My name is Nathan Scott Winer and I was never meant to attend an all-campus party. I am unable to dance without feeling like a dunce (fun wordplay for you), I am always upset by sticky floors and walls (@ the AD lounge), and I don’t like most of the music played at any large gathering. That being said, any time I’ve gone out on a weekend night there has always been at least one moment of complete euphoria, just complete and utter joy. I feel like my soul is ready to leave my body to mingle with the souls of the rest of this campus whenever I hear the first few notes of what I genuinely think is one of the best songs written and released in the last several decades. I’m talking, of course, about The Killer’s seminal number one hit, “Mr. Brightside.”
This song is never not good. I’m not even going for laughs here anymore, gang, so take a step away from the fact that this is a humor blog and let me be serious for a quick second; “Mr. Brightside” is a phenomenal song and it’s my number one good-times jam, so it will fix all your problems for three minutes and forty-two seconds. It encapsulates so much in such a small amount of time.
But is there too much of a good thing? This is the story of when I heard “Mr. Brightside” four separate times within one night, and the physical/emotional/mental responses each hearing gave me.
1) A Caples Pregame: Last year I lived in a Caples suite and sometimes we’d throw down, if by throw down you mean we’d have like seven friends over and play music and drink Kit’s shitty beer. The floors would usually become far too sticky for my taste, but it was usually a good way to start out the night. It was pretty late in the pregame when this good song came on the Spotify playlist, but boy oh boy did it get me going. I finished the beer I had been slowly sipping on for the past forty minutes because gosh darn it, this song is fun, it’s about having fun. And I want to have fun, don’t I? Yes, I do, and I too felt like destiny was calling me. I really connected with the lyrics in the chorus, which may seem simplistic, but let me remind you this was the first stop of the night. Please bear with me. I promise we’ll delve deeper than this.
2) Old Kenyon: Ah, here we are. There was a party in Old K and I don’t even remember what the event itself was. Probably something like “Sticky Boy’s Sticky Nights for Sticky Floor Lovers” or something along those lines–my shoes became glued to the hardwood. But I tried to shake it off, I tried to have some fun. I was with my friends, I was ready to enjoy myself. Flat beer in hand and room-temperature pizza nearby (this was before I developed my lactose intolerance for those of you who know me on a personal level), I was hoping something, anything, would give me the energy to enjoy myself. And then, there it was. A musical beacon from the darkness reminding me that I, too, should come out of my cage, and perhaps I could do fine. Or better than fine! This was the first time I realized that maybe “Mr. Brightside” is a song about not caring; throw caution to the wind, why don’t you? Life is short, like the song is, and it’s never smart to get too in your head about things, right?
3) NCA 220: Jump cut to this NCA, a party I’ve somehow wound up at, don’t really want to be at, and “Mr. Brightside” is on for the third time that night. And yes, okay, I’m singing along. Yes, I’m moving and bopping and having a great time. But now I’m in a different headspace–the night has not been amazing, I’ve been feeling a lot of emotional highs and lows. And that’s when I realize that the conclusions I’ve arrived to during Stop 2 of this journey were entirely wrong. This song is not, in fact, about throwing caution to the wind. It’s literally about hyperfocusing on your problems and doubts and jealousies and being very close to a spiral. “How did it end up like this?” Great question Brandon Flowers, lead singer of The Killers. But that yearning for a sense of freedom, that longing for release that his voice seems to be expressing, is not one foreign to me anymore. In the kitchen of this NCA, as I thought of all the choices I had made in my life, all the twists and turns, I realized there’s so much to be concerned about. She’s always touching his chest, in a metaphorical sense, I guess. Also the floor in the kitchen was sticky.
4) Walking home alone: A few hours later I’ve walked a friend back to her room in Old Kenyon. It’s about 2:30 pm, and my legs are tired, my eyes are tired, my arms feel weirdly fine but the rest of me is very tired. People in nearby dorms are still going all-out, and I am just so tired and don’t want to hear any of it. So I take out my headphones, plug them in, and hit play. And what’s the first song to come up? It’s “Accidentally In Love” by the Counting Crows. But then I hit shuffle, and skip a few, and then it’s “Mr. Brightside.” Wow, I thought. Here we are, just you and me old friend. And as I trudged up Middle Path back to Caples, I realized something. This song now, so familiar, like all those familiar and conflicting feelings I’d been having, was now a comfort. And aren’t feelings, in a way, a comfort? They’re how we know we’re human, after all. Good or bad or a mix of the two, having these thoughts and feelings and emotions are what tell us we’re alive, and that’s better than any party will ever be. Go out and have your fun, or stay in and wallow in your shortcomings and insecurities; both are uniquely part of the human experience, both are valid and a part of what makes you, you. Maybe “Mr. Brightside” is about being a person, more than anything else.
Also it’s a banger.