Album: Ocean Eyes (2009)
Charted: 1 1
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  • Owl City is an electronica/pop project of Adam Young. The Minnesota native began recording his tunes in his parents' basement in between shifts working at a warehouse. Initial interest in his music was generated by visitors to his MySpace site, where his songs racked up millions of page views before he signed to Universal Republic. Young told Rolling Stone that his mundane job loading up trucks helped him develop his dreamy, atmospheric sound: "About two years ago I was working at a Coca-Cola warehouse all day," Young said. "It allowed me to sort of dream up these projects. One wound up being Owl City. I thought through how I wanted it to sound, how I wanted the records to look, everything. Sometimes working in a monotonous environment can really free up your imagination."
    Recording in a windowless basement also helped said Young. He explained: "A lot of it has to do with me being by myself while creating it; no producers, no engineers. And that approach allows me to think more freely, I think." He added that he used simple decorations to inspire his creativity. "I have a lot of landscape paintings to look at; lots of ethereal, dreamy nature photography. Having that stuff around really creeps in subconsciously to impact the music."
  • Young has claimed that he started out making music in his parents' basement because of problems sleeping, and this song reflects on his insomnia. Young described it to Female First as, "a little song about bugs and not being able to fall asleep at night."
  • Adam Young told the story behind the song to AntiMusic: "It was 2AM and I was sitting on the floor in my parent's basement with a MicroKorg on my lap. I built this synthy legato, 'ping' sound routed through a lowpass filter and ran it through a bunch of guitar pedals. I come up with a little cascading part that wound up as the intro and verses of a song called 'Fireflies.'
    I have insomnia and I've always had a tough time falling asleep for as long as I can remember. I wanted to sing about my inability to sleep in a whimsical way that portrayed the condition as lighthearted and almost more of a 'blessing' than a curse. It's ironic that when sleep and I cannot bring ourselves to meet is often when inspiration strikes hardest. I'd just been on vacation to Iowa the week before I wrote the song and was amazed at how many fireflies came out at dusk. I didn't really have to think about making a connection between insomnia and lighting bugs, it just sort of happened and the song basically wrote itself. It was a lot of fun."
  • Relient K lead singer Matt Thiessen supplies guest vocals on this song. In our interview with Adam Young, he explained, "Matt and I worked on 'Fireflies' and he sort of co-produced it with me. He has a brilliant mind and that guy should have way more credit to his name than he's been given over the years. It's funny how Matt and I sound really similar, sometimes I can't even tell us apart when he's singing harmony on the record. He's an amazing guy and I'm lucky to know him."
  • This song got a lot of exposure when it was an iTunes' free single of the week on July 14th, 2009. The song helped Young establish a substantial fan base, especially in the Christian community, but he didn't follow up the song with similar hits, which doesn't bother him. "I don't really care if people only know me for 'Fireflies,'" Young told us. "I just do my own thing."
  • This was the first Hot 100 #1 about an animal by an artist with an animal in its name since the Chipmunks' "The Chipmunk Song" in 1958.
  • This was the seventh American #1 of 2009 to also subsequently top the UK charts.
  • asked Young what inspired this song. He replied: "This one time I went to Taco Bell and got a grilled stuffed burrito and some cheesy fiesta potatoes. It was awesome. Then I went home and wrote Fireflies."
  • The song includes some unclear math:

    Cause I'd get a thousand hugs
    From 10,000 lightning bugs
    As they tried to teach me how to dance

    Young clarified the reasoning behind his arithmetic after being asked on Twitter to explain whether "each firefly hugs you 1,000 times, or do only 1/10th of the bugs give you a hug?"

    "I was the recipient of 1,000 hugs from 10,000 lightning bugs for a grand total of 10,000,000 hugs," he explained in reply. "As the lyrics of the song clearly state, the average layperson would not believe their eyes if 10,000,000 fireflies were to illuminate planet Earth, nor would the average person conclude by natural instinct that 10,000 lightning bugs, acting as a collective group, are capable of embracing a human being 1,000 times without difficulty."

    "By the same token, a gathering of lightning bugs in such vast numbers form a sort of 'swarm,' and a swam can collectively surround a human and deliver a 'hug' that a single firefly, acting according to the dictates of his own conscience, simply cannot," Young added. "Consequently, I was embraced 1,000 times by 10,000 luminescent insects."
  • In 2010, "Fireflies" parody videos became a viral trend when a video emerged replacing the synthesizer melody with barks and meows. In 2017, the tune became a meme favorite again when it was used in "Unfitting Music" videos on Instagram, where the song was used to accompany completely unrelated footage. One clip added the music to a scene from the Mel Brooks spoof Spaceballs (1987) when an alien bursts through a man's chest and performs a dance routine.

