City of Angels (Thirty Seconds to Mars Song)
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City of Angels (Thirty Seconds to Mars song)
"City of Angels" is a song by American rock band ThirtySeconds to Mars, featured on their fourth studio albumLove, Lust, Faith and Dreams (2013). Written by lead vo-calist Jared Leto, who also produced the song with SteveLillywhite, City of Angels was inspired by Letos expe-rience of living in Los Angeles with his family and wasinuenced by the citys culture. Imbued with elementsof arena rock as well as music from the 1980s, the trackwas cited as an example of the albums variety and ex-perimentation. City of Angels was released as a pro-motional single on July 30, 2013, in the United States,and was serviced to mainstream radio in Europe on Oc-tober 25, 2013. A piano version of the song was digitallyreleased in July 2014.City of Angels received general acclaim from musiccritics, who commended the composition, the lyrics, andLetos vocal performance. Following the release of Love,Lust, Faith and Dreams, the track appeared in the lowerregions of the UK Rock Chart. When released as a sin-gle, City of Angels re-entered the chart reaching num-ber 21, peaked at number eight on the Alternative Songsin the US, and experienced moderate success in some in-ternational markets due to digital sales from the album.Jared Leto directed the music video for the song, whichfeatures several personalities joining the three membersof Thirty Seconds to Mars in sharing their visions aboutLos Angeles. The video was favorably reviewed by crit-ics, who complimented the simplicity and cohesion withthe songs message. It received the Loudwire MusicAward for Best Rock Video and was nominated for BestCinematography at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards.Thirty Seconds to Mars performed a piano rendition ofthe song at the 2014 iHeartRadio Music Awards. Cityof Angels was included in the setlist of the bands Love,Lust, Faith and Dreams Tour and subsequent CarnivoresTour.
1 Recording and inspirationCity of Angels was written by lead vocalist Jared Leto,who also produced the song with Steve Lillywhite. Thelatter had previously worked with Thirty Seconds to Marson the production of the bands third studio album, ThisIs War (2009). The song was engineered by Jamie ReedSchefman and mixed by Serban Ghenea. John Hanesengineered it for mixing at Mixstar Studios in VirginiaBeach, Virginia. It was recorded at The InternationalCentre for the Advancement of the Arts and Sciences
Previous collaborator Steve Lillywhite produced the song.
of Sound in Los Angeles, California and mastered byHowie Weinberg and Dan Gerbarg at Howie WeinbergMastering. Thirty Seconds to Mars unveiled six songsfrom their fourth studio album Love, Lust, Faith andDreams, including City of Angels, during a previewheld at the Electric Lady Studios in New York City onMarch 14, 2013. Shannon Leto revealed that it was theoldest song written for the album and took a long time tomake.
While writing the song, Leto was inuenced by the cul-ture of Los Angeles and inspired by his relationship withit. He explained that pursuing his creative ambitions inLos Angeles had led to a love/hate relationship with thecity. Leto told Interview magazine, the song is aboutpeople coming to the City of Angels to live their dreamsand to make their dreams their reality. Its about how theother people they've met in the city have helped themyou know, a group of people all kind of joining togetherinto a community of outsiders, of mavericks, of freaks,of artists. Its about coming to a place to do somethingdierent and something special.
2 Composition and themeCity of Angels is a rock song with inuences and ele-ments from arena rock. It opens with an instrumentalsection and gently burbling synthesizers. It followswith the sounds of drum beats, including taiko drums,then transitions into a piano melody. After the rst verse,the chorus follows, with Leto singing, Lost in the Cityof Angels / Down in the comfort of strangers / I foundmyself in the re burned hills / In the land of a billionlights. During the bridge, he ornaments his vocal lines
2 4 CRITICAL RECEPTION
with melodic crescendos, arming I am home. Afterthe nal chorus, the song reaches a drum-heavy climax.Emily Zemler from Billboard cited City of Angels asan example of variety and experimentation in Love, Lust,Faith and Dreams. She described the song as a pulsat-ing, subtler track that employs a blipping electronic beatrather than the bands usual rock backdrop.
In a preview of the record, Je Benjamin from Fuse ac-knowledged the 1980s inuences that resonated through-out the track and noted that "hard rock guitars and percus-sion come crashing in on the chorus. Sarah O' Hara,while reviewing Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams for Low-down, compared the song to "Kings and Queens", a trackwith a similar structure included on This Is War fea-turing sparse verses and slow atmospheric builds to thechorus. In an interview with Loudwire, Leto describedCity of Angels as a very personal song about a specicplace. He said, Its the story of my brother and I goingto Los Angeles to make our dreams come true. Its a loveletter to that beautiful and bizarre land. Leto later ex-plained that the song could refer to any place a persongoes to fulll his or her own dreams. Mary Ouellette,writing for Loudwire, felt that the song tells a passionatetale of nding comfort in calling the city of Los Angeleshome.
