"I was the recipient of 1,000 hugs from 10,000 lightning bugs for a grand total of 10,000,000 hugs," says Adam Young.
The year was 2009 and a dorky, introverted Minnesotan by the stage name of Owl City topped the charts with “Fireflies.” The song was cute and infectious in ways that many, perhaps cruelly, compared to the Postal Service, but it didn’t matter: the song was a bona-fide hit.
The track was No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 for two non-consecutive weeks and cascaded throughout the world, inescapable in public spaces in the years that followed. Something about its mawkish, saccharine lyrics were so flawlessly inoffensive as to make it the perfect song for light-rock radio, and the track rippled through airwaves in malls, airports, commercials, and public transit until even the most earnest fans grew a little tired.
But just when we all thought that the song was finally buried into our collective past, it came back. “Fireflies” -- a three-times platinum single about a twenty-two-year-old’s fight with insomnia via the sensual embrace of beetle-order Coleopteras -- has become a strange Weird Twitter phenomenon. In part indebted to the viral presence of comedian Brandon Wardell, the song’s infamous opener “You would not believe your eyes / if ten-thousand fireflies lit up the world as I fell asleep” has found new life in the hands of absurdist meme-makers, who’ve taken the once-charming song to some pretty weird places on the internet: