Cat Cohen's Anatomy of a Hit a Hit in 2009

Fireflies by Owl City

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Owl City offers up a refreshingly new youthful electronica sound with an intelligent earth friendly message.

Song: Fireflies
Artist: Owl City
Album: Ocean Eyes
Songwriter: Adam Young
Producer: Adam Young
B002ECN4NM

Concept
A slightly abstract offbeat positive fantasy about the sparkling wonders of today's electronic age buzzing with new bio-energy inspiration from fireflies and a goofy attitude.

Lyric
Adam Young strikes a curious blend of science and fantasy with his fun frothy ode to planet earth. You would not believe your eyes If ten million fireflies Lit up the world as I fell asleep 'Cause they'd fill the open air And leave teardrops everywhere You'd think me rude But I would just stand and stare 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 'Cause I'd get a thousand hugs From ten thousand lightning bugs As they tried to teach me how to dance A foxtrot above my head A sock hop beneath my bed A disco ball is just hanging by a thread

Groove
A light subtle midtempo half-time sixteen feel underscores the bubbly music and quirky vocal.

Melody
A melody that is both catchy and riffy in a familiar major scale that is somehow twisted on its side. The uses of modern non-chordal tones gives it a novel edge that is distinctive.

Harmony
The triadic chords are familiar, yet used in a non-familiar way. Although the song is in Eb major, the chords never really resolve giving the record a modal feel. The cadences at the end of the choruses contain surprises. V IV V IV (4x) IV vi V IV I iii IV IV I IV V vi IV I II

Structure
Like the rest of the song a balance of familiar and surprise. Sig A B A B C A B B B signature verse chorus verse chorus bridge verse chorus chorus chorus

Signature
A sparkling arpeggiated synth figure perfectly colors the fireflies in the lyric.

Production
A fresh innovative production with subtle textural changes and contrasts. It could be considered an arty dance song for lightweights.

Performance
Young's youthful almost irreverent voice perfectly expresses the song's innocence and intellectual fantasy. His use of octaves in the chorus gives a unique vocal quality.

Predicted Longevity
Whether this record has staying power or not, it is too soon for me to say. However, it is the kind of innovative recording that could point to an emerging green musical culture for today's youth. The video for this recording is likewise innovative and fun.

Album Cover: Ocean Eyes

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