The Killers Are Fun but Vapid, Like Their Hometown

No one's sick of talking about Kanye West, right? Because if the Killers are going to keep it up, why shouldn't I?

After Kanye stole the mic and the spotlight from Taylor Swift at the VMAs in a publicity stunt — the blatant scripting of which has been addressed in painful detail by music editor Martin Cizmar in his Twitter feed — the Las Vegas quartet offered up its own take on the parodies that have been filling up YouTube.

At a recent show, Jimmy Kimmel stormed the stage wearing Kanye's trademark shades and grabbed lead signer Brandon Flowers' microphone to announce that the opening act, the Psychedelic Furs had "one of the best songs of the night," prompting the band to return to the stage and join the Killers for "Pretty in Pink."

As Chris Crocker would say, "Leave Kanye alone!"

After all, it can't be easy being Kanye. That kind of talent comes with pressure that these guys can't quite understand. The best thing Kimmel ever did was dating Sarah Silverman, and as for the Killers, they're all right, but definitely not quite as inspired.

Flowers gave an interview to Rolling Stone this month that brings the problem into focus. When he was asked about the creative driving force behind the Killers, Flowers said that while some artists are driven to create defining moments in their lives, he wants to make music of his own because he gets jealous when he hears something good on the radio.

I get that. Anyone who's heard Appetite for Destruction has wanted to be in a band, but that just isn't the kind of motivation that makes for great music. Kanye is driven by a need to show up all the doubters, and he puts out The College Dropout. His mother dies, and we get 808s and Heartbreak.

The Killers, meanwhile, grew up in a city saturated in glitz and gaudiness, so we get their latest album, Day and Age, a collection of songs that sound so bright and upbeat that you could be forgiven for overlooking the fact that so many of them are actually stories about loss and leaving.

Don't get me wrong: Like Vegas, that's not all that bad. Sure, there's mob activity, hookers, a fortune blown every minute and a depressing lack of culture in the city, but those lights sure are pretty. Does anyone go there and really have a bad time? Not that I know of. Just watch The Hangover.

And that's a lot like listening to this album, and tracks like "I Can't Stay" in particular. The name tells as much of the story as you need to know, but the Killers fluff up the tune with maracas, ascending harps, smooth-jazz saxophone, and Jimmy Buffett-style guitars. Breaking up never sounded so fun. It makes as much sense as putting the Eiffel Tower across the street from New York, New York, but in Vegas, anything goes.

It's not confidential that these guys have potential, but in the end, they've built their music on too little foundation and without a real vision. That's bound to leave listeners wanting. Just wanting to be a music writer doesn't make my work any more inspired, as anyone who's left comments on my stories can tell you.

So go ahead and knock the big name, guys. The Killers are as close to Kanye as the Venetian is to Venice.

 
My Voice Nation Help
5 comments
Some Dude
Some Dude

Wow, I'm not a great fan of either act, but being familiar with both and having seen both live, it's pretty obvious that one act uses technology and effects to their advantage, and one uses technology and effects to cover up for a lack of musical ability. Any dickhead can grab a mic and a box from Antares, put in a CD, and yell some stupid shit for an hour. ANYONE can do this. Music composition and performance, however, well, that takes at least a little bit of talent and huevos. I repsect and admire many hip-hoppers - Roots, Mr. Lif, Nas - but Kanye just isn't one of them. To paraphrase the Roots, he ain't saying nothing new. At least the Killers are trying.

Sid
Sid

I'm sorry, is it still cool to say you don't like the Killers because your taste in music is just so much more sophisticated?

Jonathan
Jonathan

Oh, wow. As a relatively new fan of The Killers and Brandon Flowers, this article was absolute garbage.

Day & Age is so NOT a cliche breakup/heartache album dolled up with bright hooks and synths. Actually, most of the songs aren't even explicitly about relationships or heartbreak. Many of them -- Losing Touch, Spaceman, Neon Tiger, This Is Your Life, The World We Live In and especially Human -- are actually about the importance of individualism and staying true to yourself and your values even when it seems as if everyone else wants to destroy and assimilate you. The lyrics are flexible enough that they could be about romance and heartbreak if you wanted them to, but you'd have to make your own highly personalized connections between the lyrics and your life experiences, because The Killers wisely avoid throwing any easily-digestible platitudes about cheating ex's.

On a certain level, these songs could be about the band themselves and especially Brandon, who are genuinely concerned about pursuing new directions and staying fresh as musicians -- even at the risk of being ridiculed by fairweather "fans" and music critics who only liked them for Mr. Brightside and Somebody Told Me. Look at the lyrics of Losing Touch ("I am in no hurry/You go run and tell your friends I'm losing touch/Fill their heads with rumors of impending doom/It must be true"), or Neon Tiger ("They'll strategize and name you/But don't you let 'em tame you/You're far too pure and bold/To suffer the strain of the hangman's hold")... they seem to be reflecting on the Sam's Town days and the beating they took from the media and critics for their changed sound, and at the same time forecasting a similar reception towards Day & Age (though thankfully the media has been less harsh this time). In turn, these songs are very uplifting and inspirational for someone who's struggling to maintain their honesty and integrity amidst a modern 21st-century society that's becoming increasingly insincere, ignorant and just plain cruel. Brandon even reflects on the ills of modern society in Human ("Pay my respects to grace and virtue/Send my condolences to good/Give my regards to soul and romance/They did the best they could").

