Matty Healy of the 1975 has a history with Imagine Dragons. In a 2017 interview with Q Magazine, the frontman offered some pointed criticism for the band. Said Healy: “Songs like ‘Radioactive’ by Imagine Dragons, it might as well be called ‘Pikachy Banana.’ It’s nothingness. There’s no space for nothingness any more and pop music has so much space for it.”
Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds responded on Twitter in the immediate wake of that interview:
there is a difference between being a bully and a critic. it’s one thing to state your opinion about art. another entirely to be vindictive.
— Dan Reynolds (@DanReynolds) March 27, 2017
Reynolds has since pushed back against further criticism from the likes of Healy, Slipknot, and Smashing Pumpkins‘ Billy Corgan in a series of lengthy Instagram posts. “It’s not the person that causes me the feelings of stress and depression, but what it does to the world we as a band have created,” wrote Reynolds. “How it could possibly make a kid feel “not cool” listening to imagine dragons. I hate that thought. Wonder if my kids will be made fun of as they grow older because someone thinks my band isn’t cool.”
Last week, during a live interview and performance on Chicago’s 101 WKQX, Healy was asked whether or not bands have a responsibility to talk about social and political issues. Healy, being Healy, responded emphatically in the positive, with some more brief remarks on Imagine Dragons:
I think it should be the burden of any decent artist, you know. There’s no point now in like taking up so much space, d’ya know what I mean? Like I think I’ve been accused of like maybe having a go at people about that, d’ya know what I mean? Did you see that guy from that Imagine Dragons — he went online quite recently and he’s kinda like “Everyone’s like slagging off my band, everyone’s saying that like we’re not good enough or whatever.” And he was like “Billy Corgan said it, and Matty from the 1975 said it.” And I was like, “Bro, I didn’t say that.” And even if I did say that, why do you care? You’re a millionaire in a huge band, like, you don’t go, “Oh I’m gonna do this and also can I be void of criticism.” It’s like, no.
But that’s not that point. My point wasn’t that Imagine Dragons aren’t good. I don’t care. If you’re that big, if you’re like the biggest alternative band in America radio-play wise, and you’re saying nothing in your music — if you’re just saying words “radioactive whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa,” d’ya know what I mean, it’s… No I’m not… I’m sure that they’re like… But it’s just like, what’s the point? If you can tell me what the point is, apart from escapism…
We’re rubbish with like protest music nowadays as a society. Look at like after 9/11, that was so hard for the country to deal with. Everybody’s listening to fucking Jack Johnson, Norah Jones. Cause people didn’t want to deal with reality. We have to deal with reality now. So seeing that guy from Imagine Dragons getting onstage the other week at Billboard Music Awards and start talking about conversion therapy and saying how it was bullshit and we need to stop it, I thought, “There you go! Good! Use your platform!” I’m not gonna slag you off for that.
Find Healy’s full remarks at around 7:00 in the video below.