The Middle
by Zedd (featuring Maren Morris)

Album: Single release only (2018)
Charted: 7 5
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This song finds Zedd working again with production collaborators, the electronic duo Grey, (brothers Kyle and Michael Trewartha). The trio previously teamed up on the Hailee Steinfeld-featuring "Starving." The track also marks the Russian-German producer's first time in the studio with country singer Maren Morris. Zedd said:

    "It was super fun working with Maren because she is clearly an amazing singer and very talented musician. And, I always love working with Grey because we push ourselves to make the best music possible and the end result is incredible."
  • Morris sings from the point of view of one-half of a couple in a quarrel. Exasperated by their fighting, she demands that her partner meets her "in the middle." She said in a statement that she recorded her vocal for the song with Zedd in Nashville "several weeks ago" before the song's release. The country songstress added:

    "Zedd was so great to work with and so easy going, it felt like we'd been working together for years. The sound is reflective of my many influences as an artist - a little bit country, little pop, little R&B, relatable, emotional and catchy as hell. There are no limits with this song and I can't wait to see how the fans react."
  • The song was debuted on TV by all four artists during the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, on January 28, 2018. The spot, a Target ad that celebrates Grammy's history of unexpected musical moments which blend various genres, was directed by Dave Meyers and described as a "visually spectacular commercial." Zedd and Morris were both Grammy nominees at the ceremony.

    "The Middle" is also central to Target's 2018 spring style advertising campaign, which kicked off a week later.
  • Zedd explained during a behind-the-scenes video that he and Grey had been working on the track for a while before they hooked up with Morris.

    "'The Middle' has been a song we have been working on for a really long time," he said. "I started with Grey and we've been looking for the right singer. It's a really wide range, and you need a lot of energy and at the same time on the bridge you need to be really fragile and really believable."
  • Maren Morris told ABC Radio that "The Middle" was not only a different song for her genre-wise, but it also challenged her vocally.

    "They were just having a hard time landing on the right voice and they wanted someone really soulful, but could also hit all the notes," she explained. "So it landed on me and they reached out and I heard it and initially I was like, 'Wow, I'm not used to singing this high up. But I will tackle it!'"
  • Zedd and Grey recorded over a dozen vocalists for "The Middle" before they hit on Maren Morris. "I don't remember the exact number, but I'm pretty sure we're at 14 different singers," Zedd recalled to Billboard. "And they range everywhere from somebody who uploaded a YouTube video of them singing to A-list superstars."

    "Some of them just sang it well," he continued. "Some of them are incredible singers, but it almost felt like they've never heard the song before, they're just reading it off a piece of paper, but they're singing it really well."

    "And then when Maren sings… really, to me personally, the song is a constant build-up," Zedd added. "It just gets more and more exciting. And the bridge, which is oftentimes a kind of boring moment in a song, is my personal favorite moment. It's where she's so vulnerable. Just her and a small guitar, and you really every breath, and you hear every squeak and everything. I just think that she carried it the best."
  • Demi Lovato, Camila Cabello and Anne-Marie were apparently three of the many singers who cut versions of the track which weren't used. Co-producer Stefan Johnson of the Monsters & Strangerz production team told the BBC that Cabello's version of "sounded like it was supposed to be" but her management didn't want the song to overshadow her breakout single "Havana."
  • Zedd and Morris performed the song love for the first time together on April 28, 2018 when the country star hopped up on stage at OMNIA in Las Vegas to join the DJ and croon her verses.
  • The song was co-written by Australian singer-songwriter Sarah Aarons, who also co-penned Zedd's collaboration with Alessia Cara, "Stay."

    Aarons told Billboard that after hearing the base track, started by The Monsters and the Strangerz, she began coming up with melody ideas right away. "I came in, and they had this synth that was playing that was like, 'whoop-whoop, whoop-whoop, whoop-whoop, whoop-whoop,' and I was like, 'Oh, that rhythm is really sick,' and I just started singing the chorus," the Australian recalled.
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