19. Night Owl – (2012) Little Big Town (country)
20. Night Owls – (2013) Mree (indie/folk)
21. Night Owls – (2014) Eric Bellinger (R&B/hip hop)
22. Night Owls – (2014) Slapshock (heavy metal)
23. Night Owls Early Birds – (2014) Foxes (pop)
24. Night Owls – (2014) Tiny Ruins (indie folk)
25. Night Owls – (2014) Phora (R&B/hip hop)
26. Night Owl – (2014) Kito Dickson (R&B/hip hop)
27. Night Owl – (2016) Metronomy (pop)
19. Night Owl – (2012) Little Big Town
Country music vocal group Little Big Town’s “Night Owl” is a sentimental ballad about lovers yearning to be reunited. The man drives home while the woman waits patiently. They’re both so anxious.
Even before the first strum of the acoustic guitar, the female voices (Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman) softly coo “ooooo oooo” like night owls. Then both male and female members of the group start an exchange of verses. The male voices (Jim Westbrook and Phillip Sweet) are first, singing about counting the signposts and landmarks they pass as they drive home. They’re hoping to see their sweethearts soon. The female voices reply, they’re dreaming of their lovers, waiting and staying up like night owls until they see the “bright headlights coming over the hill.”
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20. Night Owls – (2013) Mree
Mree (Marie Hsiao) is an indie folk singer-songwriter from New Jersey. Her voice on “Night Owl” from her album Winterwell is soft, relaxed and dreamy.
With images of the sun and darkness, she explains how in her heart she resolves the tension between having feelings for someone and realizing those feelings are not mutual. Her words are vague but I take them to mean that she withdraws to her inner world, her creative space. The light like the truth is harsh, so she finds solace in shadows and darkness, where she can work things out. She is the night owl, loving the darkness. But she admits that her retreat does not change the fact she will still love the person who caused these conflicted feelings.
Under her breathy singing, Mree strums a gentle ostinato figure while shimmering background voices and sometimes mellow horns fade in and out, creating a wispy, dreamy mood. Mree likes to create moods. She explains her approach to creating Winterwell: “I wanted these songs to be able to put you in a state of mind where you can not only hear, but feel the music … To place you, for example, in the middle of the hollowed echoes and beautiful bitterness of winter in the middle of the summer.”
“[This music] shows Mree taking a new direction,” said music critic Leah Herrick on his blog when Winterwell was released in 2013. “Overall I loved Winterwell. I was surprised by the difference between Mree’s previous work and this new sound, but it was a risk that paid off. Mree shows a creativity and self-awareness that’s sometimes beyond more seasoned musicians. Winterwell leaves very little to be desired and I would recommend it to any one in the mood for something a little different.”
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21. Night Owls – (2014) Eric Bellinger
Songwriter and singer Eric Bellinger, Jr has written songs for Usher, Drake, Justin Bieber and others.
He sings “Night Owls” on his mixtape Choose Up Season. The song has a sexy R&B beat and some nice falsetto improvising in the chorus. Bellinger’s night owl is one of those party guys that Vaya Con Dias sings about and Madeline doesn’t want to have anything to do with.
Since the song is part of a mixtape, though, you have to consider it in context. Things always start off superficially for night owls, but after a whle, things can settle in and get “awkward,” as Bellinger puts it in his notes to the mixtape:
“The single life in LA is wild. And the ‘CHOOSE UP’ can get very real. After you choose up, it’s time to leave the club and get your car from [the] ‘VALET’ before continuing the turn up with a ‘HOUSE PARTY’ at the crib. If things go right, you know she’ll [be] pulling out the ‘NIGHT BAG’ and talking to ‘THE PILLOW’ while the two of you become ‘NIGHT OWLS.’ However, it’s usually agreed upon in the beginning that the two of you will ‘NEVER BE TOGETHER’ and that things are just ‘CASUAL’ until one of them catches feelings and things instantly get ‘AWKWARD.”
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22. Night Owls – (2014) Slapshock
Filipino heavy metal band Slapshock sings a pulsating hard driving “Night Owl” full of angst and rebellion. They “just keep coming back.” In spite of what people think, what the media says, their dreams are alive. They are strong, “ready to attack.” They will “never die.” They are “Like a dark owl in the night.”
