Las Vegas band The Killers have been teasing a new album to follow up their 2012 release of Battle Born for a good six months or so, and it’s about time. Five years without these Springsteen-wannabe, former eyeliner-wearing rockers has been five years too many. Lead vocalist Brandon Flowers has spent the hiatus putting out his sophomore solo album, The Desired Effect, and as much as I loved that album, it just wasn’t the same.
Of course, I’m incredibly biased. The Killers are tied as my favorite band, up there with Coldplay (Shh, don’t tell Chris Martin). But I’m not the only one internally (and externally) pleading for a release date. In honor of this new album, here is a definitive list of the top five Killers songs, laid out in descending order.
5. For Reasons Unknown
Wow, how underrated this song is. While it was released as a single for Sam’s Town, it did not get the same traction as the other singles, even if it was well received by critics. The track starts off with distortion and Flowers’ gritty vocals laid on top of each other, making you feel uneasy. But the song drops the multitrack and opens up to the pre-chorus, with Flowers singing, “But my heart/It don’t beat/It don’t beat the way it used to/And my eyes/They don’t see you no more” over an infectious beat.
Perhaps the best part of this song is the break into falsetto in the second pre-chorus. There’s nothing like a slight vocal crack to make a song more sincere. People live for these moments. The best songs aren’t the ones that are stylistically “perfect,” they’re the ones that sound unpolished and passionate. “For Reasons Unknown” does just that.
4. A Dustland Fairytale
“A Dustland Fairytale” pulls at the heartstrings, especially if you know the backstory. The song is about Flowers’ parents, starting off with the story of how they met. But the lyrics take a turn at the chorus. “I saw Cinderella in a party dress/But she was looking for a nightgown/I saw the devil wrapping up his hands/He’s getting ready for the showdown.” At the time, Flowers’ mom was fighting against brain cancer, which she unfortunately passed away from in 2010.
“Now Cinderella, don’t you go to sleep/It’s such a bitter form of refuge/Don’t you know the kingdom’s under siege/And everybody needs you?” There is so much love and pain in this song, and you can hear it in his voice. It is likely the most emotional Killers song to date, making it incredibly genuine and heartfelt, easily giving it a spot in the top five.
3. Be Still
If I were to get a tattoo of song lyrics, they would probably come from this song. The words of “Be Still” have personally touched the lives of listeners around the globe. It’s the kind of song that will pull you out from under the rubble, brush you off, and arm you to fight whatever life has in store for you. The melody is simple enough; the lyrics are the real star of the show.
Just a few samples from the song:
“Be still/One day you’ll leave /Fearlessness on your sleeve”
“And may your limits be unknown/And may your efforts be your own”
“And if they drag you through the mud/It doesn’t change what’s in your blood”
Lyrically, this is the best Flowers has to offer. If you’re going through the worst, or know someone who is, this song can make a significant impact.
2. Read My Mind
When I decided to write this list, there were two songs that immediately jumped to my mind for the number one spot. It took a lot of diagramming and hair pulling, but I ended up placing “Read My Mind” in the second spot, which doesn’t seem fair. If The Killers hadn’t released the song below, this would have easily been bumped up, no question.
“Read My Mind” is just magical. There’s a poetic nature to it that is hard to rival. “The stars are blazing like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun/Can you read my mind?” It somehow feels nostalgic, yet modern at the same time. It’s an old friend, an old memory, that you carry with you wherever you go. You may take some time away from it, but it’ll be there when you come back, just as good, if not better, than it was before.
1. All These Things That I’ve Done
Drum roll, please… The number one Killers song released to date is “All These Things That I’ve Done.” You were expecting that, weren’t you? It starts so simply. A repeated staccato note on the piano, Flowers’ voice in the distance, the drum entrance, followed shortly by the guitar riff and, finally, the bass.
The way Flowers sings this song is vital to its success. You sense a desperation in his voice at times, with moments of regret, and others of motivation. Then Flowers suddenly, yet softly, breaks into the refrain: “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier,” and everything changes. He repeats the line as it builds over time, incorporating more instruments and a gospel choir, to the point where even the listener joins Flowers in belting out “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier” at the top of their lungs. The song is great without the line, but with it, it turned “All These Things That I’ve Done” into the pop-rock anthem we all needed.
“All These Things That I’ve Done” is the only song on the list to be nominated for a Grammy, and was included in The Telegraph’s top 100 songs of all time. In the battle for the best Killers song of all time, this Hot Fuss single pulled away by narrow margins and was crowned the victor.
Needless to say, this was a tough post to write. I had to create a March Madness-like bracket to narrow down my choices. With four studio albums, two compilation albums, one live album, and one extended play, The Killers have been generous enough to give us plenty of catchy beats, beautiful lyrics and great cowboy costumes to keep us happy for the past 13 years. If their previous music is any indication of what we can expect for their upcoming release, the still unnamed album is going to be pretty incredible.