Direct Hits (The Killers album)

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Direct Hits
A bullseye target with the numbers "2003" on the left center side and "2013" on the right side. Bullet holes are seen on the target.
Greatest hits album by
ReleasedNovember 11, 2013 (2013-11-11)
Recorded2001–2013
Studio
Length61:13
LabelIsland
Producer
The Killers chronology
Battle Born
(2012)
Direct Hits
(2013)
Don't Waste Your Wishes
(2016)
Singles from Direct Hits
  1. "Shot at the Night"
    Released: September 17, 2013
  2. "Just Another Girl"
    Released: November 25, 2013

Direct Hits is a greatest hits album by American rock band the Killers. It was released on November 11, 2013, by Island Records. The album includes tracks from the band's first four studio albums and features two new tracks—"Shot at the Night" and "Just Another Girl", produced by Anthony Gonzalez of M83 and Stuart Price, respectively.

Regarding the album's release, vocalist Brandon Flowers noted, "This record feels like a great way to clean everything up and move onto the next thing."[1]

Background and recording[edit]

In 2013, during the band's Battle Born World Tour, the Killers began recording new material for a possible single release or new studio album. In June 2013, drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. noted, "[We're] not just [recording] demos. Real recordings. I mean, you never know what it's gonna be, I guess. But we have our engineer, and we're working with a couple of surprise guests, in the producer capacity. Some of it is sounding really cool. We can be guilty of making things so ornate, and sometimes that's a bad thing. So I always have conversations with Brandon [Flowers] about working from a smaller palette, simplifying things. If these new tracks develop a theme, a common thread, then that could be the start of something."[2] Guitarist Dave Keuning elaborated, "I'm not saying a new album is going to come out or anything like that. But sometimes people just put out songs or it gets used for some kind of compilation. We'd like to get a new song out there soon."[3]

The track "Shot at the Night" was produced by Anthony Gonzalez of French band M83, who had previously supported the Killers on their Day & Age World Tour. The band's label, Island Records, subsequently suggested Gonzalez as a possible producer for the band, following the success of M83's sixth studio album, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (2011). Guitarist Dave Keuning noted, "There was a mutual thing like, 'Yeah we think he's good. We'll try him out.' It's something we finally agreed with our label on."[4] Regarding the band's collaboration with Gonzalez, Flowers stated, "He's one of these new school producers. He's a technical wizard, but you can't discount his musicality. A lot of people do, because of the involvement of computers, but he's a real musician, too. He and Stuart Price may be known for working on the digital side of things, but they're also two of the most musical guys I've ever met."[1]

Stuart Price, who had previously worked with the band on both their third studio album, Day & Age (2008), and on the Battle Born (2012) track, "Miss Atomic Bomb", produced the second of the two new songs, "Just Another Girl". Flowers noted, "[Stuart Price has] become like my brother now: we work well together, and I'm always impressed with his musicality and his taste. It's in a different vein from 'Shot At The Night', it's more of a narrative. You're 'in' the song in a different way."[5]

Some critics have suggested the band released the album in order to fulfill a contractual obligation.[6]

Title[edit]

According to vocalist Brandon Flowers, Direct Hits was originally entitled Cream. He notes, "The initial idea, which maybe was better, was Cream. It was my idea. It was a play on the fact that we put out a B-sides compilation called Sawdust. And so it made sense to call the ones that were our best Cream." Flowers' original idea for the album sleeve featured the Hoover Dam and a reservoir of cream.[7]

Release[edit]

Direct Hits was announced on September 16, 2013—the 10-year anniversary of the band's first UK show, which took place at London's Dublin Castle. Regarding this, Flowers noted, "We were so excited about being on English soil for the first time that night. I remember falling on my ass during 'Jenny Was a Friend of Mine', but NME gave the show a positive review, and that really helped to launch us."[1]

When their label first raised the idea of a greatest hits album, Flowers says the band was surprised: "I'm a little young to already be putting out a greatest-hits album. This is premature, but the label was going to do it anyway ... so we decided to get involved with the artwork and contribute a couple of songs."[8] Drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr. agreed: "We'd wait another 10 years if it was up to us, but it's a contractual thing. We can fill a CD so it makes good business sense at this time of year. However, it's not like we're so pleased with ourselves we want to put it out. It feels like a douchie move."[9]

Flowers is proud of the release: "It's a celebration of this decade for us. Some people maybe wouldn't do so much for a 'Best of', but I was introduced to a lot of music from bands' 'Best ofs', from Elton John to The Cars to Otis Redding, Johnny Cash... So I want to promote it! I'm happy to have one."[7]

In the week after the album's release, four of the Killers' songs either entered or re-entered the UK Singles Chart, including "Shot at the Night" (number 23), "Just Another Girl" (number 83), "When You Were Young" (number 87), and "Mr. Brightside" (number 88).[10]

Omissions[edit]

