#RSFlashback: 10 Years Ago, Fun. Hit Number One This Week With Their Stadium Rock Anthem ‘We Are Young’
It was the third track from their sophomore album ‘Some Nights,’ featuring Janelle Monáe
It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since American band Fun. pivoted from indie rock band that could to pop rock band with a Number One single. “We Are Young,” featuring Janelle Monáe was the third track released from Fun.’s second studio album Some Nights. The song quickly became their breakthrough single, garnering critical acclaim while also ascending to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and across the globe.
In a pre-TikTok and YouTube dominating landscape, “We Are Young” first went viral thanks to its presence online and on television. The song featured prominently on an episode of the hit music series Glee. This was unusual at the time given that the series usually featured established hits and here, they were basically introducing an indie hit to a very mainstream audience. Perhaps this broadcast led Chevrolet to decide to license the track and the song again was very prominently featured during the Super Bowl XLVI promoting Chevy’s Sonic.
“We Are Young” surged as a result of this placement and zoomed up to Number One on the charts, also becoming one of the era’s biggest digital sales successes. The song was basically everywhere, crossing over to multiple formats, gaining the highest radio impressions any band had topped since Destiny’s Child in 2001 with “Survivor.”
Beyond just commercial acclaim, the song also won the Song of the Year at the 55th Grammy Awards. It was also nominated for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, but lost in those two categories.
It’s massive crossover appeal is credited to producer extraordinaire Jeff Bhasker, who found a way to make Fun’s frontman Nate Ruess’ vision come to fruition. Ruess had been trying to lock down a meeting with Bhasker for some time but the producer had been busy working with Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Kanye West in the studio. Finally Bhasker meet Ruess briefly who emphasized his wanting to blend their indie rock sound with electronic and hip-hop beats. Upon hearing the chorus for “We Are Young,” Bhasker immediately locked in with the band at the studio to put the track together. Monáe came onboard for added vocals as a result of her friendship with Bhasker, proving to make the single all that more interesting and multi-formatted.
“We Are Young” is perhaps the most recent hit we’ve had that so easily parallels the Freddie Mercury/Queen sound. For the most part, stadium rock had ceased to exist and Fun.’s record with Bhasker’s production managed to blend indie rock with mainstream pop rock in just the right way to leave a mark that has all of us even 10 years later singing along to!
The accompanying music video for the single, directed by Marc Klasfeld, was filmed at the David Sukonick Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The video depicts a bar fight taking place in slow motion while the band performs on a stage in the bar. It became an equally huge hit and is close to passing the 1 billion stream mark on YouTube (likely to happen in the next two-three months, currently sitting at 966 million views).
As for Fun., their album experienced a resurgence thanks to the hit single, and became their most successful one to date. Ironically, it is also the last album they’ve released thus far as a band. Lead singer Ruess has released a solo album Grand Romantic in 2015 and featured on the Number One duet with Pink “Just Give Me A Reason.”
Meanwhile band member Jack Antonoff has gone on to become the lead singer of the band The Bleachers, but more so a very prominent songwriter and producer, with a beautiful partnership with Taylor Swift to his credit. From featuring on three tracks on her 1989 album to co-producing the entire Grammy Album Of The Year winning Folklore, their relationship has heralded some of Swift’s best work. He has also had his stamp on two other albums from the second half of the ’10s that heralded rave reviews – Lorde’s second album Melodrama” and Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell!
While Fun. never technically disbanded, their legacy remains engraved in music books thanks to “We Are Young.” Their unique indie rock sound and cred have led to incredibly successful careers for its band members. There’s no doubt that even a decade later, the legacy of the track hasn’t been diluted. In fact, if anything, the song has reached legendary status – a pop culture moment where the right song had the right impact and actually did right for all parties involved.