OT - Michigan Daily piece on "Mr Brightside" phenomenon

Submitted by Rufus X on March 8th, 2018 at 8:19 PM

One of the coolest moments at a U-M game in recent memory - game result notwithstanding.

As a 40-something 1990s alumnus, I was both delighted and puzzled last year by the spontaneous chorus of the student section during the downpour at the MSU game. I liked the song well enough, but I couldn't quite figure out why it meant so much to the mostly drunk, wholly drenched millennials.

The Daily put together a nice piece on the history of the song and an attempt to understand the phenomenon.  Thought I'd share it:



Occam's Razor

March 8th, 2018 at 8:26 PM ^

Mr. Brightside is remembered fondly by our generation because it was the last of what we remembered of mainstream music back when every genre had features in the top 40. Kinda like why we obsess over any late 90s - 2005 songs during pregames or post-games. 

Nowadays it's mostly mumble rap with some massive beat production in the background or shitty EDM combined with rap lyrics blowing out your eardrums. Nothing with great choruses to sing to at games etc. 


Occam's Razor

March 8th, 2018 at 9:33 PM ^

Obviously not all EDM is shitty but the genre itself has been watered down immensely by the likes of David Guetta and Steve Aoki. Hell I'd even say older Chainsmokers are way better than new Chainsmokers. 

Doesn't help that once great DJs like Snake, Tiesto and AvB ditched their classic trance backgrounds and became generic house DJs. 


Occam's Razor

March 8th, 2018 at 9:30 PM ^

I don't disagree with that notion, but you can't tell me that mainstream music has ALWAYS been THIS bad through the generations. 

The argument of every generation hating the next generations mainstream music doesn't apply unless you're telling me people who grew up on Led Zeppelin/ACDC/Pink Floyd from the 70s etc. vehemently hated Michael Jackson/Prince/Whitney Houston in the 80s. 

Objectively, all those artists are better and more talented than the Futures, Post Malones and Zayn Maliks of the world. 



March 9th, 2018 at 10:08 AM ^

Obviously there is still some good music being made these days, but you're right, the mainstream is more watered down and corporatized than it ever has been. Up unitl about 30 years ago, talent would rise to the top. It has since evolved into pretty little marketable packages; simple, catchy beats with lyrics that are essentially hashtags that can be repeated. Put a marketable face to it, push it on the masses, then profit.

While there are still talented musicians out there making good music, the number has dwindled. There is no such thing as a developmental deal any more. Original, talented bands are forced to do everything on their own now. Not many people are able to stick with it when they are personally covering the costs of equipment, recording, advertising, merchandise, representation, touring expenses, etc. Not only does all of that fall directly to the artist now, but they have to somehow cover all of that in a time where people don't buy albums or go out to shows unless it is a band that they know from the radio. Even for bands that you hear on the radio who play medium sized clubs, breaking even on a tour is a success.


March 10th, 2018 at 10:01 AM ^

You're wrong. There are more great musicians with markets out there now than ever before. Go listen to Jacob Collier or Anomalie, single classically trained musicians making Avant garde modern music who have substantial fanbases because of the internet.

But yes, pop music today is terrible. No question. You just shouldn't listen to it. Go put on a Spotify station and let it open your eyes to good new music.


March 9th, 2018 at 9:47 AM ^

Does have a lot of similarities to the 90s alternative I grew up on so I enjoyed it after reading the article, but then I followed the link to the friends and family singing a rendition of it at the Wake of a friend. Now I GET it. Dude that is an awesome anthem for a generation!



March 9th, 2018 at 10:46 AM ^

I'd never heard it before, and I wasn't impressed. I mean, just replace it with any emo song from any generation. Maybe it has more depth, I couldn't get past the overwhelming "gothness" of it all.

That said, my generation listened to Whitesnake in high school, so take my opinion with a massive grain of salt.


March 8th, 2018 at 10:53 PM ^

I love Mr. Brightside as much as the next guy.. But I was at the staee game this year and was honestly frustrated by everyone joyously singing their hearts out in the pouring rain as our team struggled to make up ground on MSU's 11 point halftime lead in the monsoon. I get it, it was cool seeing 110k+ people singing in harmony, but shit we were losing a rivalry game that we should've ran away with. I was just annoyed seeing everyone singing with glee as we were down late in a rivalry game.

Rufus X

March 9th, 2018 at 8:13 AM ^

The rain was so surreal - I honestly don't know if I have every been in such a torrential downpour, including literally thousands of outdoor football and soccer practices/games in the rain. And under the lights in the stadium with the feeling that we still were going to pull it off even though nothing was going our way.

It was just one of those moments that was spontaneous, joyous, and emotional.  It just worked.  As stated at the end of the linked article:

  • "Despite the fact that Michigan was losing against MSU, "Mr. Brightside" pushed us away from the lure of impending disappointment. It opened up our eager eyes and reminded us that we were doing just fine"

To be honest, if you are so obsessed with winning that you miss one of those human moments that seldom comes along, you should probably take a deep breath and assess your fandom.


