Written by Hero Magnus

“Underground,” from singer-songwriter George Capon, falls into the wildly popular “sad-happy song” category; the instrumentals are upbeat, but the lyrics have an underlying tone of truth and angst.

“Hey there man with a silver spoon / show me what I don’t have,” Capon begins. It’s unclear exactly if his character in the song is a soulless corporate ghoul or a reformed corporate ghoul, warning us not to follow in his path. Either way, the message is clear: don’t overvalue money and don’t undervalue time.

“After finishing university I felt as though I had finally reached a point in my life that I could actually define as ‘adult life’. It scared the shit out of me for a few months, and then I began to see some of the early pitfalls that people often find themselves falling into. The main being chasing money, there’s a lot of people out there who over prioritize money and pursue it, which in turn results in them wasting the most important currency we have, time. That’s essentially the meaning behind ‘Underground’, do something because you enjoy it, not because of the paycheck you get at the end of each month.”

– George Capon

Capon calls himself a “born-again Mancunian.” He released his debut single, “Breathe” earlier this year after moving to the UK’s indie capital of Manchester, followed up by his latest track “Underground.” To help boost the hype for “Underground,” Capon played a large release party and I’m sure received many well-deserved comparisons to The 1975; “Underground” is so similar to the 1975’s “Chocolate.” Perhaps something in Manchester’s musical oeurvre?

“I think my fans (like me) are trying to figure out what my actual sound is. The reason I chose to release this song second was because I felt as though ‘Underground’ and my first single ‘Breathe’ were the furthest a part sonically speaking. By doing this I felt as though fans could listen to both tracks and try to gauge where my music will likely sit for future releases.”

– George Capon

But, Capon reminds me the most of Jordy Searcy, who released a great little song last year called “Love & War in Your Twenties.” Searcy and Capon have a very similar style: clever lyrics, feel-good messages, 2000’s pop-rock vibes. 

One of my favorite parts of the song is the instrumental phrase right before the poppy chorus. After the first verse of catchy lines accompanied by an acoustic guitar, Capon throws in a delicious electric guitar riff. Somehow, this added sonic texture that transformed “Underground” from a solid song to a hit. 

At first, I didn’t want to mention this riff; I worried it would be the musical equivalent of a spoiler, turning what should be a surprise-and-pleasure-filled listening experience into an intellectual one. In the end though, I think it’s worth talking about, if only as a reminder that a very tiny thing can make a song that much more remarkable.

“The production process was actually really simple, I worked with Mathieu Garcia over at Red Sand studio in Manchester in his bedroom. The usual process is, I come to him with a song and then we discuss where we want to take it. We usually spend the first 30 minutes flicking through Spotify, trying to come up with a short catalogue of references and then get to work. Like you’d expect we usually start with drums, then Mathieu records bass and I try and find the right harmonies and melodies for my guitar parts. It’s a pretty standard way of doing it I guess, just without the expensive studio and equipment.”

– George Capon

In the chorus, Capon sings about waking up in the morning, coming home in the evening, and the weekday white-collar routine. The chorus repeats twice, maybe to put an emphasis on the monotony of the day job and then settles into the bridge. It’s here that the reality of it all gets even more stark with lyrics like, “So don’t tell me you’re slaving away in the dark again / only to find that you’re losing friends  / replacing their names with some numbers / it’s a hard descent,” Capon sings.

Someone could definitely make a slow, minor-key, acoustic cover of this song and make us all cry. But, the beauty of this song is that it’s a dark warning set to the sweetest beat. This makes the brief moments of optimism all the more refreshing. “We’d rather be losing and proud,” sings Capon, and he’s right.

Listen To George Capon’s “Underground”

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