June (Of June) is a shy and reserved girl, inexperienced in life and innocent as few. She’s not very confident, but dreams big and longs to walk the streets of big cities and experiencing the world one day.
Mei (Mei-by I’m Dreaming) is also quite shy. She’s a daydreamer and a hopeless romantic. She would rather spent her days in her thoughts, than in reality amongst others. She’s often called ‘emo’ because of her sentimental and poetic nature, but does things her own way regardless of what others say.
Ocean (Ocean Eyes) is a peppy and much adored girl. She’s popular with many, though some may say she’s too weird and that they just can’t make sense of her. She’s smiles in the face of difficult times and tries to do the best she can in any situation.
Bo (another version of Beau, as in All Things Bright and Beautiful) is wise and sophisticated - she has her feets on the ground and she’s fond of nature. She’s deeply religious and looks at life as one big blessing. She finds joy in the simpler things - she’s constantly grateful for being alive. She likes thinking about the big questions in life.
Summer (The Midsummer Station) is dynamic, bold and daring. She’s confident in her ways, strongwilled and does what she pleases. Because of this, she’s often the target of criticism, but criticism doesn’t bother her. She’s a free, optimistic soul who loves to dance, sing as loud as she can and live her life to the fullest.
Sitting here, listening to The Midsummer Station, I start to see what’s gone wrong.
“Adam doesn’t interact with fans anymore!” “He’s completely abandoned the fans!”
That’s something I’ve heard countless times over the past year and a half or so, and as some have said before (making my rant a tad derivative, admittedly), I hardly can blame Adam when, since 2012, everyone from “fans” to critics have slammed him for every single creative step he’s taken, every release he’s put out, and every word he’s written in his songs.
Singers, songwriters, etc, like all artists (of which I consider myself to be, as I am a writer and aspiring director), use artistry as their own personal form of expression. If emotions have been felt, negative or positive, hell, I know they’re bound to spring up in my writing shortly! I assume it’s no different than Adam’s process, as it’s clear to any fan of his that his songs all represent some part of himself or his experiences.
People, generally and from my experience, do not tend to stay stagnant in their emotions. Life is a journey, with many adventures, experiences and emotions spread out through it. Some days, you want to disappear, bury your head in the ground and tell the world to go away. Other days, you’re on a beach surrounded by people having a great time outdoors surrounded by people you love. (Tidal Wave x Good Time)
So, when Ocean Eyes and All Things Bright and Beautiful were written, built and released, those were chapters in the book of Adam’s life. But as all stories do, his life continued and new chapters cropped up, chapters worthy of telling in a new album, and there was The Midsummer Station. From love songs, to innocent repetitious pop tracks about having fun with friends, to songs about battling depression, the album covered the entire canvas of the emotional spectrum, and you could feel Adam’s story being told, and a new chapter unfolding. Not to mention, Adam? He loves the album to death and has gone on record saying it was the most fun album to record, release and perform. Respectable, right?
Countless fans who couldn’t wait for the album’s release savaged the living hell out of it. Here are just a few lines from “fans.”
“…this is just bad generic pop music. I understand that Owl City has always been slighty generic and very cheesy, but this is a new low for him.”
“Adam has managed to go from a creative, unique, individual artist to a generic, mainstream nobody. No ones gonna remember this album. All it has to offer is hollow and cheesy pop club anthems.”
“…this album takes everything I love about Owl City and throws it out the window. His quirky metaphoric words have been exchanged for simple and often childish lyrics.”
What about critics? Worse.
“Young’s idea of fun is based on an uneasy mix of cheap valedictory philosophizing and infantile daydreaming.”
“His fluency with pop forms only makes things worse; Young spoils everything he touches. The Carly Rae Jepsen duet “Good Time” is grating enough to make you hate Jepsen, “Call Me Maybe” and also good times in general.”
“Where once he dreamed of Fireflies, now Young just sounds burned out.”
