Imagine Dragons is an Alternative Rock band formed in Las Vegas in 2008. Their music ranges from Self Empowerment Anthems to tunes about the Darkest Hour, from Silly Love Songs to Breakup Songs. They rose to prominence with their album Night Visions in 2012, and the three hit songs that came from it; "It's Time", their first hit; "Radioactive", which earned the band a 2014 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance, and "Demons".
The band has also recorded songs for the movies The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Me Before You, Suicide Squad (2016), Passengers (2016), and Ralph Breaks the Internet, the mobile game Infinity Blade III, and the 2014 League of Legends World Championship (where they also appeared and performed live at the Grand Final). Frankenweenie and Iron Man 3 have some pieces from the band on their respective tie-in albums, but these do not appear in the movies themselves.
- Imagine Dragons EP (2009)
- Hell & Silence EP (2010)
- It's Time EP (2011)
- Continued Silence EP (2012)
- Hear Me EP (2012)
- Night Visions (2012)
- The Archive EP (2013)
- iTunes LIVE EP (2013)
- Smoke + Mirrors (2015)
- Evolve (2017)
- Origins (2018)
- Mercury - Act 1 (2021)
This band provides examples of:
- After the End: The lyrics of "Radioactive" (alluding to a nuclear apocalypse). Also the music video for "It's Time" (showing the band exploring a desolate wasteland of a city).
- Album Title Drop: The phrase "Hell and Silence", the title of an EP, gets sung during "Emma".
- Arc Words: "Look into my eyes", "I'll make it up to you", and "dream" show up in many songs. All appear to be related to Dan's depression and recovery, and to his relationship issues.
- The Atoner: "Bleeding Out" seems to imply a message of "Hey, I did a lot of bad things to you, but I'm paying for it now."So I bare my skin
And I count my sins
And I close my eyes
And I take it in
Im bleeding out
Im bleeding out for you, for you.
- Audience Participation: Dan Reynolds often encourages those who attend the concerts to sing along.
- Autobots, Rock Out!: "Monster" and "Battle Cry" accompany fight scenes in Infinity Blade III and Transformers: Age of Extinction, respectively. Ironically, the first song of theirs that played in a Transformers movie, "All For You", sounds very mellow, and doesn't accompany a fight scene with Autobots.
- Battle in the Center of the Mind: The music video for "Believer" depicts frontman Dan Reynolds overcoming emotional and physical pain as a boxing match between Dan and Dolph Lundgren, who is heavily implied to be an older version of Dan. Further, the end of the video implies that he'll never finish this fight, but at best will have the determination to keep fighting.
- Beastly Bloodsports: The music video for "Radioactive" depicts one of these - except the beasts are stuffed animals.
- Bookends: "Battle Cry" ends by repeating the first verse.Just one more time before I go
I'll let you know
That all this time I've been afraid
Wouldn't let it show
Nobody can save me now, no
Nobody can save me now
- Break His Heart to Save Him: In "Demons", the narrator pushes a loved one away for their own good.
- Break-Up Song: A few songs have this implication, such as "Demons", "Amsterdam", and "Leave Me", to name only a few.
- Cannot Spit It Out: "On Top Of The World" is about telling those you love you love them before they leave.
- Canon Discontinuity: The Internet didn't seem to indicate the existence of any Imagine Dragons EPs older than 2009, until some songs from a 2008 EP called Speak to Me appeared on Tumblr in December 2014. (However, there did exist this video of a former band member performing the title song, and Lyricsmania shared the lyrics to "The Pit") The band's manager, Mac Reynolds, explained that since only one of the members featured in those tracks — Dan Reynolds — remained with Imagine Dragons afterward, the band didn't really consider Speak to Me one of their own works.
- Careful with That Axe: Dan's got a hell of a shouting voice that most tenors would probably die for, as heard most notably in the chorus of "Radioactive".
- The chorus of "Cutthroat".
- The bridge of "Giants" has Dan screaming his lungs out.
- Cover Version: Quite a few, most notably their live covers of Rush's "Tom Sawyer" and Blur's "Song 2".
- Darkest Hour: "Demons", where the singer/protagonist has given up any hope for protecting anything other than someone he cares for. If you pay attention, quite a few of their other songs have similar vibes, like "Lost Cause" and "Nothing Left to Say".
- Dark Reprise: Koda did a slow, sad version of "Radioactive" for The 100.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Dan Reynolds admittedly went through this in college, failing at different talents before deciding that his true calling involved becoming a musician.I really believe you dont do music [just] because you want to, you do music because you have to.
- Distressed Dude: The band members become this trope in the music video for "Radioactive", being trapped in the basement of the arena the stuffed animal dogfights are taking place. Eventually, they end up rescued by the drifter who brought her own challenger.
