There is a certain energy in the air at the moment. An electricity, a current, a feverishness that could erupt into complete chaos at any given opportunity. It is in the way we savour every neutral-to-positive interaction with a stranger like a particularly decent packet sandwich; it is in the renewed hope and vigour with which we purchase a gin and tonic in a can and march towards the nearest patch of grass; it is in every ray of sunlight that travels across your living room or beams into your office through the one pathetic skylight you share with 150 people, like a kiss on the forehead from Mother Nature. It is summer, but it is also something else.
Perhaps it's because everyone who lives in a country that doesn't experience double-degree weather 365 days a year has given themselves heatstroke at least once already. Perhaps it's because the socio-political landscape at large is so endlessly frustrating that our methods of escapism are becoming increasingly integral to daily life, but, have you noticed how…. lately…. everyone is… horny as heck?
If I had to locate a catalyst, I would say The Energy™ truly unleashed itself a few weeks ago when two people shagged on a Ryanair flight to Ibiza. Not even in the toilet, like average plane sex-havers: in a window seat. Just right there, next to other actual people, half-enthused genitals squashing together with the least amount of movement possible – to preserve dignity, you see – like two bread rolls in a sandwich bag. Then came the new series of Love Island – a reality show that literally involves throwing dozens of horny Brits with fantastic arses into a villa together and urging them to crack on to the tune of 50 grand – swiftly followed by those grainy photos of Rihanna getting fingered (probably) in a pool by her new Saudi billionaire boyfriend.
At some point amid all this, a barrage of statistics were released: The Great British Sex Survey found that 12 percent of Belfast residents would have sex on public transport, 2 percent of Cardiff residents would fuck at a funeral, and when the dating app EVE analysed data of 1.27 million users it found that women are most sexually active during June, July and August. One survey of 2,000 people even managed to pinpoint the date in the calendar year people were most likely to Get It On as 1 July, at 7.37PM, to be precise. All of which came to a head a few days before said date, on Thursday 29 June, when American rock band The Killers chose to release their video for "The Man" and usher in a new erotic dawn.
A flourish on the steamy month of June, a 48-hour precursor to the Official Shaggiest Day Of The Year According To A Survey Of 2,000 People, an absolute fucking belter: "The Man" is The Killers' first new song in five years and their most sexually charged song ever (according to a survey of myself). It is extremely rare that, in the year 2017, I feel compelled to watch a music video more than once. And yet, "The Man" – in which Brandon Flowers bowls about town lifting weights, grilling meat and generally showing off in various states of stereotypically "manly" dress before turning into a bit of a Sad Lad at the end – wiped out my entire week.
I could not, and cannot, stop watching it. The video currently has almost 2 million views and I'm confident I'm only responsible for, like, 76,000 of them tops, so obviously I'm not alone in my enjoyment of it. Putting aside the fact that the song itself sounds like an especially funky LCD Soundsystem cut laced with Bee Gees worship and is clearly amazing: why? Why The Killers? Why "The Man"? And why now? These are questions I have thought about a lot and as a result I have managed to break down "The Man" and it's impact into six key components.
1. BRANDON FLOWERS
First off, I think we need to address the centre of attention and most crucial element of the video: Brandon Flowers.
Brandon Flowers is, in this moment, an absolute bellend. Look at him. Wearing a white vest and leather trousers; feeling himself up against the wall of a trailer he's trying to act like he belongs in; putting on a jacket that literally says "THE MAN" in cut-out lettering like he's just joined his first DIY punk band at 15; pointing and winking at passersby, women in bars, himself in the mirror – any human form, really; SHOOTING EMPTY CANS.
To use the parlance of Love Island, this is 100 percent not my type on paper. With the sound off this could easily be mistaken for a montage of Nicolas Cage's most flamboyant mid-90s moments. The whole video is basically that stupid tweet about 'The Sheriff of sucking you off' made sentient. But, somehow, it is spectacular. Whether shiftily eyeing a room in "Mr. Brightside" or dramatically clutching his heart at the sight of unfulfilled relationship expectations in "When You Were Young", Brandon Flowers was introduced to us as a passive observer. He is normally in the background: watching, understanding, wearing a waistcoat. He may have a prominent presence in all our lives on account of the fact that everyone born after the year 2004 has shot out of the womb singing "COMING OUT OF MY CAGE AND I'VE BEEN DOING JUST FINE", but to experience him front and centre like this is something quite remarkable.