Adam’s pride and joy, his favorite of his creations musically, savaged not only by critics, but by the people who once said how much they loved him and his music. Imagine your family turning against you, screaming at you, when you’re someone with anxiety, depression, and needs to conquer severe introversion every night to face this crowd of judgmental people and sing the songs they hate you for making.
After that, Adam released some soundtrack tracks, and with confidence, seemingly having beaten the critics, he boldly promised fans that he would release a string of EP’s for the fans. This after the attacks on TMSS, and in the midst of a label switch. After that plan seemed to falter, Ultraviolet atleast seemed to please a fair amount of people… except for “This Isn’t The End”, a personal song Adam wrote discussing suicide, loss, and his belief that life deserves to continue in the midst of the worst hardships. Well, fans seemed to disagree with it’s placement on the EP, and said it was “out of place” and “awkward.”
Two attacks on some of your most personal art is enough to deter anyone from continuing perusing the art-form… But he continued, and released Mobile Orchestra. Well, just look at some of the responses to the newest album from Adam.
“ Mobile Orchestra has to be the most confused album I’ve ever heard from Owl City. There’s hardly any consistency in style from song to song, and the lyrics are bland and understandable. Owl City lyrics are not supposed to be like that. If you are a classical Owl City fan, don’t bother with Mobile Orchestra, it will disappoint.”
Just point me at the moment when Adam stopped making fairytales for ears and started to do typical pop-food for 16-years girls. I need to travel back in that time to stop him.”
As a huge Owl City fan, I’m disappointed with this new album in so many ways I can’t even put it into words. I honestly never thought I would ever say this but I could barely listen to all of the songs from beginning to end. I literally had to skip every song, and I couldn’t help but hope that the next one would be amazing so I wouldn’t feel so bad.”
Sorry, but this album just isn’t good at all. I’ll forget that this exists and hope that Adam Young returns to his roots a little and makes an album that is at least listenable.”
It’s unoriginal and twee.”
Everything on the new album by Owl City sounds as if it was recorded by children, or trolls/
Young delivers with wonder so wide-eyed you’d think he must be high/
Young’s nerdy sensibility kills it, It most strongly affects his singing, which crosses the line from boyish to infantile.”
Owl City’s fifth album, Mobile Orchestra, arrives this Friday, and it contains the worst music he’s ever made. It might be the worst music anyone has ever made. Mobile Orchestra is so atrocious that you might find yourself thinking, hey, maybe “Fireflies” wasn’t so bad after all. Subjecting yourself to it will likely lead to physical discomfort, emotional distress, and a despair that runs deeper than words. It’s the kind of album that inspires avowed pop fans to reconsider rockism as a life philosophy.”
After both of his recent outputs have been torn apart by fans and critics alike, it leads little mystery why Adam, a man already humble, anxious and nervous, yet very prideful of his work, has completely altered his public persona to be isolated, very “business oriented”, and “abandon” us. Hell, the hatred of Mobile Orchestra rained down on him all while he was in the midst of one of his best friends being found guilty of a very serious crime. That’s heavy weight.
The “fans”, those of us who used to interact with him every day via social media, go to the concerts and flail around with him, have turned on him. Another great indicator? Every person who will like or reblog this, I will know your URL, profile picture, and maybe even name as you do. The fandom, the optimistic and content bunch that remains, is so tightly knit and small. The vast majority? They’ve turned on Adam. And unfortunately, Adam has begun to turn his back on us.
So the next time you wonder “Why are his eyes closed on stage?” “Why are all of his tweets promotional?” And, most frightening but more likely with every passing day, “Why did Adam quit?”, remember to look no further than the fandom.
If you are going to ANY of the remaining concerts on the Mobile Orchestra tour then please read this!
As you guys have probably heard or seen by now, Adam hasn’t really been his usual excited bubbly self while performing on this tour. But recently at the Chicago leg of the tour a group of people say on the floor during This Isn’t the End. And more and more people joined and say with them. Adam had his eyes closed and was so into the song refused to open them.
