'Mr. Brightside' Will Never Die, And Here's Why The Killers' 2004 hit has never entirely disappeared from the U.K. charts. Is the song just that great? (Yes.)
NPR logo

'Mr. Brightside' Will Never Die, And Here's Why

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/530079710/531444480" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
'Mr. Brightside' Will Never Die, And Here's Why

'Mr. Brightside' Will Never Die, And Here's Why

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/530079710/531444480" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF THE KILLERS SONG, "MR. BRIGHTSIDE")

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

"Mr. Brightside" by The Killers became a hit song all the way back in 2004. That was more than a decade ago. But somehow, the song has never really gone away. In fact, it spent time on the U.K. Top 100 charts nearly every year since its release. So we turn to Stephen Thompson of NPR's Music team to find out why "Mr. Brightside" is still so popular all these years later.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MR. BRIGHTSIDE")

THE KILLERS: (Singing) Now they're going to bed, and my stomach...

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: It is a completely timeless-sounding song. It hasn't aged, I think, the way a lot of older songs do because of, you know, production techniques or whatever.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MR. BRIGHTSIDE")

THE KILLERS: (Singing) Let me go...

THOMPSON: A lot of songs that came out around that era, early 2000s, you think about what the pop hits were by groups like the Black Eyed Peas, where there is a little bit of a dated feel to the song. And you hear that, and you think - ugh, God, that's so 2004. When you hear "Mr. Brightside," you don't necessarily think - ugh, that's so 2004, even if you relate it to your life back then.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MR. BRIGHTSIDE")

THE KILLERS: (Singing) Jealousy - turning saints into the sea, swimming through sick lullabies, choking on your alibis.

THOMPSON: And I understand any skepticism people are feeling referring to a song that became a hit in 2004 as, quote, unquote, "timeless," as if, like, this song will echo through the ages. But you do have this data point of a song that is 13 years old that is continuing to chart.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE KILLERS SONG, "MR. BRIGHTSIDE")

THOMPSON: Over the years, the way things chart has changed. So something as simple as streaming a song over and over again can have more of an impact. You don't have the gatekeepers of radio program directors saying, OK, this song's played out. This song's been on our rotation for six months. We're going to take it out. Streaming is a little bit more eternal. And so I think that older songs have the potential to have a longer life if a lot of people continue to stream them.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MR. BRIGHTSIDE")

THE KILLERS: (Singing) Now I'm falling asleep. And she's calling a cab while he's having a smoke, and she's taking a drag.

THOMPSON: It's a song with this incredible kind of emotional output (laughter) to it. He's hollering, you know, this, like - (singing) I just can't look it's killing me. That alone is, like, first of all, I think we've all felt that, you know - like, my feelings are crushing me under their sheer weight.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MR. BRIGHTSIDE")

THE KILLERS: (Singing) 'Cause I just can't look. It's killing me...

THOMPSON: And so the song, in that way, it never dies because feelings never die.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MR. BRIGHTSIDE")

THE KILLERS: (Singing) Jealousy - turning saints into the sea...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was NPR's Stephen Thompson.

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.