Mr. Brightside

"Mr. Brightside" is the first single released by American rock band the Killers.[8] It was released as the band's debut single and is featured on their debut studio album, Hot Fuss (2004). Written by band members Brandon Flowers and Dave Keuning, it was one of the first songs the Killers ever wrote.[9] Two music videos were made for the song: the first one was shot in black and white and features the band performing in an empty room. The second one, based on the 2001 film Moulin Rouge!, was filmed for the song's re-release.

"Mr. Brightside"
A purple cameo of a woman on a black background
Single by the Killers
from the album Hot Fuss
B-side
ReleasedSeptember 29, 2003 (2003-09-29)[1]
Recorded2001–2003
Studio
Genre
Length3:43
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)The Killers
The Killers singles chronology
"Mr. Brightside"
(2003)
"Somebody Told Me"
(2004)

"Somebody Told Me"
(2004)

"Mr. Brightside (re-issue)"
(2004)

"All These Things That I've Done"
(2004)
Music video
"Mr. Brightside" on YouTube

The song was first released on September 29, 2003. It became more popular upon its re-release in 2004, peaking at number 10 in both the United States and the United Kingdom. It is the Killers' best-selling song in the US, where it has sold over 3.5 million copies.[10] In the United Kingdom it has also sold over 3.52 million copies and is the longest-charting single on the UK Singles Chart Top 100, with 260 weeks (5 years) on the chart as of April 2021, and is the most streamed track released prior to 2010.[11] It is also one of the top fifteen most downloaded rock tracks ever in the United Kingdom.[12]

"Mr. Brightside" was named "Song of the Decade" by UK radio stations Absolute Radio and XFM, and in April 2010 Last.fm revealed that it was the most-listened-to track since the launch of the online music service, with the track being played over 7.66 million times.[13] In October 2010, it was voted ninth in the Greatest Guitar Riffs of the 21st Century so far by Total Guitar magazine.[14] Additionally, in 2010 Rolling Stone listed "Mr. Brightside" as the 48th-best song of the 21st century.[15]

Recording and productionEdit

Lyrically, "Mr. Brightside" depicts a true story of Flowers' jealousy and paranoia when he walked into a bar in Las Vegas and found his girlfriend cheating on him.[16] "I was asleep and I knew something was wrong," he said. "I have these instincts. I went to the Crown and Anchor, a bar in Vegas, and my girlfriend was there with another guy."[16]

Guitarist Dave Keuning composed the music before meeting Flowers. Flowers then wrote lyrics and composed the chorus after hearing Keuning's ideas. Flowers credits the speed of the song's creation due to it having only one verse. He says, "We went in and made demos pretty quickly after that, and it took a ton of time. That's also why there's not a second verse... I just didn't have any other lines, and it ended up sticking."[17] Drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. is credited with creating the fast-paced drum beat in the first twenty-two seconds.[18] The "calling a cab" section of the song has both a musical and textual similarity to the middle section of the song "Queen Bitch" from David Bowie's album Hunky Dory (1971).[19][20] "Mr. Brightside" is written in the key of D major.[21]

The song was mixed for its inclusion on Hot Fuss by Mark Needham, along with business partners Braden Merrick and Jeff Saltzman. The song was first created as a reference mix in just over half an hour "on an 8 input console, with no automation" according to Needham. Despite several subsequent remixes, the members of the Killers preferred the original one, which then made it onto the record. In recording the vocal effects, Saltzman used Echo Farm, sticking with the default vocal effects setting. Needham says it "overdrives the vocal a bit and sets an 84 ms delay."[22]

HistoryEdit

In their first performance together as the Killers, Flowers and Keuning played "Mr. Brightside" as part of a two-song open-mic night set at Las Vegas' Cafe Roma. Of the performance, Flowers says "It was terrible, awful."[23] In November 2001, the group had recorded "Mr. Brightside" along with three other demos including "Desperate", "Replaceable", and "Under the Gun" at Mike Sak's Kill the Messenger Studio in Henderson, Nevada. They handed out a demo of the song for free during their shows in 2002. After signing with UK indie label Lizard King Records, the track was sent to radio as a buzz single and it received frequent spins by BBC Radio 1 DJ's Zane Lowe and Steve Lamacq as well as being play-listed by XFM. Just one week after its April release, MTV2 secured a deal to air the song for a week.[24]

The Killers performed the song live on the rooftop of Caesars Palace during halftime of the Las Vegas Raiders' first-ever home game at Allegiant Stadium on September 21, 2020; the halftime show was broadcast on U.S. television on ESPN & ABC's simulcast coverage of Monday Night Football.[25][26]

