Arts & Entertainment, High Notes


By Ron Powers


I was recently going through a list of musicians I admire when I came across a new song by AWOLNATION called “The Best”. This tune has an inspirational and uplifting tone that is just what the doctor ordered for a time like this. Many are reaching to music to ease the uncertain feeling in the air. So, if you can use a little more vigor and hope, I recommend cranking up this exciting new tune.

The crowning jewel of this song is the top line melody. The chorus melody, in particular, caught my attention. Lead singer Aaron Bruno sets things up with a relatively low-key verse melody which has a yearning emotional tone to it. This contrasts with the driving syncopated rhythm of the chorus melody and allows the pumped up and inspirational tone of the chorus to stand out. This melodic dynamic is the central reason the song pops and hooks the listener.

“The Best” is essentially a power pop anthem with hard rock undertones. The song begins with a palm muted slightly-overdriven guitar line with a delay effect. Sprinkled in the background we hear a synth-like bell sound which gives the song a mysterious and atmospheric vibe. Next, a nostalgic sounding lead synth line introduces the main musical hook just before the full band is introduced giving us a glimpse of the pounding music that lies ahead.

The thing I love most about the music for this song is how the guitars, synths, and bass tones contrast with the drum tone. For example, AWOLNATION uses huge hard-edged drum sounds juxtaposed against emotive yet powerful guitar, synth, and bass sounds. This emphasizes the “anthemic” quality of the song and is a major reason you feel empowered and emotionally moved all at once while listening.

Singer Aaron Bruno unpacked the songs meaning in a recent interview. He said he can understand why people would think the song is simply about being the best, but he’s realized that the song is more about discovering the best version of yourself than it is about being better than anyone. He talks about how for a long time he desperately wanted to be the one at the top of the mountain. Then he realized that there will always be someone a little further along than him. He says, “it’s always nice to aspire to be the best at something even though, in fact, it’s impossible.” He also added that he agrees that the song’s message can definitely be used to inspire the listener to work harder and be more disciplined in achieving a goal, but the heart of the song’s message is more self-acceptance than measuring your status against others.

It’s true. “The Best” is the kind of song you crank up in your earbuds just before running your heart out on the treadmill. I can imagine it accompanying the next “Rocky” type movie while the protagonist trains, or studies, or hustles their way to peak condition. But I also love the idea of this song being an anthem about listening to the beat of your own drum and not worrying about what others are doing or thinking.

Outside of this incredible new tune, AWOLNATION has a lot of other great songs. If you’d like to listen, you can find them on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and most places music is streamed or sold. If you’d like to stay up to date on their events and news, you can find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also visit their website at

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