The 10 Best Killers Songs: A Definitive Ranking
The 10 Best Killers Songs: A Definitive Ranking
by Atlan Hassard
My approach to making a Top 10 Killers Songs was very systematic. First, I took data from a plethora of sources including polls of Killers fans, music journalist articles, their greatest hits album, WatchMojo and my own personal list. I grouped the songs together by how many lists they appeared on, then calculated the average ranking of the song within that group. So what I present to you here is the objective, definitive ranking of the best songs from the Las Vegas-based, alternative rock foursome.
Honorable Mentions: Despite how much I love some of these songs, they just don’t quite make the cut based on their rankings elsewhere.
- Shot at the Night
- Under the Gun
- For Reasons Unknown
- A Dustland Fairytale
#10: Jenny Was A Friend of Mine
Come on, oh come on, oh come on this song had to make the list. Luckily it barely edged out “Shot at the Night” in it’s average ranking by only 0.5. Debuting as the first track off the Killers’ first album, Hot Fuss, in 2004, Rolling Stone writer ‘Jenny’ Eliscu described the song as sounding “a lot like Duran Duran.” The song was written by lead-singer Brandon Flowers and bass guitarist Mark Stoermer as part of their alleged “Murder Trilogy” detailing the homicide of a girl named Jenny. The other two songs being “Midnight Show” and “Leave the Bourbon on the Shelf.”
#9: Smile Like You Mean It
Another song from Hot Fuss, this one being the fourth single from the album, “Smile Like You Mean It” is known for its drumming by Ronnie Vannucci, Jr. Written in the key of F-Sharp major once again by Flowers and Stoermer, the song highlights the Killers’ early ability to deliver a powerful message; a message about memories and becoming content with growing older and specifically what that means. “A sardonic moper worthy of the Smiths.” – Chuck Arnold, People
Flash forward to 2012 and the album, Battle Born, the Killers’ most recent work to feature all-new tracks. A very special song to me, “Runaways” was the first single to hit airwaves after a four year hiatus the band had taken following their album, Day & Age. Written solely by Flowers about star-crossed lovers from a small town, Jon Dolan of Rolling Stone said of the track, “The first single from the first Killers’ album in four years is an ‘80s rock fever dream that’s crazily big, even by their grandiose standards.”
Day & Age, we’ve almost hit all the albums now, 3 for 4 (not including Sawdust) and we’re saving what might be my personal favorite for last. The first single on the Killers’ third album, perhaps their most musically diverse as well, “Human” is an alt-rock anthem that poses one of the most thought-provoking questions in modern music, “Are we human or are we dancer?” Flowers described the song that the whole band wrote as, “Johnny Cash meets the Pet Shop Boys.”
Just as they were released back-to-back on the airwaves it seems fitting that these musical masterworks be back-to-back on this list as well. Also from Day & Age, this being the second single off the album, “Spaceman” is a close second for my favorite Killers song. With its sci-fi feel and lyrics and its synth-poppy melody, it’s no wonder that the song is a regular opener on tour. Flowers, once again mashing things together to describe his tracks, calls this one “Space Oddity meets Rocket Man.”
#5: All These Things That I’ve Done
Top 5 baby! Now we’ve hit 2 of the 4 singles from Hot Fuss and we’ll get to the others soon enough. “All These Things That I’ve Done” is a freakin’ epic, written solely by Flowers, its most famous for the now iconic line, “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier.” It even features gospel choir, The Sweet Inspirations. The song earned the band a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance by a Group or Duo which it should’ve won, along with all its Grammy nominations, but unfortunately lost it to U2.
#4: Read My Mind
This is an amazing song, I mean, they all are, but this is an amazing song. Also, we’ve finally gotten to Sam’s Town! My favorite Killers’ song, an opinion potentially shared with the main man Mr. Flowers himself who once called “Read My Mind,” “the best song the Killers had ever written,” is the third single off their second album. Themes of small town America, young love and dreaming of something bigger run rampant in this tune and they hit hard. One of their most soulful ballads, it creates a sound distinctively Killers.
#3: Somebody Told Me
“Somebody told me that you had a boyfriend, that looked like a girlfriend, that I had in February, of last year.” What? This song was my first impression of the Killers and though I genuinely love the song and its upbeat rock, incredibly catchy sound, I don’t think it should rank higher than some of the more emotion-inciting, meaningful songs on this list. Nonetheless it does, and here’s why: “The story of trying to meet someone in a club” as described by Brandon Flowers, was written by all four band members and played a key factor in shooting the Killers to mainstream success and with its inherent ‘danceability’ it’s easy to see why. 3 of the 4 Hot Fuss singles now down, only 1 left…
#2: When You Were Young
What a great song, even if it doesn’t look a thing like Jesus. The lead single on Sam’s Town features heavy Bruce Springsteen influence, as does a lot of the album, boasting a grittier, heartland sound contrasted to the sleek pop-ness of Hot Fuss. Yet another one of those songs written by the entire crew, this song was of course, a Billboard 100 chart topper and has been called by Killers journalist, Elliah Heifetz, as “the Killers’ experiment in rugged Americana.”
#1: Mr. Brightside
Was there ever any doubt? It would be impossible to make an objective list of the best Killers’ songs and not put the one that started it all at the top. Released as an EP in 2003, about a year before Hot Fuss, it would go on to be the album’s lead single. Drawing from real-life inspiration of Brandon Flowers cheating ex-girlfriend, who probably now realizes how big a mistake she made, the song was written by Flowers of course along with guitarist Dave Keuning before the band was even fully formed. Expressing the angst the teens of the early 2000s were feeling, it’s not hard to see why this was the tune that soared the Killers into popularity.
Don’t agree? Leave your own ranking in the comments below!