New York-based Indie Pop band Fun was formed by frontman Nate Ruess in 2008 after the break-up of his previous group The Format. He was joined by multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost of Anathallo and guitarist Jack Antonoff of Steel Train. The three seasoned musicians immediately wrote and recorded their debut album, Aim and Ignite, which was released on the Nettwek label on August 25, 2009. Fun subsequently supported various bands like Paramore, Panic! At the Disco and Jack's Mannequin and secured a spot in an Expedia commercial with their song "Walking The Dog."
It's not always easy to be young, but it can be a lot of fun. This song captures the moments of youthful exuberance that come with a memorable night out - the kind of night you tell stories about for many years to come. Lead singer Nate Ruess says the lyrics were inspired by one specific night, after "my worst drinking night of all time." Ruess told Rolling Stone that he was kicked out of a taxi cab for puking all over it. "The cabbie was demanding all this money, and all I could do was stand on the corner with my head against the wall. It took me another day before I was a functioning adult and could actually write down the verses," he said.
This is the lead single from their second album, Some Nights
. The song features American Alternative Soul singer-songwriter Janelle Monáe, whose "Tightrope
" was voted Track of the Year by UK magazine Mojo
in 2010. Monáe recorded her vocals in Europe then sent them over to the band, who later in the year supported the singer on her Campus Consciousness Tour.
The song had a surge in sales following its soundtracking of Chevy Sonic's 2012 Super Bowl commercial.
The Some Nights album is a mixture of indie pop, theatric rock, and hip-hop, all sounds that can be heard on this tune. Guitarist Jack Antonoff told MTV News: "That song, to us, is like bull's-eye center of what we wanted to do with this album. It's a brilliant song to have out as a single, because it's saying all the things to people that we want to say. It's showing how, artistically, [the album is] different, it's showing all the influences brought by Jeff Bhasker, who produced the album, and all he brings from his hop-hop world, working with people like Kanye and Jay-Z. And it shows where we've moved with songwriting.
And one of our favorite things about 'We Are Young' is that, if it's the center of the album, every song is sprouting out of it in different directions," he continued. "And if you like the song, then I think the album's just going to be a rollercoaster ride, because it just flies in every direction in and out of that song."
When the song climbed to #1 on the US singles chart, Fun became the first rock band to lead the Hot 100 with its first entry on the chart since Nickelback reached the summit with "How You Remind Me
" in December 2001. They were also the first rock group to top the tally since Coldplay did so on the June 28, 2008 chart with "Viva La Vida
This was the first Hot 100 #1 for Warner Music subsidiary Fueled By Ramen, sixteen years after it was founded by John Janick and Less Than Jake drummer/lyricist Vinnie Fiorello. The label's previous best chart placing had been the #2 position of Fall Out Boy's "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race
We were surprised to learn that this was the first Hot 100 #1 with the word "young" in its title. The closest any "young"-ster came was when Gary Puckett and the Union Gap's "Young Girl
" reached #2 in 1968. In 1957, when Billboard
had the "Top 100" chart, a song called "Young Love" was a #1 hit for both Tab Hunter and Sonny James.
Stylistically, this song fuses elements of Pop, Rock, and Alternative. It appeals to fans of Elton John, Queen, and Ben Folds Five because it mixes familiar catchy Pop hooks with grandiose choruses while still maintaining a deeper meaning within the song. It starts with a 9 second drum intro then jumps into a positive pop jingle with the lyrics "Give me a second, I need to get my story straight." The song is driven by drums and piano until the 50 second mark when it switches styles and turns into an anthemic arena-rock song. The listener is rewarded with two strong payoffs in the song: the sing-along-style chorus and the breakdown where the singer shouts "Carry me home tonight!" Singer Janelle Monae's contribution in the bridge also adds increased depth to the song from both a vocal and lyrical perspective. The combination of "artsy" verses, tight production, and straightforward, infectious choruses quickly engages the casual music fan and makes "We Are Young" a hit that stays with you long after you hear it.
The song was the first ever to log seven weeks of 300,000 or more in digital sales. The only previous title to rack over four weeks of sales of 300,000-plus was Eminem's "Love The Way You Lie
," which did so for five weeks non-consecutively in July/August 2010.
The song featured on the TV show Glee during its December 6, 2011 episode "Hold On to Sixteen." It was performed after the end of Sectionals in the auditorium of McKinley High. The version by the Glee Cast debuted at #12 on the Hot 100 on the following week, spurring Fun's original to enter the same chart at #53.
Explaining how she ended up collaborating on the song, Janelle Monae told Billboard magazine that Fun "were big fans" of her Archandroid album and other work. She added: "When they sent me the song, I listened to it and immediately reacted. I don't do a lot of collaborations that I don't believe in. Actually, I don't do any collaborations that I don't believe in. When we heard the song at Wonderland, we were like, 'yeah, this is a big idea; it's gonna touch people in a way that they haven't been touched before.'"
This won Song of the Year at the 2013 Grammy Awards. As Nate Ruess took the stage to accept the award, he joked about the band's many years on the road before they achieved success. "This (broadcast) is in HD, you can see our faces, and we are not young," he said, pointing to his bandmates.
Fun also won Best New Artist at the same ceremony.
Rihanna was the first choice for the female vocals. "Someone tried to reach out and I know she heard the song and liked it," Bhasker revealed to MTV News. "But I think some wires just got crossed."
According to Bhasker, his beat for the song was "an inch" away from being on Kanye West and Jay-Z's Watch the Throne album. The producer had offered 'Ye the beat before he began working with Fun. "They were going to rap over the beat, but everything gets changed at the last minute," explained Bhasker to MTV News. "I was working with them on Watch the Throne when I met Nate [Ruess] and I said, 'maybe you guys want to mess with this' and [Ruess] really liked it a lot. In the end, it didn't quite fit on [Throne] because it's a big pop song on an album they wanted to have a undergroundness and counter culture sensibility."
For the music video, director Marc Klasfeld staged a slow-motion bar fight instigated at the beginning of the clip by guitarist Jack Antonoff's sister, Rachel Antonoff. The band remained relatively unscathed at the end of the 17-hour shoot, but the extras were covered with an amalgamation of food and confetti, not to mention cuts and bruises. It was filmed at the David Sukonick Concert Hall in Los Angeles.