Safe and Sound

Album: In a Tidal Wave Of Mystery (2011)
Charted: 42 8


  • Capital Cities is an electro-rock duo from Los Angeles, California comprising Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian. The first incarnation of the song appeared on an EP called Capitol Cities that the duo released independently in 2011. The group's first release, it got the attention of Capitol Records, which signed them and issued an updated version of the song as their first single in 2013. This version was also included on their debut album, In a Tidal Wave Of Mystery.
  • The song was created back in 2011, before Merchant and Simonian were known as Capital Cities, when the Los Angeles pair were earning their corn composing music for advertising campaigns. "It started as a little idea we came up with - it wasn't a fully fleshed-out song, per se," Merchant told Billboard magazine. "We noticed that, when we showed it to people, there was this unanimous feeling that there was something special about this music, and we started to develop it. It took 10 different versions before we finally came to what you hear on the radio now, where we decided to add a trumpet for the main bridge part, which I think was one of our best decisions on the song. And we brought out this vintage keyboard that provides the foundation for the song. So the song really took a long time to get right, because we knew it was such an important song for us."
  • Regarding the track's meaning, Merchant noted: "It seems like every generation feels like it's living in the worst of times, and of course there are horrible things happening, but the average person is better off now than he or she was 50 years ago. In some ways 'Safe and Sound' is an antidote to the human tendency to think in apocalyptic terms and not really look at the logic of the world around us. Things are getting better and there's a lot to be positive about."
  • This was the breakout hit for Capital Cities. When we asked Sebu Simonian in 2014 how the song changed their lives, he replied: "It has allowed us to tour extensively, so therefore visit many parts of the world that I would have otherwise not been able to go. Experiencing cultures and arts and heritage and food from different parts of the world is a beautiful thing."
  • After this song was first released in 2011, it caught on in Peru, where radio stations started playing it. The duo flew to South America to play some shows, then returned to America where they launched a marketing campaign for the song. The Los Angeles radio stations KIIS-FM and KROQ put "Safe and Sound" in rotation, and SiriusXM started playing it on their Alt Nation channel, where response from fans pushed it to #1 on their Alt-18 countdown, making it the first independent release to top the tally. All this attention finally led to their record deal with Capitol in December 2012.
  • The song's Grady Hall-directed music video is a rapid tour of the history of dance through the decades. In integrating the duo into clips of dance footage, they did something similar to the Mary Lambert-directed clip for Kim Carnes' "Invitation To Dance" - a 1985 song featured in the film That's Dancing!.

    "When we started working on and developing ideas for the music video, we felt like we were onto something special," Simonian told Billboard magazine. "The day of the shoot was at the Los Angeles Theatre, which was this historic, beautiful theater in L.A., and we brought 60-70 dancers that we discovered on Craigslist - [which is] how we met. So all these dancers came in, and some semi-professional, some were amateurs, some were pro - it was this really cool cultural clash happening during the video shoot, so we felt like there was something there."

    The band had some help from choreographer Mandy Moore, who is best known for her work on So You Think You Can Dance as well as delivering the moves on Silver Linings Playbook.
  • The video walked away with the Best Visual Effects award at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. The effects were done at a creative studio called Mirada, which was founded by the filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. There are more than 40 dance sequences in the clip, each representing a different style or era.
  • A line from this song inspired the title of the album:

    In a tidal wave of mystery
    You'll still be standing next to me

    Merchant and Simonian wrote the lyric for the song in the control room of their recording studio, where they would often brainstorm ideas. "That was just one of those inspirational descriptions that popped in our heads as we stumbled across English phrases and ideas to try to write lyrics," Simonian said in our interview.
  • A remix by the production team DiscoTech was included on Perez Hilton's first Pop Up compilation album, which was released in 2012. This version preceded the major-label release of the song and earned the duo a great deal of exposure. Hilton came across Capital Cities thanks to his assistant La Coacha, who is good friends with Sebu Simonian.
  • The song went to #1 on the German singles chart in 2013 after featuring in a Vodafone commercial.

Comments: 2

  • Dyoweh from Singapore, SingaporeThis is a Christian Rock anthem. They are clearly singing about Jesus.
    - TJayFowler, Berkeley, CA

    I couldn't agree more!
  • Tjayfowler from Berkeley, CaThis is a Christian Rock anthem. They are clearly singing about Jesus.
see more comments

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