Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Top 100 Songs of 2011 - #98: "We Are Young" - fun. feat. Janelle Monae

New York indie pop act fun. has been hard at work on upcoming record Some Nights, set to be released in February, since the beginning of 2011. Quite a few songs have already been tested out at the band's live shows, with one in particular seeing a single release in September. That song is known as "We Are Young," and it lands at No. 98 on this countdown.

"We Are Young" is, as might be inferred by its title, a song of youth. fun. has always been able to capture the feeling of reckless youth, with a pop sensibility that is unusual to say the least, ever since first record Aim and Ignite. Their new material continues this aesthetic. fun. hasn't changed much with their new stuff, but given that they're such a unique band anyway, this can certainly be overlooked.

The song features rising neo-soul star Janelle Monae, albeit in a minimal role. The two acts toured together on this fall's Campus Consciousness Tour (a great show, in case you were wondering!), which probably explains the odd-yet-endearing collaboration. Listen for Monae during the tune's bridge, her singsong vocal adding a sweet disposition to the anthemic track.

The chorus is both the song's inherent strength and weakness, if that makes any sense at all. While the optimistic melody rises the song to anthem status, the song's tempo is cut almost in half when it comes to this chorus. It's a change of pace, something we've grown to expect with fun., but it's not necessarily a good thing in this case.

All told, "We Are Young" is one of those songs that is great on its own, but you can't help but feel has untapped potential. All the elements are there, but there's something -- something minimal in this case -- missing.

That said, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that better embodies youthful bliss. "Tonight / We are young /" sings frontman Nate Ruess. "So let's set the world on fire / We can burn brighter than the sun." By the time the song ends, young and old alike are left pining for the glory days of yore.

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