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.