Direct Hits does not include the singles "Bones", "The World We Live In" or "Here With Me", nor does it include b-side compilation promotional singles, "Tranquilize", "Shadowplay" or the popular and critically acclaimed non-single from the band's debut album, Hot Fuss, "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine". Battle Born album track, "The Way It Was", however, is included on the track listing, and was not released as a single. Regarding its inclusion, Flowers noted, "With 20/20 hindsight, this song probably should've been a single. That'll probably be what's written on its headstone! When we play it live and Dave's riff starts, it's magic. We all love that song, so that's why it's on here."[5]

A further Battle Born album track, "Be Still", is included as the closing track on the deluxe edition. Flowers states: "In this climate that we're in, or whatever you want to call it, people pick and choose songs, and I think in the confusion of that process, they sometimes don't know about certain songs. This is one that we're very proud of and that we love, so we felt it would have more of a chance if we put it on the record."[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic71/100[11]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic[12]
Clash7/10[13]
Pitchfork6.4/10[14]
Q[15]

In a positive review, AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote: "The main benefit of Direct Hits, especially for those listeners who have always doubted the skills of The Killers, is how the operatic ambitions of Sam's Town feel not so extravagant when bookended by selections from Day & Age and Battle Born. All three of the albums – which are represented by three cuts a piece – sound strong here but what really has lasted are those singles from 2004's Hot Fuss [...] which now seem to capture a particular moment in time and yet also transcend it."[12] Writing for Clash, Robin Murray gave the album a positive review, but noted that it was too soon for a career-spanning release: "Charting the long rise of a true pop phenomenon, Direct Hits is almost dragged under by the weight of the band’s success – each song simply feels too fresh, too well known to warrant the archival. A nice refresher, if a little unnecessary."[13]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Mr. Brightside" (from Hot Fuss, 2004)
3:44
2."Somebody Told Me" (from Hot Fuss)
  • Saltzman
  • the Killers
3:18
3."Smile Like You Mean It" (from Hot Fuss)
  • Flowers
  • Stoermer
  • Saltzman
  • the Killers
3:57
4."All These Things That I've Done" (from Hot Fuss)Flowers
  • Saltzman
  • the Killers
5:03
5."When You Were Young" (from Sam's Town, 2006)
  • Flowers
  • Keuning
  • Stoermer
  • Vannucci
3:40
6."Read My Mind" (from Sam's Town)
  • Flowers
  • Keuning
  • Stoermer
  • Flood
  • Moulder
  • the Killers
4:07
7."For Reasons Unknown" (from Sam's Town)Flowers
  • Flood
  • Moulder
  • the Killers
3:33
8."Human" (from Day & Age, 2008)
  • Flowers
  • Keuning
  • Stoermer
  • Vannucci
4:05
9."Spaceman" (from Day & Age)
  • Flowers
  • Keuning
  • Stoermer
  • Vannucci
  • Price
  • the Killers
4:45
10."A Dustland Fairytale" (from Day & Age)
  • Flowers
  • Keuning
  • Stoermer
  • Vannucci
  • Price
  • the Killers
3:45
11."Runaways" (from Battle Born, 2012)Flowers4:05
12."Miss Atomic Bomb" (from Battle Born)
  • Flowers
  • Vannucci
Price4:55
13."The Way It Was" (from Battle Born)
O'Brien3:52
14."Shot at the Night" (previously unreleased)FlowersAnthony Gonzalez4:03
15."Just Another Girl" (previously unreleased)FlowersPrice4:21
Total length:61:13
Deluxe edition bonus tracks[16]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
16."Mr. Brightside" (original demo)
  • Flowers
  • Keuning
 4:22
17."When You Were Young" (Calvin Harris remix)
  • Flowers
  • Keuning
  • Stoermer
  • Vannucci
  • Flood
  • Moulder
  • the Killers
  • Harris[b]
6:12
18."Be Still" (from Battle Born)
  • Flowers
  • Lanois
Taylor4:33
Total length:76:20

Notes[edit]

  • ^[a] signifies an additional producer
  • ^[b] signifies a remixer

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of the deluxe edition of Direct Hits.[17]

Studios[edit]

Recording locations

  • The Hearse (Berkeley, California) – recording (tracks 1–4)
  • Cornerstone Recording Studios (Los Angeles, California) – recording (tracks 1–4)
  • Studio at the Palms (Las Vegas, Nevada) – recording (tracks 5–7)
  • Criterion Studios (London) – additional recording, additional engineering (tracks 5–7)
  • Battle Born Studios (Las Vegas, Nevada) – engineering (tracks 8–10); recording (tracks 11–15, 18)
  • Blackbird Studios (Nashville, Tennessee) – recording (tracks 11, 13)
  • killthemessenger Studio (Las Vegas, Nevada) – engineering (track 16)

