I Can Change

Album: The Desired Effect (2015)
Charted: 52
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Over Ariel Rechtshaid's driving, uptempo production, this electro tune finds Brandon Flowers imploring a former lover that he can change to be the man she wants.
  • The song samples Bronski Beat's 1984 hit "Smalltown Boy." The band's lead singer, Jimmy Sommerville, told NME: "I received the demo to ask for my permission, listened to it and thought, 'Yeah, this is great, this man gets it. The vocal on there is almost like a cry.'"

    "Smalltown Boy was part of my political and sexual coming-of-age in the '80s," he continued. "The youth culture explosion in the '80s was intense - sexual politics, fashion, music, art, technology, heavy guitars combined with synths - and it was exported from the UK to the USA. If you were a kid at the time, like Brandon, it must have looked like the world was on fire."
  • This employs a cameo from Neil Tennant in the form of a spoken voicemail message. Flowers told Billboard magazine that getting the Pet Shop Boys frontman involved took a matter of seconds. "I'm a big Pet Shop Boys fan, and Ariel [Rechtshaid]'s a big Pet Shop Boys fan," explained the singer. "We just talked about it, and we just had this gap in a verse and we needed to stick something in there. We were talking about it being a speaking part, and the greatest musical 'speaker' is Neil Tennant! His voice is like no other."

    "I texted him if he would - he didn't even hear the song or the tempo or anything, I just texted him this line. I asked, 'Will you send us a voicemail of yourself saying, 'When you're looking for a change'?' And that was it," Flowers added. "He sent us a voice memo, and we stuck it onto the track, from the phone. It was done within 20 seconds."
  • The song came from Flowers' record company pushing him to do an appearance on a DJ song. Artists like Calvin Harris, David Guetta and Avicii all sent The Killers' frontman tunes, but he just couldn't sing them. So they asked Flowers what he would like and his answer was something like "Smalltown Boy."
  • Brandon Flowers told The Sun that getting Jimmy Sommerville to clear the sample was a tricky feat. "He was hard to get hold of which gave us a bit of a panic at the time," The Killers frontman said. "We just could not track him down. I'd had that song kicking around and it originally had a similar progression to 'Smalltown Boy' - but instead of putting my generic sound on it, I started messing around with the sampling and singing over it."

    "I don't think I would have used the sample if it wasn't for Ariel, he is more used to using samples," Flowers added. "So the song was getting better and better and then we finally got clearance, which was great."
  • The live music video was directed by Giorgio Testi, who previously helmed The Killers' "Miss Atomic Bomb" clip. The visual was recorded during Flowers' May 2015 solo shows at London's Brixton Academy.
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