Who REALLY Is "Mr. Brightside"?
Is it Judas? Is it you? Is it indie rock itself?
In December, "Mr. Brightside" will turn 10 years old. If you have followed pop music even remotely over the past few decades, this should make you consider how quickly careers go by. It still feels like The Killers just happened. But they've put out one great album, one good one, and a bunch of middling ones, which means in a couple of weeks they'll be a deserved no-frills headliner of Lollapalooza, equipped with about eight universally-agreed-upon bangers to space through a 90-minute set with ease. Sure the pretensions are gross, the deep-cuts are bland, and the world-conquerors a tad saccharine, but who are The Killers' competition? Maroon 5? Mumford & Sons? Train? Would Passion Pit even be a band without Hot Fuss? They deserve your respect, whether you're willing to give it or not.
It all goes back to "Mr. Brightside," just a single released in December of 2003, arriving a few months before "Somebody Told Me" took everyone hostage. It's still probably their best song, despite being hilariously difficult to parse. Who, exactly, is Mr. Brightside? What does that term even mean? Some sort of poor, sexless schmuck who always looks on the finds a silver lining? It's a mystery that's permeated all the way through the Obama administration. So in honor of the anniversary, I decided to make a few guesses to reveal the identity of Mr. Brightside, and put an end to the enigma once and for all.
From canon, we know that Mr. Brightside is a brooding, deeply jealous loser who skulks around wishing he had the full attention of the object of his affection. From the bible we understand that Judas is a brooding, deeply jealous loser who skulks around wishing he had the full attention of his Messiah. Obviously Mr. Brightside didn't sell his girl out to the Romans for a few pieces of silver, but given Brandon Flowers' reputation such psychosis doesn't seem all that far off. There's also the whole Mormon thing, which makes this guess far more plausible than it has any right to be.
Halo''s Master Chief is a silent, authority-bound shill who was kidnapped at an early age by a ethically-dubious military organization that bio-engineered his taut, youthful body into a 9-foot tall killing machine. But instead of getting revenge on the people who spent billions of dollars systematically ruining his life, he neatly follows instructions, running from waypoint to waypoint every time his metallic face graces the cover of an Xbox game. Master Chief has been forcing himself to look at the bright side for 15 years.
VOLCHOK FROM SEASON 3 OF THE O.C.
Okay, so Volchok was introduced like 3 years after this song came out, but if you think I take this column that seriously you should read other editions of Friday Thinks With Luke Winkie. All you need to know is that Volchok was a proto-swag surf-bro coke addict who had a brief, carnal affair with wounded-bird Marissa Cooper before she eventually came to her senses and ran back to goldenboy Ryan Atwood. At which point Volchok is so taken by his horny spite that he runs her down with a car and shatters their unanimous destiny. Basically it was jealousy, turning saints into the sea, swimming through sick lullabies.
Taken at its elemental language, Mr. Brightside should be about sex and trying to look on the bright side. Johnny Bravo is a 30-something virgin who lives with his mother, yet manages to get up the courage to hit on literally every girl that exists, only get punched in the fucking face.But for better or worse, Johnny dusts himself off, gets a new pair of sunglasses and moves on with a smile. That is a true Mr. Brightside.
Okay I know writing about people you know from work has a lame air of exclusivity, but I just want to tell you that in my imagined history of Vice Social Media Editor Hanson O'Haver "I'm coming out of my cage, and I've been doing just fine, gotta gotta be down, because I want it all" perfectly represent his transition from adorable El Cajon skate-scamp to refined New York warrior-poet.
THE CONCEPT OF INDIE ROCK
There was a moment when The Killers were a legit indie-rock band.. They played a local Las Vegas circuit, they were very popular among Nevada lifers, and "Mr. Brightside" was released on an actual indie label. But then things happened; The Killers were getting interviewed on VH1, The Killers played "Mr. Brightside" on a particularly fashionable primetime teen soap, The Killers had two top-10 singles in the span of a couple months. Maybe Mr. Brightside is simply the apprehensions of leaving safe, respectable hipness and defiantly standing in the spotlight. Maybe Brandon Flowers is more meta than we can possibly imagine.
Luke Winkie has never kissed a girl. He's on Twitter - @luke_winkie