As a call to action, Slapshock’s “Night Owls” is in some respects like Steve Tilston’s “The Night Owl Homeward Turns.” But Tilston’s message is somber, fateful and earnest. The people are called to arms, but reluctantly. “We must push tears from our eyes.” The “young men’s talk is brave” but “their courage [flows] from a jug.” There’s no circumspection for Slapshock. Their words are full of defiance, purpose, pride and righteousness. In Jackie Dosmanos’ review of “Night Owl” for ABS-CBN News, he said, “On the title track, the singer declares, ‘We will survive/We will never die.” It would appear schlock coming from any other artist. Slapshock, however, make it sound like survival is their collective destiny.”
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23. Night Owls Early Birds – (2014) Foxes
Foxes is the stage name of Louisa Rose Allen, a British singer, songwriter and actress. Her “Night Owls Early Birds” could have been on Eric Bollinger’s mixtape Choose Up Season if he wanted to include a female perspective. Carl Willfott in Idolator describes her music as “darkly elegant synth-pop.” She calls it “experimental pop.”
Foxes’ “Night Owl Early Birds” is a savvy, world-weary dance tune. She starts by describing the embarrassment of being a night owl early bird leaving someone’s flat to “do the walk of shame” home “in your best dress.” There’s a nihilistic inevitability about how night comes and “we’re all under the ground/can’t be found.” The “save me save me” chorus is catchy. But the plea is rhetorical. She wants to let the fire burn and “feel the embers warming.” She wonders why she looks like she’s “wear for worse?” Redemption someday maybe.
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24. Night Owl – (2014) Tiny Ruins
Tiny Ruins is an indie folk ensemble from Auckland, New Zealand, led by Hollie Fullbrook.
Their “Night Owl” is a soft, slow paced peaceful meditation on arriving “home,” where there’s no fear of “the clambering day,” of “laying low,” “forgiveness,”
And the sound of my heart turning the days
Bitter blood into a haze
Time to rest and unwind after a bad day at the office. The song is so restful you might fall asleep, the way a lullaby lulls you to sleep.
25. Night Owls – (2014) Phora
Phora (Marco Archer) raps a Night Owl song of pride, defiance and social commentary. The words “night owl” don’t appear in his song, but what night owl means to him is the same as what night owl means to Hollie Fullbrook and Tiny Ruins: a time to unwind.
Before he begins his “Night Owls” video, we see Phora walking down some poorly lit urban street past parked cars and empty sidewalks. He gives us a short intro, saying, “Yeah, it’s that late night early morning type shit, you know. Just got to get some shit off my chest.” Then he begins. He raps about how he’s not interested in “fancy cars” or the “system” or “the haters.” He can take care of himself, too. He can “fill a clip and pull the trigger so quick” “that you won’t hear the click.” Archer has creds. He’s survived a stabbing and two shootings.
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26. Night Owl – (2014) Kito Dickson
Kito Dickson and his crew want to “make it happen” and “party like we’re nineteen” because he’s a “Night Owl.”
27. Metronomy – (2016) Night Owl
I hear a breakup song in Metronomy’s “Night Owl.” The narrative is mocking, sarcastic and petulant. But there’s a lot of good lines: “I’ll take the feelings that I wish I never had/You take your favorite band, that shit was always bad.” His girlfriend is on the verge of leaving him, so he taunts her about getting right back into the night owl scene. “So let’s imagine right now/I’m just another night owl.”
It’s wicked funny and you get the impression Mount isn’t the only one slinging verbal assaults around. He likely gets back as good as he gives. It’s probably what gives him the energy to keep punching out word thrusts.
I’m not sure I agree completely with the Guardian’s Phil Mongredien’s assessment of Summer 08, released in 2016, the album that “Night Owl” appears on. But he explains the premise and makes some good points:
“Joseph Mount looks back to 2008 and the release of Nights Out. The resulting Summer 08 captures that record’s sleek, quirky synthpop with an eye out for sincerity, saving it from falling into that nostalgic trap of lacking self-awareness, but simultaneously keeping it away from real revelations. …
Witty, sarcastic self-awareness and winking nostalgia have always been a part of the Metronomy equation. Mount once called Nights Out “a half-arsed concept album about going out and having a crap time,” after all. … After starting strong, Summer 08 fizzles out, much like a failed night on the town — especially a failed night for someone already eight years removed from their prime “going out and having a crap time” nights. The beats start to slow and blend together, much like nights at the club remembered years later. But remembering shitty nights at the club has its own special sort of self-schadenfreude. Mount has a good time mocking himself and loving the music, and both come through loud and clear.”
I do agree that Mount has a good time mocking himself and loving the music.