In an interview with EW, Adam Young (aka laptop sensation Owl City) admits his no. 1 single “Fireflies” and the Postal Service in general “are pretty similar,” but at the same time claims he’s “a lot more of a Death Cab fan.” For example, he’d only heard Give Up “a little bit” before people started pointing out the pilfering:

I’ve become more of a fan having started Owl City, actually. I had some friends in high school that would have it playing in their cars and stuff. It was cool, but it never really caught my ear. It’s kind of ironic, looking back at it, because a lot of people do relate the two projects. I can totally see it now, but I didn’t really then, for what it’s worth.

It’s worth a lot, now that you’ve sold over 100,000 fireflies. There’s more. In the form of an unintentional punchline. (Speaking of which, yes, that’s real merch pictured above. Real sad merch.)

Via EW:

EW: A lot of people wish they would put out another album. Is that something you would look forward to hearing?

ADAM YOUNG: I think [Give Up] left everyone asking, “What are they going to do next?” Since no one has done anything quite like it, it’s almost like everyone is naturally saying this is the next step — maybe that’s me, maybe that’s this record.


Comments (254)
  1. God  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0


    Also, “Since no one has done anything quite like it, it’s almost like everyone is naturally saying this is the next step — maybe that’s me, maybe that’s this record.” Has this dude been living under a rock for the past 6 years? Being a Postal Service rip-off is nothing new. He’s just the lucky bastard with a rampant Jesus freak MySpace following that helped him noticed.

    • WHY!!!!!!???!? WHY did you make me play the song?

      • Micah  |   Posted on Dec 11th, 2009 -2

        i love how every one is ripping on him. and saying that he sounds like postal service is an insult. his music and 50 times better than that shotty shit postal service tried to pass as music

        • tom ridsdale  |   Posted on Feb 12th, 2010 0

          what on earth are you talking about? Its ok having to have no taste (with age that may change) but to be down on the band that were unfortunate enough to have inspired owl city is unforgivable. Viva la postal service !

        • toefur  |   Posted on Feb 15th, 2010 0

          douche. Listen to such great heights and then firelflies practically the same song with different meaningless words. Postal service is original, owl city is just a sad imitation

    • IMO I hear very little similarities, all the people that are bein sour about OC “Rippin’ Off” PS are the people that are clearly already fans of PS which is obviously biased comments. It’s the same with any New and Old band that play the same genre of music. Take Oasis and The Beatles for example.. Everybody that grew up listenin 2 The Beatles is likely to say Oasis ripped them off, anybody that grew up listenin 2 Oasis will argue against that. Everybodys too quick to judge and compare shit.

      • I agree 100%…..the voices sound the same and thats about all i hear……and just cuz there voices sound the same dont mean ones rippin off the other…

    • Less Bright Eyes more Deicide!!!! I hate indie queer rock and I must say; being unbiased this douche sounds exactly like the douche behind a Postal Service and Death Cab. Some asshole convinced me that this guy and Death Cab were both punk and i bought both albums. Needless to say I went back to the record store, found where he lived and slapped his mom for birthing such a bitch. Why would anyone listen to this horseshit when there are people out there actually making music? A keyboard and samples doesn’t make you a musician. It makes you the fag that brings an acoustic guitar to parties trying to serenade all the girls, but guess what…they will end up in the back seat of my car by the end of the night while your stuck with the broken down lunatics. Try listening to some REAL music like A Wilhelm Scream or NoFX. Indie lames

  2. calling this dude a Postal Service rip-off is giving him WAY WAY WAY more credit than he deserves… sure, he IS ripping them off, but rip-offs of something good are often listenable and Postal Service actually make music I love, but this doesn’t even deserve to be described as a rip-off. This song is the aural equivalent of the Octomom, Balloon Boy, or Jon and Kate Plus 8, I really genuinely don’t care and just want it to go away

    • Agreed, By saying that Oasis rips off the Beatles, you’re giving them credit for making something that captures at least some of the brilliance of the creator. By saying that Don’t Look Back in Anger is a rip of Let it Be, you’re saying that it’s at least worth something that Imagine was.

