Why are the Black Keys so popular all of the sudden?

This is not a thread to sound all music snobbish. Yes I’ve been listening to the Black Keys for years and I only say that to qualify my statement that they have sounded the same forever. They didn’t just change up their sound and all of the sudden catch fire or something. They aren’t some amazing ground breaking or unique band. They are good for a low key listening though and have a few good tunes.

My question is what happened that caused Clearchannel to stick them in heavy rotation seemingly out of the blue? Now they are getting Grammy nods and are exploding out of nowhere. It truly seems like some sort of random big music mafia that sits around a table choosing what the next band is going to be and pounding them into your brain on the radio and commercials.

How are the BK so huge for seemingly no reason?

I opened this thread thinking it was going to be about music in Db.

They were on SNL not too long ago and that may have opened them up to a wider audience. Not that that necessarily explains the Grammy nomination, but perhaps they performed on SNL to promote a new album that is nominated?

I’m not sure why the sudden change in getting music played on Clear Channel, although it might be that with the addition of the bass and keyboard, they’re a bit more radio friendly than just good crunching blues.

If you’re really saying that <i>Brothers</i> or <i>Attack and Release</i> sound the same as <i>The Big Come Up</i> or <i>Thickfreakness</i>, that could be why you’re not seeing it.

The sound has matured and become a lot more nuanced and I think it’s more appealing to the general public than the older albums are.

Certainly not in the way that Kings of Leon has gone more pop, but early albums vs. recent albums are trending the same way.

Well Dan Auerbach’s solo album (what an insult when your “band” consists of your drummer) was very well received and made his blues roots more obvious.

I think Brothers is easily their most accessible and catchy album to date. My favorite is Rubber Factory, but I like this one a lot as well. And sometimes it takes time for a band to catch on. They’ve been making a name for themselves in certain circles for years. They made a damn good album and it managed to catch fire in more popular arenas.

It definitely is strange when a relatively little band that you’ve known for a while is all of the sudden playing Saturday Night Live and on the radio and in commercials all the time. With the Black Keys it happened quite quickly relative to the years they had been around. I’ve seen some of my favorite bands (Wilco, Spoon, Modest Mouse) get bigger than I ever thought they would be, but none of them blew up as quickly as the Black Keys did. I was kind of disappointed that I could not get anywhere their stage at the ACL festival this year, but that’s life. I’m glad I got to see them at tiny venues, and I’m glad they’re doing well for themselves. I hope the next album is as good as the last one.

This is what the Black Keys used to sound like. Here’s what they sound like now. Notice how the jammy, raw guitar tones of the past have been replaced by glossier tones and more emphasis on songcraft? The reason I think they’ve finally crossed over is the earlier sound, although great, was so out of place with commercial “modern rock” radio. They sounded more like blues metal than bands like the Killers. Now their new sound doesn’t stick out as much. For example, my local “alternative” station KNDD Seattle never played the Black Keys before this album, and now their new single is on all the time.

Weren’t they just on the Colbert Report with Vampire Weekend battling over which band sold out the most? (5:30)

I wasn’t aware of them until I lucked in to seeing them on SNL recently (the one with Jim Carrey) and they rocked the house.

Well, to be honest, I started listening to them after hearing comparisons to the White Stripes, so maybe the Stripes ending has something to do with it. If indeed there has been an upsurge, I haven’t noticed one.

It’s the other way around. They became popular and then they got on SNL.

I have to say that they are starting to get waaaaaaay overplayed here in the Bar Area, and I’m getting sick of them already.

It’s a common misconception that Clear Channel only plays shit rock. If you examine their playlists you’ll find a lot of great alternative stuff from the 90s/2000s and a lot of bands that are much less mainstream than you’d ever imagine (Black Keys, Neon Trees, Guster, Modest Mouse, Mumford & Sons, Florenece & The Machine).

As for me, I listened to Brothers after reading a glowing review in Rolling Stone and it really was pretty awesome. I’d never really listened to them before, but I can see how that album would catch fire with people.

That was hilarious.

As for the OP - nothing to had that hasn’t already been said - the BK’s have gotten more songcraft while keeping their sound. Hey - just like Metallica with the Black Album! :wink:

Those must be imaginary playlists because while I’ve heard songs by all but the last of the bands you’ve listed, I’ve never heard any on a CC channel. Then again the last time I voluntarily listened to CC was in 2004, and it was precisely because they had given up on updating their list from the late-90s that I knew they would never “get it”. The few times other people have had them on in the past years has not dispelled my “disillusionment” as it were.

All of them except for Modest Mouse have been played on this Clear Channel station today. I just finished listening to Mumford & Sons’ “The Cave” and I love that they’re getting more attention.

Are they getting more popular now? They’ve been on the list of bands I don’t like for years, and I haven’t noticed them getting any more attention now than when I first heard them in 2006.


They also did a rap/hip hop collaboration last year that exposed their music to the urban audience. Check out ‘Blakroc’ - it’s pretty good.

I’m just happy they’re doing well. One of my favorite bands.