By Jacob Katel
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Every hipster millennial had his or her Killers moment.
These kids unabashedly scream-sang "Mr. Brightside" in the shower, and then on the bus to school, they broke out a fresh set of Duracells (because it was 2004 and the Discman was still in use) for a habitual Hot Fuss morning sesh.
Over the years, though, overweening frontman Brandon Flowers (who called the Bravery a fake band and deemed Green Day's American Idiot "anti-American") has been both praised and vilified for his oufit's glossy, faux-Brit, New Wave, Duran Duran theatrics. And the band's journey into Bruce Springsteen's small-town tropes on 2006's Sam's Town didn't entirely quell the criticism — though Flowers called it "one of the best albums in the past 20 years." Sheesh.
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Since then, the Killers have released two more records — 2008's Day & Age and 2012's Battle Born — but they're pretty forgettable. In just a little more than a decade, however, the Sin City rockers have sold 20 million albums worldwide. And after a brief hiatus in 2011, Flowers and company are touring as furiously as ever. So don't be a snob — buy a ticket and scream-sing "Mr. Brightside" with us, because here are five reasons the Killers don't suck.
5. The first album ruled. The Killers' "Somebody Told Me" is like Panic! at the Disco's "I Write Sins Not Tragedies." It hurts not to sing along. And yes, the Killers ripped off New Order, the Cure, the Smiths, and every other band in the New Wave history book. But were you not at least mildly obsessed with Hot Fuss? It has nearly all of the Killers' gems — the aforementioned tale of an androgynous lover and "Smile Like You Mean It" and "Mr. Brightside" and that catchy-as-shit chorus "I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier." Whether you were 14 or 41, those songs made your day.
4. The Killers legitimize fans of shitty music. Call them what you will, but the Killers are a crossover band. And people with sucky taste in music can capitalize on this band's pseudo-hip appeal. A bro who likes the Dave Matthews Band (and has a soft spot for Nickelback) thinks he's indie if he streams any of the group's post-Hot Fuss stuff. It's like, "Duh, bro, I love 'Mr. Brightside,' but have you heard 'Human'? Brandon is so poetic. Like, 'Are we human or are we dancer?'"
3. This band is very confident. Please, check out YouTube's archive of uncomfortable interviews with the exquisitely self-assured Brandon Flowers, usually accompanied by the soft-spoken Mark Stoermer or Dave Keuning to help break the ice. The frontman often defends his eyeliner and Bruce Springsteen impressions. But at Big Day Out in 2007, when an Aussie interviewer basically asked Flowers and Stoermer: Do you ever just not want to play the songs you're known for? and then berates their fan base in Granada, the two handle the situation with a great, big, internal "fuck you."
2. These dudes are politically cautious. Instead of fiercely aligning themselves as Dems or Reps, the Killers choose to maintain a strong, silent neutrality. The band played at the White House in 2010 for President Barack Obama's Salute to the Military concert, and Flowers had a private lunch with fellow Mormon Mitt Romney during the former presidential candidate's visit to Nevada in 2011. But Flowers declined to join Romney's cause, on the grounds of staying neutral in the election. That's right — just stick with Bono and the Product Red campaign, boys.
1. The Killers have nostalgic appeal. This group has often been characterized as a shoddy descendant of '80s New Wave gods. But aside from bitter veterans who detest the Killers' modern brand, most millennials beam with joy (though they might not readily admit it) when they hear "Breaking my back just to know your name." The Killers are mod-wave forerunners who could keep pace with pop-rock vets such as Coldplay or even postpunk grandpas like freaking Morrissey and still rep their own epoch.
And we know, the Killers' fan base has kind of grown up and moved on, and preteens now think the band is vintage. But the group's grandiose synth rock opened the door for big-sound Euro acts like Two Door Cinema Club and Muse to blow up in the States. (Irony alert: The Killers have always fared better in the UK.)
So hold the makeup and cockiness against Flowers and crew, but you can't knock them for that accomplishment, the records sold, or the guilty-pleasure sing-alongs.