Looking back on it now, we probably should have seen this coming: After all, by the time Fun. finally premiered the official video for “We Are Young,” in early January, we’d already prepped for its arrival by everything from teaser clips to “Glee” covers.
But really, who among us could have predicted the impact “We Are Young” would have — or the heights it would carry Fun. to — in 2012? The song rose to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early March (making them the first rock act outside of Maroon 5 to have a chart-topper since Coldplay in 2008) and stayed there for six weeks … becoming a pop-culture touchstone, a song so ubiquitous it inspired no shortage of online parodies — a fact Fun. were none too happy about — and was used to sell everything from Chevrolets to Taco Bell.
And though they’d been slogging it out in various rock acts for more than a decade, “We Are Young” also turned Fun. into overnight sensations … a band that opened award shows and performed for the Commander in Chief . They rode the song’s success to sold-out headlining tours, a platinum-certified album, two more hit singles and, as you are probably aware, six Grammy nominations , including nods in each of the Big Four categories — Album, Record and Song of the Year, plus Best New Artist — making them the first group to ever accomplish the feat.
So, yes, it was probably impossible to foresee any of this happening … unless, of course, you were one of the three gentlemen in Fun. Because from the first moment they spoke to MTV News , the let it be known that they fully intended to conquer the globe with their signature anthem.
“It’s been a long time coming, and we want it to take over the world,” frontman Nate Ruess said.
“That song, to us, is like bull’s-eye center of what we wanted to do with this album,” guitarist Jack Antonoff added. “It’s a brilliant song to have out as a single, because it’s saying all the things to people that we want to say. It’s showing how, artistically, [the album is] different, it’s showing all the influences brought by Jeff Bhasker, who produced the album, and all he brings from his hop-hop world, working with people like Kanye and Jay-Z. And it shows where we’ve moved with songwriting.”
And though they’d subsequently backtrack a bit — when we spoke with them just after “We Are Young” went to #1, they described the experiences as “weird icing on a very weird-ass cake” and joked that the song’s success meant their parents would finally stop bugging them about pursuing “a career in management” — you get the feeling Fun. really did believe that all of this was possible, and that each time they performed the song, they attacked it as if it was the first time anyone was hearing it, seemingly willing it to the top of the charts. Simply put, Fun. found their signature hit, and they were determined to bring it to every corner of the globe.
Through hard work (and some rather deft promotional placements), “We Are Young” not only reached great heights, but became the most impactful rock track in recent memory. It transformed a previously unknown band into crossover sensations, captivated the nation in a time when our attention spans shrink by the millisecond, and carved out a permanent niche on wedding and prom-night playlists for all of eternity. Can it make history by sweeping the Grammys? We’ll just have to wait and see … though really, we can’t think of a better way to cap Fun.’s improbable, unimaginable year. Just don’t try telling anyone in the band that you believed in them from the get-go; even they know this seemed impossible. And yet, somehow, they still managed to pull it off.
Can “We Are Young” make Grammy history? Let us know in the comments below!