El Camino

Music review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
El Camino Music Poster Image
Unique, upbeat rock 'n' roll with heartbreaking lyrics.

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age 11+
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The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

All of the songs on El Camino are about excruciating love relationships, from the hit single "Lonely Boy" ("So you pulled my heart out and I don't mind bleedin'") to the final track "Mind Eraser": "Oh it hurts so, I can't let go." If this album has any message, it's that love equals pain.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Almost all of the songs are sung from the point of view of a brokenhearted lover who's been teased and mistreated, and keeps coming back for more. It's maybe a realistic portrayal of how foolish love can make us, but the tunes don't set a great example for teens.


There are a couple of violent images, but they're metaphorical ones. "Lonely Boy" has the line "So you pulled my heart out and I don't mind bleedin'." "Gold on the Ceiling" uses drowning as a symbol for despair. "Stop Stop" says, "You're wound up like a weapon/You've got an evil streak."


There's no explicit sex in these songs, but "Money Maker" seems to be about a prostitute: "I wanna buy some time, but don't have a dime/Hey na na she's a money maker."


The song "Hell of a Season" repeats "hell" in the chorus several times.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The song "Run Right Back" includes the line, "She's the worst thing I've been addicted to."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Black Keys' Number 2 album El Camino and the hit single "Lonely Boy" were nominated for a total of five Grammy Awards for 2012, though the album was released in late 2011. The record features distorted guitar and vocal sounds, and powerful rock 'n' roll drums, on tuneful songs about love gone wrong. The fun, up-tempo feel of the songs contrasts with words about painful heartbreak. The lyrics can be disturbing at times, as the lover in the songs is hooked on a relationship that causes him pain and frustration, but the language and content are almost completely clean with the exception of one song that repeats "hell," and one possible reference to prostitution in "Money Maker." There are also a couple of violent metaphors (but no real violence) in "Lonely Boy, "Gold on the Ceiling," and "Stop Stop." 

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Teen, 15 years old Written byDogMediaLover June 22, 2014

Pleasantly Surprised!

I have never been a big Black Keys fan: I have always been more of a fan of the bands they borrow from, such as the White Stripes and the Arctic Monkeys. So whe... Continue reading

What's the story?

EL CAMINO, the seventh album by The Black Keys, was released in December 2011 to rave reviews. The album rose to Number 2 on the Rock and Alternative album charts and Number 10 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. The album and hit single "Lonely Boy" were nominated for a total of five Grammy Awards for 2012. Recorded in Nashville in Black Keys guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach's studio, Easy Eye, the album combines up-tempo rock 'n' roll, surf, and soul music with lyrics about heartbreak. The band members have said that music by punk bands The Clash and The Ramones, and by glam/rock groups like Sweet and The Cars, was influential on the album production.

Is it any good?

The Black Keys take elements of music they love -- punk, soul, rock 'n' roll, surf, glam -- and twist them into really original, infectious songs that are so strong and so much fun that the listener forgets that the lyrics bemoan heartbreak and pain. This album is a joy for anyone who loves fuzzed guitars and a big back beat; the release well-deserves its multiple Grammy nods. Now a studio owner and producer as well as guitarist/vocalist for the Black Keys, Dan Auerbach is becoming a wonderful influence on rock 'n' roll music in general, and it's exciting to wonder what he'll touch next.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the pain that the person in these songs seems to endure. Why do you think he wants a person who hurts him?

  • What do you think makes The Black Keys so appealing musically? What about their music stands out from the pack?

  • Do you think the song "Money Maker" is about a prostitute? What else could it be about?

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