Review and Background of Imagine Dragons' "I Bet My Life"

Imagine Dragons I Bet My Life
Imagine Dragons - "I Bet My Life". Courtesy Interscope

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Written by Ben McKee, Daniel Platzman, Dan Reynolds, and Wayne Sermon

Produced by Alexander Grant

Released October 2014 by Interscope

Pros

  • Solid signature bold group inspired sound
  • Lyrics that are delivered from a position of strength

Cons

  • Not a powerful standout track

If you are a fan who fell in love with Imagine Dragons based on their first hit single "It's Time," then "I Bet My Life," the first release from an upcoming sophomore album by the band, is for you. However, if you weren't convinced until the heavier rock of the six million selling "Radioactive," this new single might take some getting used to. Imagine Dragons embrace their inner Mumford on "I Bet My Life" and move into full folk-rock throwdown mode.

A ghostly choir kicks off the song and is quickly supplanted by lead vocalist Dan Reynolds intimately delivering the first verse with simple guitar strumming in the background. The choir and other assorted bar-esque background noises join in before the grand pause and the song's big chorus. Pounding bass drum helps make "I Bet My Life" tailor made for live shows, and, if you have been fortunate enough to see Imagine Dragons live, you know exactly what it will look and feel like. Handclaps and foot stomping make it all seem closely related to the multi-platinum folk sounds of Mumford and Sons.

Dan Reynolds says that "I Bet My Life" is about the relationship with his parents. He says about the relationship, "At times it's been strained and difficult... in the end, 'I Bet My Life' celebrates the bond that we still hold on to." He sings of taking a path that is not the one his parents would have picked out for him. The song moves into almost maudlin, tearful territory on a guitar picking bridge that closes with, "Please forgive for all I've done."

"I Bet My Life" feels like a bit of a surprise for Imagine Dragons. It clearly bears many of the band's trademarks with the big bass drum and rousing singalong chorus. However, it was the embrace of pounding rock on "Radioactive" that truly broke the group into the pop mainstream and superstardom. Promotion of "I Bet My Life" is taking the route of heading first to alternative radio before going after mainstream rock or pop audiences.  Perhaps the group has more up their sleeves for pop fans.

Just how big was Imagine Dragons on Night Visions?  The album has spent time in the top 10 during each of the past three years. Singles from the album have sold in excess of 11 million copies. "Radioactive" obliterated the old record for the most weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Jason Mraz held the old record at 76 weeks with his hit "I'm Yours." "Radioactive" did not let go until spending 87 weeks on the chart. It is also credited as the bestselling digital rock song of all time. The follow up "Demons" was no slouch either spending 12 weeks in the top 10 and selling more than three million copies.

In a music marketplace where Taylor Swift's just released 1989 may be the only album released this year to sell over a million copies by the time 2015 begins, a new Imagine Dragons set is eagerly awaited. "I Bet My Life" is unlikely to be the instantaneous smash pop hit some may have wanted, but it will keep most of the band's fans engaged.

Music Video

The accompanying music video for "I Bet My Life" was directed by Canadian filmmaker Jonathan Desbiens, aka Jodeb. Other notable videos he has worked on include Zedd's "Clarity" and Halsey's "New Americana." American actors Dane DeHaan and Alex Neustaedter are featured in the clip. 

Legacy

"I Bet My Life" was a commercial disappointment when compared with Imagine Dragons' songs off their album Night Visions, but it was still a hit. It reached the top 10 on both rock and adult pop radio charts. It climbed to #28 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album Smoke + Mirrors, released in February 2015, debuted at #1 on the album chart in the US and many other countries. However, it only received a gold certification for sales compared with the multi-platinum sales of Night Visions. The follow-up single "Shots" failed to reach the pop top 40. Imagine Dragons released two non-album singles "Roots" and "I Was Me" while they were on tour later in 2015. When the tour came to an end in February 2016, lead vocalist Dan Reynolds announced that Imagine Dragons would be going on hiatus for the rest of the year. He told Billboard, "This is the year we're going to actually take time off. We haven't stopped in, like, six years, so we've forced ourselves to at least take a year off."

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