All Because of Insomnia
The first time I heard the soft electric beat exploding out of my sisters room, I knew there was something missing in my music selection. Immediately after my curiosity was satisfied, I didn’t listen to anything but the fresh band for at least one week. A band that has that kind of impact on a person is different in some way. That band is Owl City.
Adam Young, an insomniac and the originator of Owl City, started making music in his parent’s basement when he couldn’t sleep (Wikipedia). He would work at a Coca-Cola factory during the day, get an idea for a song, get off work, and before doing anything else, he would put the song into his computer. Then he would eventually download it to itunes and MySpace. Young released his first album in 2007 and in 2009 he produced the song, “Fireflies”, that soon became the number one song downloaded on itunes.
Adam Young uses distinctive vocabulary words in his songs like: insomniac, introvert, and nostalgia. When I first listened to some of his songs, I would have to look up certain words in a dictionary. He also uses a homonym in “The Bird and the Worm” when the lyrics say, “We’ll take a long walk through the cornfield/ And I’ll kiss you,/ Between the ears”. Here he could be meaning between the ears of corn, or a persons real hearing ears.
In every English class, we learn to “paint the picture” or “show, don’t just tell”. When his teacher was teaching this, I think Adam Young was listening. His lyrics like, “and I am the blue in your back alley view/ where the horizon and the roof tops meet”
create a perfect picture in your head. This technique of using descriptive words is important to have in music writing because it makes the listeners get involved in the meaning of the music while enjoying the song.
Some people say that Owl City sounds too much like “The Postal Service” (another soft techno band originating from “Death Cab for Cutie”). But Young just responds with saying that he did not copy them and that he is flattered that he is compared to that band(The New York Times). Young seems like a very modest person. During a telephone interview he was talking about how he is “shy” and “not a people person”(The New York Times).
A reoccurring topic of his songs is places throughout the world. He sings about Hawaii, Tokyo, California etc. The combination of these beautiful places and his knack for using imagery generate feelings when listening to his songs. I feel like if I close my eyes, I could actually be at these landmarks experiencing what he sees.
Young is not used to the fame. He says, “the weirdest thing about fame is simply all the new friends who have come out of the woodwork back home”(The New York Times). When he came to Salt Lake City last summer with “Reliant K”, the show was sold out. Fortunately for Young, sold out shows occur a lot on his tours. I don’t think it will stop there, his popularity is going to keep growing and he is going to have to book larger venues. Eventually, he’ll have to get used to his fame because of the positive reputation he is creating for himself.
Owl City is a different kind of music that our culture needs. Young’s use of description and playing with vocabulary make his songs intriguing to listen to. His personality makes him not seem too full of himself or caught up in the fame and his sold out shows are proof of his success. Owl city is a necessity in your music library.