Three became one to form fun., (lower case with a full point!). The bubbly New York-based trio of Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff all had pedigree within the world of pop, but had never broken into the ranks of the big earners. Ruess had been frontman for Arizona indie-poppers The Format, Antonoff guitarist with Steel Train, while Dost was the keyboardist for Chicago outfit Anathallo. With Ruess supplying lyrics and vocals and the others instrumentation they started working up their own demos, giving away 'Benson Hedges' to readers of their first write-up on Spin's website. With an album's worth of material in hand they approached old Format producer Steven McDonald and arranger Roger Joseph Manning, Jr., a former member of Jellyfish, to produce their debut album. After posting the sunny charms of its first single 'At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used to Be)' on their MySpace page, Aim And Ignite arrived in April 2009. A concise and consistent affair made by musicians with a sentient understanding of the potential of pop, its swooning vocals and strong choruses harked back to both the Electric Light Orchestra and The Beatles. The album enjoyed mostly positive reviews and peaked on the Billboard Hot 200 at number 71 as the band supported it with live dates backing Jack's Mannequin, Taking Back Sunday and Paramore.
fun. signed a new deal with the Warner Brothers subsidiary Fueled by Ramen in August 2010. After a quick collaboration with Las Vegas-based label mates Panic! At The Disco on 'C'mon' in May 2011 they set about creating their grandest statement yet. Their boldest move was their choice of new producer. Ruess had became fascinated and enraptured with the experimental yet accessible hip-hop tracks rendered by Kansas studio hound Jeff Bhasker on songs such as Drake's 'Thank Me Later', Jay-Z's 'Run This Town' and Kanye West's 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy'. The producer, however, was initially reluctant to take on the project, or even meet the singer, due to production commitments for Beyoncé and Alicia Keys. After cancelling two meetings he reluctantly gave Ruess 10 minutes to give it his best pitch. That turned into two hours as Ruess passionately explained his desire to merge hip-hop beats with pop-rock. When Bhasker invited Ruess to his hotel room to play some of the new Beyoncé tracks he had been working on Ruess impulsively sang out the chorus for 'We Are Young', a song that was still a work in progress. The next day Bhasker booked a New York studio as the band recorded a take on the song not far removed from its final version, although without the guest vocals of regular Bhasker client Janelle Monáe, later added via the information superhighway from Bristol. As Bhasker multi-tracked Ruess's vocals for the chorus, and altered the singer's tone with Auto-Tune, he noticed that he sounded a lot like Queen's Freddie Mercury on the rousing chorus of 'Set the world on fire/We can burn brighter than the sun'. The words were at odds with the songs' genesis, when a worse-for-wear Ruess was thrown out of a New York taxi cab after he failed to keep his dinner down.
Before fun. had their new single in the shops 'We Are Young' was covered on the Hold On To Sixteen edition of American comedy drama Glee in December 2011 – a rarity as the show had a policy of avoiding songs by bands before they become famous. It was subsequently licensed for a Chevrolet Sonic commercial that aired during February 2012's Super Bowl XLVI. The combination propelled the 'We Are Young' into an overnight mainstream success as fun. became the first band to make their Billboard singles debut at number one since Nickelback's 'How You Remind Me' in December 2001. It stayed there for six long weeks, abetted by almost constant radio play and reached number one in several other territories. Hot on its heels came their second album Some Nights, a set whose exuberant, and jaunty guitar tunes were underpinned by Bhasker's powerful electronic percussion. The recording process was far from straightforward, with both band and producer spending seven long months perfecting its dramatic mix of pop, rock and hip-hop. Never having worked with a rock band before, Bhasker proved an inspired choice who particularly enjoyed working with Antonoff as they conjured a much more cohesive effort than their slightly meek debut. An unrelentingly gleeful set with Ruess as its relatable guide, when he wasn't amping up the Freddie Mercury comparisons he was also surprisingly down to earth, with the title track revealing: 'Some nights I rule the world/But most nights I stay in and think about my mum'. The album topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six weeks, earned fun. two Grammy Awards and was supported by a rampage of live shows. While 'We Are Young' has continued to rake in the readies from its use in an Apple advertisement, the band returned to the studio in early 2014 to begin the unenviable task of following their big breakthrough.
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