Lonely Boy (The Black Keys song)

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"Lonely Boy"
Single by The Black Keys
from the album El Camino
Released October 26, 2011
Format Digital download, 12"
Recorded 2011 at Easy Eye Sound Studio in Nashville, Tennessee
Genre Garage rock, blues rock
Length 3:13
Label Nonesuch
Writer(s) Dan Auerbach, Patrick Carney, Brian Burton
Producer(s) Danger Mouse, The Black Keys
The Black Keys singles chronology
"Howlin' for You"
(2011)
"Lonely Boy"
(2011)
"Gold on the Ceiling"
(2012)

"Lonely Boy" is a song by American rock band The Black Keys. It is the opening track from their 2011 studio album El Camino and was released as the record's lead single on October 26, 2011. The song is also the A-side of a promotional 12-inch single that was released in commemoration of Record Store Day's "Back to Black" Friday event.[1] The single was accompanied by a popular one-shot music video of a man dancing and lip-synching the lyrics.

"Lonely Boy" became one of the group's most successful singles. It topped several rock radio charts, including the Alternative Songs and Rock Songs charts in the US, and the Alternative Rock and Active Rock charts in Canada. On the singles charts, "Lonely Boy" was the group's highest-charting song in several countries, peaking at number 64 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 2 on the Australian Singles Chart, and number 33 on the Canadian Hot 100. At the 55th Annual Grammy Awards, the song won awards for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song, while also receiving a nomination for Record of the Year.[2]

Composition[edit]

"Lonely Boy" is 3:13 in length. The song was written by Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney with producer Danger Mouse. The song is played in the key of E minor, with only three chords used throughout the song. "Lonely Boy" is set in the time signature of common time with a tempo of 171 beats per minute. According to Auerbach, the guitar riff was inspired by Johnny Burnette's cover of "Train Kept A-Rollin'".[3] The guitar line features a dive bomb although Auerbach uses a Boss Super Shifter pedal to achieve the effect.

Release[edit]

Music video[edit]

The promotional music video for "Lonely Boy" features actor/musician/part-time security guard Derrick T. Tuggle dancing and lip-syncing to the song in a motel. The video, shot in a single take, went viral and garnered more than 400,000 views on YouTube within 24 hours. The video originally had a script and a cast of more than 40 people, but the group was not pleased with the results. Auerbach said, "A couple of weeks after we shot it they sent us the edit and it was awful. We sent it back... they sent us another edit and it was terrible. That's when we said 'what about that one guy, the extra who had that one dance scene' and that's the video - the most expensive single shot ever recorded."[4] Tuggle was originally cast as an extra who would be handed a set of keys to the band's motel room by Auerbach and Carney. While on set, Tuggle's improvised dancing drew the attention of director Jesse Dylan. He said, "The director just sort of noticed me dancing and asked me, 'Can you perform?' I said, 'I can dance, anybody can dance,' so I took some moves from everybody: John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction, the Carlton Banks dance from The Fresh Prince and a little bit of Michael Jackson, so it was a smorgasbord of everybody in there." He added, "It was just a spur-of-the-moment thing. My acting teacher Mark McPherson, he has us do this thing before we start class called 'Song and Dance,' where he'll have us sing one of our favorite songs, and then while we're singing it, he'll have us do a crazy dance, or a sexy dance, and I guess it spawned from that."[5][6] The video was nominated for a MTV Video Music Award for Best Rock Video.

Single cover[edit]

The cover of the single release features an image of a bulldozer sitting on an empty tract of land. The lot was previously filled by the factory at which the group's 2004 album Rubber Factory was recorded. Michael Carney, the group's art director, went to take a photo of the factory but found that it had been demolished.[7] Auerbach joked about the cover's significance: "We keep stumbling into these profound artistic expressions. That's how we roll though."[8]

Commercial performance[edit]

"Lonely Boy" became one of the group's most successful singles. It topped several rock radio charts, including the Alternative Songs and Rock Songs charts in the US (the second such Black Keys song to top both),[9][10] and the Alternative Rock and Active Rock charts in Canada.[11][12] On the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, it has become their highest-charting song, peaking at number 5.[13] On the singles charts, it became the band's highest charting song in several countries, reaching a peak of number 64 on the US Billboard Hot 100 (which beats the number 87 peak achieved by 2010's "Tighten Up"),[14][15] number 2 on the Australian Singles Chart,[16] and number 33 on the Canadian Hot 100,[17] The song was certified nine-times platinum in Canada, triple-platinum in Australia, platinum in New Zealand, and gold in Denmark.[18]

