The Killers – “Somebody Told Me” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Brendan Briggs

Brendan is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. In 2022, he released his first album "Dive" under the name "Arctotherium".

On the surface, “Somebody Told Me” is about the story of a man at the club trying (and failing) to impress a woman. However, these lyrics tell another narrative as well – the struggle of making a career in the music industry and the frustration of wasted effort.

“Somebody Told Me” is an early track for The Killers, released in 2004. Brandon Flowers and his bandmates were regularly at nightclubs during this time and experienced the frustration of getting women firsthand. They were also experiencing the struggle of making a name for themselves in the music industry.

In this article, we’ll investigate these lyrics closely to try and interpret the message that The Killers were trying to send. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

“Somebody Told Me” Lyrics Meaning

The track begins by introducing a man (I’ll refer to him as Flowers) who’s striking out. He’s “breaking his back just to know your [a love interest’s] name.” His efforts have been going on for a while. “Seventeen tracks” have come and gone, and still, he has gone unnoticed.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Brandon Flowers shed some light on this uneasy feeling in the song. He described it simply as the “difficulty of picking up girls.” Apparently, despite being a rockstar, Flowers was familiar with this experience.

Another interpretation that goes beyond the surface level is that these lines have a hidden meaning. Specifically, some believe that the reference to “seventeen tracks” is a complaint about being unappreciated for musical releases. In other words, he may be saying that he’s released many tracks and is still not being recognized with a hit.

This is not uncommon in the music industry. It often takes performers years of dedicated effort to get the recognition they want. When artists finally are discovered, many people begin praising their original work!

Flowers then focuses on the chaotic vibe of his environment. He repeatedly says that “heaven ain’t close ” to wherever he is. This indicates that he doesn’t feel close to anything wholesome. It could also be that “heaven” is Flowers’ goal of connecting with the woman. 

Again, some interpreters of the song believe that this opening verse points to a hidden attack on the music industry. The claim is that the song is about the struggle of trying to get noticed and stay relevant.

Under this interpretation, “heaven” could mean stardom and achievement. There are certainly parallels, whether The Killers consciously meant for them to be present.

The first verse ends with “never thought I’d let a rumor ruin my moonlight.” This line introduces a new social element to the song’s story. What is this rumor? The chorus is happy to tell us.

“Somebody told me that you had a boyfriend” kicks off the iconic chorus. For many reasons, a lot of focus has been put on the follow-up phrase (“who looks like a girlfriend that I had …”).  Partly, it’s because it’s just so downright funny in a shock-humor way.

Is Flowers hitting on a girl who is attracted to women? That might explain why he’s striking out.  Is there a party involved who is transgender? Is the song, as some have suggested, transphobic or anti-gay?

My interpretation of the infamous chorus is that Flowers is not addressing ideas about gender or sexuality. Rather, he’s pointing out that he and the woman he’s after are attracted to similar things, which should help them hit it off. Instead, however, rumors about this similarity are actually getting in the way of their connection – not helping it.

This relates to the music industry in a few ways. First, Flowers could be saying that he is frustrated with the idea that everything he releases needs to be something unrecognizable. It’s unrealistic to expect him to reinvent the wheel every time he puts a track out.

Second, he could be criticizing the idea of comparing music in general. The message may be that musical beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that comparing similar-looking (or sounding) artists is unfair.

Whatever Flowers had in mind specifically, the main point here is not to directly address or judge the specifics of this single situation. Instead, it’s to emphasize the confusion that Flowers feels in his environment and the silly nature of the rumors getting in the way of success.

The core message of the track is that Flowers’ honest and straightforward advances are being thwarted. Specifically, they’re being sidestepped with empty rumors, gossip, and the fickle environment he’s in. It feels as if Flowers wants to freeze everything except for himself and the woman he’s after.

Those themes can apply to luck in love and to success in the music business. It’s very possible that the song is telling two stories at once, which both involve making an honest effort and being dismissed. 

In the next verse, we see Flowers “roll onto something new.” He’s coped with the awkwardness of the previous interaction by trying to forget it. However, his failure is still “taking its toll” while he leaves without his original interest. He had gotten attached in some way.

This could also represent how artists are forced to continue producing a lot of content even when they aren’t getting any benefit. It costs a lot of hard work and ideas before you have a chance at getting noticed.

After a repeat of the pre-chorus and chorus, the song moves into a depressing bridge. In it, Flowers pleads with someone (presumably the girl he was initially talking to) to “pace yourself.” He claims that “all I [Flowers] want to do is try.”

This means he’s attempting to get the woman to focus on him and slow down. Interestingly, it seems that Flowers knows his attempts are doomed. It could also show a desire for the music industry to focus less on novelty, and more on quality.

The bridge slows down the frantic feeling of the rest of the song. It’s an attempt to leave the fast-paced club behind and be reflective for a moment. However, this doesn’t last long, as the bold chorus comes crashing back in over the darker sound of the bridge.

Next, there are three repetitions of the chorus, and the song closes. Frustration has the last word. To put it simply, all of the rumors and chaos have shut down Flowers at every turn. He’s wasted his time and left without the woman (or recognition) he wanted.

The Story Behind “Somebody Told Me”

This track is definitely a young one. It describes typical situations for people in early adulthood, like The Killers when it was written. In general, the song relates to their direct experience at nightclubs. Simply put, it’s a dive into the frustrations that can arise in that life.

Brandon Flowers did specifically say that the song applies to “a young man’s frustration.” However, it’s still something anyone can relate to to some degree. The delightful anxiety that the song creates in the listener is more universal than the specific situation which originally created it.

This song was on The Killers’ debut album. As a result, some have argued that it directly parallels the band’s struggle for recognition. This argument isn’t unreasonable when we look at the situation closely. In fact, this track had to be released twice before it got the accolades and attention it deserved.

Like the romantic one explored in the song, that struggle involves repeated rejection and endless effort. At the very least, it’s likely that this struggle showed itself in Flowers’ intense vocal performance!

Obviously, the song has resonated with enough people to get noticed. It was nominated for two Grammy award categories in 2005. Eventually, it went triple-platinum in the US and double-platinum in the UK. Millions have enjoyed The Killers’ angsty take on the feeling of rejection and probably will for as long as that feeling exists.