I love music. If you didn’t already know that about me, you must not have been subjected to my endless rants and song recommendations. An artist whose songs have always touched my heart is Adam Young (also known as Owl City), who is a Christian with a phenomenal gift for songwriting. Today I’ll be talking about my favorite songs of his. There are quite a few!
“Galaxies” was one of the first Owl City songs I ever heard.
The song starts with a heavy electronic beat that forms the framework for the rest of the song. The verses paint a picture of a space shuttle, and the chorus features several interesting lines:
Dear God, I was terribly lost
When the galaxies crossed and the sun went dark
But dear God, you’re the only North Star
I would follow this farsource
As I have said in the past, sometimes Owl City’s lyrics are hard to understand, with seemingly nonsensical lyrics veiling a deeper meaning. Young has stated that he wrote “Galaxies” about the Challenger space shuttle disaster:
The song as an overall conception was written from the first-person perspective of the flight commander of the space shuttle Challenger that tragically exploded in 1986. I wrote the song reflecting what I would be feeling and how I would answer for my life if I entered into eternity in a split second the way the victims did. The song is all about what I would say for myself if, all of a sudden, I was face to face with God and I had to answer for my actions in life. It is a bold statement, and with that imagery in mind, God is my only North Star that I would follow regardless of what happens.
When I learned the meaning of the song, I was blown away. Even though Owl City isn’t technically considered a Christian songwriter, he is a songwriter who’s a Christian. Many of his songs evidence his worldview, and he’s been pretty outspoken about his faith in the past:
The lyrics “Dear God, I was terribly lost” are a parallel of my journey of my life before I came into a saving relationship with the Lord. For me, it’s like the whole galaxy was laid out before me and then I found God as my light. That’s where the idea of being on the space shuttle before it exploded and not having a Savior was frightening to me. That’s where my resolve came from and how this song is my bold statement of God being the only saving grace of the galaxy.
Another faith-based song is “You’re Not Alone,” an Owl City song that features Britt Nicole.
When I first heard “You’re Not Alone” on the radio, I sat in shock as I listened. The song, a powerful reminder that we are not alone in this world, became my favorite at the time. I played it on repeat almost constantly.
You rescued me, and I believe
That God is love, and He is all I need
From this day forth, for all eternity
I’ll never wander on my own
For I am yours until you call me home
I close my eyes, and I can hear you say
“You’re not alone”, oh oh-oh
“You’re not alone”, oh oh-ohsource
If you’re interested in more of Owl City’s Christian songs, I’d recommend checking out his covers of “In Christ Alone” and “Untitled Hymn,” and his original song, “Meteor Shower.”
We now go back in time to review some of his earliest songs, the ones on the album Ocean Eyes.
Owl City was about seven years ahead of Billie Eilish with this album title.
Perhaps Young’s most well-known song is called “Fireflies.” As of writing this, the official music video has over 390 million views. What sort of insanity is that?!
The song is simply magical. The story behind it is also fascinating:
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.
Another charming song is “Hot Air Balloon” which is just happiness in song form. Every time I listen to it, I envision the joys of childhood and imagination.
In Adam’s own words, “Hot Air Balloon” is “a carefree song about adventure and exploration. Looking down on the world, leaning out and brushing the snow from evergreen branches, wondering where life will take you.”
Three more songs round out my favorites from the Ocean Eyes album. First is “Cave In,” another upbeat song with unique lyrics. This one features Matt Thiessen (the lead singer of Relient K) as a guest vocalist, just like in a couple of other songs.
That song captures in just a few words, all my hopes and dreams. I’m always wondering about the great unknown and the theme of that song is about asking what else lies out there, what adventures are waiting to be had.
Second is “Tidal Wave,” also featuring Matt Thiessen, whose voice sounds very similar to Adam’s. A relatable song with an undertone of hope, it’s one of my top favorite Owl City songs.
A few memorable lyrics:
I forget the last time I felt brave, I just recall insecurity
‘Cause it came down like a tidal wave, and sorrow swept over me
Then I was given grace and love, I was blind but now I can see
‘Cause I found a new hope from above, and courage swept over mesource
On this song, he said, “Tidal Wave is about running hard and racing for the prize with both eyes locked on the finish line so that one day, the words ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ might be heard.”
Finally, I love the song “Hello, Seattle.” Its enchanting imagery and simple, catchy tune make it another of my favorites. Apparently, this was one of the first songs Adam Young ever wrote.
Since Owl City has so many songs, this post will probably be a two-parter. I’ll leave you with one final classic, “Shooting Star.”
While not on the top of my favorites list, it is one of the first songs of his I listened to and thus holds a special place in my heart. Young said of this song,
I wanted to sort of capture the idea that everybody can start a movement… if we all unite and capture this sort of standing on the edge, ready to leap off kind of feeling, knowing that even though everyone has dark days, if we really work together we can make anything happen.
Some people tell me that Owl City is old news. A one-hit wonder. Since I discovered him a lot later than most, however, his music is still fresh and new to me. Several of my friends also still love his music. His most recent album, Cinematic, was released in 2018, so we should be due for some new music any time.
I hope you enjoyed! What’s your favorite Owl City song? I have plenty more to share, so I’ll see you next week!
6 thoughts on “The Magic of Owl City (Part 1)”
Who calls Owl City a one-hit wonder?!?!?!? WHO? Ahem. Anyways, I also LOVE Owl City. He’s one of my favorite artists! My favorites are Cave In, Hot Air Balloon, Alligator Sky, and Up All Night, at least at the moment. It always changes 😉 Can’t wait for part two!
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AWESOME! Up All Night is my top favorite Owl City song! (Sometimes it gets stuck in my head for days at a time.)
Dude, I forgot I used to love Owl City ❤
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His music has really gotten me through some tough times. ❤
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