Avicii introduced "Wake Me Up!" for the first time live on stage at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami. The experimental rendering (it was accompanied by a live band with instruments and vocalists, including Blacc, Einziger and Incubus members Ben Kenney on bass and José Pasillas on drums) reportedly confused and angered a section of the electronic dance festival community. Subsequently Avicii achieved critical and commercial success with the release of the single worldwide. "Wake Me Up" peaked at number one in much of Europe and charted well in all of the English-speaking world. The song has been described as a "summer anthem" by Variance Magazine and, throughout the 2013 festival season, Avicii included it as part of the opening or closing sequence of his sets at EDC Las Vegas, EDC London, Tomorrowland, Creamfields, Electric Zoo and the iTunes Festival.
Due to the high success of the song, Blacc later released an acoustic version of "Wake Me Up" in his solo EP Wake Me Up. It was also released as a promotional stand-alone single on Interscope Records, made available online for downloads via iTunes. A separate music video was also made. The Blacc single also charted in its right in various charts.
In an interview with the Daily Star, Avicii, who had previously labelled "Wake Me Up!" as "a fun experiment" during an exclusive chat with MTV UK, said: "I had a demo with Mac Davis singing, the guy who wrote all the Elvis Presley stuff, but I needed another singer to do the parts. At the same time I was tipped off about doing another track with Aloe Blacc, and I started working on that track. When I was with Mike Einziger from Incubus, we came up with the chord progression and the melody for 'Wake Me Up!' but no real lyrics. None of us sing and we really needed to get that demo down and the only person I knew that lived in LA was Aloe, so I called him and he was free. Lyrics come really easy to him so the two of us wrote them in a couple of hours and we finished the track."
Aloe Blacc who is not credited on the track explained to The Huffington Post: "I started writing the lyrics at the top of 2013, travelling back from Switzerland. I started in hip hop music back in the 90s and I never expected to be singing and have an actual career as a musician but I'm travelling all over the world and I thought 'Life is a dream, wake me up when it's all over'. I was invited to the studio with Avicii and Mike Einziger from Incubus and when I got to the studio, they had already come up with a chord progression of the song. I came in with the lyrics and I just developed the melody as I heard the chords, and we all thought it was something very strong. We finished the song that night as an acoustic version, then Avicii made the dance mix in a couple of days, and that's what we released to the world, and that was his release."
Blacc, later released an acoustic version of the song in his solo EP Wake Me Up. It was also released as a promotional stand-alone single on Interscope Records and made available online for downloads via iTunes. The Blacc single also charted in its right in various charts.
Robert Copsey of Digital Spy gave the song a positive review, stating:
"As chart-friendly EDM continues to reach the furthest corners of the globe, staying ahead of the pack can prove a tricky task - especially when more and more acts arrive on the scene turning out mixes with identikit build-ups, tired lyrics and uninspired breakdowns that newcomers to the arena lap up with excitement. Kudos to Avicii then, who has dared to try something a little different for his latest offering. "So wake me up when it's all over/ When I'm wiser and I'm older," featured artist Aloe Blacc sings over dialled-up, country-flecked guitar strums that sound like Mumford & Sons on speed. The jig-along chorus may conjure up images of Brits-on-tour, but to be honest, what summer anthem doesn't?" .
The single has peaked at number one in 22 countries to date, including Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Israel and several European countries, in addition to reaching the top 10 in six others.
"Wake Me Up!" has performed well in the North American music markets, having peaked in Canada and the United States at number two and number four, respectively. In the United States, "Wake Me Up!" was kept off the top three by Katy Perry's "Roar", Miley Cyrus's "Wrecking Ball", and Lorde's "Royals". It spent 21 weeks in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, and 53 weeks overall, making it the first Dance/Electronic song to stay over a year on that chart. It also reached number one position in the 7 September 2013 issue of Billboard's Dance/Mix Show Airplay Chart. In Canada it was the second best-selling song of 2013 with 519,000 copies sold (523,000 for all versions combined). It is the first dance/electronic song to sell over 4 million copies in the U.S., and as of March 2014 it has sold 4,060,000 copies.
In the United Kingdom, "Wake Me Up!" sold 88,000 copies in its first day on sale. The Official Charts Company predicted it to become the fastest-selling single of 2013. In July 2013, "Wake Me Up" entered at the number one on the UK Singles Chart (and stayed at the top for three weeks) and, became Britain's fastest-selling single of 2013, having sold 267,000 copies. It was the first single to achieve this feat since The Justice Collective's charity single, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" in December 2012. The single's first week sales are even more remarkable when considering only charity singles or those released by The X Factor winners have achieved comparable success in the United Kingdom within recent memory. Following three weeks at the summit of the chart, "Wake Me Up" spent a further four consecutive weeks at number two, and a total of 11 consecutive weeks in the top ten. The single spent 32 consecutive weeks - over half a year - in the top 40, before exiting. By October 2013, the single has sold over 1 million copies in the UK, becoming the 140th single to do so in UK chart history and the third single of 2013 to do so, behind Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" and Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines".Wake Me Up was the fifth most streamed track of 2013 in the UK. The song also spent nine consecutive weeks at number one on the UK Dance Chart until being dethroned from the top spot by Avicii's next single "You Make Me".
In Ireland, "Wake Me Up" spent seven consecutive weeks at number one.