- Double-Meaning Title: The name of "The Fall" can refer to either autumn, or the singer's downfall.
- Downer Ending: Smoke + Mirrors ends on a rather depressing note in its first two North American versions, as if the album didn't already have enough self-loathing/disillusioned-sounding songs.
- Standard 13 track version, which ends with "The Fall":Im ready for the fall
Ready for the leaves
Ready for the colors to burn to gold
And crumble away
- Deluxe 17 track version, which ends with "Release":But look at me
Oh what a mess
I get caught up in the things that matter the least
Oh let me have release
I've let me down down down down (repeat four times)
- International deluxe versions end on a more hopeful note with either "Warriors"note or "Who We Are"note .
- Standard 13 track version, which ends with "The Fall":
- The End Is Nigh: The subject of "Fallen" (the last track of some versions of Night Visions):Tell everybody, tell everybody
Brothers, sisters, the ending is coming
- Eyes Never Lie: An Arc Symbol.
- The song "Demons" is all about this trope.
When you feel my heat
- From the chorus:
Look into my eyes
It's where my demons hide
It's where my demons hide
Your eyes, they shine so bright
- From the bridge:
I want to save that light
- "I Need a Minute" also briefly touched on this, as quoted earlier in this page.
- "Bad Liar" features the line "Look me in the eyes, tell me what you see". Here, Dan is telling his girlfriend to expose his true bad nature.
- The song "Demons" is all about this trope.
- Fan Disservice: The music video for "Bad Liar" features an attractive woman dancing, with many a Panty Shot, but it's undercut by the fact that she's dancing next to a levitating corpse.
- Get Out!: "Leave Me" is a Break Up Song with lyrics invoking almost nothing but this. In it, Dan is quite fed up with his partner and tells her to get the hell out of his life, to the point of bargaining to let her take whatever she wants and even claiming that he pulled a gun on her just to get her to finally leave.
- Grief Song: The singer of "Clouds"note apparently had his heart broken, and consequently proclaims that he wants to die. He changes his mind after the third chorus, but still acknowledges the mortality of man. Additionally, said chorus says something about "prisoners" in London waiting "for their turn to be dead."
- Heel Realization:
- One interpretation of "The River" explains that the singer has realized his own selfishness, and decided to perform a spiritual cleansing.
- "Bad Liar" serves as one for a man who has realized that he is manipulating his girlfriend into staying in a bad relationship.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: "Next to Me" is basically the singer asking the listener why they're still with them in spite of all the things they've screwed up in life.
- Hidden Track: "Rocks", at the end of "Nothing Left to Say", begins after a two-and-a-half minute outro and fifteen seconds of silence. Even though the name is in the track title, you'd be forgiven for thinking the track didn't exist.
- Humans Are Bastards: In "Demons", the line "No matter what we breed / We still are made of greed" implies that basic human selfishness will always be present, no matter how you teach the next generation.
- I Am a Monster: The aptly-named "Monster".
- The Insomniac: Wayne Sermon, as referenced in some of the songs.
- The Internet Is for Cats: The lyric video for "Zero" features a computer user playing cat game and watching a lot of cat videos. After the user tries to remove the "cat virus", the band pops up to save the day.
- The Invisible Band: Imagine Dragons doesn't appear in the Animated Music Video for "Warriors", and only make a cameo in the video for "I Bet My Life". Additionally, a few videos on their pre-Vevo YouTube channel consist of simply the band singing while random clips play.
- Ironic Echo: "Pantomime" makes four usages of the phrase, "It's just a matter of, 'Oh, don't touch me. Don't you, don't you touch me no more.'", the last of which replaces the second "don't you" with, "dare". The singer uses it twice during the first verse, when hesitating to take an ex-girlfriend back in, especially as her friends try to help him rebound. It appears two more times in the second verse, which details how the singer and the ex broke up (she left him for a rich and handsome man), and why she started pursuing him again (the rich and handsome man keeps brushing her aside in favor of making more money).
- It's Not You, It's Me: The singer of "Amsterdam" blames himself for a romance falling through, but apparently it took a snarky remark from the lover for him to develop this attitude.
- Large Ham:
"OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHH DIG MY SHALLOW GRAVE! It's not meeee you'll save, 'Cause I'm a lost cause. I'M A LOST CAUSE! A LOOOOOOOOST CAAAUUUUSE!"
- The entire chorus of "Radioactive", natch.
- "Lost Cause" almost delves into Chewing the Scenery territory. Dan Reynolds really knows how to hit the high notes, and only as one volume: LOUD.
- "A MONNSTER A MMONNTSER AND IT KEEPS GETTING STRONNGEERRR"
- The chorus of "Battle Cry".
- "Natural": "I'M GONNA MAKE IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITT!"
