Sunday, February 15, 2009

Top 5 Songs by The Killers

Tim's Top 5:

1. "All These Things I've Done" from Hot Fuss - The solo vocal, followed by the drums leading into the guitar, which leads into the bass and fades back. The lyrics do a lot to commend the song because they accent the music so perfectly -- listen to the hard k's in "back of my broken hand" or the line "I'm so much older than I can take" -- the delivery just hits with genuine force. And like several of the songs on this list, it's got a lot of real variation to it -- the first half of the song (perfectly timed) is really just a prelude to the "I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier" transition which adds a real gospel feel to the song as it builds and transitions back into the first segment except with just a touch more vocal distortion this time. And the song title couldn't be placed better as a denouement into the quiet conclusion.

2. "Bones" from Sam's Town - This is in that rarest of categories, a song that induces a complete endorphin dump. If I hadn't taken up running, I'd probably never really know, but if you reach a point of physical exhaustion and have been me, there's nothing better than this song to drop your body temperature about three degrees. The lyrics keep it from being number one, they're really quite silly -- the Tim Burton video does nothing to commend it either, but the horns are perfect. The chorus increases with intensity as the song progresses and

3. "Sam's Town" from Sam's Town - I wouldn't have ever imagined that I'd come around on this album. When I heard it for the first time, it was depressing how bad it was. A few months passed, I heard it again, and it wasn't so bad. And really listening to the album, it's kind of easy to see why it took so long to grow on me. This song is the epitome of why -- it's got about eight songs crammed into 4:06, like the Who recording "A Quick One While He's Away" in 3:18. It goes from rapid to frenzied to leisurely and it's synthesizer-heavy. From the opening swell, it drops suddenly, goes into a ludicrously enunciated spoken word call to arms for Brandon Flowers, then explodes into the closest thing the song has to a chorus of "So why do you waste my time?", it drops back into a middle eight "have you ever seen the light?" and loops itself around again until it reaches the double-tracked sing-along "I've seen London..." Amazing. But not readily accessible -- the first time, it just sounds like a mess. Nope -- masterpiece.

4. "Losing Touch" from Day & Age - I've already christened this with new classic status. Deal. I'm a sucker for horns on Killers songs, clearly, and it makes the songs following it better...hearing Human in the absence of this song leading in...not something I want to experience again. And the amount of spite this songs carries for the people, like me, who just wrote off Sam's Town as worthless or as an attempt to be David Bowie.

5. "Change Your Mind" from Hot Fuss - I'll admit it, Casey Blake using "Read My Mind" as his batting song actually reminded me that it's a great song also, but The Killers are good with songs involving the word Mind. To me, it's probably the best vocals that Brandon Flowers has done on a song, perfectly matching his near monotone to the tone of the song.

Honorable mention: "Mr. Brightside" is just an amazing song, it's a shame it got largely overlooked for "Somebody Told Me", which is one of the least essential songs in the canon. The distorted vocals segueing into the crisp vocal-heavy wraparound, the swell of the drums into the chorus, which is so blissfully ironic that I have to love it.; "On Top" - very simple, but great production all around; "Why Do I Keep Counting?" - it starts slow, but once it gets into it, it's well worth the wait, even if it is a ludicrously simple song compared to the others; and of course, my favorite police interrogation set to music "Jenny Was a Friend Of Mine" which probably wouldn't even warrant mention if it were not about a police interrogation. Although there may be something on Sawdust worthy of mentioning here, my pick would probably have to be "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town", and the way I phrased this's not eligible. I guess "Move Away" is a top 10 consideration.

Dan's Top 5:

1. "Mr. Brightside" (Hot Fuss) - This song was the highlight of the summer of 2005 for me. I was in Ireland, and one of my principal occupations was burning a copy of Hot Fuss for everyone, because this song was everywhere in the UK at that time. The hook-laden chorus in this song is perfect, and the lyrics are rather enigmatic while still having a fairly clear subject. The epitome of The Killers.

2. "Read My Mind" (Sam's Town) - The highlight of this album for me, the vocal line is perfectly complimented by the backing chord progression. There's also a great contrast between the softer verse and the harder chorus, though no one in the band is overplaying. The song could benefit from a bridge section or a more interesting guitar solo, but I'm not going to complain.

3. "Jenny Was a Friend Of Mine" (Hot Fuss) - The narrative is the best aspect of this song, but it's impossible to ignore the outstanding quality of the bass line. It feels like it was stolen from Peter Hook himself. This probably the best attempt that the band made at recapturing that 80's feel, though the subject makes it feel much darker and more modern than anything you would have heard back then.

4. "When You Were Young" (Sam's Town) - This is probably the reason I was so originally disappointed with their sophomore album now that I think about it. It was the leading single, and as a result, I was expecting all the songs to be this good. Wonderful sonic textures exist in this song - a subtle use of bells, a tone-dulled organ, strings, etc. Again, though, it suffers from a lack of variety as the song progresses - no bridge or interesting instrumental breaks.

5. "All These Things That I've Done" (Hot Fuss) - This one actually placed pretty low for this list, but that's because it's already been mentioned. It has a lot of internal variations, and all I can really do is echo Tim's praise. He's really put a lot more thought into analyzing this song than I ever have.

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