Owl City is just one of the several projects by singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Adam Young. On the band’s major-label debut album, Young is credited with doing pretty much everything bar a couple of backing vocals and some cello playing; and Fireflies, the album’s lead single, is no exception. The only outside contribution is that of Relient K’s Matt Thiessen, who according to Young was chosen for the similarity in their voices.
Even more proof that Fireflies is Adam’s brainchild is the fact that it was written in his parents’ basement. The Minnesota-based artist would suffer from insomnia and a lot of his songs were written in that state. Fireflies features direct references to that with its lyrics: “You would not believe your eyes/If ten million fireflies/Lit up the world as I fell asleep”.
Young’s online presence contributed a lot to his breakthrough. Like many upcoming artists of his time, he would upload his original compositions on Myspace. What made him stand out however is the fact that he always took the time to respond to any message he received as well as constantly posting blogs. This way he built a direct relationship with his followers. Steve Bursky, the manager who would soon sign Young to Universal Republic Records, explained why Owl City is a product of its time: “This idea of a kid in a tiny town in rural U.S. being able to make songs in his basement that sound like Top 40 radio could never have happened ten years ago”.
Fireflies spent 2 non-consecutive weeks at number one in Billboard Top 100, first being dethroned by Jason Derulo’s Whatcha Say and second by Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind (featuring Alicia Keys).