March 8th, 2018 at 8:51 PM ^

One of the greatest moments of my wedding was rocking out with my bridal party and my wife to Mr Brightside. A week later at almost the same time we sang the same song with over 100,000 at the MSU game (yes the reason we chose our wedding date was because it was a bye week)


March 8th, 2018 at 9:08 PM ^

The guitarist and co-writer of this song is Dave Keuning. We rented his previous house here in San Diego for three years recently. Great guy and it was weird because that’s always been one of our favorite songs. He gave us awesome tickets to one of their concerts and my wife and I had a blast. Fun seeing this at Michigan stadium! Yes, no points because I never post but wanted to log in for this. Loved reading the article.

Gulo Gulo Luscus

March 8th, 2018 at 9:15 PM ^

The Killers achieved more success in the United Kingdom, similar to how Jimi Hendrix found his commercial niche in England with his band’s 1967 debut Are You Experienced.

In a vacuum this statement may be true but author has to slow his/her roll on that comparison in any context!


March 8th, 2018 at 9:14 PM ^

It's just one of those pop earworms that hooks you by being easy and fun to sing*.  Like "Don't Stop Believing" or "Africa" (which have experienced a rediscovery in the last 10ish years) or "Bad Romance" (my non-apologetic guilty pleasure song)  I'm sure not *everyone* is a fan of it, but it's certainly well-crafted enough to transcend class, generation, and borders.

As another example - any of you ever been to China?  Start singing John Denver's "Country Roads" at a bar and I bet you your paycheck that half the room will start singing along in unison.  It's got a cascading and uplifting chorus that's impossible not to sing along with (Denver touring China in 1985 didn't hurt either)  

* - I still maintain though that Sweet Caroline is an utterly banal song not nearly deserving of its hype


March 9th, 2018 at 9:38 AM ^

I was at Oktoberferst in Munich about 15 years ago. A group of us drove in on Friday and proceeded to drink a ton of beer. The next morning most of the group wanted to sleep in due to hangovers, but a Danish buddy of mine dragged me out of bed to attend a beer tent that his friend said we couldn't miss. So the two of us get there at 10AM and there are over 5K people in the hall with a mini stage in the middle if it. On stage were a band and dancers...it looked like the parade float from Ferris Bueller's Day Off when Ferris sang "Twist & Shout." Maybe an hour in - after non stop drinking and singing - the band kicked into "Take Me Home, Country Roads." EVERYONE proceeds to climb up on the table tops and sing along at the top of their lungs. It was as if I was at a Springsteen show and the crowd was singing along to "Born to Run." I've never been so happy for someone to drag my hungover ass out of bed because it was truly a memorable moment and easily the highlight of the weekend.

The Krusty Kra…

March 8th, 2018 at 9:23 PM ^

This is something that feels a little bit more original than singing Sweet Caroline, Don't Stop Believing or some other overplayed 70's/80's song that is a cliche. It's something Michigan stadium can make it's own (for those of you that were in school during the 2011-12 season you could also say Dynamite by Taio Cruz was the unofficial anthem for M athletics that year between the 11-2 football season and the B1G Championship basketball team, it was played after every win)


March 8th, 2018 at 9:36 PM ^

The MSU game was probably the second best atmosphere I've ever been apart of behind the first Under the Lights. It sucks it has to be remembered as a loss. The student section singing Mr. Bright side and then the whole stadium singing Have You Ever Seen the Rain was awesome.


March 9th, 2018 at 12:41 PM ^

I feel the exact same way. UTL 1 was the best game I've ever attended, and the Mr. Brightside during MSU was great.


The interesting thing about the UM/MSU game was that this was a great moment in a game that we otherwise slogged along in, but still were somehow in despite all the turnovers and weather. 

To me it was a perfect microcosm of being a current Michigan football fan: Sitting in an absolute monsoon, watching the third* string QB try to play against a bitter rival, with a sort of melancholy realization that we probably weren't going to win (one more to add to the heartache pile)  but still trying to cling to some hope. Which is exactly what Mr. Brightside is about, and why I think it elicited such an emotional response.


As someone who was in college when the song came out (though towards the end), I didn't have a giant love for the song at that time, or for years after, but I now absolutely love hearing it. Probably to my (MSU-alumn) wive's chagrin.




March 8th, 2018 at 9:37 PM ^

but some people are blowing the thing out of proportion. It's not an especially intelligent or original song. What a lost generation for music.


March 9th, 2018 at 10:37 AM ^

anyone mention its staying power. I literally did not know that this was some sort of "Sweet Caroline" for a group of people, and it must really be the narrowest of groups.

I was just out of undergrad at that time and while I remember it being popular, I have barely heard it since. If it's an anthem, it's one that's managed to bypass most people including many who were young when it came out.


March 8th, 2018 at 9:40 PM ^

Cool story bro: I had some friends in a band that had just started getting some traction locally and even some radio recognition when Mr Brightside hit.

The name of their band was "The Killers".

They scrambled to find another name (l don't even remember what it was) and struggled to keep momentum after the rebranding, but eventually gave up and started playing emo/punk covers of Waylon and Willie songs instead.

Cool. Story. Bro.