I Can't Stay is absolutely NOT a shallow break-up song like you ignorantly stated. Hell, it actually mentions Brandon's wife and son ("There's a majesty at my doorstep/And there's a little boy in her arms/And we'll parade around without game plans/Obligation or alarms"). It seems to be about Brandon's conflicted feelings having to spend so much time away from his family as he's touring the world with his bandmates.

A Dustland Fairytale, an epic ballad which is the closest to their Springsteen-flavored Sam's Town, seems to be about Brandon's parents and particularly her mother. The early verses of ADF seem to be describing how Brandon's parents met as teenagers -- the chorus seems to be an earnest and impassioned plea of support for her mother(referenced metaphorically as Cinderella), who sadly is suffering from brain cancer(referenced as the Devil). Goodnight, Travel Well is a very dark and personal song (almost Radiohead-ish) whose heavy emotions are inspired by Brandon's mother's cancer as well as another bandmember's mother dying recently. It's about REAL grief and loss, not shallow teenage infatuation.

Joy Ride is probably the closest thing there is to a sleazy pop song ala Hot Fuss, as it seems to be describing a one night stand. Yet even that stands out simply due to Brandon's vocals; he is very strong, enormously confident and just plain MASCULINE in a very convicing way. The sweltering beat and the swaggering lyrics("Candy apple red dress/bleeding when she kissed me/Heaven in a ragtop/Take away my pain") combine to evoke the feelings of such a sexual experience so vividly, something that many of their contemporaries fail miserably at(I'm looking at you, Kings of Leon and your insipid "Sex on Fire").

There is an emotional depth and poignancy to Day & Age that sadly hasn't been noticed by everyone, including the writer of this boneheaded article. Maybe you would've have noticed it if you actually paid attention to the lyrics, instead of assuming that they're about teenage heartbreak simply because they once wrote Mr. Brightside and used to be the darlings of tween girls and their rags back in 2005 (these same girls are now all about the Jonas Brothers and other Disney-manufactured "music").

The Killers have evolved and impressively so -- they've retained the insane sing-along catchiness of Hot Fuss, yet their lyrics and emotions have grown way past the shallow themes of jealousy and murder from that debut record. And in doing so, they've become one of the few interesting bands in American popular music. Brandon sings with a genuine passion that's woefully lacking in many of his stateside contemporaries.

The Killers aren't vapid at all, but this article sure is.

London
London

First off, Day & Age is not a collection of just upbeat music. You obviously haven't listened to the whole cd. Goodnight Travel Well is a pretty depressing song about his mother (who has a tumor in her brain) and Mark's (the bass player)mother who died. They also said this album was a 'fun' album. Are you just obsessed w/being depressed and morbid?? What are you a cutter? You want real $hit that talks about the struggles of life then stick to your hip-hop nonsense. Go nuts w/the whole gangsta crap and growing up in the projects. It sounds right up your alley. Or listen to country!

Second, you can't compare that little bitch ass, attention starving retard (Kanye) to The Killers. Apples to apples, hello?? The Killers are influenced by bands like Depeche Mode, The Cure, New Order, Pet Shop Boys, etc. This isn't hip-hop or gangsta rap. Besides, if Kanye can't take the heat then he should just stay out of the limelight. You put yourself out there, you're going to get crucified. That goes for anyone, even The Killers. I just think your article is bs because your knowledge of the Killers is very sketchy.

3rd, isn't music supposed to be about who you are and where you're from? Isn't that what hip-hop and rap is all about? Country music too. They are from Vegas, what the hell did you expect them to write about or sound like?? Snoop?

G
G

They weren't knocking Kayne, but poking fun, as about a million other people have done at this point.

I think the Killers have great songs and that Day & Age is a record that got me through a tough time this year. You are spot on about how it sounds so uplifting and yet the songs talk so much about loss and changes. That is actually waht makes Day & Age a great record. Kayne West attempting to sing, didn't get me through anything. I would be the first to say he's talanted, but the way he treats people is such a turn off. I don't know how anyone can defend his behavior. This latest incident is not the first time he's done that to a person. Being a legend in your own mind doesn't give you the right to insult people or to judge who deserves an award or not-- but apparently he thinks so. I think Taylor Swift forgave his behavior and that should be the end of it, but to act like he doesn't deserve the backlash he's getting is a bit silly. He likes getting attention-- well, he's gotten the attention of everyone.

And comparing the Killers and Kayne as artists- is like comparing day and night. And not because I think he's so super talented and they are so superficially talented, but because the music they create is so very different.

In the end though, I'm sure Kayne didn't take their poking fun too hard, he was probably more upset by knowing that even the president thinks he's an idiot. But then again, for someone who loves attention, he was probably very happy to know that even the president was talking about him.

 
Phoenix Concert Tickets

Concert Calendar

  • July
  • Tue
    29
  • Wed
    30
  • Thu
    31
  • Fri
    1
  • Sat
    2
  • Sun
    3
  • Mon
    4
Loading...