Monday, December 10, 2012


Do you still remember when your last time seeing fireflies was? Well, I do. My last time seeing the fireflies was two years ago, when I hung out with my friends on a summer night. Fireflies were flying above the grass, twinkling. Owl City’s “Fireflies” was on my mind that whole night.
“Fireflies” is from Owl City’s album Ocean Eyes. It is written by Adam Young and was released on July 14th, 2009. The genre of this song is pop. Everyone can find its music video on YouTube. Basically, the audiences are those people who love pop songs. The lyrics from the song aren’t similar to other forms of literary works. In this day and age, we often appeal to writers to make their works concise and easy to understand, avoiding ambiguous meaning. Lyrics are often creative, and the audience might have completely different interpretations to the same song. In “Fireflies”, Adam Young described the song as "a little song about bugs and not being able to fall asleep at night." However, some individuals consider that the meaning of the song is beyond the isonomic, but they interpret it as the writer misses his childhood life.  In this article, I will focus on whether the ambiguous meaning from creative style lyrics influences whether the audiences enjoy the music or not.
“Fireflies” is a pop song, so the audience is the public. Anyone who loves pop music would like to listen to it. Music critics are also the important audiences of this song. Their positive comments will make a contribution to help the sales of the album. In order to meet the needs of audience, the writer doesn’t use higher grade level nor lower grade level words to write lyrics, but rather a mixing of both of them. When I test its readability, the calculator doesn’t reflect the score that I expect. Maybe the lyrics are so creative that the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease is -242.5, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is 130.3 and Average Grade Level is 91.8.
Adam Young has used many rhetorical devices in creating the lyrics, and those strategies create ambiguous meaning for the listeners. In the first stanza, he writes “You would not believe your eyes/ If ten million fireflies/ Lit up the world as I fell asleep.” He uses hyperbole to describe “ten million fireflies” in his bedroom. We all believe that this situation won’t happen in reality, so the author is exaggerating the facts. However, the audience wonders if the “fireflies” are referring to the real bugs or indicating other subjects, for instance, innocence. Hence, the divergence of the song comes out. Some people suggest that the writer has insomnia so he has a hard time sleeping, then he imagines he sees millions of fireflies on his half-awake, half asleep state. Other people deem that because the writer overstates the quantity of fireflies, he must be talking about something beyond fireflies themselves. Maybe some subjects are abstract that people cannot see or feel. In this case, using hyperbole in the lyrics will lead to various feelings amongst the audience.
       Additionally, the author uses an oxymoron to confuse the listeners. “Awake when I'm asleep/ 'Cause everything is never as it seems.” “Awake” and “asleep” are antonyms, so they make a contrast in this line. These two conditions won’t occur at the same time. Also, the writer shows that he cannot sleep, but why does he mention he is “asleep”? It doesn’t make sense at this point. A plausible interpretation will be the author doesn’t mean real sleep, but when people grow up and become cold to everything around them, it is just like their curiosity and innocence fall asleep.
       The writer also asks himself a question, “Why do I tire of counting sheep/ When I'm far too tired to fall asleep.” This type of question is a rhetorical question. He asks a question to the audience but he doesn’t expect a response, because the answer is obvious that he is tired of having insomnia. Even though the writer states that he counts the sheep, the audience will be still curious about the main point of the lyrics. If the song is really about sleep, then counting sheep works; what if it is about losing children's simplicity, why not count fireflies which will be more related to the topic? Thus, it is hard for the audience to make a common view to the central theme of this song.
       As it stands, the audience won’t all have the same interpretation to “Fireflies”. But the ambiguous meaning doesn’t matter during the creation of lyrics. The writer provides different angles for audiences to listen and to think of this song, which will urge the audience to listen to it more and discuss it with their friends. When people play this song, it only lasts three to four minutes. But the time of analyzing it will be longer. The more ambiguous meaning will arouse the public’s curiosity; then the sales will increase.

 --Xiaoqi Wu


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