    • What you wrote right there only prooves that what Jerome Joseph Acayan wrote is true.
      If we were to say that everyone that sounds similar were ripping eachother off, we would have to complain about all the new bands and artists that have taken shape over the years.
      I am sure that you could find alot of other people that make music similar to The Postal Service or Owl City.
      People make the music they feel like and Im pretty sure that you will be able to compare almost every song you find out there to another one.
      In the end, there is no such thing as individuality you know.

  3. jesus he even sounds like ben gibbard, let alone the structure of it all. Did he really think no one would notice?

  4. Matt  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    Owl City = Fowl Shitty

  5. Brett Simonsen  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    This guy is lying out his ass when he says he didn’t really know who Postal Service was when he wrote this.
    It’s such a watered down piece of crap by the way.

  6. This guy is lying out his ass when he says he didn’t really know who Postal Service was when he wrote this.
    It’s such a watered down piece of crap by the way.

  7. USPS  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    Jimmy Tamborello is probably looking at his bank account right now and thinking to himself, “I wonder if this guy is looking for any new band members…” Forget Gibbard, its Jimmy’s production sound that got taken for a cheap ride here.

  8. Steven  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    The second I heard this song I made the comment that he sounded like Ben Gibbard. This is probably because he is imitating the voice the best he can. He probably sat and sang along to every album Ben Gibbard has ever made……I wouldn’t be surprised.

    If Ben Gibbard happens to read this: Please make another Postal Service album. Please.

    • Ben Gibbard: Please stop making music.

      Death Cab is the most overrated “indie” band of our lifetimes. Well, either them or the Decemberists… Same dif, right?

      Hahah, let the hating begin

      • you’re shit is weak like an hj from someone with carpal tunnel

      • yeah dude  |   Posted on Nov 11th, 2009 0

        u r deff right. whoever disagrees is kidding themselves. they’ll grow up eventually

      • Kevio  |   Posted on Jan 6th, 2010 0

        The Decemberists are awful. That guy can’t sing for crap. Sounds more like some random annoying person talking than singing. Postal Service/Styrofoam/Death Cab are actually good. Granted, Death Cab has yet to do better than Transatlanticism or Plans.

  9. colin  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    I hate you nick rock

  10. colin  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    I hate you nick rock

  11. Well i have been trying to explain that Owl City is a cheap rip off of the Postal Service to my music ignorant friends for a long time, but now i have proof! i also read in an interview that this gu said he never heard of the Postal Service, the shame.
    BTW Nick Rock it’s not our fault nobody loves you.

  12. lweather  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    I don’t know anyone who hasn’t heard the postal service

    • PATCHES53  |   Posted on Dec 14th, 2009 0

      Well I hadn’t until I started to read the reviews.
      Thank god we “all” don’t like the “same” music.
      Listening to music should be a free choice and you will like or dislike what you hear.
      Just because someone else doesn’t like it doesn’t make it bad.
      It would seem from listening to both that Owl City are the more prolific so are therefore catering to their fan base needs.
      Personally I like both.

  13. Ryan  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    I just looked up his album. He actually has a song called Dental Care (DNTEL) and Umbrella, which was a song on Jimmy’s “Life is Full of Possibilities” album. I kinda want Owl Shitty to die now.. =)
    Give Up is easily the best album of the 00′s. Kid A was phenomenal, but GU was more cohesive and had better songs.. How’s that for incendiary?

    • woodland creature.  |   Posted on Nov 6th, 2009 0

      Your opinion that Give Up is better than Kid A is pretty much unjustifiable. Still, I really did like Give Up.

    • whoa that’s a crazy observation! i never connected “dental care” and “umbrella” to life is full of possibilities. personally owl city sounds much more over-processed and almost auto-tuned in a way, whereas “give up” just has such a gritty, analog-feel to it. i understand the comparison between o.c. and the postal service, but like others have noted, i don’t want give o.c. much credit.

