Every Song on Sam’s Town, The Killers’ Finest Album, Ranked

killersTen years ago a handsome and waifish young man named Brandon Flowers who was just trying to make his way in the world told a music magazine that he and his band had a new album coming out, and that it would be the best rock album of the last 20 years. And it was!

12. For Reasons Unknown
One of these songs was going to be the worst. That’s okay! It’s better than half the songs on Battle Born and all the songs on Day & Age, save one.

These lyrics, though. Brandon, I would not be surprised if one day you revealed that your songwriting partners staged an intervention midway through this album to stop you from writing your own lyrics, an intervention that ended badly when you declared yourself “the greatest rock-and-roll star of all time” and wrote them anyway. So we ended up with an entire verse about sitting down in a chair—in the middle of a song about aging, which must be very hard for you at 24 years old. And this gem:

“I caught my stride
I flew and flied”

Brandon, FLIED IS NOT A WORD. You are an old, 24-year-old man, you should know this. Also: is “flied” supposed to be an activity distinct from flying, or did you perhaps mean to say “flew”? Also: “FLIED.” WHY.

11. Enterlude / Exitlude
A story: back when I was a young Killers-obsessed boy living in London I was out one afternoon wandering the streets, as I was wont to do, and I wandered into a record shop. There was a song playing on the overhead speakers. Enthralled by the piano and harmonies I went over to the register and said, “Who is this band?” The owner looked at me with a curious glint and said, “Why, it’s The Killers, your favorite band.” I ended up buying Carole King’s Tapestry, but a few weeks later a friend gave me a copy of Sam’s Town and these were the eleventh best songs on it.

10. Where the White Boys Dance (UK version only)
A tale of betrayal and infidelity, a couple of awe-inspiring guitar riffs, and a chorus that raises more questions than answers (where is this mythical place? do the white boys have jobs, or do they just dance and play? are non-whites allowed there? what does any of this have to do with the aforementioned betrayal and infidelity?).

9. Bones
In which we learn that: Brandon Flowers likes to relax by going to the beach and having a good cry; that he hears dogs barking and angels whispering his name; that the ocean is “only water and sand,” but that you can hold hands there! And cry. As for the music video, my BFF said it best: “A Killers music video should take place in the Nevada desert, not in Tim Burton’s twisted imagination.”

8. Bling (Confessions of a King)
Brandon wants you to know that things really aren’t that bad. They’re not! It wasn’t his idea to make that vision quest through the desert, he just woke up here. And he is holding hands with the devil, but it’s just, like, a smart thing to do when you’re stuck in the desert with no water. The devil is basically king here, plus he loved The Killers’ first album and had been looking for a way to thank him. Brandon knows you had some concerns, but you’ll remember him when it’s over. Just shut up until then, okay.

7. My List
The rare Killers love ballad that doesn’t involve jealousy, a bungled attempt to hide a dead body, or a boyfriend who bears an uncomfortable resemblance to your ex-girlfriend that you dated for, like, a month last year.

6. Why Do I Keep Counting?
A song about Brandon praying for calm on a plane flight (he hates flying) could potentially have been a great song. What he really needs is an editor who will sit down with him, fold her neatly manicured hands in front of her and say, “What does this mean, Brandon? Why is your sugar so sweet and obtainable? Also how is this relevant? How does one pave a street with good times? Brandon.”

5. Uncle Jonny
Supposedly this song is about Brandon’s uncle Jonny who did a lot of drugs and loved rock music and was thrilled to have his name attached to a song about a cocaine addict. And it’s actually pretty funny! On an album that suffers at times from being too earnest, the sly sarcasm and subtle sneering of Hot Fuss makes a welcome return. ‘Hey Jonny, I got faith in you man, I mean it, it’s gonna be alright!’ Brandon yells, in a tone that suggests he has no faith in his uncle, and he’s going to die.

4. This River Is Wild
Time Magazine got near the heart of The Killers’ appeal when it wrote, “Brandon Flowers sings as though he’s actually in the middle of a battle, belting out emotional platitudes over explosions.” Brandon loves crescendos, and he loves building his albums to a crescendo, which is why listening to Sam’s Town sometimes feels like watching a dramatic movie where every scene is bigger and louder than the last one. “This River Is Wild” comes near the end of the album, so naturally this is peak Killers, with Brandon lamenting his struggles to be understood and accepted while the world explodes around him in a shower of guitars and glockenspiels.

3. Sam’s Town
This is the secret truth at the heart of all the Killers’ music: Brandon gets you. He knows how it feels to be a lonely teenager burning with a restless energy to be the world’s greatest rock star. He knows how it feels to be scorned by your peers and your mum who think you’ll never make it. He knows how it feels to lose Grandma Dixie and to have a brother who was born on July 4. He knows. Oh, how he knows.

2. Read My Mind
If “When You Were Young” is the Killers’ “Born to Run,” then this is their “Thunder Road,” a sweetly naïve song about young love in a small town and a man’s hunger for greatness. “What do you have left,” the song asks, “when you’ve lost your faith and she won’t return your calls?” To which the song replies: your guitar and your dreams. People may break your heart, Brandon assures us, but they’ll never break the fight inside of you.

1. When You Were Young

Youth is a magical time: a time of romance and doubt and ambition, of skies filled with flaming debris. But like all things, youth comes to an end, and this heart no longer beats like it used to, and these eyes no longer see like they used to, and all we are left with is memory and desire. Desire for the days of our youth, before we dipped our feet in the devil’s water, before the arrival of the incorrigible gentleman-caller who looks nothing like Our Lord and Savior. The Killers know your pain, aging reader. They wrote this song for you.


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