A Band Called Fun
by Kat Kulke on Friday, April 20th, 2012
Very rarely is the No. 1 slot in Billboard’s Hot 100 singles held by the work of an indie-rock band. Yet the alternative trio Fun (stylized “fun”) has easily climbed to the top of both Billboard and iTunes charts with “We Are Young,” an anthem-like tribute to youth off of their 2011 album Some Nights. Yet previous to this winter, Fun was widely unknown. Even “We Are Young” garnered little radio play before being featured in a Chevy Sonic commercial aired at this year’s Super Bowl. The minute-long broadcast was enough to throw the group into the national spotlight. Since, Fun has captivated music fans with their groundbreaking sound and artistic vision.
Though the band Fun was not itself formed until 2008, all three of its members have previous experience in the world of indie rock. For several years, vocalist Nate Guess fronted The Format, another small-scale alt-rock band, which split abruptly in 2008. Determined to continue to pursue his passion for music, Guess approached guitarist Jack Antonoff of the folk rock group Steel Train. Guess and Antonoff had met and become friends several years before, when The Format and Steel train toured together. Shortly after, their “project” was joined by drummer, bassist, and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost, a founding member of the band Anathello who had done past work with the Format.
After recording in New Jersey, Fun released their first ensemble album, Aim and Ignite, in summer of 2009. While the album received generally positive reviews from critics and was dubbed the “Most essential pop album of 2009,” by Drew Beringer of absolutepunk.net, it spent little time in the limelight, peaking at 71 on US album charts.
Signing to Fueled by Ramen Records in 2010 marked a dramatic step forward for the band’s publicity. Fun gathered a fan base as the opening act for pop-rock superstars Paramore during Paramore’s 2010 North American tour, and began work on the album that would make them the first rock band to claim Billboard’s Hot 100 since Coldplay’s Viva la Vida.
Some Nights (2011) produced more raw power than Aim and Ignite, and was commended for its originality. Rhythmic and vibrant anthems such as the title track “Some Nights,” are interlaced with slower, more emotive ballads such as “Carry On.” Yet while Some Nights boasts a plethora of radio-ready pieces, it was the contagiously catchy single, “We Are Young,” that skyrocketed the trio into true stardom.
After the teen television show Glee covered the song in December of 2011, Chevrolet bought rights to “We Are Young” for the Chevy Sonic commercial broadcast during Super Bowl XLVI. Ever since its TV debut, “We Are Young” has practically monopolized radio, securing spots in alternative, pop, and rock playlists nationwide.
“We Are Young’s” success stems from its ability to reach fans of nearly every genre of music. Guess’ smooth, pop-ready vocals flow over Antonoff’s folk-y guitar lines and Dost’s heartbeat drums. The song packs enough edge and musical intrigue for the alternative listener, while satisfying top-40’s fans with a sing-along chorus and irresistible hooks.
Beringer described Fun’s early work as “What pop music should be,” and his call has been answered. With an entire album just waiting radio play, Fun may well be the future of popular music.
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