Released: May 2004
How about this for serendipity? ‘Mr Brightside’ was the very first song The Killers wrote together, at their very first rehearsal session (you can hear the original 2001 demo version on YouTube). Imagine that: within hours of entering the practice studio you’re playing this: a song so melodically perfect, so surging, and so urgent, it will soundtrack end-of-the-night, scream-the-words carnage for decades to come (it’s also the most Scrobbled track in the history of Last.fm).
But this is more than just boozy indie-night fare: it’s the lyrical riptide of paranoia that makes it, as Brandon Flowers details the gut-twisting horrors of jealousy (“I just can’t look, it’s killing me”). But it’s all OK, because destiny is calling him… (LL)
How we wrote 'Mr. Brightside'
Ronnie Vannucci (drums)
How does it feel to have your song voted in at No. 5?
"It feels really good. I’d like to thank God, and my mother and my father, and coach. I couldn’t have done this without coach. He really helped us through."
What’s the song about?
"The song is basically about one being totally content and fearless and happy, and then having it totally be the antithesis in a blink of an eye - all of the sudden being the opposite of that because of someone."
Do you agree that this is The Killers' best track, or would you have gone with a different song?
"I think I would have picked ‘When You Were Young’ – I have more of an intrinsic connection to that one. But I still love [‘Mr. Brightside’]. That one’s still fun to play live."
What do you think it is about this song that people like so much?
"I think it’s the vulnerability of what the song is saying. I think so many people have been there. It’s almost ten years old. I think when it was first introduced, it had that vulnerability in the lyrics. I think people could connect with it and sink their teeth into it. I’ve heard that from a couple people before, and it seems like the common theme. It seems so unafraid and simple."
What can you tell us about the writing and recording process of the song?
"That song was pretty much done before I had even joined the band. However, when I joined, we did make some changes to it, and when we recorded it we made some changes again. It’s been so long that I forget what the embryo version of it was, but I think we kind of added some dynamic changes and made it breathe a little more, whereas before it was kind of linear and same the whole way through.
"But the process was basically, at that time we were making a demo of it at this guy’s house, and that demo version turned out to be the version that was on the record. The idea was that we’d go to this guy’s house, record the demos on the weekends, we’d take the recordings to get gigs. The guy said he’d record us for free in his studio, and he’d help us shop the record, and if it got picked up. At first we all wanted to re-record it and make it better, but everybody was kind of into the song."
If you could go back and change the recording now, would you? What would you do differently?
I don’t know [what we would have changed]. I think everybody wanted to re-do their parts again. I think we actually did re-do the bass and the drums, then we re-did some keys and some vocal parts here and there. But even then, we wanted to re-do some more, but we were like ‘Fuck it, let’s just leave it alone. It is what it is. Next album.’ It’s been a long time since I’ve actually heard the recorded version. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about the recording of it actually – this is really jogging my memory.
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