In addition to being one of the best and biggest rock bands on the planet and the best cover band around, The Killers also have oodles of holiday spirit. Since 2006, they’ve released one Christmas song every year in support of the Red Campaign which purports to help combat AIDS in Africa. (Whether it’s an efficient campaign is another story altogether. Google Red Campaign or Red Campaign Criticism to read different takes on the subject.)
Some of The Killers’ Christmas songs have been awesome. So good, in fact, that if they weren’t Christmas songs (a divisive category of music if ever there was one), they’d be hits based strictly on the strength of the melodies alone.
I assume The Killers will continue to release a Christmas song each year for the foreseeable future, but since they’ve already accrued a good number of such tunes to date, I’ve decided to fire up a list of my favourites.
9. Joel The Lump Of Coal f. Jimmy Kimmel (2014)
Cool chorus, not sure about the rest of the tune. Cute sentiment also.
8. Joseph, Better You Than Me f. Elton John & Neil Tennant (2008)
Despite having legends Neil Tennant and Elton John on the track, there’s something about the track that I can’t really get into.
7. Boots (2010)
I like Dave Keuning’s guitar work here.
6. I Feel It In My Bones f. Ryan Pardey (2012)
The most ominous of The Killers’ Christmas tunes, and probably the most “rock ‘n roll” of the bunch too. If you like a little touch of morbid in your festive cheer, this song’s for you.
5. Don’t Shoot Me Santa (2007)
Great chorus. Also a tad macabre, but that’s what makes it work.
4. Christmas In LA f. Dawes (2013)
This song has a fantastic melody. I love the vocals from Dawes and Flowers.
3. A Great Big Sled (2006)
The Killers first ever Christmas release. The song, particularly the synths and guitars, that sounds most like their indomitable debut, Hot Fuss.
2. Happy Birthday Guadalupe! f. Mariachi El Bronx & Wild Light (2009)
Tonnes of fun with a super high earworm factor. This is one of the warmest Christmas cuts I’ve ever heard. It’s rotated with the song below as my favourite Christmas tune from the Vegas lads. It doesn’t sound like a Christmas song so much as it sounds like a really good Killers song. This is a good thing.
1. The Cowboy’s Christmas Ball (2011)
I love everything about this song, and I smile ear-to-ear whenever I hear it. I think it’s the catchiest Christmas song The Killers have yet done. The song is one giant hook, and the harmonies near the end of the tune are amazing (every Brandon Flowers vocal on this track is on point). Again, there are very few elements here that make it sound like a Christmas song. More than that, it’s just a fantastic Killers song.
I don’t think any other band can match what The Killers have done over the last decade, from albums to covers to Christmas tunes. All these things that they’ve done have been awesome, and I can’t wait to see and hear what they come up with next.
Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, and any other denominational holiday celebration to one of the best bands of the last decade!
Continuing along with my Top 100 Songs of 2013, here are songs 40-26:
40. Biffy Clyro – The Thaw/Biblical/Opposite/Accident Without Emergency
Biffy Clyro brought the heat on their sprawling double LP, Opposites. All four of the songs listed below are massive. The Biff have continued to expand the scope and reach of their sound with each passing album, and the result here is a record that sees them pushing to be arena-conquerors the world over.
The change in dynamic that follows the second time Simon Neil utters, “the secrets in the snow, will always come out in the thaw” is a shot of adrenaline to the heart.
Choruses don’t get any bigger than the one in “Biblical”. Deservedly, a massive hit.
“Baby I’m leaving here, you need to be with somebody else…”
Accident Without Emergency:
Two brothers and a bad, bad man rocking their Scots off.
39. Jacques Lu Cont f. Alex Metric & Malin – Safe With You
Whether he goes by Jacques Lu Cont, The Thin White Duke, or Stuart Price, he’s a peerless electro/dance/pop wizard. “Safe With You” is one of his finest efforts.
38. Tame Impala – Elephant
I missed this in 2012. As I began to hear it on the radio in 2013, it kept burrowing deeper and deeper into my brain. By the second half of the year, “Elephant” was bellowing like a beast. One Youtube comment nailed the song’s appeal bang on: “Elephant” sounds like John Lennon singing over Pink Floyd. But with a modern twist. I love the lyric, “But he feels like an elephant, shaking his big, grey trunk for the hell of it,” and could listen to it over and over. I have.
That beat. Man, oh man, that beat. This is as catchy as hip-(p)hop gets. It’s the short and ubiquitous contribution from 2 Chainz. It’s Kendrick Lamar’s verse. Maybe most of all though, it’s Drake’s verse and tag-in on the chorus. From the second the beat drops, the track is reeling in its hook.
