Owl City

Owl City
Owl City's Adam Young. Photo by Dave Kotinsky / Getty Images

Pop Music from Insomnia

What is a 20 year old with insomnia to do in his unwanted early morning waking hours? If you are Adam Young, you start putting together songs with a computer and keyboards in your parents basement. That's where the story of Owl City begins. In a basement in Owatonna, Minnesota in 2007, Adam Young put together some songs, recorded them and posted them to MySpace calling himself Owl City.

The songs soon took off and Owl City ended up with a viral hit, the song "Hello Seattle."

Adam Young's First Released Recordings As Owl City

Owl City's first official release was a self-released EP titled Of June in 2007. It includes the song "Hello Seattle." In 2008 a full length album appeared titled Maybe I'm Dreaming. It was again self-released and built Owl City's fan following further. Of June peaked at #15 on Billboard's Electronic Albums chart and Maybe I'm Dreaming climbed to #13

Owl City's 'Ocean Eyes' Breakthrough

In February 2009, Adam Young signed a contract with Universal Republic to record as Owl City. The first major label album Ocean Eyes was released digitally in July 2009. The single "Fireflies" was chosen as the iTunes single of the week, and it generated intense interest in the album. Ocean Eyes featured guest vocals from Relient K's Matt Thiessen on four songs. It reached #27 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart and "Fireflies" began climbing the Billboard Hot 100.

In late fall of 2009 "Fireflies" hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. In early 2010 it topped the UK pop singles chart. The success of "Fireflies" helped propel Ocean Eyes into the top 10 and a platinum sales certification.

Side Projects

Adam Young maintains a number of side projects. They include the ambient sounds of Port Blue, a trio called Windsor Airlift, the experimental music of Insect Airport, and the ocean inspired Seagull Orchestra.

Adam Young frequently acknowledges the inspiration his Christian faith provides for all of his music.

Owl City Discography

  • 2008 - Maybe I'm Dreaming
  • 2009 - Ocean Eyes - #8
  • 2011 - All Things Bright and Beautiful - #6
  • 2012 - The Midsummer Station - #7
  • 2015 - Mobile Orchestra - #11

All Things Bright and Beautiful

Following up his breakthrough pop chart success, Adam Young stretched in new musical directions on his 2011 album All Things Bright and Beautiful. It includes elements of folk, hip hop, and trance music. Among the guests on the album are Matt Thiessen again, Canadian singer-songwriter Lights, and Adam Young's mother Joan. The first single "Alligator Sky" included rapping from Shawn Chrystopher. Remixes include raps from B.o.B. and Big Boi of Outkast. The single failed to repeat Owl City's earlier pop success, but the album reached the top 10 and was one of the 10 biggest albums of the year on Billboard's Electronic Albums chart.

The Midsummer Station

In early 2012, Adam Young announced that he would be working with outside producers on his fourth studio album The Midsummer Station. Ultimately, he continued to do most of the production himself but the song "Shooting Star" was co-produced and co-written by Stargate.

In advance of the album, the single "Good Time" with Carly Rae Jepsen was released. It returned Owl City to the pop top 10. The album was another top 10 hit, and "Shooting Star" broke into the adult pop radio chart as the project's second single.

Mobile Orchestra

In between full-length studio albums, Owl City worked on a number of other projects. In 2014 he released the single "Beautiful Times" with violinist Lindsey Stirling. He appeared on the Paul McCartney tribute album The Art of McCartney performing "Listen To What the Man Said." For Christmas 2014 he released the song "Kiss Me Babe, It's Christmas Time."

The fifth Owl City studio album Mobile Orchestra appeared in the summer of 2015. It included the single "Verge" with Aloe Blacc on vocals, a collaboration with brother group Hanson on "Unbelievable," and a country collaboration "Back Home" with singer Jake Owen.

Mobile Orchestra peaked at #11 on the Billboard album chart.