I think it would be amazing if at each of the rest of the concerts to have everyone sit on the floor during This Isn’t the End. It’s by far the most personal song, and it is one of Adam’s favorites. Of all the songs on the track list I truly believe that This Isn’t the End deserves the most respect, and what better way to do that by sitting on the floor, not saying a word or screaming along with the lyrics, just soaking in every note that Adam sings.
I get that some places might be cramped standing, but It’s just for one song and even if Adam has his eyes closed when it happens and doesn’t see it, he’ll know it happened.
Please try and spread this word around. I think it would be the most amazing thing if we could make this happen.
A million things could be said about Adam’s music in the past five years. So many people, myself included, have watched his poetic, dreamscape lyrical style and upbeat synths melt away to make a more accessible, mainstream pop sound and so many fans have completely abandoned Adam and his music simply because they miss the original style that captured their attention to begin with.
With Mobile Orchestra, every fan was waiting (im)patiently to see exactly what direction was being taken, making this album a critical entry for most fans. Countless people have taken a firm stance that if this album doesn’t signify a return to form, that they’re no longer support Adam or his music.
With that said, you have to wonder, how did it turn out? As someone who often hails “All Things Bright and Beautiful” and “Ocean Eyes” as his favorite albums of all time, not just from Adam, but in general, here’s my honest opinion, song by song.
1: Verge (feat. Aloe Blacc) - Verge is an odd song to lead the album and be the first single released. It’s “it’s your life!” empowerment angle combined with the repetitious lyrics aren’t really “Adam” in any way. Believe me, this whole album requires a mental preparation to an extent because if you’re expecting the Adam of old, it’s only here in small doses. It’s not a bad song, don’t get me wrong… it’s just generic. Thankfully, this is very much a one off.
2: I Found Love - One of the few solo songs on the album, I Found Love is a sweet, gorgeous tribute to All Things Bright and Beautiful combined with the early beats of Maybe I’m Dreaming with dark yet sweet lyrics (which is Adam’s speciality, after all). The song is a throwback through and through and hearing similar twinkles and synths that we’ve missed for years is refreshing and comforting. People who don’t like the other directions the album takes will most definitely find solace in this song, which is a contender for strongest song on the album.
3: Thunderstruck (feat. Sarah Russel) - Thunderstruck is an enigma. You imagine by the tone that album has taken so far that Thunderstruck is going to be a calm, emotional ballad that relies on guitar or piano notes and soft vocals, simply to contrast the different flavors on the album so far… and it’s the complete opposite of that… and I am in absolute love with this song. With a beat that can only be described as “The Midsummer Station polished to perfection” and the beautiful vocals added by Sarah Russel, Thunderstruck is the sort of poppy, European-trance sort of track you imagine will be blasted on the radio for the rest of the summer. The lyrics, while not exactly hitting any new territory, are perfect for the tune. The best part, however, is the 3 second long closing beat that is ripped straight from “How I Became The Sea.” It’s a nostalgic kick that put a smile on my face.
4: My Everything - Adam has never been shy about his faith or beliefs and he’s completely replaced subtext for outright praise for this song. It’s a nice, slow song all about praising and thanking God for everything he does, unfortunately, if you don’t personally believe, I can’t imagine you would get anything from the song. It’s very much a “one-note” sort of song, only pertaining to those who believe. So while I personally enjoy the song since I am the same faith, I’m guessing that won’t be the general opinion with some.
5: Unbelievable (feat. Hanson) - Perhaps the most fun song on the album, Unbelievable is all about how awesome the 90’s were. Jurassic Park, Zack Morris, Pogs and Lion King all get name dropped and the fact that Adam roped Hanson in for the song is, in itself, a massive throwback to hear their voices on a track. It’s just pure fun to listen to and for someone like me, hearing the line “When I was a kid, I spent my Saturday’s blowing on Nintendo games, the newest thing was Lion King and I could feel the love!” was hilarious, simply because of how relatable and true to reality it was.
