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Insomnia affects millions of adults in the United States. Not being able to sleep bothers many people: how does this affect my work or school, how will I get through the day, and what do I do with my time? However, one person uses his insomnia in a positive way: writing music. Adam Young, known as Owl City, gets inspirited to make music when he can’t sleep. While loud noises agitate most people when they want to relax, Owl City must constantly have fans running at full blast.
Once he even plugged in a vacuum, turned it on, and slept with the noise. Maybe that would explain his hit single “Fireflies.” In his interview with Contact Music, his inspiration for “Fireflies” was being up one night in his basement fooling around on the keyboard. He wasn’t trying to write anything, but over the next couple hours he created the song he is known for.
Owl City’s first album, Maybe I’m Dreaming, was released in December 2008. Despite having been self-released and not recorded by any major producer, it reached the top 20 on the Billboard Electronic Music Album Chart. Following the surprise success of his second album, Ocean Eyes, released in September 2009, Maybe I’m Dreaming was pressed and re-released by Universal Republic. “Fireflies” was released in July 2009, two months before the actual release of the studio length album, which made the anticipation much higher.
Owl City is an American electronic/synthpop musical project by singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adam Young, formed in 2007. Young created the project while experimenting with music in his parent’s basement. Before he signed with Universal Republic in 2008, he had already self-released his first album, gaining much interest. Young has stated on many occasions that he is inspired by disco and European electronic music, as well as instrumental genres such as drone, ambient, and post-rock. He cited his biggest influences as Johnathon Ford of Unwed Sailor and Thomas Newman. Owl City has been compared to The Postal Service for his combination of fuzzy synths, ironic lyrics and use of female guest singers.
Recently, on June 14, 2011, Owl City released his third studio album, All Things Bright and Beautiful. For the most part, Young stays true to his synthpop roots. However, he seems to dip his toes in indie rock, folk, and hip-hop, as can be heard in his track “Alligator Sky,” featuring guest rapper Shawn Chrystopher. Following the release of “Alligator Sky,” the single shot to #1 on the iTunes top Electronic songs chart. On April 19, 2011, the second single “Galaxies” became available for purchase on iTunes.
Young stated that “Galaxies” is about the listener in place of an astronaut going up into space in a rocket. He continued saying that “if a tragedy was to occur and the rocket was to explode and you were to go from this life to eternity, what might be going through your head? What might you do?” This album also features two other guest musicians: LIGHTS, and Breanne Duren.
Based on all the background information, Metacritic rates this new album a 46 based on seven critics. Alternative Press gave a 70, stating that the album “is much more mature, dynamic and well rounded.” On the other hand, The Phoenix gave the album a 12 stating that there is no maturity in sight and it is “12 sterilized laptop clunkers that are indeed bright but far from beautiful.” Finally, No Ripcord gave this album a 0, complaining that the production is lazy and unbelievably dull! Personally, I like this album. He continues his synthpop style and is like the rest of his albums: soothing. That’s my opinion. Listen for yourself and make your own judgment.
1. The Real World
2. Deer in the Headlights
4. Dreams Don’t Turn to Dust
5. Honey and the Bee (featuring Breanne Duren)
7. January 28, 1986
9. Hospital Flowers
10. Alligator Sky (featuring Shawn Chrystopher)
11. The Yacht Club (featuring LIGHTS)
12. Plant Life
iTunes Bonus Track
1. How I Became the Sea
Owl City Galaxy (fan club) tracks
1. Lonely Lullaby
1. How I Became the Sea
2. Shy Violet
3. To the Sky
Image Courtesy of Owl City