Mr. Brightside

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"Mr. Brightside"
A purple cameo of a woman on a black background
Single by The Killers
from the album Hot Fuss
Released September 29, 2003
Length 3:43
Producer(s) The Killers
The Killers singles chronology
"Mr. Brightside"
"Somebody Told Me"

"Somebody Told Me"

"Mr. Brightside" (reissue)

"All These Things That I've Done"
Music sample

"Mr. Brightside" is the first single released by American rock band the Killers.[3] It was released as the band's debut single and is featured on their debut studio album Hot Fuss (2004). Written by band members Brandon Flowers and Dave Keuning, the song was originally released on September 29, 2003 and achieved minor success. It became more popular upon its re-release in 2004, peaking at number 10 in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Two music videos were made for the song: the first, which is in black-and-white, features the band performing in an empty room. The second, filmed for the re-release, is based on the 2001 film Moulin Rouge!. This was one of the first songs the Killers ever wrote.[4]

"Mr. Brightside" was named "Song of the Decade" by UK radio stations Absolute Radio and XFM, and in April 2010 revealed that it was the most listened to track since the launch of the online music service, with over 12.2 million plays.[5] In October 2010, it was voted ninth in the Greatest Guitar Riffs of the 21st Century so far by Total Guitar magazine.[6] It is The Killers' best-selling song in the US, where it has sold over 3 million copies.[7] In the United Kingdom it is one of the top fifteen most downloaded rock tracks ever.[8]


Lyrically, "Mr. Brightside" depicts the jealousy and paranoia of a man who suspects his significant other is cheating on him. Guitarist Dave Keuning composed the song's verses before meeting Flowers. Flowers then wrote lyrics and composed the chorus after hearing Keuning's ideas. Flowers credits the speed of the song's creation for the fact that the song only has one verse. He says "We went in and made demos pretty quickly after that, and it took a ton of time. That’s also why there’s not a second verse... I just didn’t have any other lines and it ended up sticking."[9] Drummer Ronnie Vannucci is credited with creating the fast paced drum beat in the first twenty-two seconds.[10]

In their first performance together as The Killers, Flowers and Keuning played Mr. Brightside as part of a two-song open-mic night set at Las Vegas' Cafe Roma. Of the performance, Flowers says "It was terrible, awful."[11] In November 2001, the group had recorded "Mr. Brightside" along with three other demos including "Desperate", "Replaceable", and "Under the Gun" at Mike Sak's Kill the Messenger Studio in Henderson, Nevada. They handed out a demo of the song for free during their shows in 2002.

"Mr. Brightside" became a popular song within the Las Vegas music scene with one reviewer calling it a "feel-good anthem that ranks as one of the best local tracks in a long time."[12] After signing with UK indie label Lizard King Records, the track was sent to radio as a buzz single and it received frequent spins by influential BBC Radio 1 DJ's Zane Lowe and Steve Lamacq as well as being play-listed by XFM. In one of the song's first reviews, The Washington Post stated that the song is "dashing through the tune as if it were a power ballad on speed, Flowers and company had the capacity crowd pulsing along with glee." [13] In a glowing review, NME said the song was filled with "ambition, sex, and noise".[14] Just one week after its April release, MTV2 secured a deal to air the song for a week.[15]

The "calling a cab" section of the song has both a musical and textual similarity to the middle section of the song "Queen Bitch" from 'David Bowie's Hunky Dory album.[16] In an overwhelmingly positive review by Rolling Stone, the song was described as having "swelled with anthemic majesty".[17]

In 2005, Jacques Lu Cont released a remix of the album. This version was received to negative review however, with Michael Paoletta saying that this version "depletes the song of its energy and intensity." That same year, this song as well as two others by the Killers (Smile Like You Mean It and Somebody Told Me) reached the Billboard Top 20 single chart [18][19]

An early demo of the song featured Dave Keuning on bass and Matt Norcross on drums, before Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vannucci were members of the band. The original demo was officially released on the 2013 compilation album, Direct Hits.

A remix of the song by Stuart Price was featured on The Killers' 2007 B-side and rarities compilation. This version was over twice the length of the original, with the 2004 release having been 3:45, while Price's version is 8:48.[20][21] During the tour for Brandon Flowers's solo record, he performed the remix version with Stuart Price during his show at Brixton Academy and has since performed it on his tour as the show closer, again in the remix form. On The Killers' 2012 album Battle Born, they released "Miss Atomic Bomb", which is considered a companion song to "Mr. Brightside" lyrically.

The song has become a crowd favorite at Michigan Stadium during the 2016 football season, where fans in excess of 100,000 singalong to the tune when it is played in the fourth quarter.