6: Bird With A Broken Wing - This may be my favorite song on the album. Bird With A Broken Wing is like All Things Bright and Beautiful infused with Twenty One Pilots. No, really. The beat is something straight out of Vessel (The TOP album, that is) but with the violin and synth twinkle of ATBAB… the whole thing is amazing to listen to. Better yet, the lyrics are classic Adam. I’m almost scared to quote a single line, simply because of how amazing it was to hear for the first time but if you need an example of what I mean when I say “classic Adam”, the lyric “butterfly in the panic room” is used.
7: Back Home (feat. Jake Owen) - If you combined Garden Party with Home Of The Blues, you’d get Back Home. Jake Owen’s vocals are absolutely amazing and the lyrics are pure country, no pop to be found. Even as someone who doesn’t like country… at all, this is another highlight of the album. Oh, and Adam says “Fireflies.” Not in reference to the song or anything, just casually. But I still screamed when it happened.
8: Can’t Live Without You - Woah, this one is jarring to hear. I’m still in shock that the song title doesn’t end with a little tag that says “(feat. Zedd)” I really wish I had the words to describe it, but the song is reminiscent of the collaborative songs with Armin Van Burren, a single line or two with a swelling beat until a bass drop. It’s still very much Owl City, but it’s a completely new flavor we haven’t ever heard from Adam before. The highlight is easily the end of the song which cuts the beat all together and features Adam’s voiced layered three or four times over, it just sounds awesome. Other than that, like I said before, you’re getting a Zedd-esque Owl City song… And it’s just as bizarre as you think.
9: You’re Not Alone (feat. Britt Nicole) - Take everything I said about “My Everything” and note that Britt Nicole adds a soft verse and that’s my opinion on the song. I still love it, but again, Adam is very clear and unashamed of his faith and those who don’t believe won’t get much out of this. Plus, this was released as a single (along with Tokyo, which doesn’t appear on the album at all which is… weird.) months ago so chances are, most of you have heard it already.
10: This Isn’t The End - Given that this was available on the Ultraviolet EP for a year or so now, there’s a good chance you’ve heard it before as well. This Isn’t The End is a powerful song about suicide and death and loss and more importantly, the will to survive. It’s a different beast from Adam’s songs in the past which usually tip-toe’d around subjects like this with dark metaphors or symbolism. This time, Adam tells the story of a young girl who’s father killed himself. The song is just as powerful now as when I heard it a year ago, losing none of it’s raw impact, and the message is something that you should take away… the issue is, it’s so out of place on this album. Despite having so many different flavors, all of the songs generally have a lightness to them and don’t dwell on the heavier subjects for long which makes this song, the closer on the album, a massive buzzkill. It’s like watching a comedy movie with a group of your friends then immediately afterwards turning on Blue Valentine. Making Verge the opener and This Isn’t The End the closer is very weird to me, how the album starts on one end of the spectrum in mood, style, lyrical and instrumental tone, then ends with a soft piano song about overcoming death and loss. It’s an absolutely beautiful and amazing song, but it was a much better fit on Ultraviolet, whereas “Up All Night” would have instead fit like a glove as the closer here.
Mobile Orchestra is… Mobile Orchestra. It isn’t Maybe I’m Dreaming. It isn’t Of June. It isn’t Ocean Eyes. It isn’t All Things Bright and Beautiful and it isn’t The Midsummer Station.
It’s nothing we’ve heard before and that’s exactly what Adam himself has promised and cautioned ever since the album was announced. You have small tastes of the old albums in some beats and lyrics, or in “Bird With A Broken Wing”’s case, you have a complete reinvention of the old work.
In all honesty, I love the album. But I loved The Midsummer Station too.
Even though they aren’t similar at all, the point is that you need to go into the album with a level head and an open mind. You’re going to hear things you never thought Adam would make or say, and that isn’t a bad thing.
Where people felt TMSS went too “mainstream”, Mobile Orchestra completely addresses the problem, just not at all how you expect.
