In Defense Of...The Killers
Quit being so pretentious, they're easily the best big band in the world.
I'm not going to lie, I didn't think this blog needed to be written. I thought it would be like trying to defend beer or something else that most people kinda dig, but apparently not.
Looking over the internet hate for the band, it seems that the workload has been divided over two groups of people: People who are desperately trying to be cool, and people who think that Matt Bellamy is the new Mozart. The latter I can deal with, they're the guys who work in guitar shops in places like Dorking, wear Fender t-shirts and are into extreme pornography. Nobody really takes them seriously anyway. But I do worry about the misguided faux-hipsters because, for whatever reason, those people seem to be taken very seriously.
Before their days of print media and MTV2 adulation, The Killers actually used to be a pretty hip band. I don't mean that in the sense that they wore leather jackets to the Brit awards, I mean it like they were talked about in the same way that people talk about A$AP Rocky and HAIM now. Back in 2003, they were the summation of the new glamor in music. Guitar music had gone from talking about the dole and she who bangs the drums, to just down in the doldrums. It had been taken over by earnest young Yorkshiremen called Danny and Americans in black t-shirts. We had The Strokes and The Libertines, but The Strokes still looked like they might smoke crack, and The Libertines did smoke crack.
From Cole Porter to Biggie, music always needs an ideal of glamor, and whilst the indie scene of 2002 had some sheen to it, it was a nihilistic glamor rather than a decadent one. Then The Killers came along:
They might look like Spanish tourists now, but girls with Noel Fielding haircuts and guys who wore blazers over t-shirts were the Azealias and guy from Cerebral Ballzys of their time. "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier" was the "I guess that cunt gettin' eaten" chorus for the cool clubs.
OK, so it might seem shallow to only focus on how cool they were, it's just that while they might not be on The Fader podcast in 2012, they managed to do something which almost all of their Camden contemporaries couldn't – they grew up. And that is cool.
They matured into a fully-fledged, great rock band with the release of Sam's Town, rather than taking the easy option and recording the same shit but "darker" and drafting in a couple of hip-hop producers to phone it in. Instead, they decided to go stratospheric. It's no secret that being able to reinvent yourself constantly is the sign of a great artist and, like Bowie before them, The Killers have always managed to do change themselves whilst maintaining a consistent identity.
This wasn't Razorlight "going folk", or whatever it is that bands do when they're in the midst of a brandy and valium meltdown. There's no tokenism, bandwagon jumping or gimmicks here—pretentious bit coming up guys—The Killers use genre to reinvent themselves, in the same way that the Coen Brothers do. Yep, that just happened.
As a live act, they are without parallel. Arguably the strongest hand in their deck, The Killers have always had that transformative ability to make people who might not even enjoy them on record belt out their songs in public. They're unusual enough, with their couture outfits, stilted crowd interaction and conceptual backdrops to stay on the right side of "stadium rock", but enthusiastic and dramatic enough for the audience to realize that this isn't a band whose record sales have forced them into a headline festival set. They're a band who deserve to be there.
Their respect and professionalism for their audience could come across as lame, but to me it never does. In this respect, they touch on the core ideology one of their idols, a guy called Bruce Springsteen. The Boss is a man who's probably never played a bad set in his life, and this isn't because he's a cheque-collecting robot, it's because he loves performing. The Killers have the same obligation to entertain, and in the days of LiveNation ticket prices and seven pound pints, they probably do. It's all very well Iggy Pop gobbing at you if you paid $3 in 1974, but, in 2012, I believe that you've got to justify the ludicrous sum it costs to see a big act these days.
They're a grand, silly band and all the better for it. They don't bother shoehorning in politics, just choruses that make you want to thunder down the M4 at 120mph, just to see somebody you love. THAT is why old-world icons like Bruce, Lou Reed, Tony Visconti and David Bowie have all expressed their admiration or even collaborated with The Killers. It's because they truly are the best big band in the world.
And if you're still not sure, just ask yourself this. Would Werner Herzog make a movie with The Vaccines?
Follow Clive on Twitter @thugclive