  14. They are played quite often on Radio Disney (give me a break, I’ve got three kids) which its own karmic reward.

  15. Wait….are you saying this new Postal Service song isn’t the Postal Service?

  16. K La  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    I have been telling my teenage brothers that Owl City = shit version of Postal Service since day one.

  17. 100,000 Fireflies. Nice.

  18. Barnaby Wylde  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    What the fuck is going on here?!?!?

  19. Randomoldlady  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    I’m mystified. Why are you angry? No one is forcing you to listen. Huge numbers of people are getting a lot of pleasure out of this guy’s music, It isn’t racist, sexist, violent or blatently immoral, so where is the harm? Maybe you could try to treat these people with dignity by first giving them credit for having a degree of intelligence — unless you think that you are some sort of superior being — then kindly suggest they listen to ‘Give Up’ and then make up their own minds.

    • Nice sentiment but I doubt you’d be saying that if the Postal Service had been something near and dear to you for 6 or 7 years as opposed to the 6 or 7 days you’ve been OMG IN LOVE with this song after they played it on Grey’s Anatomy or whatever.

      • I am a 55 yr old grandmother who likes old and new music. I heard the Postal Service the first time about 6 yrs ago and loved it. I heard Owl City the first time about 6 months ago (through Itunes recommendations) and loved it too. Profiling and generalizing can lead to some pretty inaccurate conclusions, eh?

    • pls.  |   Posted on Jan 10th, 2010 0

      Actually, we do have to listen to this shit. It’s everywhere: commercials, television shows, awards programs, etc. The first thirty times I heard this song I thought it was the Postal Service, and was happy for ol’ Ben Gibbard getting some recognizable airplay. Turns out it’s this preteen douchenozzle who fucking blatantly ripped off the Postal Service. He wasn’t influenced by them – he stole their sound. That’s fucking pathetic. And as a result, Postal Service will probably never put out another album, nay, song again, to keep from being confused with this tool.

      That’s why people are angry. Yes, it’s offensive that someone would eerily imitate another person’s art, pass it off as their own, and benefit from it. Fuck you, and any other 12 year old retard who defends this asshole.

    • PosthuMouse  |   Posted on Jan 11th, 2010 0

      GAH! Racism, sexism, violence, immorality, this song – all different types of stupidity. Encouraging people not to think and get all emotional about lyrics that mean absolutely nothing (seriously, analyze the song for me… I have no idea what the fuck this dude is talking about) is the sort of thing that causes our country to be content with emotional immaturity. And since when has DIY music been about doing your best to avoid being creative? Music has been a huge part of my life since I was in grade school, and this sort of blatant plagiarism just makes me sad. Music used to be the only thing that made me feel like there were at least a few sane people in the world. Even some of the shittiest popular bands had something to offer in the 60s and 70s (and a fair number in the eighties as well). Now all I hear when I turn on the radio is this depressing buzz of randomly generated melodies that evoke only vague, Hallmark commercial, Lifetime movie, Oprah’s Book Club emotions. I don’t care if people want to listen to shitty radio rock and awful pop music (as long as they’re not pretending to be these deep, serious musicians), but I do wish these assholes would stop stealing from bands that actually cared about writing music because they loved music. This sort of thing belongs to the people who create it and appreciate it, and those of you who have never seen their favorite band, the band that used to make them bawl like a little bitch when nobody was looking, get turned into some kind of crappy money-making endeavor probably have a pretty difficult time understanding why us old fogies get all up-in-arms about losing a little piece of times that we remember extremely fondly to the FM shitwave that assaults every antenna it comes across. A lot of the bands that get ripped off in this fashion changed the way I think about things, and honestly I don’t think I’d be anything like the person I am right now if they hadn’t existed. It isn’t just fun music. It’s important, and it’s every bit as much of an insult to our culture (whatever you might call us… nerds, I guess) to rip off our music as it is to burn an American flag on a patriot’s front lawn. It IS that important to some people, and we have every reason to voice our opinions when we see all of our dedication and support being trumped practically overnight by people who probably won’t even listen to this band anymore in a few months. Even the underground bands are shitty failboats of pop-culture now, so what the hell am I supposed to listen to these days? Where’s the T-Rex? Where’s the Beatles? Where are the Ventures of our generation? I’ll tell you where they are… Owl City stole all their songs and outsold them into obscurity. Also: I have too much time on my hands.