I think it’s fair to say that if you needed Adam to return to Ocean Eye’s style for you to remain a fan that he’s already lost you and if he hasn’t yet, this will be the final nail in the coffin. Adam has completely reinvented Owl City with this album.
In closing, Adam’s tagline for the album was simple.
“It’s 2015, Owl City is back.”
He makes good on the promise too… He really is back… but it’s a whole new set of genres.
As a long time super-fan of all of Adam’s work from Port Blue to Sky Sailing to of course, Owl City, Mobile Orchestra isn’t what I thought it would be. It’s better. But it’s new and different. So, before you hit play for the first time, open yourself up.
This is how Adam wanted to express himself. This was his vision. Even if it’s a bit jarring, this is a new chapter… and I loved it.
I cannot wait to present this album to those who feel a connection to my music – and for those who don’t, I hope they can simply move on without resenting the artistic choices I am so wholeheartedly proud of making.
Adam Young (Owl City April 2015)
I think Adam is completely done with the negative reactions he got after The Midsummer Station was released. At the time, his cover of “Garden Party” was his inimitably polite way of saying, “Hey, I’m evolving, but this is who I am.” Now, he has finally put those thoughts into his own words.
On The Midsummer Station, its critics, and how this affects the new Owl City album
To all the Hoot Owls, ex and current: I’m writing this because when I search for “Adam Young blog,” one of the first results on Google shouldn’t be “Why I’m No Longer a Fan of Adam Young.” I’m writing this because there is a line between constructive criticism and hate, and I see it crossed far too often. But most importantly, I’m writing this because the new album is dropping in less than six months, and this needs to be addressed before we have another The Midsummer Station.
A hero of mine once said of himself, “There is no old Adam Young, there is no new Adam Young, merely different colors and different brushstrokes over the same canvas.”
Adam Young, best known for his music project Owl City, wrote those words upon reaching a point in his career where he was creating music that was vastly different from what he had been previously known for, sonically, structurally, and lyrically. I feel his statement was important and relevant not only to artists, but any human being at all. An artist may transform, experiment, and expand their work all throughout their careers, just as a person changes, develops, and grows all throughout their lives.
With this piece, I thought of what it might mean not only to take Adam’s quote literally by means of a painting, but how I could portray the essence of the words. I considered how I respond emotionally to his body of work. When I hear music, I tend to associate different colors, forms, and scenes with what I hear, sometimes influenced by lyrics, but most often by melodies and sounds. I painted layers of colors associated with each phase of his work, using techniques to complement the phases; from fluid, bright colors for his experimental, surreal escapism, to simple, linear visuals and colors for his more polished, controlled, straightforward work.
The photo I worked from was one I took the first time I saw Owl City live; September 2012 at the 930 Club on the Midsummer Station world tour. The fuzziness of the original photo that obscured Adam’s appearance was actually to my advantage for the painting, as it was not only easier to paint than an image with great detail, but, in my mind, went with the idea Adam expressed in his words, of not being rigidly defined by one thing or another. Though a simple snapshot, the time of it holds personal significance. I went to that concert in the beginning of a semester of college that would turn out to be an incredibly transforming and defining time in my life. I happened to decide to take all art classes that semester, not being intentional at all about a theme, but trying to get requirements out of the way. Having a full credit load of constant, hands on work started out extremely overwhelming and challenging. It was this concert, though, that gave me a huge dose of inspiration for artwork, and motivation to rise to the occasion. Though that semester did not cease to be challenging, the music of Adam Young definitely took the edge off the overwhelming nature of things by keeping me sane and happy, and providing me conceptual inspiration. Though I didn’t know it at the beginning, I would find by the end of the semester that making art was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Though there were other influences and events that brought me to that particular realization, I always credit Adam’s work with giving me the endurance to press on to the arrival of that realization. Therefore, I consider this painting to be first and foremost about Adam Young, but also, a little bit about myself.
