Mona deserves a break, so Bethanyâ€™s taking over Under Cover this week to bring you Under Cover: The Killers edition.
Rumor has it that the next release from The Killers will be an album entirely of covers. It isnâ€™t confirmed yet, but drummer Ronnie Vannucci has said that the band has been talking about putting together a collection where each member chooses three songs to cover. Now, the Killers have already done some really great covers like their renditions of Joy Divisionâ€™s â€œShadowplayâ€ and Dire Straitsâ€™ â€œRomeo and Julietâ€, both of which can be found on their b-side album Sawdust.
So while legions of fans wait with bated breath to see who the Killers would add to their list of covered artists, I decided that it would be fun to check out some artists who have decided to cover the Killers. Turns out theyâ€™re a pretty popular group for people to cover, so look for the Killer to be a part of an Under Cover Series.
The Killers, 2004: â€œMr. Brightsideâ€, original version from Hot Fuss
Though not an incredibly complex song considering there is really just the one verse and chorus, the David Bowie-influenced hooked audiences and thrust the Killers into stardom. This was the first song that singer Brandon Flowers and guitarist Dave Keuning ever wrote together as the Killers. To this day, it remains the only song that the Killers have performed at every show.
For a self-proclaimed optimist, â€œMr. Brightsideâ€ has some awfully depressing lyrics juxtaposed with the cheery guitar riff. I love this song because it fascinates me to watch the psychotic breakdown in the lyrics: â€œLet me go,â€ Flowers moans, but as the song progresses and isnâ€™t clear if he is looking for an out from the relationship or the jealousyâ€™s hold. As the guitar keeps repeating those riffs, the poor guyâ€™s relationship rut is drilled into the minds of listeners.
Live, Flowers takes the song to an even more desperate, psychotic level by allowing the tension to build and adding at the top of his lungs, â€œOh yes? No. no, no, no,â€ before finally breaking and dropping down an octave into the “I never” section. I heard a rumor one time that there was more after that like “I never knew” or “I never knew love,” but I haven’t seen or actually heard anything from the band to confirm that, but it is still intriguing that the line may have changed.
Though this song is kind of a glitzy version of love turned sour, I think almost anybody who has been cheated on or gone through a bad breakup can relate to the paranoid turmoil that ensues when thinking of a former lover in anotherâ€™s arms.
McFly, 2005: â€œMr. Brightsideâ€, cover version from b-side on â€œI Wanna Hold Youâ€ single
About the time the Killers were releasing Hot Fuss and discovering their own audience, across the great pond was a UK pop punk act called McFly that was making their own waves. Their debut album Room on the 3rd Floor found them to be the youngest band to have a UK album debut at #1, an honor they stole from The Beatles.
I suspect the band holds another unofficial record for performing the most cover songs. They seem to release a new one every other day, so it isnâ€™t surprising that they covered their Island Records labelmatesâ€™, the Killers, biggest single. Now, their version isnâ€™t bad. But it also isnâ€™t very original. I had hoped for a bit more of a pop/punk feel, but really the only change is on the vocals. They add a harmony to the chorus, but while I would usually revel in a harmony, in this particular case I feel like it detracts from the paranoia of the song. They just sound too happy and the juxtaposition is lost. Again, not a horrible cover, but these boys may have been just a little too young to be tackling the emotions in this song at this point in their career.
Paul Anka, 2007: â€œMr. Brightsideâ€, cover version from Classic Songs My Way
Musicians of all genres love the Killers and, surprisingly, jazz artists are especially drawn to the band. Now, as much as I love the Killers, I was quite surprised that Paul Anka considered â€œMr. Brightsideâ€ a â€œclassicâ€ song that deserved to be on an cover album with the likes of Billy Joel, Duran Duran and Joni Mitchell.
For the first 30 seconds of brassy introduction, it is impossible to guess that Anka is covering The Killers until he gets to the lyrics. He turns this number into a big showtune that I could see as part of the libretto to â€œGuys & Dollsâ€.
â€œYou can call me Brightside,â€ boasts Anka at the end of the song over wailing brass. Little kickers such as this make the cover all the more entertaining. This version is a bit over the top though, so while Iâ€™d check it out, I donâ€™t it would replace the original on your iPods.
PlayRadioPlay, 2007: â€œMr. Brightsideâ€, cover version from The Frequency EP
The fact that indie pop band PlayRadioPlay is really just one guy, Daniel Hunter, and his cover manages to sound this unique and full is really quite impressive. Also, signed to Island Records at the time, Hunter released his cover as part of his 2007 The Frequency EP.
With electronic beeps and an extended introduction, his cover almost seems more like he was covering the â€œThin White Duke Remixâ€ of the song instead of the original. He manages to put his own spin on the song better than any of the other multitude of covers that Iâ€™ve heard.
Even though Hunter is a young singer, he manages to put the feeling of desperation behind his vocals, which was the flaw in the McFly cover. I really like when he layers the verse over the chorus near the end. The stuff this guy can do with a laptop and a keyboard is really clever and I would recommend checking out his original material.
Julia Nunes, 2007: â€œMr. Brightsideâ€ version for YouTube
Finally, I must mention YouTube sensation Julia Nunesâ€™ cover of â€œMr. Brightsideâ€ for Josh‘s sake. He’s in love with Nunes (and to think he teases me for loving Flowers).
This New Yorker does great adaptations of popular songs on to her ukulele and in 2007 (yes, another 2007-I have no idea why this song became so popular again that year), she whipped out her four-strings and came up with a bold cover of “Mr. Brightside”.
Nunes is vocally unimpressive on this song and she plows through the lyrics. Her forte is hands down the ukulele and I recommend this cover simply because it is fun.