ReceptionEdit

In one of the song's first reviews, The Washington Post stated, "dashing through the tune as if it were a power ballad on speed, Flowers and company had the capacity crowd pulsing along with glee."[27] "Mr. Brightside" became a popular song within the Las Vegas music scene with one reviewer calling it a "feel-good anthem that ranks as one of the best local tracks in a long time".[28] In positive reviews, NME said the song was filled with "ambition, sex, and noise"[29] while Rolling Stone described the song as having "swelled with anthemic majesty".[30]

The Guardian considered "Mr. Brightside" to be the most overplayed song, and noted that it has been played "on the radio. In the supermarket. In the pub. The office. In a cab. Thrumming through your neighbours' wall. [...] Blasted out at every party or wedding you’ll attend for the rest of your life."[31]

Commercial performanceEdit

"Mr. Brightside" entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 40 on February 12, 2005,[32] and peaked at No. 10 on June 11,[33] thus making it a sleeper hit. Two weeks after its peak at No. 10 on the Billboard charts, the Killers released their debut album Hot Fuss.[34] The song reached 3.5 million in sales in 2016.[35]

In 2005, "Mr. Brightside" was the sixth most downloaded song on iTunes.[36] To this day "Mr. Brightside" still has the highest popularity rating that iTunes offers, even after being available for purchase for over ten years. Additionally, sales of Hot Fuss album reached over 5 million sales by 2006.[37] The online music streaming service Last.fm reported in 2010 that "Mr. Brightside" was the most downloaded song on the website.[38] By July 2014, the song sold more than 820,000 copies in the United Kingdom,[39] making it the UK's No. 12 most downloaded rock track of all time.[12]

As of April 2021, "Mr. Brightside" has spent 260 non-consecutive weeks, or five years, on the UK Singles Chart, the most out of any song.[40][41] As of 2017, it had charted on the UK Singles Chart in 11 of the last 13 years,[42] including a 35-week run peaking at number 49 in 2016–2017.[43] It was the UK's most streamed pre-2010 song, until it was surpassed by Oasis' "Wonderwall" in late 2018,[44] and continued to be purchased for download hundreds of times a week by 2017.[45] In March 2018, the song reached the milestone of staying in the Top 100 of the UK Singles Chart for 200 weeks.[45] Explanations have included the song's popularity at parties, its popularity on streaming services, and the continued presence of the Killers as a popular live band in the UK.[43][45] According to the Official Charts Company, the song has been streamed 281 million times in the UK and has sold 3,520,000 copies there as of April 2021.[40]

Music videosEdit

There are two videos for this song: the first version (also known as the UK version) was filmed in Staten Island, New York, and was directed by Brad and Brian Palmer under their studio Surround. Later on in the year the label decided to create a more mainstream video for the US market: the second video (also known as the US version) was filmed in Los Angeles, California. Directed by Sophie Muller, the video stars Flowers, Izabella Miko, and Eric Roberts in a love triangle, occurring within the context of a burlesque show.

The US version won an MTV VMA in 2005 for Best New Artist in a Video, beating other nominees such as John Legend, Ciara, The Game, and My Chemical Romance.[46] The photos featured on the inner sleeve of the album Hot Fuss were shot on set during the filming of the UK version music video and were inspired by the black and white look of that video.

Releases and cover versionsEdit

In 2005, Stuart Price released a remix of the song under his pseudonym Jacques Lu Cont. This version was received to negative reviews, with Michael Paoletta saying that this version "depletes the song of its energy and intensity". That same year, this song as well as two others by the Killers (Smile Like You Mean It and Somebody Told Me) reached the Billboard Top 20 single chart.[47][48] An extended version of the Stuart Price remix of the song was featured on the Killers' 2007 B-side and rarities compilation, Sawdust.[49][50] During the tour for Brandon Flowers's solo record, he performed the remix version with Stuart Price during his show at Brixton Academy and has since performed it on his tour as the show closer, again in the remix form.

An early demo of the song featured Dave Keuning on bass and Matt Norcross on drums, before Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vannucci were members of the band. The original demo was officially released on the 2013 compilation album Direct Hits. On the Killers' 2012 album Battle Born, they released "Miss Atomic Bomb", which is considered a companion song to "Mr. Brightside" lyrically.

The song has been covered in a swing/jazz style by Paul Anka on his 2007 covers album Classic Songs, My Way. Crossover rock-jazz artist ELEW created a piano version for his 2010 ELEW Rockjazz Vol. 1. English pop-punk band McFly covered the song as a B-side to their 2005 single "I Wanna Hold You". Texan artist Playradioplay! covered the song on his 2007 EP The Frequency as well. An acoustic bluegrass cover was recorded for CMH Records' Bluegrass Tribute to The Killers.[51] Abi Sampa from The Voice UK recorded a mashup of "Mr. Brightside" and M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes".[51] Many other artists have performed live covers of the song, including American rock band Fall Out Boy, Chris Daughtry at The Masked Singer USA, Isa Raja on X Factor Indonesia and Scottish singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald.