Comments: 60

  • Max from Nowhereone of my favorites
  • Anna from 4what figure of speech is "Cause they fill the open air"
  • Lolla from ScotlandUr song was my fav at the time but different reasons to other people I was in a domestic violent relationship at the time and found out I was pregnant the lyrics completely hit me in a different way when I was in such a dark place wanting hugs and light but also wishing so hard to be taken away from it all. Iv never been able to listen to the song again 7 years later.
  • Ruby from AustraliaTHIS SONG IS THE BOMB! Super easy to play on piano but make sure it's in the eb/d# key
  • Yeet The Cleet from NoEpicccccc with 6 c’s.
  • Tyler from Ipswich State High SchoolThis song is one of my most favourite songs in the world! It is one of my top five songs that are my favourite. :) :) :) :) :)
  • Sonny from PhilippinesThe song is about Astrall projection
  • Martina from U.s.aI just love this song I like to just lay down and day dream me spinning In a open field on a sunny day with a warm breeze.
  • Hannah from Charlottetown, PeI love this song. It's just so whimsical and magical. I can't help but feel.Especialy the chorus.

    "I'd like to make myself believe
    That planet Earth turns, slowly
    It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep
    Cause everything is never as it seems."
  • Elizabeth from Anytown, Ilyeah alyssa, this song kinda did get a little ......old lets say. I still like to listen to it though every once and a while though, but only becasue it relates to a person i know so much :-)
  • Brandon from Orlando, FlThe line "But I'll know where several are If my dreams get real bizarre cause I saved a few and I keep them in a jar" means that if I have any wierd dreams or nightmares, I'll have something t ogive myself good dreams
  • Brandon from Orlando, FlThis song is the best. I've just had to breeak up with my girlfriend because I'm moving and whenever I feel bad I listen to this song and Vanilla Twilight. They are the best songs in the UNIVERSE and I wish my computer hadn't broke so that I could put them on my Ipod Shuffle.
  • Josh from Houston, Tx'well i know were several are if my dreams get real bizzare cause i saved a few and i keep them in a jar' he is saying he will always remember them in his mind and his heart. and the last part of the song 'cause my dreams are bursting at the seems' could be that the more they are away the less he thinks that the will ever see each other again. Well i think thats what that song means.
  • Josh from Houston, Tx'will you mind door open just a crack, cause i feel like such an insomiac, why do i tire of counting sheep, cause im far too tired to fall asleep' he is saying that he misses them and wishes to go back. ' to ten million fireflies im weird cause i hate goodbyes i got misty eyes as they said farewell' means now when there are other people around him they think hes weird because he does want to goodbye to them and he remembers the time they all departed and that made him cry.
  • Josh from Houston, Tx''I like to make myself believe that planet earth turns slowly its hard to say that i rather stay awake when im asleep cause everything is never as it seems'' means that he always thaught they were going to be together forever and he wishes that he had spent more time with them. ''cause i get a thousand hugs from from ten thousand lightning bugs as they try to teach me how to dance'' simply he always was greated very nicely by his friends and alwaysdid things that he didn't knew.
  • Josh from Houston, TxI think this about his friends and the people he cared about through some lyrics or really almost every word in the song. 'You would not believe your eyes if ten million fireflies lit up the world as i fell asleep.' meaning that he just made some friends with him being alone. 'Cause they fill in the open air and leave tear drops everywhere you think me rude but i would just stand and stare.' meaning that they fill the void of being alone and other people would just ignore him.
  • Logan Faber from Nantucket, Kythis song is about his insomnia. i mean think about it, when ur layin in bed does ur mind just go blank? no, it wanders. true it does seem random but thats what happens when u cant sleep.
  • Suzie from Houston, TxI LOVE THIS SONG!it just proves of how much an imagination u can have its beautiful!
  • Rex from Newburg, ArgentinaYou guys can insult the song and the lyrics all you want, for as long as you want.

    Truth is, you can't do anything better and this song has made him rich.

