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Courtesy of Pitchfork

Get ready for a Killers Christmas

After a decade of Christmas music, the Killers are releasing a compilation.

By Nat Kaemmerer | Dec. 6, 2016

Tags: Holidays Music Reviews

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Since 2006, The Killers have been adding their own flair to Christmas by releasing a Christmas-themed single every year. They’ve released 11 songs so far, and this year they released an album compiling all of them. Even during years when the band hasn’t been together, they’ve given us a great alternative song to rock to on Christmas.

Not only do they add rocking flair to the holiday, but they also support a worthy cause. The band partners with Product Red, a campaign that benefits AIDS funding and research. All proceeds from their Christmas singles go toward it.

Now, go forth and rock, Killers style. Your Christmas will be better for it.

2006 – “A Great Big Sled” feat. Toni Halliday

This song is in my top five Christmas songs of all time. It’s really hopeful and nostalgic, and listening to it during finals week, right before Christmas, really speaks to my soul. It reminds me of the feeling of growing up, and how Christmas starts to feel different as the years go by.

“I wanna roll around like a kid in the snow, I wanna relearn what I already know.”

Me too, guys. Me too. This song was a starry start to their illustrious career as Christmas musicians.

2007 – “Don’t Shoot Me Santa” feat. Ryan Pardey

For a while, I thought this was their only Christmas song. It’s certainly their most memorable, and the basis for two more Christmas songs over the years.

The video is great. Guest musician Ryan Pardey plays a dirty, murderous Santa trying to bury lead vocalist Brandon Flowers in the desert, and the whole band wears really awesome Christmas sweaters throughout. A song about trying to not get murdered by Santa is perfect for you if you’re a bit tired of the classic jingles that portray the dastardly man as jolly and cheerful.

2008 – “Joseph, Better You Than Me” feat. Elton John and Neil Tennant

To me, this is one of the more forgettable songs. It’s not quite about Christmas specifically. Instead, it’s reassuring Joseph, Jesus’ father, that he is more than the title of Jesus’ dad. He’s a “maker, a creator, not just ‘somebody’s dad.’” It focuses more on the religious side of the Christmas season than the songs before it and pretty much all that come after it.

2009 – “¡Happy Birthday Guadalupe!” feat. Wild Light and El Mariachi Bronx

Catch me yelling along to this one all December, even though it doesn’t really seem to be that Christmas-y. Really, the only way it’s a Christmas song is because Flowers occasionally says the word “Christmas.” Oh well. It’s catchy and fun, especially with the mariachi band. It gives the song a sense of what Christmas sounds like a little farther south.

2010 – “Boots”

This is the first Killers Christmas song with no other featured artists, unless you want to count the soundbite from It’s a Wonderful Life as an artist. “Boots” is another emotional one, dropping references to the movie it quotes.

This song can be a downer if you know It’s a Wonderful Life, but it has so much feeling and paints an earnest and lovely picture of Christmas with family. The theme in several of their Christmas songs is wanting to be a better person at this time of year, and this is no different. It makes me a little sad, but it ranks high overall.

2011 – ”The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball”

This song was actually inspired by a poem from the 19th century by William Lawrence Chittenden. The Killers gave it new life with their style and a fun Western hoedown video. It’s a lively and jaunty song, and I always thought of it as being a fun one for the whole family. Kids could really get down to the jangling of “The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball.”

2012 – “I Feel It In My Bones” feat. Ryan Pardey

You can definitely tell that this one came out the same year that their darker, brooding album Battle Born did. This song is kind of scary, honestly. It doesn’t have the cheery sound you think a Christmas song should. Others of theirs don’t either, but this one stands out even against “Don’t Shoot Me Santa.”

Ryan Pardey reprises his role as Santa, and he is really coming after Flowers this time. Throughout the song, Flowers wonders where the hell the old, jolly St. Nick went, and I am too. What kind of naughty list is this? A thrilling and terrifying one, for sure.

2013 – “Christmas in L.A.” feat. Dawes

Why are the Killers trying to make me cry at Christmas? Seriously. Ever since it came out, this song has made me regret the hard-knock life I’ve been living in Los Angeles, even though I’ve never even been to California. In the middle of Missouri, I find myself belting out “I don’t know if I can take another Christmaaaas in LAAAAAAAAA,” and wanting to go home to my family. This one is often overlooked as a sappy attempt at a blue Christmas, but you may find yourself turning to the melancholy melody once homesickness hits.

2014 – “Joel the Lump of Coal” feat. Jimmy Kimmel

Are you ready to get teary-eyed about a sentient piece of coal that’s ready to be some kid’s favorite present, only to be crushed when he finds out he’s the punishment prize?

This one, done with Jimmy Kimmel during a bit on his show, is a cutesy, silly jingle about Joel, a little coal with a big heart. Joel is so excited when Santa loads him on his sleigh, but he’s understandably upset when Santa (played by Jimmy Kimmel this time) tells him that he’s “just a booby prize.” Luckily, Joel gets his happy ending when matched up with a kid who regrets being naughty, and together they turn Joel into a diamond and he lives a beautiful life.

2015 – “Dirt Sledding” feat. Ryan Pardey

With this, The Killers proved that their Christmas abilities have aged well, as this song is as much of a hit, if not more, as their previous ones. It’s the final installment in the trilogy of the murderous Santa. This one is so well done, and is definitely in my top five list of their Christmas songs.

Flowers throws some ’50s-inspired vocals in there, sounding like Elvis at times. Here, they’ve got Santa on the run, and he’s going to give them whatever they want. Among things Flowers asks for are “a red Porsche” and “a shiny Rolex on my wrist.” If that wasn’t enough to hook you, the video is directed by Matthew Gray Gubler and features a creepy tooth fairy, Easter bunny, Thanksgiving turkey and Halloween jack-o-lantern.

2016 – “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” feat. Ned Humphrey Hansen

This one isn’t fully a song. The first three minutes are words spoken by Brandon Flowers. He’s talking about his childhood in “the small, dusty sidecar of Las Vegas,” and later in Payson, Utah. Flowers tells the story of his old music teacher, Ned Humphrey Hansen, teaching him the Christmas classic.

The short song they do sing is their first Christmas cover. And, for an extra heartwarming bonus, Hansen, the old music teacher, is the one singing it. This is Flowers’ way of thanking the man for what he taught him all those years ago. Eventually, Flowers joins him. It creates the kind of feel-good story that’s perfect for Christmastime.

The compilation, titled Don’t Waste Your Wishes, was released on iTunes as a digital album Nov. 18, and the physical copy will be available Dec. 9.

Edited by Katherine White | kwhite@themaneater.com

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