Why 'Hot Fuss' by the Killers is about a Murderous Homosexual Relationship
It's ten years since Hot Fuss was released. We delve into Andy, Jenny, their sordid past, and the truth behind Mr. Brightside.
The album that played when you were fingering a trumpet player at the Year Ten end-of-term concert and the soundtrack to basically every episode of The OC has turned ten - yep, it's been a decade since Hot Fuss was released to a wave of hype, adoration, and lots of girls sighing over Brandon Flowers.
But underneath the beautiful cheekbones and indie club night anthems, there was a darker edge to the lyrics; an undercurrent of jealousy and rage. On music forums and comments sections, millienials who'd just discovered how to change their message board avatar started to formulate a theory. Christened the "KILLERS MURDER TRILOGY" (not-at-all-melodramatic), the theory proposes that three songs tell a story of lost love and envy, resulting in a murder.
The KILLERS MURDER TRILOGY begins with an old b-side called "Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf" in which the narrator begs a girl named Jenny to give him another chance - she's left him for another guy. This is followed up with "Midnight Show" - a track where the narrator becomes consumed with jealousy and rage at the fact Jenny is sleeping with someone else and decides to take his "baby's breath beneath the chandelier". In the final part of the trilogy, "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine", the narrator confesses that he killed Jenny and states that there was "no motive for this crime".
Once you've examined the lyrics, the KILLERS MURDER TRILOGY loses some of its conspiracy theory glamour and actually seems like a pretty plausible mini-story within the album. The band have even loosely confirmed the narrative.
However, as is popularly believed, the trilogy is not the entire story - I've spent the past ten years trawling through Brandon Flowers' every utterance and have another theory about the album (which is not convoluted or tenuous AT ALL).
Welcome to...THE KILLERS HOMOSEXUAL LOVE STORY RESULTING IN A MURDER THEORY.
Let's start at the beginning.
The background to all of this lies in "Andy, You're A Star", a track that admittedly sounds like it's made of thumb tacks and polyfiller. The narrator talks about watching Andy from afar, seeing him in the gym and on the soccer field. He says if Andy "leaves his number on [his] locker" then he'll give him a call. He's in love with Andy but he's also seen him with a girl - Jenny - and wants Andy to promise that Jenny is not his world. His amorous intentions towards Andy are pretty damn clear but the rest of the town are suspicious and judge Andy. Is Andy gay too? He's definitely the star of the narrator's heart.
The story, like every great mind fuckery of a story, isn't chronological. Instead, it's like Tyler, The Creator's WOLF trilogy or Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d city in that it spews all over the place.
In this case, the narrative begins properly with "Smile Like You Mean It", the greatest track that The Killers ever made. The song charts Andy's journey from a boy to a man. It seems safe to assume that this is the same guy from "Andy You're A Star", who is still dating Jenny, but is also struggling with his newfound feelings towards the male narrator. The narrator tries to convince Andy that he should come out, and accept the fact that he's gay. But Andy would rather "save some face"; besides, he doesn't want anyone else to date his girlfriend, "driving her around" on the same streets that he did. Andy just tries to grit his teeth and smile like he means it; sticking with his heterosexual, non-taboo relationship. He doesn't want the town to judge him.
Yet the narrator won't accept this; he knows that there are feelings between them. On "Change Your Mind", he says that he's trying to ignore that they "both felt like this, before it starts to show". Like any teenage who has ever had a break-up over MSN, he begs Andy for a chance. "So if the answer is no/ can I change your mind?" It's a guilty song, but it's also a nice segue into dancefloor filling indie disco megalith, "Somebody Told Me". This is the track where the narrator has had enough with Andy. He's been breaking his back just to know his name, it'd been seventeen tracks, and he's had it with this game. The narrator wants to roll on to something new; but there's a rumour that stops him from moving on completely. He's heard that Andy has a boyfriend, who looks like a girlfriend. The confusion about gender suggests that Andy has not just been seen with Jenny. People around the town have already made their decision about Andy...maybe because they've seen him making out with a boy.
Either way, on "On Top", it seems that the narrator and Andy have finally got on top (of each other). It's a pretty erotic tale, and the lyrics are suggestive: "In the back, uh huh, I can't crack/ We're on top/ It's just a shimmy and a shake, uh huh/ I can't fake, we're on top".
The great sexy times don't last very long, though. In "Mr Brightside", Andy is having second thoughts. He's still with Jenny; he's a sports star, and if he breaks up with his girlfriend, then his name will be splashed around the town even more than it is already. He's not ready to make the leap into a relationship with the narrator and stays with her. The narrator is left jealous and devastated. He's "coming out of his cage, and he's doing just fine". Why can't Andy do the same? He's having a smoke and Jenny's taking a drag. She's touching his chest and he's taking off her dress. Meanwhile our narrator is left at home, begging for Andy to open up his eager eyes and see that he really is Mr Brightside.
And, seamlessly, the mini-story of the murder trilogy begins. Jenny finds out about Andy's relationship with the narrator, and she leaves him for another man. He drinks to try and forget his night of homoerotic love - "Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf" - and confesses that he wants Jenny back.
Clearly, though, she doesn't want him and, in a fit of jealous rage and repressed feelings, he ends up killing her. Like any jilted ex-lover that's killed their former fornicating partner, he justifies his actions by stating that "she said she loved me"; murder is revenge for her switch in affection.
Andy's confusion and pain comes to a head in "All These Things That I've Done". He asks the narrator for direction - he likes him, but "his affection comes and goes". He still does't know what he wants and the situation is not helped by the fact that he's just killed his ex girlfriend (murder usually puts a bit of a downer on new romance).
Finally, in a story that's been going on far too long, Andy comes to his senses, and realises at last that the narrator IS the love that he's been searching for all along. He "believe[s] in you and me", and thinks that "Everything Will Be Alright" once he and the narrator are together. It's like a classic tale of high school love; Andy "didn't know" that the narrator liked him (despite the fact that they banged. Maybe Andy is just really bad at reading people).
And in the end, there's the beginning: Hot Fuss opener "Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine". Told from Andy's new found perspective as a homosexual male in love with the narrator, he states that Jenny was simply a friend of his. Definitely a low blow (but then again she's dead, so I guess it won't bother her). This is why there's no motive for the crime; if he'd made up his mind sooner, he could have been with the narrator since the beginning of the album.
So, there we have it. Hot Fuss is not just a vaguely good album written by a once-good band. It's a tale of love, betrayal, coming out, being confused, and ultimately killing your ex-girlfriend but getting a happy ending anyway. All things that you can totally relate to.
Now, please go away so I can dance to "Mr Brightside".
"Andy You're a Star"
"Smile Like You Mean It"
"Change Your Mind"
"Somebody Told Me"
"Leave The Bourbon On The Shelf"
"All These Things That I've Done"
"Everything Will Be Alright"
"Jenny Was a Friend of Mine"
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