I think it would be unfair to “Land of the Free” to call it representative of just one genre and that’s the beauty of the song. The Killers are generally known as a dance rock group, a band that released the anthems “Mr. Brightside” and “Human”, two songs notorious for making people feel like they have the power to dance forever. “Land of the Free” however, takes on a much more somber tone, and because of that, I think it has a more alternative sound than many of The Killers’ other songs. Their about page on Spotify reads “they matured from their indie dance-rock roots into torchbearers of new wave and American-inspired anthems”. 

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However, I think “Land of the Free” incorporates elements commonly associated with other genres. The chorus for example, perhaps the most important part of the song, is sung by gospel singers. According to Substream Magazine, lead singer Brandon Flowers is joined by gospel singers “Lynn Mabry, Dorian Holley, Will Wheaton, Sherree Patrice Brown, Akasha Mabry and Killers’ touring vocalists Amanda Brown, Danielle René Withers and Erica Canales.” The gospel singers’ voices seem to mirror the music of the song. When their voices pickup, become louder and more pronounced, so too does the music, and Flowers’ voice is forced to follow. This brings great emphasis to certain parts of the song and certain lyrics. 

In terms of musical instruments used, the song begins with a somewhat lengthy piano intro that is somber and almost ominous. Towards the climax of the song, a drum is introduced and it overtakes the piano. The beat rises and the volume increases as the voices of the gospel singers become more emotional. A tambourine sounds like it enters with drum, as the song seems to slow down. It quickly rises again with the drum and what sounds like an electric guitar in what is the climax of the song. As the instruments get louder, Flowers sings “tell me how many daughters, how many sons do we have to put in the ground before we just break down?” The guitar continues throughout most of the rest of the song, as does the drum, until the final chorus, which is sung by the gospel singers with only the piano behind. 

As I mentioned earlier, “Land of the Free” doesn’t seem to fit cleanly into the musical genre of alternative rock. Encyclopedia Britannica says that Alternative Rock was “built on distorted guitars and rooted in generational discontent”. For “Land of the Free”, one of these characteristics is true. The Killers are certainly voicing their discontent with the current place of society, and you could say, are speaking for an entire generation. However, this particular song, unlike most of The Killers’ music, is not built on distorted guitars. It does utilize the sound, but it does not supply the strength of the song. An article from McGill University makes a similar claim about the importance of the guitar sound in alternative rock. However, it also reads that the genre “has been largely defined by its rejection of the commercialism of mainstream culture. . .there is no set musical style for alternative rock as a whole.” Working within the realm of alternative rock, The Killers were not only allowed room for creativity, but also to voice how they truly feel. This seems to be the core of alternative rock. It grew from the pop punk movement, and carries on many similar characteristics like the negative social commentary that characterized pop punk.