Owl City's debut single "Fireflies" became one of 2009's biggest tracks not just because of its catchy dream-like melody, but because of the weird-as-hell lyrics. The most notable lines are "'Cause I'd get a thousand hugs / From ten thousand lightning bugs / As they tried to teach me how to dance," which has FINALLY be explained eight years later.
Adam Young graciously broke down the lyrics in great detail to a fan on Twitter last night, as he posed a very important question that we're still wondering about: "Does each firefly hug you 1,000 times or do only 1/10th of the bugs give you a hug?" The musician finally settles the hullabaloo by saying he was embraced 1,000 times by 10,000 luminescent insects. Well there you have it folks!
Here's Young's very scientific interpretation in full (the self-promotion at the end is so great):
Pryce — great question. I was the recipient of 1,000 hugs from 10,000 lightning bugs for a grand total of 10,000,000 hugs. As the lyrics of the song clearly state, the average layperson would not believe their eyes if 10,000,000 fireflies were to illuminate planet Earth, nor would the average person conclude by natural instinct that 10,000 lightning bugs, acting as a collective group, are capable of embracing a human being 1,000 times without difficulty. By the same token, a gathering of lightning bugs in such vast numbers form a sort of “swarm," and a swarm can collectively surround a human and deliver a “hug” that a single firefly, acting according to the dictates of his own conscience, simply cannot. Consequently, I was embraced 1,000 times by 10,000 luminescent insects.
This may seem inconceivable due to the firefly’s soft-shelled body, which is common among all winged beetles within the Lampyridae insect family. Members of the scientific community may be tempted to cast doubt upon the possibility of this exchange due to the immobility of the prothorax and pterothorax, in addition to the elytra protruding outward while a firefly is engaged in mid-flight. However, I can testify to the accuracy of this exchange. I can furthermore add that while each individual hug took place, each firefly participated in the chemical reaction commonly known as bioluminescence in which the enzymes within the firefly, in the presence of oxygen, magnesium ions and ATP, emitted a chemically produced light or “glow” because they were happy to be hugging me. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any further questions. Stream “Fireflies” on Apple Music and Spotify.
Keep the nostalgia train running with this throwback interview where Owl City explains how being bullied as a teen informed his 2013 "Metropolis" video: