Owl City – Ocean Eyes This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

November 4, 2009
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A few weeks ago I heard Owl City's smash hit, “Fireflies,” on the radio for the first time. It was the unfamiliar sound of a kind voice complementing a mass of electronic instruments. I quickly fell in love.

Owl City is the pseudonym for Adam Young, a 23-year-old Minnesotan who has unexpectedly taken over the pop charts. His first single, “Fireflies,” has a synthpop beginning similar to the Postal Service's “Such Great Heights,” and is a ballad about seemingly random things such as lightning-bug embraces and disco balls. But if you listen closely to some of these tracks, you'll notice the theme of sleep deprivation.

Young began making music in the basement of his parents' home in the dead of night; he struggled with insomnia, hence the nocturnal animal in his stage name. You can hear this theme in “Vanilla Twilight” (“I lie awake/I miss you/Pour me a heavy dose of atmosphere”) and “Fireflies” (“Leave my door open just a crack/'Cause I feel like such an insomniac”).

Owl City's mass teenage appeal may be due in part to his references to the suffering caused by sleeplessness, a common issue among many strung-out adolescents. While the lyrics may seem a bit depressing, the melodies are nonetheless uplifting.

But if you can't relate to insomnia, perhaps you'll identify with Young's love anthems, like the gentle duet “The Saltwater Room,” sung with newcomer Breanne Duren. And if you're in the mood for a faster rhythm, try “Dental Care” or “Tidal Wave.”

So how did this music industry novice score a spot on Billboard's Top 10 and the number-one slot on iTunes? Perhaps it's because radio listeners are tired of the repetitive club singles from Britney and Gaga or the self-loathing alternative tracks from Nickelback and Shinedown.

Thank goodness Young never fell asleep on those nights, because he has produced a little dose of electronic optimism.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

amazingkp. said...
May 7, 2010 at 8:49 pm
I love that album!! He is a good singer. My favorite songs are of course Fireflies and Vanilla Twilight. I also really love Saltwater room! I think you did really good. Keep writing. Check out some of my writings if you have time too. Good job!
lynnettestockholm said...
Feb. 23, 2010 at 10:04 am
If you are a real rise against fan then you would be able to understand owl city's music. have you never heard "swing life away"? while owl city isn't as literal about the woes and meanings of the songs, they are still there, and while it may not be an actual band with guitars and drums, it is still music and you should respect that.
rise against fan said...
Feb. 15, 2010 at 1:16 pm
owl city sucks! i dont know why you like them they have done way to much editing to there voice and the song has a subliminal message about killing little kids with his knife
Avid replied...
Feb. 17, 2010 at 8:03 pm
why do u say "they" when its only one person and how did you come up with the whole killling babies thing? why would it ever be about that? stop bringing other people down and go on listening to rise against the machine and stop posting useless offensive comments.
A.Lopez said...
Feb. 6, 2010 at 4:22 pm
Same here! I love this song. Some people say it's dumb singing about fireflies, and I completely disagree!!!!
Belma H. said...
Dec. 1, 2009 at 1:25 pm
i would say the author of this piece might have a liiiiiiitle crush on adam young.....this is really well written and owl city rocks!!!!
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