Music / Owl City

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/OwlCityAdamYoung_1623.jpg
He'd like to make himself believe that planet Earth turns slowly.

Owl City is Adam Young with a synthesizer, originally created as a way for Young to deal with his insomnia. After gaining a small cult following in the 2000s with his internet-released albums Of June and Maybe I'm Dreaming, he snagged a smash hit in 2010 with "Fireflies," a sweet little song about insomnia and the loss of childhood innocence.

Owl City's music is generally characterized by bubbly synth melodies combined with oddball lyrics about cutesy romance, nostalgia, ethereal musings and puns. Lots of puns! Depending on who you ask, these songs are either endearing or sickening. Nevertheless, the Young has otherwise enjoyed a reasonably successful career (though has yet to top his first big hit), particularly with providing theme songs to several animated features.

Discography:

  • Of June EP (2007)
  • Maybe I'm Dreaming (2008)
  • Ocean Eyes (2009)
  • All Things Bright and Beautiful (2011)
  • Shooting Star EP (2012)
  • The Midsummer Station (2012)
  • The Midsummer Station (Acoustic EP)
  • Ultraviolet EP (2014)
  • Mobile Orchestra (2015)

This musician provides examples of:

  • Actual Pacifist: He said so on his blog, and it could be implied in the song "Dental Care":
    "I'd rather pick flowers instead of fights."
  • Added Alliterative Appeal : In "How I Became The Sea":
    The wide windy waves washed in.
  • Adorkable: If you ever wanted to know what this trope sounded like.
  • After the End: The setting of the "Alligator Sky" video.
  • And I Must Scream: In "Wolf Bite", "I'm dyin' but I can't scream".
  • Arc Words:
    • The phrase "tired eyes" has occurred in "I'll Meet You There," "Lonely Lullaby," and "Shooting Star."
    • Fire in "Shooting Star", "Embers" and "Silhouette"
  • Audience Participation Song: When "Fireflies" is performed live, there's usually at least one chorus sung solely by the audience.
  • Bookends: "The Real World" and "Strawberry Avalanche" begin and end with the same set of lyrics.
  • Call Back: "Metropolis" has one to "Vanilla Twilight":
    "Vanilla Twilight": I'd send a postcard to you dear, 'cause I wish you were here.
    "Metropolis": Like hundreds of postcards, that say 'I wish you were here'.
  • The Cameo:
    • Shaquille O'Neal in the video for "Vanilla Twilight."
    • LIGHTS in the video for "Deer in The Headlights."
  • Casanova Wannabe \ Dogged Nice Guy: The narrator in "Deer in The Headlights." The poor sap is supposedly so creepy girls pepper spray him for just saying hello, but still believes he has a shot with women.
  • Christmas Songs: He has several, one of which is actually called "Christmas Song." He's released one nearly ever December as a single since 2011, including "Peppermint Winter," "Kiss Me, Babe, It's Christmas Time" and "Ba, Humbug,"
  • Cloudcuckoolander: All Things Bright and Beautiful has given us a song based on this. "The Real World" pretty much runs with this concept in quite a nice way:
    "Reality is a lovely place, but I wouldn't wanna live there."
  • Colony Drop: Possibly referenced in "Kamikaze".
    Oh comet, come down / kamikaze over me.
    • For reference, think about the meaning of 'kamikaze' in WWII context.
  • Colorful Song: "Technicolor Phase."
  • Cue the Sun:
    • While not actually the sun, the Aurora-cloud thing in the "Vanilla Twilight" video glows more colorfully and brightly when Adam starts the last verse, and the onlookers react quite happily. It is, of course, fitting the lyrics:
      When violet eyes get brighter, and heavy wings grow lighter, I'll taste the sky and feel alive again.
    • A straighter example hinting the beginning of a journey is mentioned in "To the Sky":
      Travel light, let the sun eclipse you
      'Cause your flight is about to leave
      And there's more to this brave adventure
      Than you'd ever believe...
  • Darker and Edgier: "This Isn't The End" is far darker and more melancholy than the usual Owl City fare, dealing with a father who committed suicide, and the affect this had on his daughter. Ultimately, however, the song does end on an optimistic note.