    None of you understand that this song was #1 in the charts in over 8 countries, worldwide. 8 COUNTRIES. That speak different languages and with different cultures.
  • Daniel from \'tis A Secret, AntarticaMelody-wise, this song deserves to be number one. Alas, it will end up like "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals - another one of these good melody/bad lyrics crosses that forever will be known as a great-but-not-legendary song. Seriously, according to Sam Sparro, he wrote Black And Gold in under 10 minutes, and the lyrics still are better than this song.
  • Carmen from Nwk, NyWhy are people hating on this song?
    its actually very good!! Haters!!!!
  • Nate from Bristol, VaPlease note that ultimately, a song's appeal is a matter of personal choice (while I don't like Fireflies, there is no way to call any song a bad song, in my opinion), my point is only that the ability to create truly beautiful lyrics has absolutely no impact upon the success of that artist.
  • Nate from Bristol, VaTo Robyn: if you think talent has anything to do with success, first you need to look at the songfact, "This was the first Hot 100 #1 about an animal by an artist with an animal in its name since the Chipmunks' "The Chipmunk Song" in 1958." Cuz yes, when I think of lyrical depth and talent, oh yea, I think of Owl City and The Chipmunks. The sad fact is that the worlds greatest lyricists do not get the attention they deserve in that department. Early 70s Springsteen, Townes Van Zandt, Warren Zevon, John Prine, THESE are the true masters of lyrical beauty. The sad thing is, all these Firefly junkies (and I mean the people who find deep meaning in the LYRICAL content) have probably not heard of most of these greats (save Springsteen)
  • K from Nowhere, OnAnd even when they recorded crap, they didn't ask for it to be interpreted by people as some ridiculously thoughtful message. Their mindless crap was humorous. People are looking into this song too deeply.
  • Hillary from South Burlington, VtFor Such a pretty, sweet little song about insomnia, innocence and thousands/millions of fireflies lighting up the night sky.. there sure is a lot of negativity within all these comments! I have loved this song ever since I first heard it last year. It makes me want to smile and spin around with childlike abandon (possibly while barefoot.) It's a happy,seemingly simple little song... but simple doesn't mean any less thought went into the lyrics. You have to think a certain way and view the world with a poets eyes to be able to express that moment captured between sleep and awake.
    "Its hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep, because everything is never as it seems.." "because my dreams are bursting at the seams..." very ethereal and enticing.
    BTW-Ryan, The Doors are my favorite band and "The End" is my favorite song. Yes, a work of lyrical genius, by a poetic genius. Its hard to measure up to that but I think Adam Young, Elliot Smith, Stephen Malkmus, Ben Lee, and Ben Gibbard are quite gifted artists/lyricists. Songs "get into your head" for many different reasons. For me, FIREFLIES strikes an emotional chord.
  • Joseph from Medford, OrThe entire melody to this song uses the pentatonic scale (5 note scale) except for one note in the chorus when he says "planet earth turns slowly" (on NET and SLOW)I don't think I've heard any other successful pop songs that use that scale. Kinda creative.
  • Jeff from Boston, MaI think you have to listen to this song a couple of times before you really appreciate it. At first I was turned off by all the electronica, but ironically underneath the special effects is a reminder to take time out every now and then to just daydream and appreciate the world's beauty. That maybe be simple but it is not simplistic. The lush harmonies on the chorus are worthy of praise also.

