So The Killers you know—and even your stodgy bishop approves now that Brandon Flowers is comfortable enough with the Mormon/rockstar dichotomy to get correlated. Neon Trees you must know—I heard you humming oh oh i want some moooore a couple years ago (though your stodgy bishop may not approve of Tyler’s haircut). Imagine Dragons you might not be aware of unless you were at BYU when they won Battle of the Bands. You have, however, heard this song. I guarantee it. Do you watch tv? You’ve heard it. Do you own a radio? I close my case. (Even your stodgy bishop was tapping his toe when they played it over Wimbledon.)
Anyway, maybe Andrew Hall or Arthur Hatton can speak to this, but as far as I know, three different Mormon (or, in the Killers’ case, Mormon-fronted) bands have never charted hit singles at the same time like this. Pretty wild.
So naturally we should talk about them. Let’s go in order of release, shall we?
1. Neon Trees —- Everybody Talks
If you have an astonishing memory, you may recall that I have big plans for Neon Trees’ future. And I have to say this single is exactly what was on the schedule. It’s like their first album—in some ways almost a caricature of that album—to bring in the old fans and guarantee radio play. And it’s good enough to reward repeat listenings. I don’t think it’s as good as the first album’s two singles, but it’s exactly the sort of song you need to release if you want to remain a radio staple. So kudos.
(Incidentally, I listened to the rest of the album about twenty times today and it’s further proof my faith in them is well placed. It’s much broader and bolder than their first album. It’s a step in the right direction. Keep your eyes on these kids.)
2. Imagine Dragons —- It’s Time
Never mind the may-be-there Second-Coming and Urim-and-Thummim imagery because I have no idea how much input the band had with the video. It looks expensive so I’m guessing not much, given they’re neophytes and why would the record company give them that kind of power? Their lyrics however may bear a closer look.
I think one reason this song is a hit is it’s teenagey me-me-me anthemic chorus:
I’m just the same as I was
Now don’t you understand
That I’m never changing who I am
Once these lyrics sunk in (usually takes me about three hundred listens, including one hundred singalongs), I started to hate this song. Then the dj reminded me it was Imagine Dragons and I decided to reconsider. After all, being unwilling to change might not be a sign of pigheadedness! It might be a sign of saying no to that hit of Mary Jane!
(Sigh. Sometimes I hate this propensity of mine to start critical analysis with hyperMormon readings.)
I’m sorry to say the lyrics don’t lend themselves easily to sensibility. I suppose the line “The path to heaven runs through miles of clouded hell” isn’t too difficult to do something with, but I would have to assume waaaay to much to reach any decisions regarding what the heck they’re singing about. So take it as a teenage-power anthem or a modest-sleeves anthem as you like. Whatever.
I’m just happy the mandolin is in such vogue these days.*
3. The Killers —- Runaways
Sorry. The real video‘s not embeddable yet.
Anyway, great song. Like the Neon Trees number, this one shows its influences and those influences are, like the Neon Trees’ number, the 1980s (though a much different corner of the ’80s).
Which is funny because although, sure, you can hear Springsteen influences throughout the Killers’ catalogue, their songs generally are out of time. That is to say, they feel timeless to me—like they could have been released in any decade from the last fifty years and found an audience. This isn’t a complaint about “Runaways” incidentally, just a subjective observation.
I like the song. Can’t wait for the full album. It may not be my favorite Killers song but that’s like admitting 60% cocoa isn’t my favorite Scharffen Berger.*
And, like any good Killers’ song, “Runaways” spills into an intensely human story told by one of the best instruments on the planet: Brandon Flowers’s throat.
At the rate things are going, you’ll be able to make a solid mixtape with nothing but hit singles from Mormon bands in a couple years. If, that is, you still owned a dual tape deck. If only you knew someone stuck in the ’80s.