The Las Vegas locals have been laying relatively low this year, performing only a handful of live shows amidst on and off recording sessions for their forthcoming fifth record. Last week however, the band released their eleventh consecutive Christmas single in support of Bono’s (PRODUCT)RED Campaign, which raises funding and awareness to help eliminate HIV and AIDS in Africa. Along with this year’s annual contribution to the cause, the quartet also re-released their entire Christmas discography, culminating in a compilation album Don’t Waste Your Wishes.
With rumours circulating that 2016 will see the last of the band’s yearly Christmas singles, this list ranks each of their efforts. The more sleigh bells the merrier, if you ask me.
11. ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas (feat. Ned Humphrey Hanson)’ (2016)
I feel like a right old Scrooge for placing frontman Brandon Flowers’ latest Yuletide in last place, especially when it’s his most personal, heartfelt effort yet, featuring a touching and original (though at times, slightly awkward) spoken word poem from Brandon at the start. Meanwhile, his fourth grade music teacher, Ned Humphrey Hanson (now 86 years old), takes the reins for a cover of ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ as made famous by Bing Crosby.
10. ‘The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball’ (2011)
Christmas goes Country in the group’s sixth single for (RED), which is a version of the 1890 poem of the same name, written by William Lawrence Chittenden; although some of the lyrics have been altered slightly to better incorporate their own Western hometown. Like its accompanying music video, the song is a fun interpretation of a traditional classic, and doesn’t seem at all out of place in their discography, which commonly features structured narratives.
9. ‘I Feel It In My Bones (feat. Ryan Pardey)’ (2012)
Coming off the back of the release of their latest album Battle Born (2012), ‘I Feel It In My Bones’ sounds quite distinctly as being from the same era, masquerading as a dusty desert-rocker that exposes The Killers’ polished flair in a bombastic over-produced explosion in its chorus. The second track in a fan-dubbed “Santa Trilogy”, featuring the band’s former tour manager Ryan Pardey as a bitter and vengeful version Santa Claus, is an interpretation which seems to be a recurring troupe for Flowers, even outside of this trilogy (see ‘Joel, The Lump of Coal’). Sounds like someone still hasn’t gotten over being on the naughty list in years gone by…
8. ‘Dirt Sledding’ (feat. Ryan Pardey) (2015)
While also serving as band’s recent conclusion to their drawn-out “Santa Trilogy”, and once again featuring Ryan Pardey, ‘Dirt Sledding’ is perhaps more strikingly Killers-meets-Broadway, assisted by the breakdown of its ensemble cast, a vaudeville-esque bridge, and Flowers’ typically bombastic chorus as he sings “Pretty girls; Christmas light; Mistletoe; Holy Nights/Don’t it sound like Heaven on a cloud?” The song also features a spoken verse from Academy Award winning actor Richard Dreyfuss, best known for his roles in American Graffiti, Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
7. ‘Joel The Lump of Coal’ (feat. Jimmy Kimmel) (2014)
It would be easy to write-off their creation with the popular television host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel as a simple mockery of Christmas songs, especially considering the track’s entertaining preceding skit on Kimmel’s show. Somehow however, against all odds, the tale of Joel the Lump of Coal is instantly endearing, and even contains a few poignant messages including acceptance and forgiveness (while this version of Santa is once again portrayed as a callous, heartless, binary-thinking bully).
6. ‘¡Happy Birthday Guadalupe! (feat. Wild Light and Mariachi El Bronx)’ (2009)
It’s certainly not atypical of Flowers and The Killers to incorporate elements of Mexican people and culture into their song writing, and ‘¡Happy Birthday Guadalupe!’ is no exception, delivering a unique festive single which distances itself from the usual expectations of a traditional Christmas morning. Loosely drawing upon the Catholic religious tale of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego in a modified and modernised re-telling, the track features American four-piece rock bands Wild Light and The Bronx, the latter having released three additional records of mariachi music under the name Mariachi El Bronx.
5. Christmas In L.A.’ (feat. Dawes) (2013)
Another divergent take on Christmas, this time featuring American folk-rockers Dawes, as an impoverished and lonely man out-of-work seeks comfort in the only place he has left: a local bar. It’s another touching and humbling moment from the four-piece, and arguably lyrically the finest of the Christmas singles. The music video, which is partially animated, features actors Owen Wilson and Harry Dean Stanton.
4. ‘Don’t Shoot Me Santa’ (2007)
The first track in the“Santa Trilogy”, ‘Don’t Shoot Me Santa’ is a certified fan-favourite as far as their Christmas singles go, with the band even performing the song live with Pardey on a few occasions. Serving as the origin story of Flowers’ quarrel with Saint Nick, the tune’s music video was once again directed by fellow Las Vegas native Matthew Gray Gubler (who plays Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds), reprising the same role for 2015’s ‘Dirt Sledding’.
3. ‘Joseph, Better You Than Me (feat. Elton John and Neil Tennant)’ (2008)
Though The Killers have collaborated with a variety of artists and special guests over the years, especially on their Christmas singles, 2008’s ‘Joseph, Better You Than Me’ certainly contains their most notable partnerships by way of Sir Elton John and the Pet Shop Boys’ co-founder and singer Neil Tennant. It’s a union that has continued to endure, with Elton John rumoured to be writing with the band for their impending album, while Tennant has since performed live with Flowers and featured briefly on his recent solo effort The Desired Effect.
2. ‘Boots’ (2010)
Opening with the monologue of George Bailey’s prayer from It’s a Wonderful Life, ‘Boots’ too is an emotionally charged, touching portrayal of Christmas with “Cinnamon candles burning; snowball fights outside/A smile below each nose and above each chin; stomp my boots before I go back in”. The song was dropped a few months after the release of Flowers’ rather successful solo debut, and at the height of The Killers’ first extended hiatus after three successive albums and years of relentless touring. It was a welcome reassurance for fans the band were not done yet.
1. ‘A Great Big Sled (feat. Toni Halliday)’ (2006)
Released the same year their acclaimed sophomore LP Sam’s Town took the world by storm, The Killers’ first ever Christmas single has proven impossible to top. One of their more definitively festive tracks and effortlessly charming, ‘A Great Big Sled’ transports listeners to Christmases of their childhood as Flowers sings “Little boys have action toys for brains; I’m living proof it can last a long time”. The song also features backing vocals by English musician and ex-lead vocalist of Curve, Toni Halliday, while her husband and frequent collaborator with The Killers Alan Moulder produced the track.
Score Don’t Waste Your Wishes as a digital download exclusively on iTunes and Apple Music, or as a limited edition CD available from December 9. 100% of proceeds will be donated to (PRODUCT)RED in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Africa.