      • mahans  |   Posted on Jan 24th, 2010 0

        Fuck yeah dude. Seriously, thank you for your post. OC is just another in a long line of rip off artists and phonies the likes of milli vanilla and debbie gibson fucking manufactured bullshit tripe.

  20. Evan  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    Ive been reading this blog for a long time now and am just now feeling a real bond between reader and writer. I look forward to sharing this wl city hatred for years to come.

  21. bootyfish  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    wow, so that shitty rich kid ripped off those other shitty rich kids and produced more generic bullshit that other shitty rich kid hipsters eat up to make themselves feel more interesting??? cool.

  22. andrew  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    Yikes. So much hate. If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it.

    The real shame is that he seems like a pretty nice guy in real life. His music’s certainly not awful either — much, much worse stuff makes it onto the charts.

  23. Nick Rock is right. The Decemberists and Death Cab are very annoying

  24. “He’s a nice guy, he’s a nice guy.” God, shut the fuck up.

  25. I heard this on the radio this past weekend and honestly could not figure out what the heck was going on. Had Ben Gibbard lost a bet? Good to know it’s just some terrible rip off/wannabe with Ben’s voice. Not that I blame him. If I sang like Ben, I’d be using it to get as much tail as possible too.

  26. maverick  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    I think ocean eyes has better production than give up. But adam young’s lyrics make him sound like a 14 year old girl. I prefer the postal service.

  27. Dando  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    Hey Brando,
    What is this Get Up album that you speak of?

  28. Sugar Tits  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    This Boy Can Sing

  29. victor  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    hey “give up” not “get up”
    and lets stop the fucking ben gibbard hatred around here

  30. spock  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    i decided to listen to the whole song. and really, i’m glad i did just for the chance to catch the last line: “bursting at the seams”
    isn’t that an exact line in a DCFC song?
    not too surprising, but still kinda funny. sneaky bastard.

    • “bursting at the seams” is an annoying cliche, so now, it’s not funny or interesting, and it shouldn’t have been used as a lyric by either songwriter.

  31. Mia  |   Posted on Nov 6th, 2009 0

    Is no one going to comment on that awful owl city pajama suit? I think that’s the real crime here.

  32. your mom  |   Posted on Nov 6th, 2009 0

    Who cares? Everyone’s been dying for a new Postal Service album for years now but Ben says he’s too busy with his other band. Someone finally stepped up and filled the void. That’s all. We should be thanking the dude.

    • So if a band hasn’t got round to making a follow-up record within so many years of their debut, it automatically gives some random fuckhead the right to cash-in and make it for them? What sort of artist would be happy selling themselves as a cheap substitute for something better anyway,

      • Seriously, Owl City dude should be carving his own path not picking up someone else’s scraps. It doesn’t give him much cred as an artist. It’s like who are you without the obvious DCFC/Postal Service influence. Granted many recording artists have been influenced by someone but this is literally ripping their sound.

      • He never said that…you did.

        He said with all these people comparing the two, that he guesses critics are saying the Owl City album fills that “OMG where’s the new Postal Service?” void.

  33. I’ve never heard of Postal Service either.

    I love Owl City!I

  34. Isn’t ripping off what you can to get a hit a great rock n roll tradition? Imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery. Some of my favorites over the years — and there’s many, many, more.