In Australia, the song debuted at number 42 on 24 June. On the next week, the song skyrocketed to number 2, behind "Blurred Lines". The number position became Avicii's highest charting song, beating "I Could Be the One" record which peaked at number four earlier in the year. It also beat Blacc's 2011 hit, "I Need a Dollar", which peaked at number 11. A week later, the song hit the top position, ending "Blurred Lines" eight-week reign. On its sixth week at the top, 12 August, the song became the longest-running number one by a Swedish act since Roxette's 1989 hit "The Look".
Usage in other media
The song was used in the second trailer, TV spots and DVD commercials for The LEGO Movie which was released on 7 February 2014. It was also featured in an advertisement for Viasat.
In Chile, the song was used the promo of Chilean TV Channel Canal 13 in Summer 2014.
A lyric video to accompany the release of "Wake Me Up!" was first released onto YouTube on 28 June 2013 at a total length of four minutes and twelve seconds, and teaser clips for the official video were also released. The lyric video has been viewed almost 500 million times.
The official video for "Wake Me Up!" was released onto YouTube the day after the lyric video on 29 July 2013. It features two females: the older girl is Russian fashion model Kristina Romanova, and the younger girl is Laneya Grace. The video includes cross-promotion from Denim & Supply by Ralph Lauren and Sony Xperia Z smartphone. The video was shot in the Santa Clara River orange groves and in the town of Piru, California, west of Los Angeles, as well as Downtown LA. Avicii concert footage was from Miami. As of early December 2014, this video has been viewed on Avicii's official YouTube channel 500,792,482 times.
On 30 September 2013, Blacc released his own acoustic version of the song. The track appeared in the Wake Me Up EP as track number two in the 5-track EP.
Blacc's version "Wake Me Up" was made available through the following formats:
"Wake Me Up (Acoustic)" by Aloe Blacc was released as a promotional stand-alone single on Interscope Records and made available online for downloads via iTunes.
"Wake Me Up" music video
In October 2013, Blacc released the music video for "Wake Me Up". Blacc collaborated with the immigrant rights group National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the ABC* Foundation's Healing Power of Music Initiative. The is director Alex Rivera. The cast were real life immigrant activists: Hareth Andrade Ayala (a Virginia leader in the immigrant youth movement working to stop her own father's deportation), Agustin Chiprez Alvarez (a Los Angeles day laborer), and Margarita Reyes (who was deported with her mother as a child despite being born in the US).
The track also appears on a compilation album of 2 CDs released on German markets called Best of 2013 - Die Hits Des Jahres. The "Wake Me Up (Acoustic)" is the initial track of the 44-track compilation.
"Wake Me Up" was covered in the style of country music 2013 by Canadian country singer Tebey featuring Canadian country band Emerson Drive. This version was released to digital retailers via TebeyMusic on 27 November 2013 as the third single from the former's second studio album, Two (2014) before impacting radio in January 2014. The song was released in the US on 28 January 2014 through The Talent Associates. It has been well received by Canadian country radio, peaking at No. 5 on the Canada Country airplay chart.
"Wake Me Up", as performed by Tebey and Emerson Drive, entered the Canadian Hot 100 at No. 63 for the week ending 1 February 2014. It peaked at No. 56 for the week ending 29 March 2014, which position it held for one chart week.
Choirmaster and broadcaster Gareth Malone has previously had chart success after putting together non-singers and turning them into a cohesive choir. In 2011, he guided the Military Wives - a group of women with partners serving overseas in the army - to Christmas number one with the song "Wherever You Are". In 2012, in collaboration with Gary Barlow, Malone produced the song "Sing", as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, with the Commonwealth Band being joined by the Military Wives.
Malone was chosen to create the official Children in Need single for 2014, and his efforts were captured in a two-part series, Gareth Malone's All Star Choir, which aired on 3 November and 10 November. The BBC press release said that Malone would "bring together an array of untrained voices from the world of television sport and theatre" for the single.
After its release on 9 November, the song was placed at number 1 on the midweek Official Chart Update on Radio 1, ahead of "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran and Cheryl's "I Don't Care", which was number one the previous weekend. The song holds the record for the fewest weeks in the top 40 for a chart topper with two.
In the United Kingdom, the original release date was intended to be 8 September 2013. In the absence of the original, a group called "Spark Productions" took advantage and released a cover version of it; this version made number 26 on the UK Singles Chart before Avicii conceded to public demand and decided to release it early, with the Official Charts Company announcing on 15 July 2013 that it would be released that week.
A cover of the song in Irish was uploaded onto YouTube on 9 August 2013, by an Irish Language College called 'Coláiste Lurgan'. The video received heavy publicity and popularity within Ireland from many news websites and the public. The video was a viral hit within the country and with Irish abroad, hitting a million views in one week.
British band You Me at Six made a country version for BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge. James Shotwel commented that their cover "will be pulling at your heart strings all day long. The once fun-loving track has taken a turn for the melancholy, but it plays so well you'll hardly think twice about the change."
Irish singer Derek Ryan did a Country and Irish version of the song in his 2014 album The Entertainer – Live accompanied with a music video of footage from his performances. Swedish band, Dirty Loops, covered the song on their album Loopified.
^Le, Van. [MUST-WATCH: "WAKE ME UP," FEATURING ALOE BLACC AND DREAMER HARETH ANDRADE "MUST-WATCH: "WAKE ME UP," FEATURING ALOE BLACC AND DREAMER HARETH ANDRADE"]. October 23, 2013. America's Voice. Retrieved 26 October 2013.