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Declan Patrick Aloysius [=MacManus=], better known by his {{Stage Name|s}} "Elvis Costello", has been a sometimes popular and always respectable musician and songwriter since the late [[TheSeventies seventies]]. He honed his skills playing in the pub rock band Flip City at night while working as a computer operator at Revlon's London branch. Soon after that, he signed a contract with fledgling record label Stiff and adopted a new name an ironic ShoutOut to Music/ElvisPresley (who died soon afterward) combined with his mother's maiden name.

Costello was initially associated in the public mind with Music/PunkRock, and in terms of attitude there was a resemblance. (He had enjoyed seeing the Music/SexPistols go head to head with morning TV host Bill Grundy.) Musically, his closest kinship was to classic [[TheSixties sixties]] pop: Music/TheKinks, Music/BobDylan, early [[Music/TheWho Who]] and especially Music/TheBeatles. While he had a [[CreativeDifferences troubled relationship]] with his backup band the Attractions, they were most suited to interpreting his diverse catalog of songs.

Although he is often associated with his use of puns and wordplay in lyrics, these are devices that are most evident in his early works. As he has matured, Costello's humor has become less brash and sarcastic, more jocular and [[SelfDeprecation self-mocking]]. His curiosity and desire to collaborate with others has, among many other adventures, lead him to compose a score for the ballet, tour with T-Bone Burnett as a country duo, and write an album's worth of songs with Burt Bacharach.

{{Television}} has seen him being banned from ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' for a dozen years for changing songs unannounced, subbing for Creator/DavidLetterman during his heart surgery, and appearing AsHimself on ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''. Charges that he is an [[Series/ThirtyRock international art thief]] are still being investigated.

He also hosted [[TooGoodToLast two seasons]] of a music/interview show called ''Spectacle: Elvis Costello with...'' which aired on the Sundance Channel in the US and ChannelFour in the UK.

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!!"Everyday, everyday, everyday I write the tropes":