    Tom Petty = Byrds Ripoff
    The Strokes first hit = Tom Petty “American Girl” rip off.
    The Stokes second hit = Cars ripoff
    Cars=David Bowie ripoff
    Neil Young’s Heart of Gold = Dylan rip off (according to Dylan)
    STP’s first hit = Pearl Jam ripoff
    Eagles = Flying Buritto Bros. ripoff.

    • “Imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery.” When done well, Funoka. When done well.

    • All the artists you mentioned brought something new to the table. Owl City only apes the signifiers of the Postal Service to give his lazy stupid writing some sort of cache.
      Not to mention the Magnetic Fields have a much better version of this song that they recorded in ’91.
      Also, have we all forgotten the Headphones? They even did the one album and then permanent hiatus thing.

  35. Delany  |   Posted on Nov 6th, 2009 0

    If he would just admit the flagrant rip off it wouldn’t be so bad. Everything about the song, the synths, melodies, beats, and particularly the lyrical content is taken directly from Postal Service styilings. It is a good song, but it’s a total rip off.

  36. Goof  |   Posted on Nov 6th, 2009 0

    Comparing owl city to The Postal Service is like comparing puddle of muddddd to Nirvana!

  37. One of my friends on Facebook was like “Is the guy from Owl City the same guy from the Postal Service?” There you go. But then again I think Chris Walla sounds like a watered down version of Ben Gibbard.

    I think they all come from the Northwest coast anyway. Maybe everybody from that area sings the same and makes electronic music.

  38. Only good song on the album is the Pet Shop Boys sounding “Umbrella Beach”. The rest vary from ok (“The Tip of the Iceberg”) to pure shit (“Meteor Shower”).

  39. Phil B  |   Posted on Nov 6th, 2009 0

    because everyone knows postal service is our nations most innovative band… i’m sure everyone on the morr music label agree.

  40. If you’re going to rip something off, at least make it a good rip off. This is just terrible.

  41. Phil  |   Posted on Nov 6th, 2009 0

    Why do people care? I’m not gonna go out on a limb to defend Owl City or anything (although I think ‘Vanilla Twilight’ is a pretty legit pop song), but this hub-bub won’t make a damn bit of difference on those nifty iTunes charts.

    Also, ‘Give Up’ owns ‘Ocean Eyes’.

  42. Garret  |   Posted on Nov 6th, 2009 0

    Saying that the Strokes ripped off Tom Petty or the Cars who ripped off David Bowie who was ripped of by Prince who ripped of Beethoven is all well and good. Musical influences of the past shape new music everyday, no one can dispute that. But I think what everyone is trying to express is that this song is a cut and paste copy of Postal Service. You don’t get credit for blantantly copying, you get credit for revolutionizing it, doing something with it.

    And for this guy to say that at no point during the production of the song did he realize that it sounded even a little like Postal Service, a band who the world simultaneously masturbates to, means he’s either lying through his teeth or he’s a first-class idiot living under a rock.

  43. Chris  |   Posted on Nov 6th, 2009 0

    This new Postal Service song sounds like a watered down christian-influenced ripoff of a Postal Service song. Ben Gibbard should be ashamed of releasing this track.

    I am staggered once again by how duped and lazy listners choose to be. When Coldplay steals a melody or some asshat named Owl City blatantly steals both melody and vocal styling from a fellow contemporary artist there are people out there who don’t get the problem or worse yet deny the blatant aping. There’s a difference between homage (Led Zeppelin to the blues or The Beatles to the early rock n rollers) and stealing the melody of a song or imitating another artist to such an uncanny degree that 99% of the public assume it’s a new song by the known artist. Huge difference.

  44. Ethan  |   Posted on Nov 6th, 2009 0

    This really just makes me appreciate Jimmy Tamborello more.

    Anyone could have sung in The Postal Service, but Jimmy made the record.

