Story of Song The stories behind the hits Novellic
Lyric Music


Owl City

Album Ocean Eyes

Story of Song

Adam Young was interviewed by Anti Music; when asked about the story of his hit single, he said: “It was 2 AM and I was sitting on the floor in my parent’s basement with a MicroKorg on my lap. I built this synthy legato, ‘ping’ sound routed through a low pass filter and ran it through a bunch of guitar pedals. I come up with a little cascading part that wound up as the intro and verses of a song called ‘Fireflies.’ 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.”

Release date

Released July 14, 2009


Adam Young


Universal Republic

Chart Rankings

US – 1

UK – 1


In the UK, ‘Fireflies’ topped the Official Charts Company and sold over 792.000 copies. The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) certified it Platinum. In the US, the song topped the Billboard Hot 100 and the Adult Top 40 Songs. On the Mainstream Top 40 charts it peaked at number 2, and Adult Contemporary Songs it reached number 11. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified it 7 times Platinum for sales over 7 million copies. In Australia, the song topped the charts and was certified 6 times Platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). ‘Fireflies’ topped the charts in Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Sweden. It reached the top 10 charts in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland. It was certified Double Platinum in Sweden, and Platinum in Denmark and New Zealand. In Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland it was certified Gold.

Artist’s age on release date

Owl City had been active for 4 years when this song was released.

Cover Versions

Sam Tsui – Cheryl Cole – Ben Bennett, Jesse & Ashleigh (The Voice Australia) – Mac Miller – Blue Scholars – Nivea Hamilton – Sungha Jung – Laura Rychlik & Jemall Earle – Cobus Potgieter (drum cover) – Christina Grimmie – Futureidiots (Rock cover) – Sou2Soul (Acapella cover) – Dave, Eleni & Linnea (The Voice Kids) – Marie Digby – Jayesslee – aldy32 (piano cover) – Oliver Mochmann (guitar cover) – Sienna Skies – Michael Henry & Justin Robinett (piano cover) – Mike Tompkins (voice, mouth & glasses cover) – Madilyn Bailey – The Heart Render (harp cover) – Hearts & Colors – Tyler Humphrey (drum cover) – Ryan Jones (piano cover) – Tiffany Alvord – Isis Vasconcellos – Eddyistheman1 (Screamo cover) – Other amateur artists covered this song on Youtube.

Added by Slate

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    September 20, 2020 at 12:19 pm

    this song is my favorite

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