Chances are, you’ve heard “We Are Young” by Fun., a breakout hit for the indie pop-rockers that more than likely coated your eardrums in 2012. In fact, if you’ve experienced any sort of milestone in your young life over the last five years, like graduating high school, or college, then those chances grow astronomically higher. In short, if you think you haven’t heard “We Are Young,” you’re probably wrong—because you have. And I’d place a deep bet that you’ve hummed along to it, at the very least, even if you hate the jam, as many people do. Still, numbers don’t lie: The hit has racked up nearly half of a billion views on YouTube.
What all this means, of course, is that if you think you aren’t a fan of Fun.’s lead guitarist Jack Antonoff, then you’re probably wrong in that assumption too. Because his musical footprint is everywhere right now.
Since his big break in 2012, the 33-year-old lead guitarist of Fun. has been up to a hell of a lot more than just dating Girls creator Lena Dunham. The New Jersey native (he attended Solomon Schechter Day School there) who now lives in Brooklyn, has been shaping the pop charts as a songwriter for artists, and friends, like Lorde and Taylor Swift, and on his own through his solo project Bleachers. This month he released of his sophomore album Gone Now, which debuted at No. 7 on iTunes in the U.S. Here’s the video for the track “Don’t Take the Money,” which features Alia Shawkat, which features Alia Shawkat referencing Jewish wedding traditions.
Even though Fun. quickly achieved both commercial success and critical acclaim—from hit renditions on Glee to earning Grammys for best new artist and song of the year (“We Are Young”)—Antonoff found himself looking down and feeling that something was off. “I remember immediately—immediately—feeling like, ‘I don’t want to play “We Are Young” when I’m 35,’” Antonoff, now 33, revealed to The New York Times in a recent article. “I don’t want to be defined by this.”
Two years after the height of his career, and after Fun. decided to leave their success at that, Antonoff debuted with Strange Desire, a deeply personal yet upbeat pop album straight out of an ’80s coming-of-age cult classic. There’s no denying that he’s a natural born hit maker from his collaborations (Swift’s “Out of the Woods” and Sara Bareilles’ “Brave” to name a few) to his own tracks like “I Wanna Get Better” and “Rollercoaster.”
His second album isn’t much of a departure from his debut as much as it is a continuation. Antonoff picks up right where he left off diving back into his insecurities, his relationships, and coming into his own. Track by track he sorts through it all, amplifying his inner dialogues (“Dream of Mickey Mantle”) and personal considerations (“Let’s Get Married”) into powerfully positive anthems. It’s Antonoff’s willingness to admit that, even as a grown man he’s still got a lot of growing up to do, that makes this album particularly revelatory. And it’s his youthful persistence, even in his early thirties, that makes you want to root for him.
Cue the music. Freeze frame of Antonoff with a triumphant fist in the air. And roll the credits. Gone Now is out now but his story has just begun. He has embarked on a tour, in which he has his teenage bedroom-turned-trailer on the road with him, equipped with “every poster and sticker.” The album he co-produced with 20-year-old New Zealander pop superstar Lorde, titled Melodrama, is out next Friday. He’ll hit a five year anniversary mark with Dunham this year. Antonoff is on top of the world—and this time he’s looking down at a reflection he can recognize.
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