The song has also been covered by the Vitamin String Quartet, Boyce Avenue and on the UK television show Orange Unsigned Act by contestant Tommy Reilly. Additionally, a cappella versions have been produced by groups including Wheaton College's Gentlemen Callers, MIT's Resonance[51] and Boston-based Overboard. Flowers performed the song during his solo tour in 2010. Indonesian hardcore band Thirteen also covered this song. The Wanted covered the song as part of a medley of the Killers songs during their summer 2013 live shows.[52] Kelly Clarkson covered the version live on The Kelly Clarkson Show.[53] An acoustic version of the song covered by British singer-songwriter Charlotte Campbell was played during Love Island series 7 in 2021.[54]

Media useEdit

"Mr. Brightside" appears on the soundtrack for the 2006 film The Holiday. The song is played on a CD player by character Amanda Woods, portrayed by Cameron Diaz, in order to relieve stress and forget about her boyfriend's infidelity.[55] The song is also briefly featured in the 2013 film About Time and Rabbit Without Ears.

The song has become a crowd favorite among Michigan Wolverines football fans at Michigan Stadium, where fans in excess of 100,000 sing along to the tune when it is played in the fourth quarter.[56][57] The 2017 football season saw the song being sung in unison by the student SuperFans at Alumni Stadium during Boston College Eagles football games, and has become the unofficial go-to song for Boston College fans during sporting events. It was also a memorable feature of the 2017 AFL premiership celebrations by Jack Riewoldt of the Richmond Tigers, who sang the song in its entirety live alongside the Killers.[58]

British singer James Blunt has said that "Mr. Brightside" is his favorite song of all time.[59] In 2008, it was released as downloadable content (DLC) for the Rock Band series. It is one of the all-time highest selling DLC songs for the game.[citation needed] In the UK, the song has never been used in a TV program or advertisement.[60]

AccoladesEdit

  • BPI Pop Gem Hall of Fame Inductee (2014)[39]
  • Vevo Certified Over 200 Million Views (2017)[61]
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Absolute Radio United Kingdom 100 Best Songs Of The Decade[62] 2009
1
Channel 4 United Kingdom Greatest Songs of The Noughties 2009
2
Complex United States The 100 Best Songs of the Complex Decade[63] 2012
74
KROQ United States Top Songs of 2005[64] 2005
3
NME United Kingdom Best Tracks of 2004[65] 2004
5
NME United Kingdom 150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years[66] 2011
5
NME United Kingdom 100 Greatest Songs of NME's Lifetime 1952–2012 2012
83
Total Guitar United Kingdom Greatest Guitar Riffs of the 21st Century[14] 2010
9
Triple J Australia Hottest 100 of 2004 2004
13
Rolling Stone United States 100 Best Songs of the 2000s[3] 2009
48
Pitchfork Media United States The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s 2009
72
Pitchfork United States The Top 50 Singles of 2005 2005 18[67]
VH1 United States 100 Greatest Songs of the '00s[68] 2011
55
XFM United Kingdom Top 100 Songs of the Decade[69] 2009
1
Triple J Australia Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time 2009
38
XFM United Kingdom The Top 1,000 Songs Of All Time[70] 2010
1
NME United Kingdom The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time[71] 2014
116
Triple J Australia Triple J Hottest 100 of the Past 20 Years, 2013 2013
7
BPI United Kingdom Most Streamed Songs Released Before 2010[72] 2017
1
IRMA Ireland Most Streamed Track of the Noughties Decade[73] 2020
1

AwardsEdit

The song was nominated for a Grammy in 2006 for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, but lost to a live version of "This Love" by Maroon 5.

Year Ceremony Award Result
2005 Billboard Music Awards Digital Song of the Year Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards Best Rock Video Nominated
Best Group Video Nominated
Best New Artist in a Video Won
Best Art Direction Nominated
MuchMusic Video Awards People's Choice: Favorite International Group Nominated
Best International Video – Group Won
TEC Awards Outstanding Record Production Single or Track Nominated
2006 Grammy Awards Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Nominated
Grammy Awards Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical Nominated
International Dance Music Awards Best Alternative/Rock Dance Track Nominated
2014 Official Charts Company Pop Gem Hall of Fame Inducted[39]

Track listingsEdit

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[119] 12× Platinum 840,000 
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[120] Gold 30,000*
Germany (BVMI)[121] Platinum 300,000 
Italy (FIMI)[122] Platinum 50,000 
New Zealand (RMNZ)[123] Gold 5,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[124] 6× Platinum 3,520,000[40]
United States (RIAA)[125] 2× Platinum 2,000,000 

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
  Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release historyEdit

Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
United Kingdom September 29, 2003 (2003-09-29)
  • 7-inch vinyl
  • CD
Lizard King [1]
United Kingdom (re-release) May 24, 2004 (2004-05-24) [126]
United States October 11, 2004 (2004-10-11) Alternative radio Island [127]
January 18, 2005 (2005-01-18) [128]

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