Cliff-pop-song-professor.png

Welcome!

My name's Clifford Stumme, and I explain the deeper meanings of popular songs. Let's have a conversation about what you think about the songs and go deeper together. Feel free to email me at clifford@popsongprofessor.com with questions or ideas!

What does "My Everything" by Owl City mean?

Adam Young is putting out Mobile Orchestra, his newest album on July 10th, and the singles are starting to fly thick and fast. Last year, he put out "This Isn't the End," and this year he's already released "Verge," "You're Not Alone (ft. Britt Nicole)," and now "My Everything." I've been working through Of Monsters and Men's new album Beneath the Skin this and next week but when Owl City put out this song, I had to switch gears. I love Owl City, and I love this song. I think you'll enjoy it too. 

Owl City is known for being a viral hit-creator, and he's specifically famous for his electronic dance music and songs like "Galaxies," "Alligator Sky," and "Fireflies." He's based in Minnesota and began writing songs late at night in his parents' basement because he suffered from insomnia. Another little-known fact about him is that he began his musical career as a drummer in a heavy metal band, a far cry from his current pursuits. "My Everything" is an electronic track, the music of which features a driving beat, female back up vocals, and soaring piano and drums.

Jessica Morris from fdrmx.com describes it this way: "'My Everything' opens with a simple piano melody, and a back beat paves the way for a ballad and worship anthem. The boldness in the lyrics as Young sings, 'You're my light in the dark, I sing with all of my heart. Hallelujah, my almighty God, divine,' is rather extraordinary, and they are matched with a powerful melody that will lift your spirit. This is not Christian music, yet we see Young flawlessly cross the divide between the too often separate worlds of religion and music, and display with great clarity the beauty and meaning behind his own faith."

"My Everything" is uplifting and exciting and bodes well for the rest of Mobile Orchestra.

Mobile Orchestra Album Artwork Screenshot 

Mobile Orchestra Album Artwork Screenshot 

"My Everything" Lyrics Meaning

Admittedly, "My Everything" is a fairly simple song. But in response to anyone who might want more depth, it's meant to be simple. "My Everything" is a personal praise song in an EDM style that adds excitement and energy that many worship songs aren't able to access. That doesn't mean that "My Everything" itself is a "worship" song, of course. Like Morris said, Young is crossing "the divide between the two often separate worlds of religion and music . . ." Young is writing a pop record that happens to have songs about faith on it--this doesn't mean it's just CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) wearing a new facade.

Of course, the song is religious as evidenced in the title, which refers to the song's theme or basic idea: God is everything to Adam Young. The various stanzas support this central theme tightly.

In the first verse, the Owl City musician sings, "When my hope is lost and my strength is gone / I run to You, and You alone." Young remembers himself in a place of despair or failure and lets his audience know that he depends on no one else but God to save him; only He is sufficient. The lack of hope here suggests a despair or a belief that a situation is impossible while the reference to strength shows that Young doesn't feel he can rely on himself to fix the situation. In the next two lines, he continues with similar ideas: "When I can’t get up, and I can't go on / I run to You, and You alone."

Admittedly, the song contains some cliches, and the pre-chorus contains several more, but Young's avant-garde musical style gives the lines new life as the energy and tension in the song swell into the exciting chorus. He sings, "Cause You're my light in the dark /And I sing with all of my heart." God, for Young, is the opposite of darkness and fear, leading Young to depend on Him passionately.

In the chorus, Young relies on the tried and true Hebrew "Hallelujah" which Google says means "God be praised (uttered in worship or as an expression of rejoicing)." In conjunction with this exclamation, Young calls God "almighty" and "divine," words respectively meaning to have all of the power and to be supernatural.

In the next two lines, Young establishes a relationship with God that plays on the title. He sings, "I am Your's and You are mine / This is all I know how to say." The first line refers to how he knows that God is taking care of him and suggests God's office as a father figure in humans' lives. Not only is God Young's spiritual father, but Young is his spiritual son. The second line refers to Young's one-mindedness in accepting this idea, and the rest of the chorus repeats, "Hallelujah" and finishes with "You're my everything."

In the second verse, Young builds on the ideas in verse one by singing about how when he's "plagued with pain, and filled with fear," he still chooses to rely on God only. While that refers to difficulties and emotional turmoil, the next half of the verse acknowledges the inevitability of death: "When my days are few, and death is near / I run to You, and You alone." In the face of death, a universally unsolvable problem for humans, Young chooses to rely on God's care in the afterlife rather than to allow himself to fear the event.

Continuing the theme of turning to God in the face of trouble, in the bridge, Young sings, "When trouble comes and goes / And when the cold wind blows / I lift my hands up." He adds, "When sorrow knocks me down / And you pick me off the ground / I lift my hands up." Even in the difficult times, he continues to depend on God and to praise Him for the blessings He's given Young.

Young's outro is a statement of purpose. He sings, "Hallelujah, by the grace of God above / Hallelujah, I'll shine a light cause I am loved." Because God allows him to and gives him cause for doing so, Young (through this song and in other ways) will testify to God's goodness and what He has done for Young. The rest of the outro repeats portions of the chorus, relying especially heavily on the word "Hallelujah," and ending with "You're my everything."

Summary

Concerning the song's meaning, Young (on his record's website) says that "My Everything" is "a simple realization and confirmation that Jesus is enough . . . There is something so powerful about the moments in life when you are at such a loss for words, all you can do is fall to your knees and sing hallelujah to God. There is a real power and poignancy in the word hallelujah, and it feels beautifully sacred to say it over and over again as verbal praise to the Lord.”

And that's exactly what Adam Young accomplishes in this predecessor to Mobile Orchestra. He clearly sings praise to God and encourages others to sing along in a simple but catchy testimony-based song that focuses on God's praiseworthiness. In addition, Young stays true to one of his guiding artistic principles. In an interview in Canada, Young advises young artists, "Make sure that whatever you're doing is sincere." He argues against commercialism and tells young artists "to do whatever your heart says"-advice that he seems to follow in "My Everything."

What'd you think about "My Everything" from Mobile Orchestra? What do you think about the direction that Adam Young and Owl City are taking? I'd love to hear what you have to say about this. Thanks for reading!

What does "Thousand Eyes" by Of Monsters and Men mean?

What does "Thousand Eyes" by Of Monsters and Men mean?

What does "Human" by Of Monsters and Men mean?

What does "Human" by Of Monsters and Men mean?