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Music / AJR

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L-R: Adam, Jack, and Ryan
AJR is an Indie Pop/Electro-Pop music trio formed in 2005 consisting of Jack Met, Ryan Met, and Adam Met. Starting originally in an apartment in Chelsea, Manhattan, the group has grown to release a handful of indie-pop albums, including the commercially acclaimed Neotheater.


  • EPs:
    • AJR (2012)
    • I'm Ready (2013)
    • Infinity (2014)
    • What Everyone's Thinking (2016)
  • Studio Albums:
    • Born and Bred (2010)
    • Venture (2010)
    • Living Room (2015)
    • The Click (2017)
    • Neotheater (2019)
    • OK Orchestra (2021)
    • The Maybe Man (2023)

Let me play the World's Smallest Tropes for you:

  • Album Title Drop:
    • "Come Hang Out": Should I go for more clicks this year?/ Or should I follow the click in my ear?
    • "Next Up Forever" and "Finale (Can't Wait To See What You Do Next)" have Welcome to the neotheater.
  • Appeal to Worse Problems: The crux of "World's Smallest Violin" is that pointing out that somewhere, someone's having it worse doesn't make one's own problems easier to bear at all.
  • Band of Relatives: The band consists of brothers Jack, Ryan and Adam Met.
  • Being Good Sucks: "Karma" is about Jack feeling that his attempts to be a good and nice person aren't paying off like he expected it to, noting that in spite of "being good this year" he still feels sad and lonely. He asks his therapist if it's even worth trying when he doesn't seem to be seeing any of the karma his good deeds should be rewarding him.
  • Book Ends:
    • Neotheater. Both the first song "Next Up Forever" and the last song "Finale (Can't Wait To See What You Do Next)" feature the line "Welcome to the neotheater".
    • The Maybe Man. "2085", the last track of the album, ends with a reprise of "Maybe Man", the first track of the album.
  • Bowdlerize: Their performance of "Bang!" at the 2020 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade changes the lyric "Been a hell of a ride" to "Been a heck of a ride".
  • Breaking Old Trends:
    • Neotheatre was their first album to not contain an explicit overture; instead, the band decided to put bits and pieces of the songs in each other, creating what could be described as an entire-album overture.
    • OK Overture is their first overture to both contain original lyrics in it and have it not simply be named "Overture" (though this could be from the band wanting to avoid confusion between the overtures for Living Room, The Click, and OK Orchestra).
    • The Maybe Man continues to play with the concept of an overture, as rather than having a traditional one to start of the album, the titular song acts as a "table of contents" for the rest of album, with each verse representing a different song.
  • Call-Back:
    • Bang! references a number of previous songs in its lyrics, most noticeably "Pretender", "Come Hang Out", and "Karma", which they reference in the chorus.
    • The 3 O'Clock Things music video contains multiple visual references to their previous music videos (and even references an old band name) but Jack is instead portrayed by their lighting guy, Ezra.
  • Dare to Be Badass: "Burn the House Down" is about no longer ignoring the bad news piling up all around us and instead taking a stand and uniting to make real change.
  • Growing Up Sucks: A very common theme in their music, though "Sober Up" stands out in particular:
    Won't you help me sober up?
    Growing up, it made me numb
    And I want to feel something again
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: When it's not about how Growing Up Sucks, their lyrical content often revolves around their immense lack of confidence in their music's success.
  • In the Style of: Neotheater's sound has been frequently compared to Golden Age Disney musicals.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: A staple of their music.
    • "Sober Up" is a poppy, upbeat song... about an alcoholic trying to reach out to friends he's drifted away from and how Growing Up Sucks.
    • "Humpty Dumpty" is arguably the happiest song sound-wise in OK Orchestra, but holds some of the most depressing lyrics in the album. Considering it's about someone hiding their pain and pretending to be happy because they think that people only like them when they're happy, this actually fits the point of the song quite well.
    • "Karma" has a rather energetic, grand tone to it, but the lyrics are about how Being Good Sucks and how doing good things hasn’t done anything to make them happy. Though this is subverted in the final part to the song, which is appropriately orchestral and somewhat melancholy as the singer rapidly vents his frustration, before the song ends rather abruptly.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: "Hole in the Bottom of My Brain" is a darker play on the classic "There's A Hole In The Bottom of The Sea" nursery tune, where the titular hole represents the emptiness Jack feels when he isn't distracting himself with being liked and getting famous.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: Invoked. "Finale (Can't Wait To See What You Do Next)" implies that the brothers see Neotheater as their peak, and in the end wonder if they can even top it with any following album.
