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This plaintive song was inspired by the 1950s nuclear testing parties, where crowds watched above-ground nuclear tests in the Nevada desert through sunglasses. There was even a beauty pageant, which lead to the iconic photograph of the winning 'Miss Atomic Bomb' clad in a mushroom cloud-shaped bathing suit.
Brandon Flowers told the backstory of the song to NME
: "It's a beautiful picture of this woman in the desert. I think she's still alive. I met Bernie Taupin for the first time and I felt like he was giving me a little bit of advice. He didn't say much to me, just asked, 'Do you like titles?' And I started thinking about Elton John songs, and found out Bernie wrote the titles first. Like 'Mona Lisa and Mat Hatters
,' or 'Candle in the Wind
,' it's already epic."
Flowers had the phrase 'Miss Atomic Bomb' rattling in his brain, and he decided to tie the song into "Mr. Brightside
" revisiting the characters of the Hot Fuss
classic. This, he told NME
, made it "very easy for me to write.'"
Flowers revealed to UK newspaper The Sun that this song was originally rejected by one of the album's producers. "For a while, it got dismissed by one particular producer - I'll leave him unnamed but the demo was shut away for three months," he explained. "Yes, we took that personally, and one day I was at home on the computer going through some demos, came across it again and thought: 'WHAT are we doing? It could even be a single and be brought to life on film.' So we resurrected it."
The song's music video was shot on the band's 2012 UK festival and arena tour.
A second part-animated video was released telling a fantastical love story. It features Eric Roberts and Izabella Miko reprising their roles in "Mr Brightside
" as part of a love triangle with Brandon Flowers.
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