Tighten Up (The Black Keys song)

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"Tighten Up"
The Black Keys - Tighten Up.jpg
Single by The Black Keys
from the album Brothers
A-side"Tighten Up"
B-side"Howlin' for You"
ReleasedApril 23, 2010
Recorded2009 at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Producer(s)Danger Mouse
The Black Keys singles chronology
"Same Old Thing"
"Tighten Up"
"Next Girl"
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[1]

"Tighten Up" is a song by American rock band The Black Keys. It is the third track on their 2010 album Brothers and was released as the record's first single on April 23, 2010.[2][3] Dan Auerbach told The Sun how the song originated: "That was the last song we did for the record. We had a couple of days off and so did Brian (Danger Mouse) and since we are friends and like hanging out with each other we thought it would be fun to go into the studio and see if we could come up with a tune. We always have a blast when the three of us get together."[4]

The song has become one of the most successful Black Keys singles in the United States, being their first song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching number one on the Alternative Songs and Rock Songs charts.[5] Rolling Stone put the song on its list of the 15 Best Whistling Songs of All Time.[6] At the 53rd Grammy Awards in 2011, the song won Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal of 2010,[7] while also receiving a nomination for Best Rock Song. Musically, the song is in the key of F sharp minor.

Music video[edit]

The original music video for the song was a low-budget clip starring a puppet dinosaur named Frank who is standing beside a plant. The video shows him dancing and miming the words a little, whilst subtitles go on explaining different facts about the video, the band, and Frank; e.g. "Frank has a profile on eHarmony..." "He is a puppet, not a real dinosaur." This goes along the same direction of using sort of "obvious" or "simple" ways to say things like the album cover does; e.g. "This is a song by the Black Keys", "It's from an album called Brothers", etc. The video was made by director Chris Marrs Piliero as the label asked them to do a placeholder video for "Tighten Up" as a teaser for Brothers. Piliero was inspired by both "stupid kid shit that could still be for adults, like Yo Gabba Gabba! and "all these weird and sometimes creepy old-school puppet stuff from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.", considering at first an ALF doll before settling on the dinosaur. He later made a similar teaser video for "Next Girl", where Frank interacts with bikini-clad models.[8]

The official music video, also directed by Piliero, was released on May 18, 2010.[9][10] It shows Auerbach and his fictional son walking to the park. Auerbach sits next to Carney on a bench while their fictional sons play with toy trucks. Auerbach's son looks up on the playground to see a little girl, after which he starts to lip sync to the song. He climbs up on the playground and goes in to kiss her but then he opens his eyes to realize Carney's son has lured her away. After he attempts to kiss her, the two boys begin to fight. After Auerbach and Carney attempt in vain to break up the fight, they see the mother of the girl, played by Spanish actress Carlotta Elektra Bosch,[11][12] and begin to fight like their sons. They hit each other using mostly Carney's drum kit and after the woman sees them fighting, she walks away in disgust. Their boys come to them and shake their heads at them with disappointment.

The official music video won the 2010 MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Video,[13] and it appears on Pitchfork's top music videos of 2010.


On the week ending November 6, 2010, "Tighten Up" debuted at number 93 on the Billboard Hot 100.[14] It re-entered at number 87 on the week ending January 22, 2011. The single also achieved early success on rock radio, hitting number one on both the Alternative Songs chart (for 10 weeks) and the Rock Songs chart (for 12 weeks).

Chart (2010) Peak
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[15] 17
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[16] 57
Canada Rock (Billboard)[17] 2
Denmark Airplay (Tracklisten)[18] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[19] 87
US Adult Alternative Songs (Billboard)[20] 12
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[21] 1
US Rock Songs (Billboard)[5] 1

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by The Black Keys.

  1. "Tighten Up" – 3:30
  2. "Howlin' for You" – 3:11[22]


The Black Keys
Additional musicians
Technical personnel
  • Tchad Blake – mixing
  • Danger Mouse at The Bunker, Brooklyn, NY – production
  • Brian Lucey at Magic Garden Mastering – mastering
  • Mark Neil at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio – engineering and production on "Howlin' for You"
  • Kennie Takahashi – engineering on "Tighten Up"

Usage in media[edit]

"Tighten Up" has been licensed to appear in EA Sports game FIFA 11, the music video games Rocksmith, Rock Band 3 (as downloadable content for both) and Guitar Hero Live, the television program Gossip Girl, a Subaru commercial, a Molson commercial, and the films I Am Number Four, Bad Teacher, and Spring Breakers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ O'Donnell, Kevin (2010-04-08). "The Black Keys "Tighten Up"". Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 21, 2012.
  2. ^ The Black Keys Official Website — Track News
  3. ^ The Black Keys Official Website — Album News
  4. ^ Tighten Up Songfacts
  5. ^ a b Tighten Up - The Black Keys - Chart history. Billboard.com.
  6. ^ Murphy, Kate (September 30, 2011). "The 15 Best Whistling Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
  7. ^ "Winners: Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal". Grammy.com. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  8. ^ Dombal, Ryan (June 22, 2010). "Director's Cut: Black Keys: "Next Girl"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2013-04-06.
  9. ^ "The Black Keys - Tighten Up (Official Music Video)". May 20, 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  10. ^ "The Black Keys' Myspace video". Archived from the original on 2010-05-23. Retrieved 2010-05-18. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  11. ^ Carlotta Elektra Bosch official website
  12. ^ Carlotta Elektra Bosch on IMDb
  13. ^ "VMA Playlist: All-Time Best Breakthrough Videos". 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  14. ^ The Black Keys Album & Song Chart History - Hot 100 Billboard.com.
  15. ^ "Ultratop.be – The Black Keys – Tighten Up" (in Dutch). Ultratip.
  16. ^ "The Black Keys Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard.
  17. ^ "The Black Keys Chart History (Canada Rock)". Billboard.
  18. ^ "Hitlisten.NU – The Black Keys – Tighten Up" (in Danish). Tracklisten.
  19. ^ "The Black Keys Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  20. ^ "The Black Keys Chart History (Adult Alternative Songs)". Billboard.
  21. ^ "The Black Keys Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard.
  22. ^ Nonesuch Records