Radio.com the story of the song: "We made the beat, and had that sitting around, and then had the idea to have a track where some chick said, 'Let me take a selfie.'"
HMV.com asked the Chainsmokers what was the idea of a selfie that made them want to celebrate it in that way. They replied: "Well we aren't really trying to celebrate the selfie or put it down. The notion of a selfie though perfectly embodies the nature of the song, this sort of selfish obsession with ourselves and vanity and social media. So it made sense to us to use that as the jumping point. We don't see anything wrong with selfies though, go for it."
"Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig was quoted saying that anyone can Google a tree or the sky and see it, but you can't Google what Sarah's wearing tonight, so in some respects #Selfies are great," they continued. "That said we aren't trying to be the authority on what makes a good selfie, we don't give a f--k about that. The song is a satire, it's meant to be fun and relatable, it's entertainment."
When The Chainsmokers became more successful, they stopped playing this song at their shows. "It was a breakthrough, but inevitably that kind of song gets played out," Alex Paul said.
The Chainsmokers made their national TV debut performing this song on American Idol as part of a promotion where the show encouraged viewers to post Idol-related selfies. Pall and Taggart did as instructed, hyping the crowd to take seflies and taking photos with the judges, and the results were predictably lame. A week later, some EDM performers trashed them on Twitter, notably Deadmau5, who tweeted: "theres alot to be said about rats leaving the ship before it sinks. got my ass off that boat long ago."
The duo replied with a series of tweets defending their appearance, stating, "Does anyone realize how hard it is to make a dollar in music let alone a living off of it"
After they hit it big The Chainsmokers referred to the Idol appearance as a youthful indiscretion they did at the behest of their management.