  • Depraved Dentist: Referenced in one verse of "Dental Care."
    "Have a seat," he says pleasantly
    As he shakes my hand and practically laughs at me
    "Open up nice and wide," he says peering in
    And with a smirk he says, "Don't have a fit
    This'll just pinch a bit," as he tries not to grin.
  • Double Entendre:
    • When you look back on it, this line from "Sunburn": "The lantern died that night but we didn't need to see..."
    • From "If My Heart was a House": "Chills run down my spine as our fingers intwine / And your sighs harmonize with mine."
    • "We'll turn out all of the lights and set this ballroom aglow" is a bit more subtle, but it's still there.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Christmas Song." Go on, guess what it's about.
  • Growing Up Sucks: "Fireflies" is partially about losing your childlike sense of wonder and imagination as you grow up.
  • Haunted House: The setting of "Plant Life."
  • I Am the Band: Owl City is just one guy.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Good god.
    • "Dental Care" is loaded with these:
      "I've been to the dentist a thousand times / so I know the drill."
      "Golf and alcohol don't mix / and that's why I don't drink and drive."
      "When hygienists leave on long vacations / That's when dentists scream / And lose their patience."
    • "Cave In" had:
      "If the bombs go off the sun will still be shining" /
      "Cause I've heard it said that every MUSHROOM cloud has a silver lining"
    • Incredibly Lame Pun and Lyrical Dissonance at the same time.
    • Adam's particularly fond of Incredibly Lame Puns on his Twitter. Just check a backlog, and you'll see. Here's one:
      Me: Whale you be my valentine?
      You: Dolphinitely.
    • In "Cave In," one line is "Riding a dirtbike down a turnpike/always takes its toll on me."
    • 'Honey and the Bee has a classic one:
      "I would make like a tree and leave."
    • "Plant Life" has this:
      Your spirit is sweet, so pull off your sheet/and give me a ghost of a smile.
    • And this:
      Show me your teeth, 'cause you're a teddy beneath / so just grin and bear it a while.
    • "Take to the Sky" was played in The Guardians of Ga'Hoole. While exploring the owl city.
    • From "Bombshell Blonde":
      "Bad news, I'm a fuse and I've met my match / so stand back, it's about to go off."
      "That blonde, she's a bomb/she's an atom bomb." An Adam bomb, geddit?
    • The segue into the first and second choruses of "The Bird and the Worm" set up and complete an awesomely lame one.
      With fronds like these, well, who needs anemones?
      And this gem- "We'll take a long walk through the cornfield, and I'll kiss you between the ears." As in "ears-of-corn".
    • There are tons of others to be found throughout his songs.
  • The Lost Woods: Described in great detail in "Plant Life" as a dream nonetheless:
    I'd rather waltz than just walk through the forest/the trees keep the tempo and they sway in time...
  • Lyrical Dissonance: He has this odd habit of inserting the creepiest lyrics into otherwise innocent, peppy synth-pop. See the nightmare fuel subpage for more. Adam might have said it best himself.
    "Spoiler: Owl City is 95% sad lyrics over uplifting chords."
  • Meaningful Echo: Between "Alligator Sky" and "Plant Life" of all things:
    I'm scared to death that I'll never be afraid.
    Cause I don't feel dead anymore, and I'm not afraid anymore.
  • Mind Screw: Arguably, The Real World. Is Adam talking about some dream world he never wants to leave, or our world?
    "Reality is a lovely place, but I wouldn't wanna live there..."
    "I'd never leave if it were up to me..."
  • Nostalgia Filter: The basis for "Unbelievable" from Mobile Orchestra, talking about how awesome everything was as a kid.
  • Not Christian Rock: Adam is a Christian, as is obvious from a quick look through his blog. While many of his songs aren't focused on God, there are quite a few that do have Christian themes. These include "Meteor Shower", "Tidal Wave", "Kamikaze", and "Galaxies", though, like most Owl City songs, it can be hard to figure out what exactly the song is about on the first few listens. Additionally, he mentions Jesus in "Christmas Song", has done a cover of "In Christ Alone", and one album ("All Things Bright and Beautiful") is named after a hymn.
