News & Politics

Unbelievably, We’ve Found a Bunch of Songs About Crystal City

A few are definitely by DC-area artists.

Photograph by Andrew Beaujon.

Crystal City is “A place no one wants to be / It’s got such perfect symmetry,” the band Drunk Tigers sang in 2013. Who cared enough about Crystal City five years ago to write a diss track about it? “I don’t know if it would have been as much of a muse if it hadn’t been named ‘Crystal City,'” says Arthur Delaney, the band’s drummer. “It’s like the name of a fake town in a videogame.”

Crystal City has inspired at least one other tune that I can think of: The great Beauty Pill‘s “Rideshare,” which includes the lyric “Walk among the dead and dying in Crystal City.” The song “was inspired by driving to a temp job in Crystal City,” Beauty Pill’s Chad Clark tells Washingtonian. “In my view, Crystal City was a gleaming, bland, synthetic, designed citadel with no warmth or organic character. In a certain kind of sci-fi way, it was beautiful. I didn’t hate it exactly. But I felt mainly a dull dread. Crystal City seemed like a non-place place.”

Allmusic lists quite a few tunes called “Crystal City,” like this smooth-jazz number by André Ward and this prog-rock song by Steve Hillage, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether the Arlington neighborhood served as afflatus for any of them. Here’s one that is: Alexandria musician Jason Mendelson wrote a song for every Metro station, and there’s one for Crystal City. And another, pointed out to me by reader Stephen Guidry: “Xrystal City” by Triobelisk.

In the Drunk Tigers song, singer Matt Bierce‘s voice reminds me of Darren Hayman, who sang for the long-departed and much-missed (possibly only by me) British band Hefner. Drunk Tigers are no longer around, either: Two of the members have moved out of this area and are thus missing Crystal City’s big moment. I asked Delaney how much Amazon would have to pay the band before they’d consider a reunion to inaugurate National Landing. “I would play for free,” Delaney says. “You would have to ask the other guys who moved away–they would probably need a tax incentive to relocate.”

Here’s Drunk Tigers’ “Crystal City”:

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.