Capital Cities (band)

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Capital Cities
Capital Cities Walmart 2013.jpg
Capital Cities in 2013
Left to Right: Sebu Simonian, Ryan Merchant
Background information
Origin Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres Dance-pop,[1] synthpop[2]
Years active 2010–present[3][4]
Labels Roc Nation, Lazy Hooks, Capitol

Capital Cities is an American pop duo from Los Angeles, California, formed in 2010 by Ryan Merchant (vocals, keyboard, guitar) and Sebu Simonian (vocals, keyboard). Their debut EP was released on June 7, 2011, with lead single "Safe and Sound" which became their first top ten hit single. The band currently consists of Ryan Merchant, Sebu Simonian, Manny Quintero on bass guitar, Spencer Ludwig on trumpet, Nick Merwin on guitar and Channing Holmes on drums.

A subsequent single, "Kangaroo Court", was released on May 1, 2012.[5] The band was featured on the Pop Up #1 compilation selected by Perez Hilton that was released on August 7, 2012.[6] The band's song "Safe and Sound" charted at #1 on the US Alternative Songs chart.[7] The song was also used in a German Vodafone commercial.[8] It was also used in the United States and Canada in a television commercial for the 2014 Mazda 3. The song "Center Stage" was featured on ESPN's First Take where they played a short segment of the retro sounding track before going to commercial breaks.

The band's debut album, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery, was released June 4, 2013 via Capitol Records in partnership with Lazy Hooks. It was the first release of new material on Capitol with a Universal Music Group catalog number. The album debuted at number sixty-six on the Billboard 200 chart.


Merchant met Simonian on Craigslist after he responded to the other's open ad offering his production services. They soon fell into jingle-writing together, and after a successful three years composing music for commercials and advertising campaigns, the duo formed Capital Cities. The band released its debut, self-titled EP in June 2011 via their label, Lazy Hooks.

In 2012, the band signed with Capitol Records. In partnership with Lazy Hooks, the label released In a Tidal Wave of Mystery, the band's debut album, on June 4, 2013.[9] The album takes its name from the lyrics of its top 10 Modern Rock radio hit "Safe and Sound", which is the album's first single. The song has been heard in promotional campaigns for HBO, Smart Car, Microsoft, Mazda and many other spots. The album also includes the songs "Kangaroo Court" and "I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo". Outkast's André 3000, vocalist Shemika Secrest and NPR's Frank Tavares are featured on the song "Farrah Fawcett Hair". The album is produced and mixed entirely by the pair of Merchant and Simonian. The artwork is by Brazilian artist João Lauro Fonte.[10]

Capital Cities performing in Sunnyvale, California on January 25, 2013

The band embarked on its first-ever North American outing, the "Dancing with Strangers" tour, with special guests Gold Fields, which kicked off on April 23 at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix, AZ. Capital Cities' May 9 show at New York City's Irving Plaza sold out two months in advance as well two nights at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. All proceeds from the June 7 show at the El Rey went to MusiCares and a Place Called Home. The band has also appeared and performed at Sundance, SXSW, SweetLife,[11] and ULTRA.

The band premiered the official video of "Safe and Sound" on April 25, 2013 on VEVO. The clip was directed by Grady Hall (Beck, Modest Mouse). In the video, the song fuels a mash-up of the past 100 years of dance, presided over by the band at the newly restored Los Angeles Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The video featured work from Emmy-nominated choreographer Mandy Moore. The video was nominated for two 2013 MTV Video Music Awards: Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects. The video won a 2013 MTV Video Music Award for Best Visual Effects.

In May 2013, "Safe and Sound" reached number one on the German Singles Chart.

September 5, 2013 marked the premiere of the "Kangaroo Court" music video. The video features appearances from Darren Criss, Shannon Woodward, and Channing Holmes. The story tells of a zebra (Merchant), who has been forbidden from a club called The Kangaroo Court. Attempting entry disguised as a horse, he falls for a lapdog (Woodward). Her date that night, a bulldog (Criss), becomes jealous and reveals the zebra for who he actually is. The zebra is placed under arrest for his crime and sent to court to face a kangaroo judge (Holmes). He is found guilty immediately and is executed by lion (Simonian).

The band was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Music Video.

