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Welcome to the Pop Song Professor! My name's Clifford, and I explain song lyrics so that you can know what your artists are saying and can enjoy your music more. 

What does "Verge" by Owl City mean?

What does "Verge" by Owl City mean?

"Verge" Lyrics Meaning

Owl City's coming out with a new album-Mobile Orchestra-on July 10th, and the first song (the only one released so far) is "Verge" which features Aloe Blacc, the memorable voice in Avicii's "Wake Me Up." There's a lyric video out (just below), and a Vevo behind-the-scenes video has already dropped in anticipation of a full-on music video that will use graduation imagery to support the song's main idea of being "[o]ut on the verge of the rest of our lives."

"Verge" has a pumped-up synthy feel, and Adam Young, the whole of Owl City says, "The new single 'Verge' is very much a dance-music-influenced track." With driving bass pumping through the synth and soaring major-chord-focused vocals, "Verge" is a party song meant to excite audiences about things possible after important life events. In the BTS video, Blacc and Young mention how a wedding and a graduation were both possibilities for the subject of the music video because they are both milestones in life. However, there's more to "Verge" than just the "golden future" as Blacc, in song, also drops several promises about what he plans to do with his new opportunities.

The Meaning

"Verge" begins with ringing electric guitar and soon adds Aloe Blacc's clear, rich voice, Adam Young singing back-up in a semi-hype-man role. Blacc sings, "I ain't too sure what I believe in" to display his uncertainty. At huge milestones, the world and new events challenge people's beliefs. Those people's eyes have been opened to new aspects of life. For example, when a person goes to college, he/she realizes that there are many more possibilities/people/beliefs/ideas than maybe they realized. This experience can leave students unsure but with the opportunity to embrace challenges or to avoid them.

Blacc uses the next three lines to explain the song's focus: "But I believe in what I see / And when I close my eyes / I see my whole life ahead of me." The phrase "whole life ahead of me" often signifies wide-open possibilities, and here Blacc and Young realize that they have this option. So, the one reality that they're willing to accept (and to believe in) is one that opens the world up to them.

The two singers are encouraging their audience to embrace the coming possibilities and challenges head-on, implying that good will come of it. They want the audience to take ownership of their "hours" and their "time" because those are the audience's opportunities to succeed in and experience life. Blacc, Young, and the audience are "[o]ut on the verge of the rest of our lives."

Why does the chorus say that we're "[o]ut on the verge of the rest of our lives tonight?" Why the emphasis on "tonight"? It's likely because "Verge" is an EDM (Electronic Dance Music) song. EDM is produced primarily for nightclub environments, which, with the word "tonight," puts this song in the context of a late night dance party. Perhaps the post-important-milestone dance party?

In any case, the group of partiers that Young and Blacc hope to inspire is on "[t]op of the world" and they're "dressed to the nines tonight," suggesting this to be a classy party to which there are no limits: "Edge of the earth and we're touching the sky tonight." While these images, at first, may seem like cliched filler, they metaphorically refer to going far and having no boundaries that can't be broken. This party explodes with possibilities and power, further encouraging and hopefully empowering attendees to go on to do great things the next day.

Aloe Blacc's bridge refuses to stay focused only on possibilities and good times and momentarily switches focus to moral responsibility. He sings, "From now on / There's no looking back / Full steam ahead / On this one way track." He's committed to living a good life, and he's not going to spend time wistfully wishing for the "happy past."

Next he sings, "From this day forward / I will make a promise / To be true to myself / And always be honest." In what're probably the four most interesting lines in the song, Blacc shows two meanings for the idea of "truth." On one hand, he's going to be sincere and authentic; he will seek what he earnestly wants and won't deny who he is. Because this statement is vague, the audience members can take it as an implicit acceptance of whoever they are. Thus, if a person is very encouraging to others, these lines come across as encouragement to be more encouraging. If a person is homosexual, this feels empowering to homosexuals. People who REALLY like pizza will feel confirmed in their desire to eat more pizza.

On the other hand, Blacc wants to be honest, and without explanation from him, it's hard to really tell what he means here in a song that mostly centers around the future and being emotionally excited and ready for that future. Why add honesty to the song? Assuming it's not just meant for clever wordplay, Blacc must assume that the "good life" depends on honesty: (as above) an honesty to one's self and an honesty to others. Because he mentions this over any other virtue, one could assume (though not with complete assurance) that Blacc believes it to be the most important virtue.

In support of this, he is singing at a dance party, an intimate form of community-based revelry. And in the "future," people will have to work with others. If one doesn't "let go" and just be one's self now and if one doesn't let go of fear of the truth of who one is and what one believes, one will never get to really know others (or to party) as well as one possibly could. Dishonesty keeps a person hidden from others and prevents community.

Blacc finishes the bridge and begins the chorus singing "I will do what's right / When I step / Out on the verge." This commitment to morality still (at first) seems misplaced in an EDM party song, but Blacc and Young have decided that it's important to mention. But why? They must believe that to really take advantage of the "good life" one has to be a good person.

Of course, if they're sure of what honesty and "right" are, maybe they do know a little bit of what their own beliefs are. Perhaps this sojourn into the "rest of our lives" will teach them the name/source for it.

In the meantime, they and we will be sure to keep on dancing.

What'd you think of Owl City and Aloe Blacc's "Verge"? Are you feeling inspired? Feel free to be inspired to inspire me with suggestions for other songs to explain. Honestly, I've got a lot of free time and would love to work on what you think would be fun!

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