  • New Sound Album: Neotheater is best described as "1940s-esque sound meets modern production", in contrast to their previous albums, which were purely Electro-Pop.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me:
    • "Don't Throw Out My Legos" is about the fears of finally moving out of your parents' home and living on your own. The title refers to Jack begging his parents to not toss out his old stuff because he feels he might change his mind and come back home if he feels his fears turn out to be validated. He's basically half-pleading with himself not to leave.
    • The choir of "Finale (Can't Wait To See What You Do Next)" pleads with the brothers to do more music as they consider ending things with Neotheater.
    • "God is Really Real" is about the brothers' bedridden, terminally ill father. Much of the lyrical content is Jack begging his father to get up out of bed, offering many excuses for him to be active like being their roadie as they tour or breaking him out of the hospital with the medicine he'll need.
  • [Popular Saying], But...: From "Break My Face": "What doesn't kill you makes you ugly / Life gives you lemons, at least it gave you something."
  • Precision F-Strike: The only lyric in "3 O'Clock Things" to contain profanity is "That if you're fucking racist then don't come to my show".
  • Revisiting the Roots: After foregoing an overture for Neotheater, they put one in their next album, Ok Orchestra.
  • Rhyming with Itself:
    • "Come Hang Out" does the homophone variant, rhyming "Mourning" with "Morning".
    • "Beats" rhymes "Fashion" with itself during the first bridge, as well as "demographic" with "graphic" (as in graphic t-shirts).
  • Sampling:
    • "I'm Ready" samples SpongeBob Squarepants yelling and chanting the song's title.
    • Invoked and Subverted with Neotheater. Even though most of the songs sound like they're sampling a 1940s film score, everything in the album was composed by the band and then sampled, which they described as "Sampling their own sample".
    • "Birthday Party" features a sample of the beginning of the song "In Heaven", played over the bridge.
    • "Way Less Sad"'s main brass hook is copied directly from the end of "My Little Town".
    • "The Good Part"'s violin melody is sampled from the beginning of "Air on the G String".
  • Self-Deprecation: Often Played for Drama, as some songs are rather candid about how the brothers are insecure about exactly how successful their music might be. "Bang" has a comedic example where in making a catchy pop song, the chorus pleads listeners to pretend to know the song to ensure its popularity.
  • Sequel Escalation: Lampshaded with "Next Up Forever", where Jack sings about how the band has to go bigger and harder than ever before to ensure that people will still listen to them.
  • Series Fauxnale: "Finale (Can't Wait To See What You Do Next)" is all about the possibility of Neotheater being their final album, with the brothers considering just ending their musical career on a high note only for a choir of fans, friends, and family to sing out a desire to see more of their work. Of course, this ended up being untrue with the announcement of OK Orchestra.
    If it's my final album, and if I am forgotten
    I hope I made you smile, that's all I've ever wanted
  • Shout-Out: "Netflix Trip" is an entire song dedicated to The Office.
  • Signature Headgear: Jack's bomber hat.
  • Stop and Go: "3 O'Clock Things" has this happen near the end. After the last lyric ("That if you're fucking racist/ then don't come to my show") the music stops for a few seconds, then Ryan says "No, we have to do one more" and the song continues for 30 seconds.
  • Tempting Fate: "Birthday Party" is about a newborn enjoying his first minute of life and very obliviously predicting that he'll have no trouble resisting drugs, that his parents will stay in love, that social media will be a nice thing to have, that he'll always have the friends he makes, that the country he's born in will be nice to immigrants, etc., etc. Basically, literally the first minute of his existence will be the only time he ever feels any kind of happiness, hope, and peace.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: You can hear someone go "Oh God, no no no no no" in the beginning of "World's Smallest Violin".
  • World's Smallest Violin: The eleventh track of OK Orchestra is named after this trope, and also acts a sort of a deconstruction of it. Ultimately defied, with the singer pointing out that even relatively small problems deserve to be heard out and addressed.
    "Next to them, my shit don't feel so grand
    But I can't help myself from feeling bad
    I kinda feel like two things can be sad"

(Bang bang bang)
Here we go!
(Bang, bang)


Video Example(s):


Burn The House Down

One of the twisted attractions is a man with a bag over his head throwing knives at a hopeless-looking woman locked onto a wheel.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / KnifeThrowingAct

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