  • Scenery Porn: "The Real World" has some very neat examples:
    "From the green belt balcony, the wildfires look so pretty."
    "To the ruby redwood tree, and to the velvet climbing ivy, painted all mahogany, I'd never leave if it were up to me."
    "With a starry brush, paint the dusk venetian blue, because in the evening hush, you'll never believe the view'.
  • Product Placement: The video for Good Time (featuring Carly Rae Jepsen) features a Fiat FIAT 500 prominently.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Finding Nemo: "With fronds like these, who needs anemones?"
    • Airborn: "If my heart was a compass, you'd be North..." Adam is apparently a big fan of the series.
      • One of his albums in Adam's Port Blue project is The Airship, which is based on the on Airborn. Some of the song titles refer to different parts of the novel, or just general ideas from the book.
    • Almost the entire music video to "Deer in the Headlights" was a shout out to Back to the Future.
    • From The Midsummer Station, Metropolis. Not just the name, the words 'speeding bullet' are actually used in the lyrics. It's actually possible to interpret that whole section of the chorus as one, 'hijacked plane' to the famous 'is it a bird, is it a plane', 'runaway train' to the 'more powerful than a locomotive' and 'speeding bullet' to 'faster than a speeding bullet'.
    • Possibly one to the The Boxcar Children in "Umbrella Beach".
    "Home is a boxcar"
    • "Bombshell Blonde" has two in two consecutive lyrics:
    "And I'm James Bond/Live to die another day"
  • Silly Love Songs:
    • "The Bird and the Worm," "Tip of the Iceberg," "On the Wing," "The Saltwater Room," "If My Heart Was a House..." The list goes on.
      • Interestingly, many of the songs on Ocean Eyes manage to be silly love songs without ever actually using the word "love."
    • All Things Bright and Beautiful brings a more traditional, but no less awesome and sweet example, "Honey and the Bee." Made more sweet dream-y by the beautiful chorus, including the following fuzzies-inducing lyric:
      "But if I reached for your hand would your eyes get wide?"
  • The Something Song: "Christmas Song".
  • The Stars Are Going Out: Referenced in a lyric from "Honey and the Bee":
    "Cause when the stars silhouette me I'm scared they'll forget me and flicker out..."
    • Also in "Shooting Star":
    "When the sun goes down and the lights burn out it's time for you to shine"
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Time: Happens in "Rugs From Me To You":
    "And by the way, I just gotta say, / Thank the Lord I'm not going bald
  • Updated Re-release: Several songs in Ocean Eyes can be found on earlier albums with slight changes. For example, "The Saltwater Room" was originally on the Maybe I'm Dreaming EP.
  • Vocal Evolution: His vocals on Of June are half-whispered and have an implacable Auto-Tune-esque effect on them. He starts projecting more with each successive release, although his slightly raspier voice on his more recent songs imply that a few years of improper singing techniques have taken their toll on him
  • With Friends Like These...: "...well, who needs enemies?" ("The Bird and the Worm")
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Pretty much any given point of any of his songs. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to see someone compile a list of increasingly silly unconnected words to be used in just one of his songs.
    • Believe it or not, it has happened.
    • Apparently that is a way he comes up with possible song titles.
    • During his Livestream listening party for his new album, The Midsummer Station, he says that "Hello, Seattle" was the first song he wrote, and that he wrote it by writing down the first things that came to mind. If it rhymes, it goes.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Music/OwlCity