- "HEEEEEERE WE ARE, DON'T TURN A AWAAAAAAAAAAY NOW. 'WE! ARE THE WARRIORS THAT 'BUILT! THIS! TOWN!"
- "Dull Knives" has Dan exceeding his vocal range during the chorus.
- Lonely at the Top: "Gold" makes material wealth sound like an inadequate replacement for human companionship.
- Long Song, Short Scene: Only the intro of "Who We Are" plays during Catching Fire, and at the end of the end credits.
- Love at First Sight: "Living Musical" is sung from the perspective of someone experiencing this.
- Love Martyr: Most of Night Visions.
- Lyrical Cold Open: "Demons" and "Every Night" both start with lyrics before the instruments begin. "Every Night" is a particularly apt example - it's basically A Cappella for the first line.
- Lyrical Dissonance:
- "I Need a Minute," the first song from the group's first EP, sounds like a peppy dance song. However, the first verse goes like so:Welcome to the land of fire
I hope you brought the right attire
The crippled man is waiting at the door
He said "your eyes are much too bright"
The things you say are never right
The sins of all the world lie on your head
- "On Top Of The World" has a perky instrumental for a songs who's lyrics are about saying "I Love You" before it's too late.
- "Shots" has lyrics that seem to imply a romance broken beyond repair, but the instrumental actually sounds peppy.
- "I Need a Minute," the first song from the group's first EP, sounds like a peppy dance song. However, the first verse goes like so:
- Lyrics/Video Mismatch:
- Dan Reynolds admittedly thought showing a world-shattering apocalypse in the music video for "Radioactive" would seem too predictable, so how does it cover the song's themes of empowerment instead? It tells the story of a young woman who rescues Imagine Dragons from Lou Diamond Phillips, with help from her teddy bear, who slays a puppet monster.
- Possibly bearing even less relevance to its song, "On Top of the World" has a video in which the band visits The '60s and televises a staged moon landing.
- Midas Touch: Discussed in a metaphorical sense in "Gold", where the blessings of fame bring the "curses of diamonds and rings", making it so "you can't tell the false from the real".
- Mondegreen: Some songs fall victim to this, requiring Dan Reynolds to Tweet fans the correct lyrics. For at least one tune, "Destination", he admitted considering officially changing the words to match the misheard version ("I think a little 'bout a lot/I reach a verdict" —> "I think a little 'bout a lot/I'm introverted").
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Anywhere from a 2 ("Demons") to a rough 6 ("Friction").
- Mood Whiplash:
- In Night Visions, "Bleeding Out" has very dark lyrics (see above), but transitions into the lighter "Underdog", which is both faster and in a major key.
- Same with "Demons" followed by "On Top of the World", on both Continued Silence and Night Visions.
- The music video for "Radioactive" does an excellent job setting up a dark, dank, dreary, monochrome, possibly post-apocalyptic world (as indicated in the lyrics), before slapping you in the face with a brightly-colored Muppet reject shredding plush opponents in a puppet cock-fighting ring run by Lou Diamond Phillips (yes, really Lou Diamond Phillips). It will not take long to literally get whiplash from the force of the double-take, hysterical laughter, and sheer WTF-ery.
- Moon-Landing Hoax: The video for "On Top Of The World" eventually reveals that the Apollo 11 Moon Landing was filmed in a stage, with Imagine Dragons as the astronauts, Stanley Kubrick as the director, and Richard Nixon watching next to Kubrick. After the "success" of the landing, the stage is swarmed by fangirls who listen to the band perform.
- Motor Mouth: Dan sings the bridge of "Believer" and all the verses of "Whatever It Takes" more quickly than usual. "Natural" and "Zero" take it up a notch, suggesting this may become a regular thing for them.
- Mr. Fanservice: Lead singer Dan Reynolds is quite muscular, and has received much attention for his intensive fitness routine.
- New Sound Album: Smoke + Mirrors has the band experiment with genres that Night Visions didn't explore, reducing the electronic and hip-hop influences in favor of several styles of rock, folk, and R&B. It also features several unusual instruments, such as a prominent theremin in the song "Summer".
- One Steve Limit: Averted, three of the members are named Daniel: the lead singer, the drummer and the guitarist.note
- One-Woman Song: "Selene" and "Emma"
- Patriotic Fervor: Expressed in "America", sung from the perspective of a soldier motivated by a desire to protect his country, and also by inspiration from the Heroic Sacrifices made in past battles.
- Product Placement: Not specifically advertising, but rather a tribute to the game. The music video for "Warriors" was made very specifically for League of Legends.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Some of their songs do this.It's woven in my soul
I need to let. You. Go.
