Analogue Music | The Killers: Top 10 Deep Cuts Ever

The Killers: The 10 Greatest Deep Cuts

By Mark Geil

With the release of Rebel Diamonds, a 20-song greatest hits collection, The Killers marked 20 years as a band. From their days as fledgling glamorous indie rock-and-rollers in Vegas to stadium tours on the strength of hits like “Somebody Told Me” and “When You Were Young,” the (sometimes) quartet has shifted through tones and influences to become one of the biggest bands in the world. To wit: their ubiquitous mega-hit “Mr. Brightside” has been on the U.K. charts for over seven years!

But like any band whose career has spanned two decades, The Killers have left their fair share of lesser-known gems along the way—the songs that never made a “Greatest Hits” album and rarely get played in concerts. These “Deep Cuts” are becoming more valuable in a musical landscape shifting from long-play albums to one-off singles. (The Killers’ are so good, they released an entire album of them called Sawdust after they had released only two records.)

This Top Ten list of The Killers’ greatest Deep Cuts, then, is part primer for casual fans who only know the hits, part reminder for the die-hards to dig a little deeper into the catalog, and part fodder for debate, since any Deep Cut list will be naturally subjective, given the lack of metrics like airplay, charts, and setlists.

A word about our methods: any song formally released on an album was eligible, including deluxe editions and bonus tracks, the live record, the Christmas record, and even the soundtrack to The Twilight Saga: New Moon (what, you thought we’d forget “A White Demon Love Song”?). Songs were then disqualified if they had appeared as one of the previously released hits on either Direct Hits or Rebel Diamonds. We also disallowed the top ten most-played songs at Killers concerts. That left over 100 songs in consideration for the coveted Top Ten Deep Cuts. From there, we gathered opinions from other critics, career retrospectives, and even lists from the Reddit community. Ultimately, though, the list represents our take on the best–not the songs most representative of an era in the band’s story, not the most obscure or quirky (sorry, “C’est La Vie”). Just the best.

10. "Boots" (2010)

Fifth in a series of Christmas singles benefiting Product (RED), compiled in Don’t Waste Your Wishes.

In case you missed it, The Killers have produced an impressive set of Christmas songs, and “Boots” is the most impressive of all. Everything is here: the sentimentality (which, for once, can’t be criticized because it’s a Christmas song), the spiritual take on the human condition, and the little Springsteen-esque details that root the song in reality (“Stomp my boots before I go back in”).

9. "Deadlines and Commitments" (2012)

Track 6 from Battle Born

Here at Analogue, we’re big fans of Battle Born. It’s loaded with the gigantic anthems that have branded The Killers, but it also contains two entries in the band’s equally impressive collection of deeply personal and parental songs of caring. One of those, “Be Still,” was not released as a single but grew organically enough to land on Rebel Diamonds. Its cousin, “Deadlines and Commitments,” is sneaky-sweet. The up-tempo, almost breezy melody can mask the emotional message: home is an anchor, and there is such a thing as steadfast love. Many of Flowers’ best lyrics seem to be written to future versions of his young sons.

8. "Sweet Talk" (2007)

Track 5 from Sawdust

Just two albums in, The Killers already had enough quality deep cuts to fill an album, which they duly released and called Sawdust. “Sweet Talk,” from the Sam’s Town sessions, is a standout. It’s an honest, confessional plea, not too unlike their later masterpiece “Rut” a decade hence. By the outro, the lyric bleeds well into overwrought—“I’m gonna climb that symphony home”—but for Killers enthusiasts, those are the sorts of lines we love.

7. "A Crippling Blow" (2008)

B Side to “Human,” Bonus track on UK, Irish, Australian, and Japanese versions and 10th Anniversary reissue of Day & Age

“A Crippling Blow” is, as the kids say, a total banger. It’s a perfect B-side, with a vibe that doesn’t exactly fit Day & Age, a lyric that’s not fully realized, and a playful arrangement that reminds you why The Killers are better with guitars. Flowers' vocals are frantic and deranged as he tells the tale of someone hanging on by a thread and trying to convince himself the thread is strong enough to hold him.

6."Why Do I Keep Counting?" (2006)

Track 11 from Sam’s Town

How very much like Brandon Flowers to turn a fear of flying into a prayer that is both existential and ecclesiastical. Flowers called this song the climax of Sam’s Town, though it strays from the Springsteen influences closer to Bowie territory. The song is universally applicable to anyone facing their fears, or their mortality.

5. "Wonderful Wonderful" (2017)

Track 1 (title track) from Wonderful Wonderful

This epic, wall-of-sound anthem lends the album its title and cover, and probably captures everything that the haters tend to hate about the band, which tend to be the things I love. The song’s use of King James English would be preposterous for most bands, but it works here when set against a grandiose melody and the beautiful story of a nameless child finally being called Wonderful. And when viewed as a prequel to fan-favorite Life to Come, the song takes on even more meaning.

4. "Midnight Show" (2004)

Track 10 from Hot Fuss

The middle song of the mythic “Murder Trilogy,” this driving rocker is fittingly cinematic, considering the band once planned a short film to portray Jenny’s untimely demise. “Midnight Show” demonstrates The Killers; versatility in sound and tone.

3. "Cody" (2021)

Track 4 from Pressure Machine

Pressure Machine was such a bold change-of-course for The Killers, almost all the songs could count as deep cuts. The album contains detailed, character-based snapshots of a Utah town, and “Cody” is sparse and unsettling, punctuated by Dave Keuning’s brooding guitar solo. Fans weren’t sure how Pressure Machine would play live, but as soon as Flowers sang, “Cody says he didn’t start the fire,” the crowds were mesmerized.

2. "Tranquilize" (2007)

Track 1 from Sawdust

This haunting collaboration with Lou Reed kicks off Sawdust and makes one wonder how it didn’t make a proper studio album. Flowers’ trademark bendy portamento contrasts with Reed’s iconic delivery to create a song teetering on the edge of sanity. The lyrics are cryptic and seem to defy explanation, which feels appropriate.

1. "Goodnight, Travel Well" (2008)

Track 10 from Day and Age

This one is not cheery enough to make most Killers playlists, but it’s a balm for anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one. The song is a powerfully honest take on the helpless feeling of grief, even when one believes in a great beyond. The dramatic build takes its time, as it should.