The Bottom Line
"We Are Young" carries a hook in the chorus that is likely to stop many listeners dead in their tracks the first time they hear it. The second time around this just might have become your new favorite song. Alternative pop band fun have hit the jackpot. It is not only the melody, words that proclaim, "Tonight...we are young," but also the powerful musical context contributed through work with producer Jeff Bhasker which is arresting. Then there is that brief but picture perfect featured vocal from critical sensation Janelle Monae. This is pop perfection.
- A chorus for the ages
- Jeff Bhasker's spare, tight production
- Janelle Monae's picture perfect featured vocal
- No negatives here
- Written by Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost, Jack Antonoff, and Jeff Bhasker
- Produced by Jeff Bhasker
- Released September 2011 by Fueled By Ramen
Guide Review - fun. - "We Are Young"
"We Are Young" kicks off with an insistent pounding drum beat that gives way to Nate Ruess' insistent, wordy vocals. They begin to slow and then 50 seconds into the song a chorus breaks forth with pounding piano and rumbling bass line that is unforgettable. Following a second verse and chorus, Janelle Monae delivers her featured vocal on a bridge that carries the whole song one step further into theatrical pop heaven. "We Are Young" closes in simple fashion with fun's Nate Ruess' delivering the final lyrics of the first verse one more time.
Few pop fans who hear "We Are Young" forget it any time soon. That was likely the case when the song came to the attention of producers of the hit show Glee in the fall of 2011. "We Are Young" was featured in the episode "Hold On To Sixteen" and the result was a #12 Billboard Hot 100 hit. It was the sixth highest chart placement ever for a song from Glee. The interest from fans of the show drove "We Are Young" on to the Billboard Hot 100. Early in 2012, the song was chosen to provide the soundtrack to an advertisement for the Chevrolet Sonic. It became part of the set of Super Bowl commercials for 2012. This broader platform ignited even more powerful interest in the song and it lodged at #1 on the iTunes download chart. Although pop radio has thus far resisted the charms of "We Are Young," that seems the most logical next step as this song becomes a contemporary classic.
A key reason for the distinctive sound of "We Are Young" is that Nate Ruess and his band fun chose to work with producer Jeff Bhasker on their second album. Jeff Bhasker is best known for his production work with Kanye West and other hip hop artists. He is given credit for keeping the mix of this song from getting too cluttered. Consequently we have the backing for "We Are Young's" chorus sounding both spare and powerful at the same time. Janelle Monae's vocal slides over top the busiest segment of the song, but it is a simple, essential layer that elevates the entire recording. Listen to "We Are Young" both for an example of what happens when great talents from different parts of the pop music world come together to create music and to be swept into one of the most memorable pop choruses of the year.