* AccentUponTheWrongSyllable: "Sunday's Best" has two examples: "Be prepared for the EN-gaged sign" and "Don't look now, un-DER the bed".
* AlbumTitleDrop: This is a common trope in his catalog and includes:
** ''My Aim Is True'' (from a line in "Alison"), ''Punch the Clock'' (from "The Greatest Thing"), ''King of America'' (from "Brilliant Mistake"), ''Blood and Chocolate'' (from "Uncomplicated"), and ''Brutal Youth'' (from "Favourite Hour").
** PlayedWith:
*** ''This Year's Model'': a line in "(I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea" refers to "''last'' year's model", and another song on the album is titled "This Year's Girl".
*** ''Mighty Like A Rose'': "The Other Side Of Summer" refers to "the mightiest rose, the absence of perfume".
* AnimatedMusicVideo "Accidents Will Happen", which was later displayed at the Museum of Modern Art.
* AnswerSong - Costello has said that "This Year's Girl" is this to the song "Stupid Girl" by Music/TheRollingStones.
%%* AntiLoveSong - Quite a few.
* ArgentinaIsNaziland: Not just Argentina, but arguably the whole continent as suggested by this line from "Less Than Zero", which is about seeing British Fascist leader Oswald Mosley on television again:
-->"Well I hear that South America is coming into style"
* ArtifactTitle - The album ''Almost Blue'' was named after a song considered for inclusion on it. Costello then decided that he would make an album of country covers and dropped the song from the album. The song later appeared on ''Imperial Bedroom'', which also had a TitleTrack that was taken out of the tracklist and later appeared on compilations and expanded versions of the album.
* TheBandMinusTheFace:
** The Attractions released ''Mad About the Wrong Boy'', a "solo" album without Costello, in 1980. Costello later covered one of its songs, "Sad About Girls".
** The Imposters is The Attractions minus Bruce Thomas.
* BreakupSong Quite a few, including "I'm Not Angry" and "I Felt the Chill". "Party Girl" is not so much a breakup song as a "I'm sorry, but we can never date" song.
* CanonDiscontinuity - Costello hates his 1982 single "Party Party" and has eradicated it from his discography, refusing to allow it to be included on any of his albums - not even expanded reissues or outtake collections. This appears to be a running gag at this point.
* CarefulWithThatAxe -
** "ALMOST BEATEN TO THE PUNCH!"
** Several songs have a more straightforward "OW!!!", namely "Five Gears in Reverse", "Tokyo Storm Warning", and "Button My Lip".
** "Let Him Dangle" has a very passionate "STRING HIM UP!".
** The intro and outro to "Man Out Of Time", which were grafted on from an earlier, more raucous version.
* CheckpointCharlie - Costello uses the phrase in "Oliver's Army".
* ConceptAlbum - ''The Juliet Letters'' is based around the concept of letters, with different songs representing different types of correspondence.
* CoverAlbum - ''Almost Blue'' and ''Kojak Variety''.
* DeadArtistsAreBetter "The Loved Ones" is an aversion. It's "a tale about the morbid practice of refusing to leave a nice clean corpse by contriving the legend of your decline."
* DeadpanSnarker: His persona, and most likely his real demeanor, at least in the early stages of his career. His attitude has mellowed a little with time. On the other hand, given that his response to the death of Margaret Thatcher was to dust off some of his old anti-Thatcherite songs, he hasn't exactly gone soft.
* DreamTeam:
** He had a sporadic songwriting partnership with Music/PaulMcCartney, leading to several [=McCartney=]/Costello compositions scattered over both artists' albums in the late 80s and early 90s. One of their joint compositions, "Veronica", became one of the biggest hits of Costello's career. Costello joked that their collaboration reversed the dynamics one would expect, with Paul being the one who tried to write entire songs in one chord and similar weirdness, and Elvis being the one who was coming up with more melodic material.
** He recorded an album with famed Rap/R&B band The Roots in 2013.
* UsefulNotes/EsperantoTheUniversalLanguage - The credits of Costello's 1986 album ''Blood and Chocolate'' are in Esperanto, although some words are misspelled.
* ExcitedShowTitle - ''Get Happy!!'', ''The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!!''
* FilmNoir: "Watching the Detectives" is a stylish run through the signifiers of the genre.
* GenreAdultery: Costello doesn't just commit Genre Adultery he commits Genre Nymphomania. Outside of Rock music, he's done an album of sixties Soul Pop (''Get Happy''), country covers (''Almost Blue''), chamber music (''The Juliet Letters''), roots rock (''King of America'', ''The Delivery Man''), jazz (''My Flame Burns Blue''), classical (''Il Sogno''), and bluegrass (''Secret, Profane & Sugarcane'').
* GodwinsLaw - "Two Little Hitlers".
* GoneHorriblyRight - His attempt to "bring a tiresome conversation to a swift conclusion" by using the "N word".
* IHaveManyNames - Names he's used in his songwriting credits include: Declan [=MacManus=], The Imposter, and Napoleon Dynamite[[note]]No relation to [[Film/NapoleonDynamite the movie]] according to its creators, though Costello was skeptical and considered litigation[[/note]].
* InactionVideo "I Wanna Be Loved". Costello notes:
-->"The video clip made for this song is the only one that I feel really adds anything much to the performance. It was shot by Evan English while we were on tour in Melbourne. Having insisted that I stay up all night so that I was feeling quite overwrought, and this being a period of particularly difficult personal circumstances, Evan then placed me in a photo-booth set. As I performed the song, sometimes singing live over the track as well as lip-synching, a great variety of people entered the frame, whispering, blowing in my ear, or kissing me on the cheek. The effect was very unsettling, and the range of reactions seen were entirely genuine and somehow added gravity to a rather plastic-sounding record."
