One of the most noticeable hard-hitting tracks of this generation is “Believer” by Imagine Dragons. The band is notoriously famous for their blood-pumping thunderous tracks, but this one specifically takes an edge over all others. The theme of this track swirls around the quote “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
“Believer” is the lead single and the third track on Imagine Dragon’s third studio album ‘Evolve’ released in June 2017.
Speaking in an interview Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons said that “Believer” is “the first song I’ve ever written in my career that I could stand back and say, that is only Imagine Dragons—that comes from a place that is really authentic to us…”
As of 2018, the song has sold over 5 million copies and is certified 5x Platinum by RIAA (USA), 7x Platinum by Music Canada, 3x Platinum by ARIA (Australia), and 2x Platinum by BPI (UK). Leading into the massive success of the song, Imagine Dragons collaborated with rapper Lil Wayne to release a remix of the track in 2019.
The music video for “Believer” features iconic Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren, most famous for his role in the movie ‘Rocky IV.’ The video on YouTube has amassed over 1.6 billion views as of August 2020, making it one of the top contenders on the ‘YouTube videos with over 1 billion views‘ list.
Watch “Believer” Video by Imagine Dragons
“Believer” Lyrics Meaning and Song Review
Dan Reynolds of the Imagine Dragons packs a lot of passion as he kicks off the vocals of the track, and lets us know that he is about to tell us something that has been bothering him for a while now. The first ordeal of the song is to let the listener know that this topic is not something to be taken lightly. It might even contain some personal experiences of the singer. Reynolds says that these feelings have been bottled up inside of him for a long time now and he is releasing it all out before the explosion.
The second ordeal of the song is to let all of us know that Dan Reynolds is a man of his own creation. He takes no “what ifs” from anyone else. Through this message, the singer sends an empowering message to all the listeners on self-confidence and self-mastery. Dan Reynolds uses themes of sailing to send through this message. A sea is a dangerous place, even on a boat, and the same is true to our life in general. To have mastered the sea, is to have mastered one’s own life.
Only in the pre-chorus of “Believer,” do we come across the root of the story Imagine Dragons is about to tell us. The lead vocalist, Dan Reynolds confesses that he was “broken from a young age.” This could have several meanings from being abused mentally or physically, trauma, poverty, bullying, and so on. Whichever the exact reason is, Dan’s idea is to let us know that he endured some sort of pain in his childhood. He says that he tried to console himself by narrating his pain in his poems.
He further confesses that there was a lot of heartaches that he drenched up from the innermost parts of his soul and poured them into his music. However, the most positive thing about this song is that the singer sees something beautiful in the transformation that he endured through the pain.
The full chorus is dedicated towards the ‘pain’ or ‘pains’ that the singer endured growing up. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
The singer reveres ‘pain’ as if it was a religion, and thus his faith in pain to make him grow or succeed in life. ‘Pain’ does not necessarily mean physical or something bad. Even studying something difficult could be phrased ‘painstaking.’ Dan Reynolds’ and Imagine Dragon’s beginnings must have been painstaking too. But all of this made him and the band grow a thicker skin and grow.
Another sea-faring quote to match would be “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor” by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In the third verse, Dan Reynolds pays tribute to his religion, talking about the “ones up above.” Much like what religion is supposed to do, Dan Reynold found that through religion he is able to convert his pains into blessings. Religion is not supposed to grant your wishes. But it is supposed to help you make a stronger and a more wholesome person.
In the second pre-chorus of “Believer,” Dan Reynolds tells us how he had all his issues bottled up growing up. He did talk about his Mormon upbringing in a large family of nine children, which would mean that he was just another child in the mix. If he did endure some psychological pain as a child, there probably wouldn’t have been much room for an open discussion on this. Dan Reynolds recollects these feelings as building up rain in a cloud–it would crash down and rain hard at some point. And it did…
‘Last but not least,’ Dan Reynolds confesses that ‘you’ are the face of his future. As vague as this statement is, the ‘you’ in here could be a reference to himself, or even to the fans. We did learn that the singer has mastered his own affairs at the beginning of the song. So it does make sense to think that he is looking at himself as the guide that leads him into his future. However, it also makes sense to think that ‘music’ is what saved him, and a big part of the music and its success comes with the fans. Whichever he is talking about here, is so close to him that he calls it the lifeblood in his veins.
What are your thoughts on “Believer” by Imagine Dragons? Let us hear in the comments below. Check out the complete lyrics and further meaning breakdown on Genius.