3 ReleaseIn the United States, City of Angels was sent to rockmusic radio as a promotional single from Love, Lust, Faithand Dreams on July 30, 2013. Following its release,the song debuted at number 47 on the Rock Airplay chartand reached a peak of number 18 on the issue datedNovember 23, 2013. It entered the Alternative Songschart at number 40 on August 17, becoming a Hot ShotDebut. It eventually peaked at number 8 on Novem-ber 9, after spending twenty weeks on the chart. OnNovember 16, it debuted on the Hot Rock Songs at num-ber 39 and peaked at number 31 the following week.In March 2014, the iTunes Store oered a free down-load of City of Angels for a limited time in NorthAmerica. An acoustic version of the song was releasedon the soundtrack of Dallas Buyers Club (2013), a lm inwhich Jared Leto starred. A percentage of the proceedsfrom the sales was donated to the AIDS relief charityProject Red's Global Fund.
City of Angels impacted mainstream radio in Europein November 2013, after the release of "Do or Die".In Finland, the song entered the national airplay chartat number 83 on November 24. The following week,it jumped to number 69 and peaked at number 32 onDecember 22. The same month, the song debutedat number 92 in Germany and reached a peak of num-ber 31 in Italy. It peaked at number 69 on theUltratip chart of Belgiums Flemish region on Decem-ber 14. On January 27, 2014, it peaked at number 74
in Croatia. In Czech Republic, the song entered thenational airplay chart at number 91 on the week endingMarch 23, and peaked at number 87 on May 18. InPoland, the song entered the LP3 chart at number 38 andpeaked at number 28 onApril 21; it gained gold status andsold over 10,000 units. In Portugal, it reached a peakof number 17. In June 2014, the song was certied goldby the Associao Fonogrca Portuguesa (AFP), denot-ing sales of over 10,000 units throughout the country.A remixed version of the song byGermanmusic producerMarkus Schulz became commercially available for down-loading in June 2014.
Polydor Records released City of Angels in the UnitedKingdom on December 2, 2013. The song had initiallyentered the UK Rock Chart during the release of Love,Lust, Faith and Dreams for one week, but later re-enteredafter its single release, peaking at number 21. Onthe issue dated April 7, 2014, the song entered the ARIACharts at number 93. A piano version of City of An-gels was released in digital format in July 2014.
4 Critical reception
City of Angels was met with general acclaim frommusic critics. Dan Slessor ofAlternative Press named ita stand-out track from the album and found it compellingfrom start to nish, building from ethereal beginnings toan enormous, drum-heavy climax. Stephen ThomasErlewine from AllMusic praised it as one of the albumshighlights. Rick Pearson from the Evening Standardacknowledged the inuences of U2 and complimentedLetos vocals. Markos Papadatos, writing for DigitalJournal, stated that the song proves that Jared Leto is oneof the nest vocalists and songwriters in the modern rockgenre of music. Johan Wippsson from Melodic chosethe song as a highlight on Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams,and commended its bombastic and huge choruses.
John Gentile from Rolling Stone was impressed with thesong, noticing that it is built in volume and complexityuntil Leto was yelling at the top of his lungs. Reviewingthe piano version of the song, Gentile commented thatit focuses on delicate piano until a breathy Leto gentlyenters and spins the tale of his decision to move to LosAngeles and his earliest days there. He wrote that thesong rises and falls until nally, it locks into a snappingbeat and Leto exclaims, 'I am home!'" Alex Lai fromContactmusic gave the song a positive review, nding theband in a less aggressive mood as they move towardU2-style stadium rock and Leto tones down his vocaldelivery. Lai described it as essentially a love song forthe city of Los Angeles on which the sentiment seemsgenuine.
Kaitlyn Hodnicki from Stature magazine noted the in-timacy featured in the track despite its anthemic qual-ity. She considered it a major leap forward in terms
5.2 Release 3
of Jared Letos song writing, saying that the lyrics laythe often enigmatic frontman bare as he pays homage toLos Angeles. She also felt that Letos love of U2 is nosecret and displayed to full eect in this uplifting songwith the piano, electronics, vocals and drums all weavingtogether eortlessly. In a mixed review, John Wattfrom Drowned in Sound called it a soulless slab of soft-rock. Brent Faulkner from PopMatters wrote that thesong isn't too shabby, lled with minimalistic ideas andpummeling drums. Chris Maguire of AltSounds crit-icized the inuences of U2 featured in the track, whileAndy Baber from musicOMH called it a corny balladwhich makes Thirty Seconds to Mars a love-them-or-hate-them band.