2. BRANDON FLOWERS
The confidence with which Brandon Flowers pulls off an otherwise enormously self-indulgent piece of short cinema deserves several medals for bravery. You could wave it away as the confident showmanship he has always displayed on stage finally making its natural debut in a music video, nbd, nothing to see here. But I disagree. The Killers knew from day one that this video would fuck you up. "Community of music lovers rejoice," they wrote by way of sharing it on Facebook, "We have birthed a visual accompaniment to 'The Man'. We were careful to take things in stages, as too much of a good thing can turn you into weirdos. That's OK."
They didn't take things in stages though, did they? They gave us 4 minutes and 26 seconds of Brandon Flowers doing clapping push-ups in a motel room, therefore combining the coexisting forces of "toxic masculinity" and "daddy" into something that should be illegal. If this song doesn't mark the climax of the next installation of Magic Mike I will be very, very surprised.
3. DESPITE BEING ONE OF THE BIGGEST AND MOST ACCESSIBLE ROCK BANDS ON EARTH THE KILLERS ARE ACTUALLY REALLY WEIRD WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT
The Killers are a good band. This is a clear, undisputed fact. Even if you haven't enjoyed their material in a sincere way since their formative years making cameos on The OC, nobody needs to be convinced that the Nevada four-piece know their bloody way around a chorus. That said, the Killers are quite weird, by which I mean: kind of nerds? They got their name from a logo on the bass drum of a fictitious band in New Order's video for "Crystal". There is a very popular conspiracy theory that claims their debut album is about a same-sex relationship culminating in murder. Their videos are, for a pints-and-lads rock band, very off piste. From the vaudevillian drama of "Mr. Brightside", to the B-movie western that is "All These Things That I've Done", to "Spaceman" – which sort of looks like 3AM at Bestival and features Brandon Flowers wearing an outfit I can only describe as a drag interpretation of Deadpool – The Killers' aesthetic is like deconstructing a Stanley Kubrick film through the pure and innocent eyes of a child. It's equal parts experimental film and primary school play.
"The Man" is overtly sexual, hypermasculine to the point of homoeroticism, but also tongue in cheek in a way that pulls itself back from becoming legit softcore porn. It's like an Andy Warhol short recreated by, well, a lifelong member The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who grew up in Las Vegas and now refers to it lovingly as "Sin City" (I'm talking about Brandon Flowers, btw).
4. BRANDON FLOWERS
It's possible that male pop has been so boring and sterile for so long that all Brandon Flowers has to do to whip the global populace into a frenzy is hold up a motorbike helmet as Hamlet is wont to hold up a skull, point at it with a knowing grin on his face, and proclaim, "Who's the man? I'm the man!"
I don't think it's a coincidence that this song opens with a synth rush that absolutely reeks of Backstreet Boys' "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)", by the way, AKA: a beacon from the last time male pop did sexy in such a shameless manner. "The Man" isn't on the same spectrum as the Justin Timberlake's or The Weeknd's of today. It's too theatrical, too uncool, too fun for that. This is pure Robbie Williams rising up to a podium doing a bastardised version of the Saturday Night Fever dance and ripping his pants off. This is a return to lads having a laugh with their sexuality in a way that isn't really about anyone except themselves. This is…. banter.
5. BRANDON "THE MAN FLOWERS"
You know that episode of Peep Show where Jeremy shags Sophie's mum and then Mark says to him: "Jeremy please, don't smile like that, you're not James Bond. You're disgusting!", and Jeremy just keeps doing a seedy smile and very defiantly says to himself: "I am James Bond."
That is exactly Brandon Flowers in the video for "The Man".
6. BRANDON FLOWERS
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