Are The Killers Gayer Than Fitness Fridays!?

by Kathy Cacace  from

I want to preface this piece by relating that The Killers are great. I love them passionately. Hot Fuss is the first album in years to make me feel like a seventh grade girl again. I shamefully admit here and now that I squeal to my dog ''Look! It's them!''when I happen to catch the video for ''Somebody Told Me'' on MTV2. They are my commuting soundtrack, the distance from parking space 272 at the Cortlandt MetroNorth station to Mead Street perfectly accompanied by tracks two through nine.

In complete teeny-bopper mode, I had to check out their website for possible wallpaper for my work computer, or maybe mp3s of the elusive B-sides I can't seem to get my hands on, or perhaps some gossip (to the tune of a marriage proposal addressed directly to me). Instead, I ended up reading the monstrous history of the band. It details the making of the album and alludes to the murder mystery hidden in ''Jenny Was a Friend of Mine,'' ''Midnight Show,''and a third, yet-to-be-released track.

I admit that while I have been listening to their album basically non-stop since early August, I had accepted the lyrics as typical, catchy, love-ish songs. Then again, I am the girl who had been singing along to Alannah Myles' ''Black Velvet'' for something along the lines of twelve years before figuring out that it was about Elvis. So maybe I'm just kind of dense. It took the knowledge that there was a hidden plotline to the album to get me to listen the songs more closely. Then, like a bolt of lightening, a ridiculously complex and tenuously cogent theory hit me during one of the Killers' Irving Plaza shows in October (which was, by the way, one of the best shows I have seen in a long time).

With this introduction, I present my pop-culture doctoral thesis. To clarify, I am in no way stating that Mr. Flowers, or any of the other members of the band, are themselves gay. I have no idea if they are. I'd prefer to believe that they are not, as a sham marriage with Brandon is something I would dutifully tolerate-but I prefer to think big and romantic in my dreams. Any and all claims I am about to make about sexuality apply to the speaker of the Killers' album, a character already clearly detached from his creator by virtue of his being a homicidal maniac.

So here it is, tentatively titled:

On the Mats with the Boys:

An Examination of the Homosexual Subtext of the Killers' Hot Fuss

It's clear to any listener that the driving emotion of the Killers' album Hot Fuss is jealousy-a jealousy so intense that it ends with a character's murder. However, it's only with a certain amount of close listening and some rearranging that the secret plot of the album completely emerges.

The key to the puzzle, without a doubt, is ''Andy, You're a Star.'' The most transparent of the songs on the album, our narrator pines for the seemingly untouchable (and attached) high school jock. On the field he's incredible and he's leaving his legacy on the school, but he's also rolling around on the mats with the boys with more fervor than wrestling demands. The narrator says, explicitly, ''in a car with a girl-promise me she's not your world, 'cause Andy, you're a star.''Sure, it could be a platonic envy or admiration of a small-town boy with a too-big-for-his-britches star quality, but the town isn't admiring him; they're judging him-and the verdict is in. We suspect Andy likes boys. And our narrator likes Andy.

Chronologically, though, the story line doesn't start with ''Andy, You're A Star.'' It begins with ''Smile Like You Mean It'' and ''Change Your Mind.'' ''Smile Like You Mean It'' sets the tone for the emotional environment of the relationship between our narrator and Andy. It's all about denying what's truly there, yet lamenting the loss of innocence as each male character accepts his true desires. ''Change Your Mind'' is the beginning of the connection between the two boys. Mr. Flowers proclaimed the song ''the sweetest''the Killers have done, and it's true. It's the most promising, most hopeful song on the album, and reeks of the possibilities of a new romance. Yet because this romance is between our narrator and Andy, the sweetness of the song is somewhat diluted with suspicion, shame, and guilt. Still, they canít deny that they've ''both felt like this before.''

Putting the song ''Somebody Told Me'' next, the story begins to become clearer. The twisted genders of the boyfriends and girlfriends in the chorus become a coded inquiry from our narrator to Andy to see exactly whether or not he's interested. The proverbial ''somebody'' told him that he had a boyfriend, who looked a lot like one of the narrator's old ''girlfriends.'' The narrator has had it with playing games, and, in the overtly homoerotic ''On Top,'' the two get together. Still, leaving each other with a cigarette and a handshake after their trysts, they canít acknowledge to other people whatís truly going on.

The most significant of those other people is Andy's girlfriend, Jenny. Our narrator's jealousy over Jenny's role in Andy's life permeates the entire album, but is specifically dealt with in ''Mr. Brightside,'' in which the narrator is not possessive of the ''she,'' but rather jealous of her time with the ''he.''It seems that Jenny is an acquaintance of the narrator's; she fuels his jealousy with her presence in both his and Andy's life.

By the Killers' own admittance, a murder occurs on this album. It's Jenny, and the narrator commits the murder. This is all a given. The band, however, does not as explicitly state the gay love theme that drives the murder. It seems not only that the narrator kills Jenny (''Midnight Show''), but also that Andy was there and was involved in the actual process; someone is holding Jenny down, imploring an accomplice to ''drive faster.'' Post-murder (which takes place outside, in the rain, but doesn't involve drowning-personally, I believe she was strangled), the narrator denies the charges, telling his interrogators that Jenny was a friend of his and he had no motive to commit such a crime. However, if we were to believe that this album depicts a heterosexual relationship, why would our narrator declare Jenny simply a friend?

Guilt sets in after the crime. It seems that the two men cannot stay together. ''All These Things That I've Done'' and, finally, ''Everything Will Be Alright'' are the narrator's attempts to not only console himself, but also the boy he is losing.

Which leaves the listener with ''Believe Me, Natalie.How does it fit in? I tried to make this whole theory work with the narrator having a girlfriend as well, but I just don't think it's true. I've come to the conclusion that the Killers are too smart not to have a good old-fashioned red herring on the album. It's sort of in the interest of the narrator's character to detract attention from the secret subplot with a song that doesn't relate to the story, but rather talks about the 1970's disco scene coming to an end. Still, though the song is a red herring, it does invite the listener to explore what's hidden under the Monet, just below the surface.