Reception[edit]

Critical reaction[edit]

In a review of the single, Rolling Stone gave the song four out of five stars, saying that "Frustrated desire is the song's ostensible theme... but for Keys fans, this is a clean hit of instant gratification."[19] Its review of El Camino praised the song's arrangement, particularly the "sugar-crusted keyboard" that, along with the chorus, "chang[es] the swampy chug into a seductive singalong".[20] James Lachno of The Daily Telegraph said the song "blends Steppenwolf's road-tripping aesthetic with the proto-punk of the Modern Lovers" and was an example of how a "broader collage of influences allows the duo to fashion a more distinctive sound".[21] Pitchfork Media reviewer Rob Harvilla called it a "surging opener" and highlighted the "machine-gun surge of Dan Auerbach's gong-banging guitar".[22] Kitty Empire of The Observer wrote, "It's hard to resist the taut and catchy single".[23]

Accolades[edit]

Readers of Rolling Stone voted "Lonely Boy" the third-best song of 2011 in an end-of-year poll.[24] Paste ranked it number 20 on its list of "The 50 Best Songs of 2011".[25] The song placed second on the Triple J Hottest 100, 2011 poll of the most popular songs in Australia.[26] According to AirCheck, "Lonely Boy" was the most-played song on Australian radio in 2012, logging more than 884 hours of playtime.[27]

At the 55th Annual Grammy Awards, "Lonely Boy" was nominated for Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song and Record of the Year, winning the first two.[2]

Use in popular media[edit]

The song has been used for the UFC Primetime event, UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos, and in the soundtracks for Need for Speed: The Run and Forza Horizon. It was also used in a highlights package prior to the Italy vs England match in the 2012 Six Nations and for Drew Brees and Alex Smith in the pregame before a 2011 NFL Divisional Playoff game between Brees' New Orleans Saints and Smith's San Francisco 49ers.

Since the midpoint of the 2011-12 NHL season, it has been the goal song for the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers.[28] For most of the 2011-12 NHL season, it has been the song played when the New York Rangers come onto the ice before home games.

On TV, the song was featured in episodes of Workaholics, Eastbound & Down and Hawaii Five-0, the first episode of 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic, the twelfth episode of season 3, "The Ties That Bind", on The Vampire Diaries and in the opening sequence for episode 1 in the Australian TV show Underbelly: Badness. It was also used in 2012 commercials for the launch of the A&E in Australia and Lee.

In movies, it was most recently heard in the trailer for the 2013 zombie comedy Warm Bodies and the 2014 family comedy Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.[29]

Ellen DeGeneres danced to this song with her audience as the opening dance on an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show in the fall of 2012.

The Free Beer and Hot Wings radio show use a sample of the song at times to bring the show back from commercial break.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Dan Auerbach, Patrick Carney and Brian Burton

No. Title Length
1. "Lonely Boy"   3:13[30]
2. "Run Right Back"   3:17

Charts and certifications[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Additional personnel:

  • Leisa Hans – backing vocals
  • Heather Rigdon – backing vocals
  • Ashley Wilcoxson – backing vocals

References[edit]

