The song at #22 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is the rousing “Lonely Boy” by Nashville-based duo The Black Keys. I love their bluesy garage rock sound, and “Lonely Boy” is one of two songs by them on this list (“Fever” ranks at #57), as well as my favorite of their many great songs. It’s also one of their biggest hits, reaching #1 on the Billboard Rock, Alternative and Adult Alternative charts, as well as in Canada, though it peaked at only #64 on the stupid Billboard Hot 100. It won Grammys for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance of 2012.
“Lonely Boy” is from their seventh studio album El Camino, and was co-written and produced by Danger Mouse. Dan Auerbach’s grimy, bluesy riffs are fantastic, chugging along to Patrick Carney’s aggressive thumping drumbeats as he laments about his love that keeps him waiting, making him a ‘lonely boy’.
The quirky but charming video features actor, musician and part-time security guard Derrick T. Tuggle dancing, lip-syncing and acting out the lyrics to the song in front of the Pepper Tree Motel in North Hollywood, one of the many communities that make up the city of Los Angeles. The video, shot in a single take, went viral upon its release on YouTube. The original video produced for the song had a script and a cast of more than 40 people, but the guys were not pleased with the results. Auerbach recalled, “A couple of weeks after we shot it they sent us the edit and it was awful. We sent it back… they sent us another edit and it was terrible. That’s when we said ‘what about that one guy, the extra who had that one dance scene’ and that’s the video – the most expensive single shot ever recorded.”