This Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney penned song was recorded by American blues-rock duo The Black Keys for their sixth studio album, Brothers. The bluesy track reunites the band with producer Danger Mouse, who helmed their 2008 album, Attack & Release. Most of the album was produced by Mark Neill, who specializes in vintage equipment and a classic Soul sound. Ten of the 15 songs on the album were initially recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama, but this one was done at The Bunker Studio in Brooklyn, New York.
The original music video
features a soulful dinosaur puppet named Frank singing the song and dancing. Directed by Chris Marrs Piliero, it was later replaced by a video with far more production value, also directed by Piliero. The updated video takes place at a playground, where Auerbach and Carney, and their adolescent doppelgängers, do battle over a girl.
Frank the puppet was reprised in the Black Keys video for "Next Girl
," also directed by Marrs Piliero. The band was not enamored with that clip, and insisted on a crawl of text across the bottom of the video explaining how much they hated it.
The Black Keys comprises vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer/producer Patrick Carney. Auerbach explained to The Sun May 14, 2010 that the album title refers to his relationship with bandmate Carney. Said Auerbach: "The title references our bond as band-mates, friends and supporters. Pat recently went through a turbulent period in his life, going through a rough divorce, and being in a depressed state of mind. It really tested our relationship, but in the end we became closer than ever. The title fits perfectly."
In this song, Auerbach sings about getting over a heartbreak that causes him sickness. He told The Sun how this lovesick blues number came about: "That was the last song we did for the record. We had a couple of days off and so did Brian ("Danger Mouse" Burton) and since we are friends and like hanging out with each other we thought it would be fun to go into the studio and see if we could come up with a tune. We always have a blast when the three of us get together."
Patrick Carney said of Brothers in publicity materials: "Dan and I grew up a lot as individuals and musicians prior to making this album. Our relationship was tested in many ways but at the end of the day, we're brothers, and I think these songs reflect that."
Many were already surprised that the Black Keys won the Best Breakthough Video VMA in September 2010 for this song, eight years after releasing their first album. MTV then proceeded to completely screw up the prize when the duo were presented with a trophy that said "Black Eyed Peas" instead of their own name.
This became the most successful Black Keys single in America to date, topping the Billboard Alternative Songs chart and also becoming their first song to reach both the US and Canadian Hot 100s.
The song has featured on several TV shows (Gossip Girl, House and Hung) and a Subaru advertising campaign. In the past, the duo refused to license their songs, but by the time Brothers was released, they changed their position, figuring it was a good idea to take the money and get more exposure for their tunes. With offers pouring in as they grew in popularity, they limited commercial uses of their songs on their next album, El Camino so the focus would remain on their music.
Carney admitted in an interview with Billboard magazine that the duo purposely penned this tune to be played on the radio. "That was the last song that we did - and the only one with Danger Mouse - and the whole idea was to try to make something that could get played on the radio," he said. "We realized we could get all the press in the world and do everything we'd done in the past, but the only thing that would be an obvious leg-up was radio airplay."
This won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance.
During a spell when the duo were busy were recording promos and TV slots during the day time, one night they cut a new song with Danger Mouse in Brooklyn. "I had a drum beat," Carney recalled to Mojo magazine. "Actually it's my sh---y version of Can's 'Vitamin C' beat. Dan came up with the riff and we both had the idea of a whistling hook. We made the song, didn't think anything of it, shelved the thing for a month and a half. That was 'Tighten Up.' We never thought it would get played on the radio. And then it did. It got played on the radio a lot."
The Black Keys filed two separate lawsuits against the advertising agency Della Femina Rothschild Jeary and Partners for using this song in a local advertising campaign for Valley National Bank without permission. It was claimed that the agency used the track without asking or compensating the band.