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The Killers: An Exploration of Lyrical Mediocrity


I have an ongoing discussion with a good friend over the terribly awful lyrical ability of the rock band The Killers. Musically, the band is actually quite talented. However, they should be required by law to hire a lyricist before they are allowed to produce another song. If that doesn’t happen, in the words of Douglas Adams, it’s possible that Flowers own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save humanity, may leap straight up through his neck and throttle his brain. Since I am all about the scientific method and the use of evidence to demonstrate facts, I decided to take five of The Killers most popular songs and highlight exactly how horrifically bad their lyrics are. When studied without the Killers admittedly talented musical ability, you quickly see these songs could have been written by an eight year old with a severe head injury. Mr. Brightside Last night I actually watched my friend attempt to serenade a young French woman with this song. As he recited the lyrics without musical accompaniment, you could actually see him realize how awful they were.

I’m coming out of my cage
And I’ve been doing just fine
Gotta gotta be down
Because I want it all

Now perhaps the Killers like to be caged, but that’s not my definition of doing fine. But apparently it’s ok because he’s gotta be down and therefore he wants it all. If that’s not a clear articulation of his situation, there’s this:

Jealousy, turning saints into the sea
Swimming through sick lullabies
Choking on your alibis

Now, I have studied a fair amount of literature in my 44 years, but have never stumbled upon any reference to turning saints into the sea. Why the saints deserve to be turned into ocean water by jealousy is an open question. So to is how you swim through a song for small children. The only line that comes close to achieving depth is “choking on your alibis”, but given her alibis would enter the ears, and not the mouth, this, too, is a metaphorical mess. Somebody Told Me Speaking of metaphorical messes, this song is just damn near unintelligible.

Breaking my back Just to know your name Seventeen tracks And I’ve had it with this game

I’m breaking my back Just to know your name But heaven ain’t close In a place like this

Anything goes But don’t blink you might miss

Cause heaven ain’t close In a place like this I said heaven ain’t close In a place like this

Do you get the sense that heaven might not be very close. I think they really want us to get that message given they repeat it SIX FRIGGIN’ TIMES in the course of a five minute song.  But that stunning piece of wisdom is mixed in with other brilliant observations such as:

Pace yourself for me I said maybe baby please But I just don’t know now When all I wanna do is try

I mean what the actual fuck?

All These Things That I’ve Done

This is, quite possibly, the dumbest song ever written. Listening to it has actually been shown to lower your IQ by 1.5 points per listen. That fact actually explains a lot about my friend and the pomeranian he is currently dating.

When there’s nowhere else to run Is there room for one more son, one more son

If you can’t hold on If you can’t hold on Hold on

I don’t even know what to do with that. Let’s move on.

Another head aches, another heart breaks I’m so much older than I can take And my affection, well, it comes and goes I need direction to perfection, no no no no

Somebody obviously owns a rhyming dictionary. But then comes the best part of this sloppy mess.

You’re gonna bring yourself down, yeah You’re gonna bring yourself down, yeah You’re gonna bring yourself down

I got soul but I’m not a soldier I got soul but I’m not a soldier I got soul but I’m not a soldier I got soul but I’m not a soldier

I got soul but I’m not a soldier I got soul but I’m not a soldier I got soul but I’m not a soldier I got soul but I’m not a soldier

I got soul but I’m not a soldier I got soul but I’m not a soldier

If you haven’t heard the song, just know, in the bottom of your soul, that I’m not making this shit up. You can hit it up on Spotify, but since I have intelligent readers, and I’ve already disclosed the IQ loss, I wouldn’t suggest it. I cannot, in good conscience, provide a link.

Read My Mind

About half a verse into Mr. Brightside last night, my friend realized he sounded like an incoherent mental patient and switched course on his serenade, and then opened the song on his phone to impress our Parisienne guest. The tactic may have made sense. If All These Things That I’ve Done is the worst Killers track, this one is probably the best. It’s lyrics still suffer from rhetorical ambiguity, only a passing familiarity with grammar, and a tendency toward self-contradiction, but it’s more coherent than anything else these guys have done.

I never really gave up on Breakin’ out of this two-star town I got the green light I got a little fight I’m gonna turn this thing around

Ok. I get it. I grew up in a small town with dreams of dumping that shithole and moving out to the big city. I can understand a guy who wants the same. I’m tuned in and ready to relate.

The good old days, the honest man; The restless heart, the Promised Land A subtle kiss that no one sees; A broken wrist and a big trapeze

Ok, what the goddamn hell? Not enough?

It’s funny how you just break down Waitin’ on some sign I pull up to the front of your driveway With magic soakin’ my spine

Seriously, guys? I think it may be LSD soaking your spine if you think that makes any sense at all.

The teenage queen, the loaded gun; The drop dead dream, the Chosen One A southern drawl, a world unseen; A city wall and a trampoline

Ok, now you’re just spinning gibberish together. You can’t possibly believe this conveys anything other than the fact that you’re a schizophrenic who is free associating. But he may actually be:

She said I don’t mind, if you don’t mind ‘Cause I don’t shine if you don’t shine

Put your back on me Put your back on me Put your back on me The stars are blazing like rebel diamonds cut out of the sun

Human

If you’ve made it this far, and honestly why would you unless you have masochistic tendencies and a crap-ton of free time, we finish with Human. This song actually flirts with coherence, then fucks it all up in the chorus. You begin with lyrics that actually might mean something:

Pay my respects to grace and virtue Send my condolences to good Hear my regards to soul and romance They always did the best they could

And so long to devotion You taught me everything I know Wave goodbye, wish me well You’ve gotta let me go

But then you mix in crap like this:

Will your system be alright When you dream of home tonight There is no message we’re receiving Let me know, is your heart still beating?

Is he talking to an android? I mean, who asks their significant other if their system will be alright? But then we get into Phillip K. Dick’s existential question of what androids dream about? Do they dream of home? But then he specifically mentions the heart beating. So it’s not an android thing after all. It’s definitely a romantic partner and he’s apparently got the worst pillow talk known to man.

Finally, we finish with that great philosophical question we’ve all asked countless times:

Are we human or are we dancer? My sign is vital, my hands are cold And I’m on my knees looking for the answer Are we human or are we dancer?

I’ve read the Bible, the Koran, Nietzsche, Kant, Locke, Rousseau. The number of times they have brought me to ask that same questions is…. FUCKING ZERO! You wanna know why? Because those things are not mutually exclusive! That is the question born of a failing public school system and way too much cocaine at after parties. It is a question asked by songwriters who, by some standardized tests, may actually be retarded.

Fortunately for the Killers, the fact that the average American IQ is 98 means there are actually A LOT of potential fans below that mark.  And if the rest listen to All These Things That I’ve Done enough, there will be even more.



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Written by Turk