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Taking a Swim Through Some Sick Lullabies: The Killers’ Top Ten Tracks

Album art from The Killers' 2013 compilation album

The Killers have long been one of my favourite groups, and their extensive discography is filled with hits and bops. Today I’m sharing what I think are their top ten tracks with you in an ultimate Killers’ playlist. 

Shot At The Night (Direct Hits, 2013) 

Right at the top of the list, this song is my favourite. Not just my favourite Killers track, but my favourite song of all time. The way the lyrics give me hope and the rhythm lets me dance make this song so special to me. 

And not only is it an incredible song, the music video is fun too. Telling the story of a hotel cleaner who is given the chance to spend an evening out with some guests instead of working, the video reminds us that there can be and is more to life than work; the video reinforces the message of the song.  

You might also recognise the main actor in the video as Max Minghella, who has been playing Nick Blaine in the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. 

A Dustland Fairytale (Day and Age, 2008) 

Written about Flowers losing his mother, this song tells the story of a young love that reached into old age. It paints the picture of a 1961 meeting between two strangers who fall in love. Flowers describes the man as wearing blue jeans, “a slick chrome American prince”, and the woman with, “long brown hair and foolish eyes”, and their subsequent love affair. This is based on the story of his parents.

In the second half of the song we have the familiar, characteristic rise in bass and volume, with a very classic Killers hard last chorus. The energy is classic Flowers and never fails to make me smile.

I must also shoutout the new version of this song the band have just released, featuring Bruce Springsteen. I love this new cover as much, if not more, than I love the original track. Re-branded simply as ‘Dustland’, this song feels nostalgic and shows off so much vocal talent. Bruce Springsteen and Brandon Flowers have clearly worked incredibly hard to work together and create something that flaunts both of their vocal skills. I think their voices work perfectly together.

Where The White Boys Dance (Sawdust, 2007) 

From the compilation album Sawdust, this is a more subdued version of what The Killers usually give us. However, for this track that really worked. It has a funky rhythm and it feels unique from their other work in other ways I can’t quite put my finger on. Another thing I love about this track is how bass heavy the instrumentals are. 

Originally recorded in the 2006 ‘Sam’s Town Sessions’, this song was a bonus track for the 2006 album. Its feature on Sawdust implies the group felt it was worthy of more attention that it got from being on the B-side of their second studio album. I’m inclined to agree. 

Dying Breed (Imploding The Mirage, 2020) 

One of my newer favourites, ‘Dying Breed’ is from The Killers’ 2020 album Imploding The Mirage. Although that whole album brought the band back with a bang, this song in particular stood out as something special.  

It has all the marks of a Killers anthem—high energy, lyrics about young love, and a chorus that makes dancing a necessity. It could be the Killers’ next big party anthem. 

The Way It Was (Battleborn, 2012) 

This is one of those songs where I always forget how good it is until I revisit it. From Battleborn, ‘The Way It Was’ is simple in melody but so, so catchy. 

Battleborn was not one of my favourite Killers albums, however, this track and ‘Runaways’ really stood out to me. They both had that happy, energetic, and fun feeling that penetrates Flowers’ best writing and leaves a lasting impression. 

Runaways (Battleborn, 2012) 

Such a classic Killers’ song, ‘Runaways’ tells the story of two people feeling lost and choosing to find peace in one another. The way each line of lyric rolls into the next makes it difficult to not sing along, and you can feel Flowers’ raw emotions in the main vocals. 

Aside from this, there is also a strong emphasis on imagery. The lyrics describe the way the subject looks, “blonde hair blowing in the summer wind, a blue-eyed girl playing in the sand”, and later also describing the stars in the sky and wedding pictures. This ability to put visuals to the words and the music made this song stick with me. 

Flowers invites you to see yourself in the song, “aren’t we all just runways?”, making it resonate and feel personal. 

Spaceman (Day and Age, 2008) 

One of the first songs that got me into The Killers, the line “zipping white light beams” about a minute into the track had me hooked. 

On the surface, the story of the song seems to be about being abducted by aliens (spacemen) but the experience being “all in your mind”. Flowers sings, “I’m fine but I hear those voices at night”, and “the starmaker says it ain’t so bad”, implying something more sinister than an exciting or adventurous abduction. The line “caught between the devil and the deep blue sea” seems to refer to being stuck in a difficult situation and being surrounded by only bad options. 

There are many theories over what this is a metaphor for; from The Killers’ swift rise into fame to a person with depression seeking treatment, there are a multitude of things this song could mean to you. To me, it sounds like the story of somebody who is feeling a little bit lost. 

Whatever you think the song is about, it feels comforting and the backing instrumental is as interesting as the lyrics. 

Sam’s Town (Sam’s Town, 2006) 

Named after a Vegas hotel/casino, ‘Sam’s Town’ is the title-track from the 2008 album of the same name. 

‘Sam’s Town’ has a fast tempo, a nice synth influence, and carries many fleeting visuals, including funerals and celebrations. The track represents its namesake albums’ main themes and sound, and is a great introduction if you aren’t familiar with the album as a whole. 

I find the melody of this song to be one of the most memorable out of all of The Killers’ discography, and every time I hear it I get the bug to hum it for the rest o the day. 

The Man (Wonderful Wonderful, 2017) 

Probably the sore thumb of this list, ‘The Man’ is very different to what I usually hear in Killers’ music. It feels cheesy and uber-positive, but somehow in an endearing way.

To be honest, the album featuring ‘The Man’, Wonderful Wonderful, for me is the weakest album in the group’s repertoire. I found that although some tracks were good, none of them were excellent. The only reason this song has made it onto the list is because it demonstrates the versatility and range that The Killers have. 

This being said, once you listen to it a few times through it becomes difficult not to start liking it in spite of yourself. While many songs by The Killers are lyrically a bit cringe-y and cheesy, there’s something about this one that takes that too far for me. And yet, if I ever hear it playing, I immediately start smiling. The positivity obstructs any negative connotations I found in it before it grew on me. 

When You Were Young (Sam’s Town, 2006) 

The line, “we’re burning down the highway skyline”, is forever stuck in my head. This song is as much of a banger as ‘Mr. Brightside’ is, but with so much more depth. It keeps that high-energy, nostalgic vibe, but adds cleverer lyrics with cooler connotations. 

Another thing I love about this song is how timeless it feels. While parts of me feel transported back to the early 2010s when I hear it, it still feels fresh and relevant every time I re-visit it after not hearing it for a while. That charm is what The Killers give to their work, and it’s one of the things that make the band so unique. 

Written by Anna Green

Politics graduate based in the UK. I'm passionate about writing so I can usually be found buried in ink and paper. Proud writer for 25YL!

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