British singer James Blunt has even gone so far as to say that Mr. Brightside is his number one favorite song of all time.[22] Additionally, in 2010 Rolling Stone listed Mr. Brightside as the forty-eighth best song of the twenty-first century.[23]

Recording and production[edit]

"Mr. Brightside" was mixed for its inclusion on Hot Fuss by Mark Needham, along with business partners Braden Merrick and Jeff Saltzman. "Mr. Brightside" was first created as a reference mix in just over half an hour "on an 8 input console, with no automation" according to Needham. Despite several subsequent remixes, the members of the Killers preferred the original one, which then made it onto the record. In recording the vocal effects, Saltzman used Echo Farm, sticking with the default vocal effects setting. Needham describes it, saying it "overdrives the vocal a bit and sets an 84 ms delay." [24]

Chart performance[edit]

"Mr. Brightside" entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #40 on February 12, 2005,[25] and peaked at #10 on June 11,[26] thus making it a sleeper hit. Two weeks after its peak at #10 on the Billboard charts, The Killers released their debut album Hot Fuss.[27] It has sold more than 820,000 copies in the United Kingdom as of July 2014,[28] making it the UK's No. 12 most downloaded rock track of all time.[8] In 2005, Mr. Brightside was the sixth most downloaded song on iTunes.[29] To this day "Mr. Brightside" still has the highest popularity rating that iTunes offers, even after being available for purchase for over ten years. Additionally, sales of Hot Fuss album reached over 5 million sales by 2006.[30] The online music streaming service reported in 2010 that Mr. Brightside was the most downloaded song on the website.[31] In the list of songs which have spent the most weeks on the UK Singles Chart Mr. Brightside is currently on the second place with 152 weeks in TOP 100.

Music videos[edit]

There are two videos for this song: the first version also known as the UK version was filmed in April 2004 on Staten Island, New York; the first video was directed by Brad Palmer and Brian Palmer under their studio surround. Later on in the year the label decided to create a more mainstream video for the US market: the second video also known as the US version was filmed in Los Angeles, California during November 2004. It stars Flowers, Izabella Miko, and Eric Roberts in a love triangle, occurring within the context of a burlesque show. Directed by Sophie Muller, it is reminiscent of the 2001 film Moulin Rouge!, which starred Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman.

The American version won an MTV VMA in 2005 for Best New Artist in a Video, beating other nominees such as John Legend, Ciara, The Game, and My Chemical Romance.[32] The photos that are featured on the inner sleeve of the album Hot Fuss were shot on set during the filming of the UK version music video and were inspired by the black and white look of that video.

Cover versions[edit]

The song has been covered in a swing/jazz style by Paul Anka on his 2007 covers album Classic Songs, My Way. Crossover rock-jazz artist ELEW created a piano version for his 2010 ELEW Rockjazz Vol. 1. English pop-punk band McFly covered the song as a B-side to their 2005 single, "I Wanna Hold You". Texan artist Playradioplay! covered the song on his 2007 EP The Frequency as well. An acoustic bluegrass cover was recorded for CMH Records' Bluegrass Tribute to The Killers.[33] Abi Sampa from The Voice UK recorded a mashup of Mr. Brightside and M.I.A.'s Paper Planes.[33] Many other artists have performed live covers of the song, including American rock band Fall Out Boy, Isa Raja on X Factor Indonesia and Scottish singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald.

The song has also been covered by the Vitamin String Quartet, Boyce Avenue and on the UK television show Orange Unsigned Act by contestant Tommy Reilly. Additionally, a cappella versions have been produced by groups including Wheaton College's Gentlemen Callers, MIT's Resonance[33] and Boston-based Overboard. Brandon Flowers performed the song during his solo tour in 2010. Indonesian hardcore band Thirteen also cover this song. The Wanted covered the song as part of a medley of The Killers songs during their summer 2013 live shows.[34]


Mr. Brightside appeared on the 2006 movie The Holiday's soundtrack. The song is played by character Amanda Woods, portrayed by Cameron Diaz, on a CD player, while she's yelling the lyrics along, to relieve stress and forget her boyfriend cheated on her.[35] This song was also briefly played in the movie About Time.

Track listings[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]


  • BPI Pop Gem Hall of Fame Inductee (2014)[28]
  • Vevo Certified Over 100 Million Views (2014)[61]
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Absolute Radio United Kingdom 100 Best Songs Of The Decade[62] 2009
Channel 4 United Kingdom Greatest Songs of The Noughties 2009
Complex United States The 100 Best Songs of the Complex Decade[63] 2012
KROQ United States Top Songs of 2005[64] 2005
NME United Kingdom Best Tracks of 2004[65] 2004
NME United Kingdom 150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years[66] 2011
NME United Kingdom 100 Greatest Songs of NME's Lifetime 1952-2012 2012
Total Guitar United Kingdom Greatest Guitar Riffs of the 21st Century[6] 2010
Triple J Australia Hottest 100 of 2004 2004
Rolling Stone United States 100 Best Songs of the 2000s[2] 2009
Pitchfork Media United States The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s 2009
VH1 United States 100 Greatest Songs of the '00s[67] 2011
XFM United Kingdom Top 100 Songs of the Decade[68] 2009
XFM United Kingdom The Top 1,000 Songs Of All Time[69] 2010
NME United Kingdom The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time[70] 2014
Triple J Australia Triple J Hottest 100 of the Past 20 Years, 2013 2013


The song was nominated for a Grammy in 2006 for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, but lost to a live version of "This Love" by Maroon 5.

Year Ceremony Award Result
2005 Billboard Music Awards Digital Song of the Year Nominated
2005 MTV Video Music Awards Best Rock Video Nominated
Best Group Video Nominated
Best New Artist in a Video Won
Best Art Direction Nominated
2005 MuchMusic Video Awards People's Choice: Favorite International Group Nominated
Best International Video - Group Won
2005 TEC Awards Outstanding Record Production Single or Track Nominated
2006 Grammy Awards Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Nominated
2006 International Dance Music Awards Best Alternative/Rock Dance Track Nominated
2014 Official Charts Company Pop Gem Hall of Fame Inducted[28]


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External links[edit]