“Desperate Things” by The Killers

The Killers’ “Desperate Things” is a song with a distinct storyline. According to Brandon Flowers, the storyline is loosely based on “a little scandal” that took place in one of the communities he resided in as a child. And once you get past a metaphor or allegory here and there, the story being told is pretty simple.

The Story of “Desperate Things”

The vocalist, who is portraying the role of a particular cop, pulls a lady over for speeding. And it can be said that he’s immediately smitten by her. Also important to the narrative is him noticing that she is freshly the victim of a domestic violence incident, which apparently would be why she’s speeding in the first place. 

And it’s revealed that this cop is one of those types of men who reviles women beaters. So he offers to go and arrest the culprit on behalf of this lady. But instead she ‘laughs it off’ as if the situation is no big deal.

Now the chorus centers on the assertion that love can cause “people [to] do desperate things. Or perhaps more to the point of this particular narrative, we can say ‘twisted and sinful things’. 

The cop’s lust for this lady ultimately leads to the two of them having an affair behind his wife’s back and indeed outside of the view of the entire community. And it was never particularly his intention for things to go this far. Rather he was presented with an opportunity to sleep with her, and instead of refusing as he obviously should, he goes along with it. 

And the implication is that this was a big mistake, i.e. leading him to fall in love with her even more.

Meanwhile, the boyfriend who abused this lady is still there also. So what the cop does is arrest him one day, takes him to a remote locality on the outskirts of town and kills the guy. So basically what we’re dealing with here is the case of a love triangle gone completely awry.

The Story’s Moral

And the moral of the story, once again, is that love can make us do “desperate things”, i.e. try to create our own idyllic reality which doesn’t actually exist and in the process destroy what we already possess. 

But as explained by Flowers, this song isn’t meant to serve as a lesson but rather a “murder ballad”, i.e. being relayed primarily for entertainment value, sort of like a folk tale, if you will.

Lyrics for The Killers' "Desperate Things"
What The Killers' Brandon Flowers said of "Desperate Things"

Facts about “Desperate Things”

The aforementioned Brandon Flowers, who is the lead singer and principal songwriter of The Killers, served both of those roles on “Desperate Things”.

The Killers introduced this song to the masses on 13 August 2021.

Brandon wasn’t the sole writer of “Desperate Things”. The other co-writer of the track is Jonathan Rado.

Jonathan Rado, a musician from California, is also one of the two main producers of Pressure Machine, The Killers’ album this song is featured on. The other executive producer is Shawn Everett. And that is also the pair which produced “Desperate Things” in particular.

Desperate Things

As with The Killers’ six previous studio albums, Pressure Machine is a product of Island Records, with the band more specifically originally signing with Island Def Jam back in 2003.

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