    • While I agree that listening to Owl City ought to make everyone appreciate Jimmy Tamborello more, Ben Gibbard did a lot more than sing for the Postal Service. Ben has talked about the song-making process here and there, including for KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic; he has explained that Jimmy would send him projects with ideas–beats, melodies, etc–and then he would take them and rearrange/edit them to what he thought would “make a good pop song” (as he put it). And that’s on top of his lyrics, which play a huge role in hooks, not to mention meaning/content.

  45. Adam Young  |   Posted on Nov 6th, 2009 0

    dude totally ripped off my name…. lol THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE ADAM YOUNG!

  46. Adam  |   Posted on Nov 6th, 2009 0

    The Pragmatic – Rendevous

  47. Great disucssion — I totaly agree this guy really sounds like somebody else we all know . . . but why is this a huge hit? There’s got to be something there. It’s not my cup of tea, but it’s not the worst thing ever. The Owl City guy is from Minnesota, by the way, and supposedlly has recorded all his music in his parents basement. Full disclosure: I’m from Minnestoa. If it’s a cut and paste of Postal Service, why does everyone hate it so much — I guess on prinicpal and not on the music?

    • people enjoy owl city because the average radio listener wouldn’t be able to make the connection between this shit and the real thing. This guy is offering a washed out, sub par version of something else. we’re angry because he’s blatantly imitating postal service, and is trying to pass it off as if he’s the newest shit on the radio. these people could be exposed to the original work, which is much better than this garbage, but he’s cashing in on their ignorance.

      • You’re all seriously getting mad over music? I like music as much as the next guy but honestly why do you care? whats the benefit? Whats the point? there are no points……Okay they sound alike…big whoop…..people rip off people get over it……example: “Girls watching TV, she sees this famous girl wearing some dress….girl gets dress….” Shes trying to be like that other famous girl….and now are you gonna yell at that girl to get rid of that shirt because its not original? what about clothing in general…..its all copies of past clothing pretty much and no one complains about that….get over it…humans are not original…..ideas come from places….with as much music as there is today……everyone is going to sound like someone else because there is no “original” music anymore…..nothing new can really be made without it being called “stolen”…now again….GET OVER IT!

    • don’t get me wrong, the song is allright, but it’s nothing amazing. what makes it even less significant is that there’s something exactly like it, but much better. why settle when something much better is available? his credit as an artist is also trash.

  48. Adam Young found the perfect formula to get in girls’ pants, that’s all. Ben Gibbard had it then, Adam Young nonchalantly has it now.

  49. Jodey  |   Posted on Nov 7th, 2009 0

    The number one song in America is a blatant rip off of the Postal Service while the number two song in America (“What You Say”) samples/jocks the chorus of an Imogen Heap song. The biggest injustice of all this is that most 12 year olds replaying these songs to death on their iPods won’t ever realize who made them possible.

    • Jodey  |   Posted on Nov 7th, 2009 0

      Wait, let’s correct that: The Imogen Heap riff rip is now number 1 and Owl City is now number 2.

      • chilisfan  |   Posted on Nov 12th, 2009 0

        oh no, it’s such a TERRIBLE INJUSTICE that america’s tweens are listening to mediocre unoriginal radio pop instead boring overrated indie pop. who gives a shit. i listened to blink-182 when i was twelve. but don’t worry, i grew up to be a proper hipster with plenty of regina spektor on my ipod. thank god!

  50. keeko  |   Posted on Nov 7th, 2009 0

    ok, 2 things. first, i don’t absolutely detest the fireflies song, but i do think there is something wrong when someone goes so out of their way to sound like somebody else, and i don’t just mean vocals. yes, there are great bands that ripped off other great bands: my favorite is nirvana ripping off boston for smells like teen spirit. but this case is different: even though the riffs and structures are basically the same, no one would *ever* mistake nirvana for boston. so if owl city had ripped off big chunks, but still had their own sound, that would be one thing. it’s another when you imitate someone/thing so totally that it’s almost like the goal is to pass for that thing you are imitating. and that’s something that i’m not really comfortable with…

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