    Oh, and to the idiot who keeps blathering about the Beatles: I've forgotten more about the Beatles than you'll ever know, and if you don't think the Beatles recorded some mindless simplistic crap in the course of their career, then you are a fool, with or without a hill.
  • Ryan from Orange, Carobyn, you don't know good lyrics. good lyrics are in something like "the end" by the doors. that, and they have good music. THAT song gets inside your head.
  • K from Nowhere, OnOh my god Robyn, calm down. The lyrics really are simple. If you see some deep meaningful stuff in them you're looking too hard. If you think you're an open-minded person, go get the Beatles White Album and tell me what Revolution 9 is.
  • Ben from Wellington, New ZealandOwl City = Newbie of the year
  • Robyn from Jonannesburg, South AfricaOh no you didnt!! For your information Tash, i am not at all simple but actually the opposite! Music is my life and i know how to look deep into lyrics and find meaning into them. And if you dont need talent "to get a foot in the door in the music industry!" then why dont you have a hit song that is as popular as fireflies because by the way you are going on i can see that you have no talent what so ever.
  • Tash from Tofino, BcNo Robyn, maybe i couldn't write a better song, but the sad thing is that you don't need TALENT to get a foot in the door in the music industry! If you think these lyrics are deep and thoughtful, then you must be a very simple minded person.
  • Robyn from Jonannesburg, South AfricaIf poeple actually listened properly to the lyrics and thougt about the meaning of them, they would appreciate the song much more!
  • Robyn from Jonannesburg, South AfricaI cannot believe all the bad comments that people are making about this song. This song is GENIUS!!! The lyrics are deep and thoughtful. For everyone who commented badly on this song, I would like to see you write a better hit and get it on the radio and listened to worlwide!
  • K from Nowhere, OnBy the way, Britt from Boston, Fireflies is only "addicting" because the melody gets stuck in your head. Paul was never a one-hit wonder, like I suspect Owl City will be. His music is actually good.
  • K from Nowhere, OnI still don't like it. It's one of those songs that tries to distract you from the bad lyrics by giving you good music.
  • Jonathan from Johnstown, PaI have a feeling this is gonna become one of those overplayed songs that you either love or hate. I really like Alt-Electronic songs like this, but now I, who was once a rare one with his musical liking, may be overcrowded by people who like this song. GOD I hate pop music!
  • K from Nowhere, OnIt's just one of those songs that's calm enough to give you time to think. About how poorly written it is. I mean, seriously. People fall for the dumbest songs these days. Go listen to The Beatles! THAT is good music!
  • Tash from Tofino, BcI can't beleive what I'm reading right now! Im sorry, but this has got to be one of the worst, s--ttiest, mainstream songs on the radio. I'm really not understanding why this songs gets you 'thinking'. Really, have you ever heard of good music. The lyrics are a joke. A child could write something more meaningful and indepth than this. I miss rock & roll!!!!
  • K from Nowhere, OnI always wondered what was so special about this song that made people love it. I listened to it for the first time last week and I didn't find anything that big in it. Sure, it's a thoughtful song, but I find it too simple to be so great.
  • Lacey from Chicago, IlI totally agree with Liesa at the very bottom. It gives you a whole different aspect in your mind. Whenever this song pops up on the radio it like suddenly gets me thinking.. and it just seems like a refreshing song and it puts me in this calm but good mood. Great song, and the rest of his album isn't bad either:)
  • Tom from El Paso, TxFor more Fireflies,listen to Fleetwood Macs Fireflies written by Stevie Nicks.***** Tom, El Paso
  • Tessa from Washingtonville, PaIT's strange, I have changed my opinion on the song at least 4 times this week...
  • Britt from Boston, MaI think this song is really addicting. I can't stop listening to it. Then again, any Paul McCartney song is addicting...
  • Emily from Around Chicago, IlThis is my favorite song right now. Every time it comes on the radio, I get really happy and start singing along. I guess it's because I can relate to it so well.
  • Alex from St Louis, MoThe sings sounds alot like Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie/Postal Service
  • Gavin from Rockford, IlDoes anyone know if Matt Thiessen sung the whole song or just supplied the backing vocals? Because if not, they sound very much alike--not identical, but enough to pique my interest.
  • Jaylee from Moody, AlI love this song, me and my friend and i are singing it for the talent show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Sara from Kingman, AzFirst of all dont label music you either like it or you dont,second if you think the radio plays it too much change the damn station!!!!
    And third I think this is a pretty good song I have to agree with Angela this song makes me think also.
  • Lilyibanez from Los Angeles, Cai usually don't like mainstream stuff, and yes i don't rly know what it's about, but this song just rly amazed me! the impact it leaves after hearing it for the first time is awe-inspiring!
  • Bo from Atlanta, GaI heard Fireflies for the first time this morning at a Gold's Gym . At first glance it seems much like the run of the mill self indulgent EMO product that is so prevalent today but it is so much more . It has content, lyrically and musically ,and an enigmatic message . It calls upon the images and feelings of youth as well as prospects for the future . I am taken back to a time of peace and comfortable visions of childhood . Musically , it is sonically crafted with percussive keyboard effects that seem to breath , the underlying chimes add a sense of beauty and a feeling of nostalgia . Well done Adam Young
    A new fan
    John Belaski
  • Mr. Morozov from Fremont, NeI'm just going to say that they put this on the radio too much.
  • Amanda from Millville, MaI always thought this song was about saying goodbye to childhood, and that the fireflies represent the carefreeness and imagination that children possess, but one loses when you reach adulthood. "I get misty eyed as they say farewell," refers to saying goodbye to that freeness, and "I'll know where several are, if my dreams get real bizarre," refers to how even though he's grownup, and said his goodbyes, he can still sometimes feel like a child again. I think this is why the video is in a child's room, with all the toys coming to life.
  • Jeff from Nesconset, NyFireflies hit #1 on the Hot 100 for the wek ending 11/7/09.
  • Angela from Cartersville, Georgiathis song really makes me think when i hear it on the radio. i don't know y but it does. i just really love this song!!!
  • Luke from Cheyenne, WyThis song is about the power of dreams. The fireflies to me are a symbol of dreaming and the power of aspiration. At the end of the song, when "his dreams are brsting at the seams," it becomes clear that the song is a metaphor for having goals.

    For me, this song was inspirational because I have unique goals. I have always wanted to leave my hometown and go live in a certain location in the Midwest. It's a place that most people would want to avoid but I am attracted to it, because it is my dream to live there and beifit their society.
  • Scott from Reading, Pai agree with liesa this song is great
  • Anh from Lewisville, Txso deep man so deep
  • Pam from Seatle, Wasooooo so true
  • Liesa from Roy, UtThis is a really great song. When you really listen to the lyrics it really opens up your imagination. More people should know about Owl City.
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