Mixing and mastering locations

  • Cornerstone Recording Studios (Los Angeles, California) – mixing (tracks 1, 3)
  • Eden Studios (London) – mixing (tracks 2, 4)
  • The Town House (London) – mixing (tracks 2, 4)
  • Assault & Battery (London) – mixing (tracks 5–7, 11)
  • Olympic Studios (London) – mixing (tracks 8–10)
  • Battle Born Studios (Las Vegas, Nevada) – mixing (tracks 12–14, 18)
  • The Exchange Mastering (London) – mastering (track 17)
  • Golden Ratio (Montreal) – mixing (track 18)
  • The Lodge (New York City) – mastering

The Killers[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

  • Stuart Price – additional keyboards, programming (track 11)
  • Matt Norcross – drums (track 16)

Technical[edit]

  • Jeff Saltzman – production, recording (tracks 1–4)
  • The Killers – production (tracks 1–10)
  • Mark Needham – mixing (tracks 1, 3)
  • Alan Moulder – mixing (tracks 2, 4–7, 11, 17); production, recording (tracks 5–7, 17)
  • Flood – production, recording, mixing (tracks 5–7, 17)
  • Mark Gray – additional engineering (tracks 5–7)
  • Neeraj Khajanchi – additional engineering (tracks 5–7)
  • Max Dingel – additional engineering (tracks 5–7)
  • Andy Savours – mix engineering (tracks 5–7)
  • Stuart Price – production, mixing (tracks 8–10, 12, 15)
  • Robert Root – engineering (tracks 8–10); recording (tracks 11, 12, 14, 15, 18); mixing (tracks 13, 14)
  • Dave Emery – mixing assistance (tracks 8–10)
  • Alex Dromgoole – mixing assistance (tracks 8–10)
  • Ted Sablay – additional engineering (track 9)
  • Brendan O'Brien – production, recording (tracks 11, 13)
  • Steve Lillywhite – additional production (track 11)
  • Damian Taylor – additional production (track 11); production (track 18)
  • Catherine Marks – mix engineering (track 11)
  • John Catlin – mix engineering (track 11)
  • Felix Rashman – mix assistance (track 11)
  • Anthony Gonzalez – production (track 14)
  • Mike Sak – engineering (track 16)
  • Calvin Harris – remix (track 17)
  • Simon Davey – mastering (track 17)

Artwork[edit]

  • Warren Fu – art direction
  • Andy West – design, layout
  • Colin Lane – photography
  • Williams + Hirakawa – photography
  • Torey Mundkowsky – photography
  • Wyatt Boswell – photography
  • Kristen Tiengst – art and photography production
  • Tai Linzie – art and photography production
  • Andy Proctor – package production

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[48] Gold 35,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[50] 2× Platinum 752,500[49]

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "The Killers to release hits compilation featuring two new songs – listen". NME. September 16, 2013. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  2. ^ "The Killers work with M83 on new song". NME. June 19, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  3. ^ "The Killers to release track with M83". Contactmusic.com. August 8, 2013. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  4. ^ Minsker, Evan (August 7, 2013). "The Killers Talk Collaborating With M83's Anthony Gonzalez". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Flowers, Brandon (November 8, 2013). "Brandon Flowers Writes Track-By-Track To The Killers' Greatest Hits Album". NME. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  6. ^ "CD review: The Killers' 'Direct Hits' is premature, predictable - Las Vegas Weekly". lasvegasweekly.com. Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  7. ^ a b McLean, Craig (November 8, 2013). "The Killers: 10 years of unashamedly killer tunes". The Independent. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  8. ^ Lopez, Korina (November 15, 2013). "The Killers take aim with 'Direct Hits' compilation". USA Today. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  9. ^ Stubbs, Dan (November 13, 2013). "The Killers: 'Putting out a greatest hits album feels like a douchie move'". NME. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  10. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. November 17–23, 2013. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  11. ^ "Reviews for Direct Hits by The Killers". Metacritic. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  12. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Direct Hits – The Killers". AllMusic. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  13. ^ a b Murray, Robin (November 5, 2013). "The Killers – Direct Hits". Clash. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  14. ^ Cohen, Ian (November 21, 2013). "The Killers: Direct Hits". Pitchfork. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  15. ^ "Q Review: New Albums". Q. No. 330. January 2014. p. 131. ISSN 0955-4955.
  16. ^ "Direct Hits [Deluxe Edition] – The Killers". AllMusic. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  17. ^ Direct Hits (deluxe edition liner notes). The Killers. Island Records. 2013. B0019323-10.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
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  30. ^ a b "Los Más Vendidos 2013" [Best Sellers 2013] (in Spanish). Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
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  48. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2020 Albums" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  49. ^ Copsey, Rob (August 21, 2020). "The Killers' biggest albums on the Official UK Chart". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  50. ^ "British album certifications – Killers – Direct Hits". British Phonographic Industry. January 25, 2019. Retrieved September 23, 2020.