This is surely boredom, but This is surely ennui, but On the rooftop, I’m breaking down again A man and woman on the train, a love story I board the last train coming back and Record the evening . Suddenly, I want to eat ice cream on this midsummer day Outside is gleaming and burning hot Sometimes I feel a phobia from you 42 kilos heavy Using emoji, distorted emotions I record the evening . heybaby,yobaby,heybaby Like always, I couldn’t go forward earlier In this kind of summer again I put on my tight shoes Three Point You can’t decide, right? . Today, I have no motivation I hold my lucky item Hip-Hopping, pretending I live with a sense of duty Conversation Comprehension I mail you, pretending I’m out when I’m all by myself “iloveyou” When did I learn that in English? . I can’t do my best, I can’t do my best Yo, I can’t live like this I,m bloodygirling, Leading part is boring Say Yeah! . Suddenly, I want to eat ice cream on this midsummer day Outside is gleaming and burning hot The electric fan is whirring in my face, I lean in and make frog sounds The 3 o'clock feeling lays heavily Looking out the window, I doze I don’t understand myself . heybaby,yobaby,heybaby Like always, I couldn’t go forward earlier In this kind of summer again, I squeeze on my shoes Three Point You can’t decide, right? And summer comes again Without my recorded scenery playing back, the New Beat morning is very… Summer and SUMMERtime Leaving the August train station, I shout and cry into the rice patties . Simply, I wonder if I can do my best today This is a continuation of yesterday On the rooftop, I’m breaking down again A man and woman on a train, a love story I board the last train coming back and Record the evening . I can’t do my best, I can’t do my best Yo, I can’t go on like this I,mbloodygirling, Lead role is boring Say Yeah! I can’t do my best, I can’t do my best Yo, I can’t go on like this I,mbloodygirling, So bloody happy Yeah! . Like last summer again Last summer again And summer comes again Without my recorded scenery playing back, the New Beat morning is very… Summer and SUMMERtime Leaving the August train station, I shout and cry into the rice patties Comeonbaby yeah! .
Deep under water We both found that we could still breathe So we spent the day submerged
And we swam the evening away
This is probably my first edit/digital painting that does not involve any stock photos at all. Inspired by Explorers - Sky Sailing and the artwork of The Midsummer Station.
This is probably the most special thing I’ve made so far. It personally shows how my life has been for quite a while, journeying in the murky depths of my present to find a better future, taking with me whatever beauty I have above me. Tonight was quite depressing since I mostly thought that I can’t take it. So I listened to Sky Sailing and it actually calmed me down a bit and I started making this random thing this morning.
Happy Resurrection Sunday, everyone! I hope you enjoy this day of rebirth and life anew! Here to celebrate are some of Adam’s song lyrics of his songs of his faith:
Angels “Living close to the ground Is seventh heaven ‘cuz there are angels all around Among my frivolous thoughts I believe there are beautiful things seen by the astronauts
The indications reveal That few of us realize life is quite surreal So if you’re dying to see I guarantee there are angels around your vicinity
So if you’re dying to see I guarantee there are angels around your vicinity”
Beautiful Times “I fought all through the night Oh oh but I made it alive The sun’s starting to rise Oh oh these are beautiful times This fight of my life is so hard So hard So hard But I’m gonna survive Oh oh these are beautiful times”
Embers “So I’m fanning the flames to climb so high 'Cuz there’s no other way we can stay alive
'Cuz we’re burning bright As we all unite And when it’s all said and done We’ll shine like the sun So don’t let the fire die
And we’ll watch the sky As it fills with light And though the embers are new Whatever you do Just don’t let the fire die”
Galaxies “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 far
Oh telescope Keep an eye on my Only Hope Lest I blink And get swept off the narrow road Hercules You’ve got nothing to say to me 'Cuz you’re not the blinding light that I need For He is the Saving Grace of the galaxies”
Hospital Flowers “The curtains decayed The daylight poured in I was never afraid Of the Darkness again My burns were third degree But I’d been set free 'Cuz Grace had finally found its way To me”