Capital Cities joined Katy Perry on the North American leg of her Prismatic World Tour.

In April and May 2016, nearly three years after the release of the band's debut album, the official Capital Cities Facebook page made two posts strongly suggesting that new music was in the works.[12][13]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions
In a Tidal Wave of Mystery 66 53 75

Extended plays[edit]

Title Album details
Capital Cities EP
  • Released: June 7, 2011
  • Label: Lazy Hooks
  • Formats: CD, 12"
Kangaroo Court EP
  • Released: December 17, 2013
  • Label: Lazy Hooks
  • Formats: Digital download


List of singles, with selected chart positions, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album


"Beginnings"[25] 2010 Non-album single
"Safe and Sound" 2011 8 1 2 2 5 1 4 28 8 42 In a Tidal Wave of Mystery
"Kangaroo Court" 2013 50 81
"I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo"[31]
"One Minute More" 2014 23 29
"Vowels" 2016 29 [A] Non-album single
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


  1. ^ "Vowels" did not chart on the Hot Rock Songs chart but did peak at number 48 on the Rock Airplay chart.[32]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Awards Category Work Result
2013 MTV Video Music Awards Best Visual Effects "Safe and Sound" Won
Best Art Direction Nominated
2014 Grammy Awards Best Music Video Nominated
Billboard Music Awards Top Rock Song Nominated
Top Rock Artist - Nominated
Top New Artist Nominated


  1. ^ "On the Verge: Meet dance-pop duo Capital Cities". 
  2. ^ Usinger, Mike (May 23, 2013). "Capital Cities sets jingles aside for synth-pop hooks". The Georgia Straight. Vancouver Free Press. Retrieved June 13, 2013. 
  3. ^ Imbong, Petier (11 January 2014). "Capital Cities: Unabashedly Cheery". Rappler. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  4. ^ Lopez, Korina (22 June 2013). "On the Verge: Meet dance-pop duo Capital Cities". USA Today. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "Capital Cities Drop Kangaroo Court". 2012-03-29. Retrieved 2012-11-27. 
  6. ^ "Pop Up! Hours Away!". 2012-08-06. Retrieved 2012-11-27. 
  7. ^ "Billboard's Capital Cities biography page". 2013-02-23. Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  8. ^ "Vodafone commercial in german television". 2013-04-07. Retrieved 2013-04-08. 
  9. ^ "In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery, Capital Cities’ Debut Album, Is Out". 2013-06-24. Archived from the original on 2013-10-21. Retrieved 2013-09-17. 
  10. ^ "Capital Cities investe em "Safe and Sound" e lança terceiro videoclipe do single". TecoApple (in Portuguese). MTV Brasil. 25 April 2013. Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "SWEETLIFE - a sweetgreen festival". 
  12. ^ "Eh-hem! About to track vocals.". Facebook. Retrieved 30 May 2016. 
  13. ^ "It's on.". Facebook. Retrieved 30 May 2016. 
  14. ^ "Capital Cities – Chart history: Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b "Discographie Capital Cities" (in German). Hung Medien. Archived from the original on August 31, 2013. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b "Discographie Capital Cities" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Capital Cities – Chart history: The Hot 100". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Capital Cities – Chart history: Alternative Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Capital Cities – Chart history: Hot Rock Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Capital Cities – Chart history: Canadian Hot 100". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Top Digital Download - Classifica settimanale WK 32 (dal 05-08-2013 al 11-08-2013)" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Archived from the original on October 25, 2012. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Discography Capital Cities". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Discography Capital Cities". Hung Medien. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved May 26, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Capital Cities". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 8, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Beginnings – Single by Capital Cities". iTunes Store. Apple. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Gold & Platinum: Capital Cities". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved June 12, 2014. [permanent dead link]
  27. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2014 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on June 25, 2014. Retrieved May 31, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Capital Cities)" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved October 18, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Italian single certifications – Capital Cities" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved October 18, 2013.  Select Online in the field Sezione. Enter Capital Cities in the field Filtra. The certification will load automatically
  30. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Capital Cities; 'Safe and Sound')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. Retrieved October 18, 2013. 
  31. ^ "I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo – Single by Capital Cities". iTunes Store. Apple. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Capital Cities Chart History – Rock Airplay". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 26, 2017. 

External links[edit]