FUN-MUSIC:Fun. finds serious success with youth anthem
By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Their name is fun. and their anthem to carefree youth, "We are Young", is the best-selling song so far of 2012.
The catchy single featuring soul singer Janelle Monae has propelled the New York-based indie trio to mainstream success, and now fun. is hitting the road in the United States and Europe boosted by their sixth week atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
"We're so ready to get on stage and start playing live again. It's really where we made a name for ourselves ... we want to reconnect with our fans," frontman Nate Ruess told Reuters.
"We Are Young", the first single off the band's second album "Some Nights" has sold more than 2.39 million downloads in the U.S. in 2012, beating Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" with 2.25 million sales.
The track is a fusion of piano melodies over grandiose drums, culminating in a catchy chorus, where lead singer Ruess belts out "Tonight, we are young, so let's set the world on fire," over an anthemic beat.
The song's success was fueled by a spot on the hit TV show "Glee" and in a commercial for Chevrolet in February. But last week it scored its best sales week ever with 387,000 copies, taking even the band by surprise.
"I had a feeling that the song was going to go up the charts a little bit, but I didn't expect this at all. It was pretty surreal and it was unexpected," Ruess said.
Bringing on Monae helped the band to create "a futuristic vibe" to their sound that they hope is reflected throughout the new album.
"(Janelle) brought a very whimsical energy, which is precisely what we wanted out of the female vocal," explained Ruess to Reuters.
PUTTING THE PERIOD ON FUN
Formed in New York in 2008, the band is helmed by Ruess, 29, on vocals, Andrew Dost, 28, on guitars and keyboards and Jack Antonoff, 27, on guitars and drums.
Styling themselves as fun. - with a period to differentiate themselves from a Swedish death metal band of the same name - Ruess explained that the punctuation could be interpreted as both "slightly sarcastic" and also "to the point."
Their first album "Aim and Ignite" was released independently in 2009 after the three musicians recorded their demos in Antonoff's parent's house in New Jersey.
"Our last album had much more of a retro vibe ... we were able to learn a lot from that first album as to how to hark back to those moments, but the essence on this album is trying to do like Janelle and be in the future," said Ruess.
For "Some Nights," released in February, fun. brought on hip hop producer Jeff Bhasker after being impressed by his work on Kanye West's 2008 record "808s & Heartbreak," and 2010's innovative album "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy."
"We loved how progressive Kanye's last few albums have been musically, so we wanted to add that to this retro sound that we already had," explained Ruess, who cites influences including West, hip hop artist Nas and rockers Pearl Jam.
Ruess' vocals also pay homage to iconic '70s rock band Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury, and fun. bring "Bohemian Rhapsody"-inspired harmonies in tracks such as "Some Nights Intro."
Bhasker's influence kicks in on tracks such as "All Alone," which features a slowed down reggae-inspired beat. Ruess's personal favorites are the more experimental tracks, including the opener "Some Nights," which will be the band's follow-up single, and the song "One Foot."
"It's a really special one for me because that's one that I really feel like it doesn't sound like anything else, and I think that there's a really exciting energy for that song," he said.
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Bob Tourtellotte)