I can clearly picture the first time I listened to The Killers. I was at a sleepover at my friend Megan’s house, feeling anxious and annoyed. It was the end of June, the end of our first high school year and Hot Fuss had just been released, dominating the radio waves and providing the constant soundtrack to a wet and unsatisfying summer. Everyone had the flu. Megan had been given the album for her birthday and played it incessantly that night, over and over till I eventually set up camp in the hallway outside her room indignantly, pretending to sleep and smarting with rage. Alex MacLeod threw up all over her sleeping bag and we got picked up early by our parents. A particularly inauspicious start to our first summer as teenagers.
15 years later we are grown – or growing – up. All my friends are having babies, buying houses, getting married. Last I heard Alex MacLeod is a potter somewhere down south. I have had the honour of DJing at several friends’ weddings and without fail, the song that makes everyone lose their shit on the dancefloor is ‘Mr Brightside’. I really mean everyone. No matter how highbrow or refined we think our respective music tastes to be, ‘Mr Brightside’ is a song that defines and demarcates our generation. Born before or after a certain year and it’s… just a song. Depending on your musical preferences, it might be a good or bad one. But at this point, I couldn’t honestly tell you whether I love it or hate it. The emotions I feel when I hear it are far beyond that, layers of memories of house parties, school crushes, Kohl eyeliner and the acrid taste of Blossom Hill rosé.
‘Mr Brightside’ is a meme, in the truest sense. The millennial generation, who thought we perpetually belonged to some bright, technological future, have become a cliché, like our parents and their parents before them. Like Elvis, like flared jeans, like perms and beef stroganoff. The Killers are headlining Glastonbury and everyone is scornful, but I can promise you that when June rolls around the clips of the crowd singing along will go viral and you will probably watch a few seconds and smile wryly. The sharpest minds don’t define the music of a generation. Two million album sales do. Play ‘Mr Brightside’ in my retirement home lads, and let me rock in peace.
Josie is a freelance arts project coordinator, writer and creative. She was once erroneously referred to as the Queen of Scotland by a Malaysian newspaper and has been falsely using that title ever since. Find Josie on Twitter: @ampersandetand