  1. ^ ""Lonely Boy" Record Store Day Limited Edition 12"". theblackkeys.com. October 20, 2011. Retrieved February 26, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Childers, Chad (2012-12-06). "THE BLACK KEYS + JACK WHITE LEAD 2013 ROCK GRAMMY NOMINATIONS". Loudwire. Townsquare Media. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  3. ^ Hiatt, Brian (January 4, 2012). "Cover Story Excerpt: The Black Keys". rollingstone.com. Retrieved February 26, 2012. 
  4. ^ Boulton, Martin (2011-12-09). "Throw away the script". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2011-12-09. 
  5. ^ Montgomery, James (October 27, 2011). "Black Keys 'Lonely Boy' Video: Meet The Dancing Machine". MTV.com. MTV Networks. Retrieved November 2, 2011. 
  6. ^ Hogan, Marc (October 28, 2011). "How the Black Keys Found Their 'Lonely Boy' Dancing Dude". Spin. Retrieved November 2, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Exclusive: Black Keys Reveal Cover Art For 'Lonely Boy'". Rolling Stone. 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2012-02-06. 
  8. ^ Downing, Andy (December 15, 2011). "Keyed up: The Black Keys take 'El Camino' for a drive — plus the 19 other albums we loved in 2011". 77 Square. Lee Enterprises and The Capital Times Company. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b "The Black Keys – Chart history: Alternative Songs". Billboard.com. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2013-02-01. 
  10. ^ a b "The Black Keys – Chart history: Rock Songs". Billboard.com. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2013-02-01. 
  11. ^ a b Rock, Canadian (2011-11-15). "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Alternative Rock - November 15, 2011". Canadianrockalt.blogspot.com. Blogger. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  12. ^ a b Rock, Canadian (2012-01-05). "Canadian Active Rock & Alt Rock Chart Archive: Active Rock - January 3, 2012". Canadianrockalt.blogspot.com. Blogger. Retrieved 2012-01-16. 
  13. ^ "The Black Keys – Chart history: Mainstream Rock Tracks". Billboard.com. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  14. ^ a b "The Black Keys – Chart history: Hot 100". Billboard.com. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 19, 2013. 
  15. ^ Mapes, Jillian (2012-01-06). "Tightened Up: Inside the Black Keys' Rise to Arena-Sized Fame". Billboard.com. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  16. ^ a b "Australian-charts.com – The Black Keys – Lonely Boy". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  17. ^ a b "The Black Keys – Chart history: Billboard Canadian Hot 100". Billboard.com. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  18. ^ "Record Certifications Around the World". TheBlackKeys.com. 2012-10-26. Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  19. ^ Vozick-Levinson, Simon (October 26, 2011). "Song Review, 'Lonely Boy'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 29, 2011. 
  20. ^ Hermes, Will (2011-12-22). "The Keys Turn Their Blues-Rock Beater into a Sleek, Shiny Muscle Car". Rolling Stone (1146/1147): 85–86. Retrieved 2012-02-03. 
  21. ^ Lachno, James (2011-12-01). "The Black Keys: El Camino, CD review". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 2011-12-01. 
  22. ^ Harvilla, Rob (2011-12-02). "The Black Keys: El Camino". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  23. ^ Empire, Kitty (2011-11-26). "The Black Keys: El Camino – review". The Observer. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 2011-11-29. 
  24. ^ "Readers' Poll: The Best Songs of 2011: 3. The Black Keys, 'Lonely Boy'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-12-27. 
  25. ^ Jackson, Josh (2011-11-30). "The 50 Best Songs of 2011". Paste. Paste Media Group. Retrieved 2012-05-11. 
  26. ^ Adams, Cameron (2012-01-27). "Gotye tops Triple J's Hottest 100 on Australia Day". Herald Sun. Retrieved 2012-01-27. 
  27. ^ "Lonely Boy most-played track on radio". WAtoday. Fairfax Media. 2012-12-20. Retrieved 2012-12-21. 
  28. ^ http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2012/03/05/edmonton-oilers-pick-new-goal-song/
  29. ^ Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day -- Trailer OFFICIAL | HD. YouTube
  30. ^ "Amazon.com". Amazon.com. Retrieved October 25, 2011. 
  31. ^ "Ultratop.be – The Black Keys – Lonely Boy" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  32. ^ "Ultratop.be – The Black Keys – Lonely Boy" (in French). Ultratip.
  33. ^ "ARC, Issue Date: March 26, 2012" (in Croatian). HRT. 2012-03-28. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  34. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – The Black Keys – Lonely Boy" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  35. ^ "UK Chart Archive > 'Lonely Boy' by The Black Keys". ChartStats. 2012-01-15. Archived from the original on 2012-07-30. 
  36. ^ "The Black Keys – Chart history: Adult Alternative Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  37. ^ "The Black Keys – Chart history: Mainstream Rock Tracks". Billboard.com. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2013-02-21. 
  38. ^ "Lescharts.com – The Black Keys – Lonely Boy" (in French). Les classement single.
  39. ^ "Chart Track: Week 7, 2012". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  40. ^ Retrieved January 30, 2012.
  41. ^ "[40]&cat=s Charts.org.nz – The Black Keys – Lonely Boy[40]". Top 40 Singles.
  42. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Singles 2012". ARIA Charts. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  43. ^ "JAAROVERZICHTEN 2012: Singles" (in Dutch). ultratop.be/nl. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  44. ^ "Classement des 200 premiers Singles Fusionnés par GfK année 2012" (in French). GFK. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  45. ^ "Best of 2012 - Alternative Songs 1-10". Billboard.com. Retrieved January 16, 2013. 
  46. ^ "Best of 2012 - Rock Songs 1-10". Billboard.com. Retrieved January 16, 2013. 
  47. ^ "Italian single certifications – The Black Keys" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry.  Select Online in the field Scegli la sezione. Select Week -- and Year ----. Enter The Black Keys in the field Artista. Click Avvia la ricerca