Covered on 'Glee,' Synched for Super Bowl & No. 3 on the Hot 100 -- fun. Delivers
Cultivating and maintaining that fan base has driven much of the promotion around the album. Fueled by Ramen initiated an album preorder through iTunes, Amazon and the band's website to coincide with the Super Bowl. In less than a week, more than 9,000 albums had been preordered-both by longtime fans and potentially those that just discovered the group through the single.
Along with the iTunes preorder, Janick and Fueled by Ramen activated the 90-second preview clips of all of the tracks on Some Nights on iTunes, hoping that listeners driven to the marketplace by the Chevy commercial would dig a little deeper than "We Are Young." "This is our big single, but this is an album artist," Janick says. "The album is amazing from beginning to end, and we want to make sure people aren't just hearing one song."
"We Are Young" has certainly spawned a surge in popularity for the band, whose earlier success would be best described as moderate. (Debut Aim & Ignite has shifted 75,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan.) But the track was also the fulcrum around which the entire album revolved. After cutting that early version of the single with Bhasker in New York, Ruess and bandmates Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff flew to Los Angeles. There the trio, who formed fun. in 2008 following the breakup of the Format (Dost came from Anathallo and Antonoff from Steel Train), spent about a month with Bhasker filling out the rest of the album, driven by the idea that hip-hop production could form the foundation of a rock record. "I was so obsessed with hip-hop and mainly how Kanye's been doing things for the last few years, I thought that would be a really cool element in our music," Ruess says.
One of the major changes from Aim & Ignite (and even the members' former bands) is that "Some Nights" features almost no live drums. With a few minor exceptions, synthetic drums form the backbone of the album. "I've always been kind of wary about drums," Ruess says. "I thought this was the perfect time to try something different."
That's where Bhasker's history with hip-hop came into play. It wasn't so much about replacing the human rhythm element with a drum machine as it was about expanding fun.'s sound to encompass the sort of experimental, artsy instrumentation that is layered on albums like West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" and even the Bhasker-produced tracks on Lana Del Rey's debut, "Born to Die."
To up the ante, Bhasker also brought in producer Emile Haynie (Kid Cudi, Eminem, West, Del Rey) toward the end of the "Some Nights" sessions. Frequent collaborators, Haynie and Bhasker co-produced one track on Some Nights and fun. later joined Haynie in New York to record two additional tracks for the project: "One Foot," which was released early as a B-side to "We Are Young," and "All Alright."
Bhasker says, "It's been a great thing for my career to work with an up-and-coming band. To work with someone and see it take off from the ground up . . . It's been an awesome new era for me personally moving forward with music."
As a whole, "Some Nights" finds its cohesion in both its production and Ruess' specific songwriting tendencies, which often involve deeply pensive, occasionally dark lyrics that stand in juxtaposition to the melodies. Following his work with the Format, whose quirky indie rock numbers often embraced a sense of whimsy that's still present here, fun. pairs alt-rock elements with a pop sensibility that Ruess has recently embraced.
"With the last two albums I've made-one being in a completely different band and one being in fun.-there was always a level of insecurity that I had," Ruess says. (The Format independently released its sophomore effort, Dog Problems, in 2006.) "I would try and apologize for writing a pop song by giving it a bridge that was four minutes long or changing keys 90 different times. With this album, I just stopped apologizing for it and admitted that I love pop music."
Janick and the label are banking on this idea. At press time, representatives for Roadrunner confirmed that the album's title track is poised to be the second single from Some Nights, even as "We Are Young" continues to grow.
"I love 'Some Nights,'" KROQ's Worden says. "It will do very well. [It's] too soon to talk about airplay on KROQ, as we're still going very strong with 'Young,' but I definitely love 'Some Nights' as the next single."
It's a sentiment echoed by team fun., who remain confident that "We Are Young" is not a singular success.
"It's all going to be 'We Are Young' level," says Bhasker, who has since worked on additional music with Ruess and says that Ruess has deeply influenced him as an artist. "That's why I think people are just going to be blown away. I hope they are, at least. I'm really excited that people like 'We Are Young' so much because the rest of the album is based off 'We Are Young.' That was the template. Every song is that special. It really is that good."