36. HAIM – The Wire
It’s interesting that HAIM chose to cover Sheryl Crow(‘s “Strong Enough) in 2013 because I think if Crow were still at the fore of pop music in 2013, this is what she’d sound like. The Bangles’ and Fleetwood Mac’s influence is also palpable. I’m of the mind that HAIM were a bit overrated before they released “The Wire”. Since, their success makes sense — this track is fantastic.
35. Mariah Carey & Miguel – #Beautiful
Mariah’s best track since 2005’s “We Belong Together”. An interestingly structured pop ditty, as Mariah doesn’t appear in earnest until 1:31 into the track. Not a bad thing, as Miguel’s smooth vocal paves a red carpet of silk for Mariah, who, when she finally does appear, sounds resplendent and invigorated.
34. Panic! At The Disco – Far Too Young To Die
The best song on Panic! At The Disco’s super strong and enjoyable LP, Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die!. Brendon Urie and company have crafted a nice career for themselves, and over their past few records, have proven they have a genuine knack for melody and pop songcraft.
33. David Guetta f. Sia – She Wolf (Falling To Pieces)
I can’t get over how moving Sia’s vocal is. The music is the best Guetta’s made in ten years, but it’s the heartbreaking way Sia croons each and every syllable that carries this staggering dance-pop gem above so many of its contemporaries. Sia has magic in her voice, and it’s never been more powerful than it is here.
32. Queens Of The Stone Age – My God Is The Sun/I Appear Missing/I Sat By The Ocean
It took me a while to get into QOTSA’s …Like Clockwork, but when I finally did, I fell in love. There just isn’t anyone else making this kind of (rock) music right now. It’s QOTSA’s most cohesive and best sounding album. Josh Homme enlisted several of his friends, Dave Grohl and Alex Turner among them, to help mould this record, and the collaborative nature of the songs is apparent. Homme sounds inspired, and wait for it, like he’s having fun. Recording must’ve been a wild ride. This is vital music.
My God Is The Sun:
I Appear Missing:
I Sat By The Ocean:
31. The Dream f. Fabolous – Slow It Down
This is a brilliant mid-tempo pop/r’n’b song. It’s the clever lyric. It’s Fabolous’ sick, no sweat verse. But most of all, it’s the way The Dream pouts, “Enough with the mother f***in’ dance songs, you gotta slow it down…” Radio killa indeed.
Quick aside: The best and most prevalent lyrical theme of 2013 was, without question, Demons…
30. Surfer Blood – Demon Dance
The riff at the beginning of the song slays for days. My favourite Soundcloud comment about this song says it’s “as if The Pixies and Weezer had a baby.” The motion is seconded. There are definite Britpop tendencies here as well, and so much more. I can’t count high enough to put on a number on the amount of hooks in this song.
29. Wavves – Demon To Lean On
If the previous song was parented by The Pixies + Weezer + a dip and dash of Britpop, this song sounds like the offspring of Weezer + Nirvana + a splash of Green Day. “Demon To Lean On” sounds like an effortless joy of a pop-rock song, as if it were conceived of and sung whilst skateboarding down a steep California street in the summer. A helmet wasn’t needed, just as long as there was a demon to lean on.
28. Imagine Dragons – Demons
The third offering in the Demon Trilogy. I think this is far and away Imagine Dragons’ best song. The more I listened to it, the more I loved it, and the more the many subtle musical strokes (designed to make it hit) became apparent. This song was everywhere in 2013, and I’ve heard it a tonne, yet I’m nowhere near sick of it.
27. Foals – My Number/Inhaler
Count on Foals to issue a tune with a relatively unorthodox structure and still have it be hellaciously catchy.
This must be inhaled to be believed. Foals are a force of nature and a fantastic, unique band.
26. Shad – Stylin’ f. Saukrates/Love Means f. Eternia/Intro: Lost f. Lisa Lobsinger, Ian Kamau, K-OS
This is what thoughtful, effortless obliteration of the microphone sounds like. Shad is absolutely on fire here, from his lyrics to his cadence to his apparent ease, comfort, and joy on the mic.
Love means reflections like this. Love is so often conveyed in such banal, superficial ways in popular music. This is not that. Shad’s thoughts on love are deep and considered, as are Eternia’s, who kills it in her time on the track.
There’s something magical about this tune. It’s at once an old soul, yet as fresh (to death) as anything out there now. It’s the first song on, and sets up, Shad’s wildly impressive Flying Colours LP, and it also sums it up: adventurous, original, and razor sharp lyrically.