100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #35: “Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities

The song at #35 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the wonderfully ebullient “Safe and Sound” by Los Angeles- based electro-pop duo Capital Cities. Consisting of singer-songwriters Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchant, they seem like nice, down to earth guys who’d be fun to hang out with. They formed their music project in 2010, a few years after Merchant responded to a Craigslist ad by Simonian, who was looking for music production jobs. Their lineup includes other musicians who assist in the recording of their songs and for live performances.

A sleeper hit, “Safe and Sound” was originally released in January 2011, but didn’t chart until 2013, when it was included on their terrific debut album In a Tidal Wave of Mystery (the album title is from a lyric in the song). The song reached #1 on the Billboard Alternative chart that June, and was the #2 song of 2013 on that year-end chart. The song has a catchy synth-driven melody with an infectious dance beat, but the real highlight is the exuberant trumpet line that gives the track incredible texture and energy. The guys’ vocal harmonies are pretty great too.

In a 2013, interview with USA Today, Simonian explained that “‘Safe and Sound’ is an ode to humanity and all living things. We want people to recognize that life can be good, things are getting better.” Though the lyrics are quite simple – “I could lift you up / I could show you what you wanna see and take you where you wanna be / You could be my luck / Even if the sky is falling down I know that we’ll be safe and sound” the song is just so damn upbeat that it brings me immense joy every time I hear it.

The delightful official video, directed by Grady Hall, was filmed in the historic Los Angeles Theatre, and shows Capital Cities performing on stage as dancers emerge from pictures on the wall and film clips from different time periods in the theater’s history, and compete in a dance-off. Simonian and Merchant took lessons so they could dance in the video. It received a Grammy nomination for Best Music Video.

Top 50 Songs of 2013

A number of talented alternative, indie rock and hip hop bands and artists emerged on the music scene in 2013, including Lorde, The Neighbourhood, Capital Cities, Bastille, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Lana Del Rey. Other established artists such as P!nk, OneRepublic, Bruno Mars, Muse, Fitz & the Tantrums, Rihanna and Fall Out Boy also produced some memorable songs. My pick for the best song of 2013 is “Sweater Weather,” the achingly beautiful song of young love and lust by The Neighbourhood.

1. SWEATER WEATHER – The Neighbourhood

2. CAN’T HOLD US – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton
3. RADIOACTIVE – Imagine Dragons
4. SAFE AND SOUND – Capital Cities
5. OUT OF MY LEAGUE – Fitz & the Tantrums
6. JUST GIVE ME A REASON – P!nk featuring Nate Ruess
7. LOCKED OUT OF HEAVEN – Bruno Mars
8. COUNTING STARS – OneRepublic
9. MADNESS – Muse
10. ROYALS – Lorde
11. THRIFT SHOP – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz
12. BLURRED LINES – Robin Thicke + Pharrell + T.I.
13. HO HEY – The Lumineers
14. WAKE ME UP! – Avicii
15. STAY – Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko
16. GET LUCKY -Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
17. LITTLE TALKS – Of Monsters and Men
18. DON’T YOU WORRY CHILD – Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin
19. IT’S TIME – Imagine Dragons
20. ELEPHANT – Tame Impala
21. CARRY ON – fun.
22. WHEN I WAS YOUR MAN – Bruno Mars
23. WAYS TO GO – Grouplove
24. POMPEII – Bastille
25. I WILL WAIT – Mumford & Sons
26. SUMMERTIME SADNESS – Lana Del Rey
27. CATCH MY BREATH – Kelly Clarkson
28. MY SONGS KNOW WHAT YOU DID IN THE DARK – Fall Out Boy
29. DAYLIGHT – Maroon 5
30. MIRRORS – Justin Timberlake
31. DEMONS – Imagine Dragons
32. TROJANS – Atlas Genius
33. ROAR – Katy Perry
34. MISS JACKSON – Panic! At the Disco
35. TREASURE – Bruno Mars
36. CLARITY – Zedd featuring Foxes
37. HOLD ON, WE’RE GOING HOME – Drake
38. THE MONSTER – Rihanna + Eminem
39. TAKE BACK THE NIGHT – Justin Timberlake
40. HARLEM – New Politics
41. SAIL – AWOLNATION
42. LEADER OF THE BROKEN HEARTS – Papa Roach
43. I KNEW YOU WERE TROUBLE – Taylor Swift
44. LOVE SOMEBODY – Maroon 5
45. A LIGHT THAT NEVER COMES – Linkin Park
46. SAME LOVE – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert
47. BRAVE – Sara Bareilles
48. SWEET NOTHING – Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch
49. DIAMONDS – Rihanna
50. TRY – P!nk