The Killers - Hot Fuss
Release date: June 7, 2004
Ever since the mid-'90s, mainstream rock music has been in a weird place. Grunge felt like the last real movement that both fans and critics could agree on, and since then it's been one or the other (with a handful of exceptions like Radiohead, The White Stripes, Arcade Fire, and Vampire Weekend). Usually, either you're indie and cool or mainstream and basic. That's oversimplifying things, but one of the bands that helped push open a new door in 2004 was The Killers.
But Hot Fuss was also produced well, made for huge settings, massively successful, and proof that the average rock fan doesn't give a shit about critical acclaim.
Now, The Killers didn't completely win over the cool kids. The reviews were mixed. Their music was flashy, sleazy, blown out to epic proportions, and unconcerned with avoiding the obvious path. But Hot Fuss was also produced well, made for huge settings, massively successful, and proof that the average rock fan doesn't give a shit about critical acclaim. It's the same reason Kings Of Leon and Mumford & Sons fans turned on their groups at the same time they started to realize serious mainstream success. It's the reason Imagine Dragons is making more money this year than your favorite indie darling will ever see in their life. As much as some purists hate to admit it, catchy songwriting always wins, and when you press play on the first five songs of Hot Fuss (all singles), it's clear that this was something The Killers had mastered.
The appeal of rock music has always been rooted in rebellion, but these days, it just doesn't work like it used to. The things that make a band sell out stadiums and appeal to the masses are the things that remove any sense of rebellion. But The Killers were different. They were from Vegas. They blew up in the UK before the United States. They incorporated new wave style and retro showmanship, and they unashamedly flaunted huge choruses pop star-level production.
It's difficult to look back on Hot Fuss and realize exactly where it will sit in the history of rock music, but the album did prove that there was still a place for mainstream rock bands who could sell to the masses without the approval of old-school fans. It wasn't just about legacy acts like Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Pearl Jam, and Green Day anymore.