Owl City Explains That Whole 10,000 Fireflies Thing

June 22nd, 2017 - 1:36 PM EDT by Matt Schimkowitz

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Owl City frontman Adam Young in a bedroom playing the organ.

Owl City's 2009 earworm "Fireflies" has had a big year. Making its triumphant return to memes, the song that you're sure is a Postal Service song but somehow isn't has found itself appearing in several Unfitting Music videos.

However, this renewed spotlight has also locked people in a mystery that has plagued the human race for nearly a decade: What the hell do they mean "a thousand hugs by 10,000 lightning bugs." It took almost 10 years, but someone was finally brave enough to just ask.

On May 30th, 2016, Twitter user @pryce_d asked Owl City, "In the song "Fireflies" you state "I get a thousand hugs from 10,000 lightning bugs." How do you interpret this statement? Does each firefly hug you 1,000 times or do only 1/10th of the bugs give you a hug?" He has a point, how could a firefly hug someone?

owl city  song "Fireflies"  "I get a thousand hugs from 10,000 lightning bugs." How do you interpret this statement? Does each firefly hug you 1,000 times or do only 1/10th of the bugs give you a hug?

Well, the question we were too afraid to ask has been answered. Taking to Facebook, Owl City addressed @Pryce_D's question and put this baby to rest. They wrote:

Pryce -- great question. I was the recipient of 1,000 hugs from 10,000 lightning bugs for a grand total of 10,000,000 hugs. As the lyrics of the song clearly state, the average layperson would not believe their eyes if 10,000,000 fireflies were to illuminate planet Earth, nor would the average person conclude by natural instinct that 10,000 lightning bugs, acting as a collective group, are capable of embracing a human being 1,000 times without difficulty. By the same token, a gathering of lightning bugs in such vast numbers form a sort of “swarm," and a swarm can collectively surround a human and deliver a “hug” that a single firefly, acting according to the dictates of his own conscience, simply cannot. Consequently, I was embraced 1,000 times by 10,000 luminescent insects.

This may seem inconceivable due to the firefly’s soft-shelled body, which is common among all winged beetles within the Lampyridae insect family. Members of the scientific community may be tempted to cast doubt upon the possibility of this exchange due to the immobility of the prothorax and pterothorax, in addition to the elytra protruding outward while a firefly is engaged in mid-flight. However, I can testify to the accuracy of this exchange. I can furthermore add that while each individual hug took place, each firefly participated in the chemical reaction commonly known as bioluminescence in which the enzymes within the firefly, in the presence of oxygen, magnesium ions and ATP, emitted a chemically produced light or “glow” because they were happy to be hugging me.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any further questions. Stream “Fireflies” on Apple Music and Spotify.

Unsurprisingly, Owl City's answer has led to new questions. So we begin a new mystery: Why does Owl City think that a "hug" and a "swarm" is the same thing? Do you think that Thomas J was hugged by bees at the end of My Girl? Those bees didn't hug him to death. Apologies for the My Girl spoilers.

Anyway, the moral of this story is that Owl City thinks this is a hug:


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