5 Music video
A portion of the video was shot in Los Angeles over the course ofseveral nights.
In August 2013, Jared Leto told MTV News that hewas preparing to shoot a short lm for City of Angels.While he did not reveal much about the music video con-cept, he added: Its going to be powerful and emotionaland denitely something special. The shooting tookplace from August 1617 in Los Angeles, lming multi-ple monoliths and murals. Leto interviewed celebritieswho joined the three members of Thirty Seconds to Marsin sharing their visions about Los Angeles. He also re-cruited Michael Jackson and Marilyn Monroe imperson-ators as well as homeless people in the production of thevideo. After lming, Leto talked about the inspirationbehind the video, stating, Telling stories is a big partof what I do, so it was a really natural and comfortablething. I think because I did all the interviews myselfI talked to fellow artists and they felt really comfortable.They shared a side of themselves that we don't share veryoften. Footage from the songs lyric video, which wasshot atop the Hollywood Hills, was used for a part of theshort lm that featured Leto singing the song against thebackdrop of a Los Angeles sunset.
The short lm was produced by Emma Ludbrook, Al-lan Wachs and Jared Leto, who also directed. Althoughit is billed as a Bartholomew Cubbins Film (Letoslongtime pseudonym), City of Angels is the rst di-rectorial project directly credited to Jared Leto. He ex-plained, It was the rst time I'd ever done that. I'd usedseveral dierent names, but it was just such a personalthing. I thought it was appropriate to put my name onthat piece. Previous collaborator Devid Levlin servedas director of photography. It was edited by Leto, Ben-jamin Entrup andMischaMeyer. The short lm includedcommentary from Kanye West, Christopher Lloyd Den-nis, Juliette Lewis, Heather Levinger, Haywood, LindsayLohan, Olivia Wilde, Steve Nash, Ashley Olsen, LilyCollins, James Franco, Selena Gomez, Alan Cumming,Anthony Wareld, Jovan Rameau, Holly Beavon, ShaunWhite, Corey Feldman, and Yosh. City of Angelsmarked the second collaboration of Thirty Seconds toMars with Kanye West, as they rst worked together onthe track "Hurricane 2.0" (2010).
The short lm for City of Angels premiered on October12, 2013 during the Thirty Seconds toMars concert at theHollywood Bowl. The show was broadcast worldwideon the internet through the online platform VyRT. Uponthe videos premiere, Mary Bonney from LA Music Blogpredicted that the short lm will surely be praised by ev-ery city-dwelling dreamer. Thirty Seconds to Marsteased a preview of the music video on October 28.The following day, the short lm debuted on Vevo. Itwas preceded by a lyric video which premiered on August23, 2013. Individual clips featuring previously unseeninterview footage of Kanye West, James Franco and Se-lena Gomez debuted in the following months.
In a press release, Jared Leto explained the meaning be-hind the music video: "'City of Angels is a short lmabout this wild, weird, and wonderful land, Los Angeles,California. A place that has left its mark on the worldsimagination and a place where dreams can actually cometrue. I made this short lm so I could share my thoughtson this incredibly special place and talk to others abouttheirs. Its not so much about this particular city but moreabout the people who inhabit it. He further said, Itsa story about hope and dreams. Its a story about peo-ple making the impossible possiblewhether its KanyeWest, James Franco, or a kid whos living on the streetson Hollywood Boulevard. Its a story about survival andabout what it takes to become who you really want tobe.
The short lm begins with Kanye West relating objectsand people with Los Angeles, including James Dean and
4 5 MUSIC VIDEO
Kanye West is among the personalities who appear in the video.
Howard Hughes as well as architecture, Walt Disney andMarilyn Monroe. He is followed by a series of com-mentary from several residents discussing their relation-ship with Los Angeles while some of the citys mosticonic landmarks are shown. From the Hollywood Hillsto Hollywood Boulevard, the short lm captures the strug-gle of entertainers from the streets to the big screen.
A homeless man named Haywood opens up, I didn'tknow it was the city of angels, I thought it was the lostangels, the city of lost souls. TomoMilievi follows, ex-plaining that its the place where I came and the dreamsdid come true. Jared Leto confesses, I wouldn't haveanythin...