- Race for Your Love: Discussed in "Curse".Cause I can't sit oh I can't talk
I gotta leave this town and run to you
Curse these nights that speak your name
I gotta leave this town and come to you
Break (oh) this (oh) curse (oh)
- Repurposed Pop Song: The band has no qualms about lending out their songs for various advertisements and features.
- "It's Time", "Radioactive", "On Top of the World", "I Bet My Life", "I'm So Sorry", "Friction", "Believer", and "Thunder" have played in various commercials and trailers.
- "Monster" was used in a video package for Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 30.
- A Target commercial that premiered at the 2015 Grammys comprised entirely of Imagine Dragons performing "Shots" live from Las Vegas.
- A TV spot for the 88th Annual Academy Awards uses "Dream".
- A Nintendo Switch commercial that premiered at Super Bowl XLI uses "Believer", as does, oddly, the first trailer for Murder on the Orient Express (2017).
- A trailer for Wonder Woman (2017) uses "Warriors".
- Jeep sometimes uses Imagine Dragons songs in their commercials.
- Revolving Door Band: Every original member besides Dan Reynolds has left.
- Serious Business: "Warriors" treats League of Legends like this. Since it never refers to League of Legends by name, listeners could apply it to any competitive activity.Farewell, I've gone to take my throne above
But don't weep for me
'Cause this will be
The labor of my love
- Self-Deprecation: In the video for "Follow You", Kaitlin Olson takes Rob McElhenney to a private concert from Imagine Dragons, even though he preferred The Killers, which Imagine Dragons has been accused of being an inferior version of. At the end of the concert, the couple doesn't want to listen to the ten other songs Imagine Dragons had prepared, especially wanting to avoid the overplayed "Radioactive". Dan is left looking incredibly awkward at the end. The video also mocks Dan's tendency to be shirtless during concerts.
- Shower of Angst: Dan Reynolds seems to have a Deliberately Monochrome one in the "Roots" music video, submerging himself in a bathtub while singing about how he needs to reconnect with his past, and reflecting on childhood memories and his explorations of remote New Zealand locations. The memories (including some taken from home movies) play in full-color, as does Dan's rise out of the tub at the end of the video.
- Significant Anagram: The band's name apparently is one, but they don't plan on revealing what it is anytime soon. One of their favorite fan interpretations is the phrase "God is in a manger", which even Sermon called "a better band name than Imagine Dragons".
- Silly Love Songs: "Every Night" and "On Top Of The World".
- Spelling Song: The title song of the lost EP Speak to Me has a bridge that spells out, "Imagine movement. (Imagine) Let us be fearless." The last song, "Boots", spells out, "judgement", a few times.
- Surreal Music Video:
- "I Bet My Life" has a young man, portrayed by Dane DeHaan, get sucked into a dam during a fistfight. He goes through different environments of sea, air, and land, which become revealed as All Just a Dream as the other fighter pulls him out of the river. Clips of this video also appeared in a Jeep commercial.
- "Shots" places the band in environments inspired by the surrealist covers painter Tim Canton produced for Smoke + Mirrors and its singles.
- "Radioactive" is about an underground puppet fighting ring. No, really.
- The lyric video features a man searching for the lyrics to the song in various search engines, until a video game causes his computer to be infected with cats that make his computer unusable. Not to worry, though, the members of Imagine Dragons suddenly appear and destroy the cats with laser eyes. The video then shows us a poster for the band, which waves for a few seconds before Wreck-it-Ralph bursts through the poster. Yeah.
- Meanwhile, in the actual video, it begins with a skateboarder prat-falling, a random passerby flying up into the sky, Dan wandering around an arcade with a giant head that he needs to hold up with his arms, Ben doing an Unflinching Walk as his car explodes, Wayne looking dead inside as kids bring their arcade tickets to him, and Daniel showing off his skills at a football game. It ends with Ben (who just fell from the sky) and Daniel getting into a Wimp Fight, Wayne rocking out on a guitar given to him by the heavens outside, and Dan doing a Skyward Scream until some kids ask him if he's okay. Double yeah.
- "Bad Liar" takes this to Surreal Horror levels, with a woman dancing next to a levitating corpse in a position as if it's been hanged in a high school.
- Title Drop: Like most singers, they have a tendency to use song titles in their lyrics. Averted in "The Unknown". Possibly their most extreme example is "Thunder", which drops the title seventy-seven times. When it went to #1 on the American Top 40, it became the song with the most Title Drops to do so in the 2010s.
- Unplugged Version: The EP the band recorded for iTunes includes acoustic versions of five songs, two of which hadn't received public release before.
- Visual Pun: The title of "Roots" refers to the place and conditions under which the singer began, but the cover of the single shows a man with his left leg apparently growing tree roots.
- A Wild Rapper Appears!: Kendrick Lamar appears in the remix of "Radioactive".
That I'm never changing who I am"