* InkSuitActor - Played himself on ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''.
* LastNoteNightmare - The sudden ending of the already unnerving "Night Rally".
* JackBauerInterrogationTechnique: ''Watching The Detectives''
* LonelyPianoPiece "Someone Took the Words Away", particularly effective since Costello is known for writing songs with a lot of words crammed into them.
* LongingLook: Mentioned by name in "Everyday I Write the Book."
* LyricalColdOpen - Costello's first three albums each possess one: "Welcome to the Working Week", "No Action", and "Accidents Will Happen". Other examples include "Mystery Dance", "I Hope You're Happy Now", "Next Time 'Round", "Indoor Fireworks", and "Poisoned Rose".
* LyricalDissonance
** The upbeat music that Costello tends to employ often masks how dark the lyrics are. One example is "Veronica", whose tune is so happy and poppy that you have to pay close attention to the lyrics to get that the song is about an elderly woman with Alzheimer's Disease.
** Those twinkling keyboard riffs in "Green Shirt" accompany such lyrics as:
-->Better cut off all identifying labels
-->Before they put you on the torture table
-->'Cause somewhere in the Quisling clinic
-->there's a shorthand typist taking seconds over minutes
** An even more well-known example of this trope is "Oliver's Army", an upbeat Music/{{Abba}}-inspired song (no, really) that sounds quite cheerful until you realise it's about sending young working-class men, barely out of school, off to fight and die in foreign wars.
* MurderBallad
** "Let Him Dangle" and "Kinder Murder".
** His cover of Leon Payne's "Psycho".
* NerdGlasses - One of his visual trademarks.
* NonAppearingTitle - "Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4", which relates to the line "I can't believe I'll never believe in anything again".
** "The Long Division" from the Burt Bacharach collaboration also qualifies.
** "Room With No Number" is technically an example of this. The refrain is always sung as "room without a number", never as the title phrase.
* ObsessionSong - "I Want You".
* ProtestSong:
** "Shipbuilding," an anti-Falklands War song.
** "Tramp The Dirt Down", where he imagines himself standing on the grave of MargaretThatcher and stamping on it. The song experienced a brief spike in popularity following her death.
* PungeonMaster: His earlier works dripped with puns, ''Get Happy!!'' especially.
-->''"I'm so affected in the face of your affection"''
-->''"You lack lust, you're so lackluster"''
* RecordProducer:
** As well as the producing credits on his own albums, Costello has produced albums for Music/TheSpecials, Music/ThePogues and Music/{{Squeeze}}.
** Music/NickLowe produced many of his most acclaimed releases.
** Geoff Emerick, former engineer for Music/TheBeatles, produced ''Imperial Bedroom'' and ''All This Useless Beauty''
* {{Retraux}}: The cover for ''Get Happy!!'', as well as its production style, was influenced by RAndB from TheSixties.
* RevisitingTheRoots: ''Brutal Youth'', which both reunited him with The Attractions and revived his classic 70s style.
* RunningGag: Almost every version of his ''Get Happy!!'' album places emphasis on the number of tracks. The original vinyl album featured twenty tracks one one record, and Elvis recorded a television promo promoting this fact while the album included a note from producer Nick Lowe to assuage customer fears that the quality would be sacrificed to fit the songs on. The 1994 Rykodisc reissue contained ten bonus tracks and a note from Elvis reading, "Thanks to the wonders of technology, we are able to present the new and improved ''Get Happy!!'' containing, count them, THIRTY TRACKS!!!" Nine years later, the Rhino reissue added a bonus disc containing [[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill thirty]] bonus tracks, bringing the total to 50, though Elvis didn't say much about that. This trend died with the [[VanillaEdition 2007 Hip-O releases, which drop the bonus tracks and liner notes in favor of a less favorable sound quality]].
* {{Scatting}} - The jazzy "Almost Ideal Eyes".
* SelfBackingVocalist - The Attractions/Imposters often provide backing vocals, but Costello also provides his own harmony vocals much of the time. One song where this is particularly noticeable is "King Horse".
* SesquipedalianLoquaciousness - A hallmark of much of Costello's early work, although after his collaboration with Music/BurtBacharach the tendency towards using a lot of words has eased slightly.
* SequelSong Sometimes his compositions just have too many words for one song. "American Without Tears No. 2" and "...Dust" are good examples of this. "When I Was Cruel No. 2" is unusual in that not only is it a completely different song than "When I Was Cruel No. 1", but it is on the album while "No. 1" was a B-side.
* SillyLoveSongs ''North'' is full of heartfelt love songs, having been written in the period when he started dating Diana Krall.
* StopAndGo - "God's Comic".
* TakeThat[=/=]TheVillainSucksSong:
** "Tramp the Dirt Down" is a long anti-MargaretThatcher rant.
** One of the more pointed ones, "How To Be Dumb," is about the Attractions' bass player, Bruce Thomas.
* TextlessAlbumCover - ''King of America''
* UsefulNotes/TheTroubles - "Oliver's Army".
* VanillaEdition - Many of his Universal reissues, after the Rykodisc and Rhino reissues of his 1977-1986 catalog featured bonus tracks, even ''Goodbye Cruel World''. Universal has released "deluxe editions" of some of his best albums like ''My Aim Is True'' and ''This Year's Model''.
* WitchWithACapitalB - From "Love Went Mad":
-->"I wish you luck with a capital F"
* WroteTheBook - "Every Day I Write The Book"
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