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Meaning of “Somebody Told Me” By The Killers

Somebody Told Me is one of the most popular tracks from the 2004 debut album Hot Fuss by The Killers. This song was an anthem for youth everywhere, but do you know the meaning of Somebody Told Me by The Killers? We’re going to dive into the details, so keep reading to learn more! 

Origins

September 12, 2004 – Dave Keuning at Upstart Fest in Atlanta, Georgia. Image source: Hillary Lipko, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Somebody Told Me features a guitar riff right at the beginning of the song, which was thought of by the lead guitar player for The Killers, Dave Keuning. When he decided to let the rest of the band hear it, they thought it would be a hit, so Brandon Flowers, the lead singer of the band, wrote lyrics that he knew would be catchy and infectious.

Between the lyrics, the tempo, guitar riff, and melody, it didn’t take long for Somebody Told Me to be recorded in 2003 and become a hit when it was released on Hot Fuss a year later. 

Music Video

The Killers - Somebody Told Me (Official Music Video)

When you look at the official music video for Somebody Told Me, you will see that The Killers are in it and are in the middle of a desert performing the song. It was filmed out in California in February 2004, and you can see the LED light up with their logo throughout the video as well as images of the music video filmed in the daytime, which was the alternate video to the nighttime shoot that became the official video.

New Order - Crystal (Official Music Video)

If you know New Order and the song Crystal, then you will be reminded of it when you watch this video because the LED screen is flashing images that pay tribute to the track by New Order. 

Lyrics

January 5, 2013 – The techno club Rote Sonne in Munich. Image source: viernullvier, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The lyrics seem to point that this guy is trying to get a girl he saw in the club to come home with him, and you can see this in the lyrics “Breakin’ my back just to know your name,” which seems to indicate he’s trying everything he can to get her to notice him with no avail.

Almost everyone has had one of these experiences where they are trying to get the attention of someone and are failing, even when they are doing everything they can to try to impress that person. He mentions 17 songs being played and that he’s done with the game, which could be the indication he’s given up trying to get her attention. 

November 4, 2012 – The Killers in Newcastle Metro Radio Arena. Image source: vagueonthehow from Tadcaster, York, England, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

That being said, it could also be talking about the music business and how he had written 17 songs and wasn’t getting anywhere in the music business. Flowers could be talking about the frustration of writing all of these songs and nothing seemingly catching on becoming a hit and making the band celebrities or real rock musicians. It could be that he’s talking about how he’s frustrated with trying to write songs that’ll reach an audience and how he’s done with even trying. 

You get to the chorus where another layer of where there might be more than one meaning when he talks about how “Well, somebody told me you had a boyfriend, Who looked like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year.” This part of the song could be talking about how these two people might be a fit for one another since they like the same type of people, but it also could be talking about another artist writing a song that resembles a track he already had written. 

So What Does It Mean?

May 21, 2015 – Brandon Flowers at the Brixton Academy, London. Image source: Drew de F Fawkes, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Flowers hasn’t said too much about the meaning behind Somebody Told Me except that he said at this point in life, he was going out into the club scene often with the band and felt frustration when it came to trying to bring a girl home from the club. 

October 1, 1974 – David Bowie performing on the ABC music program In Concert. Image source: ABC Television, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

He said that he was only around 20 or 21 at the time and often went to clubs in Las Vegas and wanted to write about his experiences at these clubs. He said that during these years, he was listening to David Bowie a lot and was trying to mimic or be like him in his style. At this time, he said he was insecure, and when he sang this song, he was talking about his experiences and himself in the lyrics.  

However, there could be more than one meaning to the lyrics, with some believing that the track is also about being a songwriter and how difficult it is to break into the music business, given how they had issues really getting into the industry.

Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine

Another tidbit of information about this song is that it had to be released twice to really get it off the ground, with the first version not being that much of a success, possibly due to the pink background of the cover for the single. When a new cover in blue was released, that’s when it really kind of took off.

Charts And Reception

When Somebody Told Me was released, it hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart and went to number 51, 24 on the Mainstream Top 40, number 17 on the Adult Top 40 chart, and peaked at three on the Alternative Airplay chart.

It peaked at number 28 in the United Kingdom, and this was the first time that The Killers had a song in the United Kingdom break the top 40 in the chart. However, during a 2005 re-release in the United Kingdom, the track peaked at number three.

July 8, 2017 – The Killers. Image source: Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When the track was first released, critics loved the song almost instantly, with it being called “infectious” by Billboard while Rolling Stone said that this was the making of a nightclub track. Years later, in 2021, it was ranked by American Songwriter as the third-best song by the band of all time. 

Awards 

The Killers were nominated for a Grammy Award in 2005 for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance By a Duo Or Group but lost. They also were nominated for an International Dance Music Award for Somebody Told Me in the Best Alternative/Rock Dance Track category, but did not win that either. 

Use In Movies And Television 

Rocky Balboa Official Trailer #1 - Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young Movie (2006) HD

Somebody Told Me has been in a few television shows and movies through the years, including in a 2004 episode called Grinding The Corn of the popular HBO show Six Feet Under. It’s been featured in the movie Rocky Balboa where a virtual version of Dixon and Rocky are on a sports channel while they are sitting in a bar. It was also in Eddie The Eagle from 2016.

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