Turn Blue

Music review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Turn Blue Music Poster Image
Grammy winners turn pain into psychedelic rock 'n' roll.

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The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

This is an entire album about the excruciating pain of a failed relationship. The positive message here is that you can turn pain into art.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The character in these songs about a painful breakup sets a good example in a way by channeling hurt feelings into music. The real-life musicians in the Black Keys, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, could be considered role models for young musicians, as they continue to make inventive music on their own terms and Auerbach helps newer artists as a music producer. However, Carney has a reputation for having conflict with other artists and has made disparaging remarks about a number of public figure in the media. 


The single "Fever" includes the lyric "go ahead and kill me." One track is called "Bullet in the Brain," but the image is a metaphor for emotional pain, and there's no further violent imagery in the song; likewise, "10 Lovers" says that the singer's hurt is "like 10 different lovers died." "In Our Prime" includes an image of a house burning.


The word "lover" is used in the songs "10 Lovers" and "In Our Prime," but there's no sexual imagery.


One song on Turn Blue, "In Our Prime," has one "bulls--t."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The song "It's Up to You Now" includes the line, "you smoke cigarettes." The first official video for Turn Blue, for the single "Fever," shows frontman Dan Auerbach as a preacher; drummer Patrick Carney sits off to the side and occasionally drinks something from a flask.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Turn Blue is an album from The Black Keys, whose previous album, 2011's El Camino, won multiple Grammy Awards. Turn Blue expands upon some musical ideas from El Camino, with lots more psychedelic and funk elements. The lyrics of Turn Blue focus on an extremely painful breakup with an unfaithful lover. Songs express emotional distress, hurt pride, and the desire to be as far from the former lover as possible. There are a few violent images in the lyrics -- the song title "Bullet in the Brain," the words "kill" and "died," and a burning house in "In Our Prime" -- but these are metaphors for emotional pain. There's also one reference to cigarettes (in "It's Up to You Now") and one use of the word "bulls--t." At the time of this review, one official video had been released, for the single "Fever." It depicts Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach as a preacher addressing a room full of people, while drummer Patrick Carney sits to the side of Auerbach's lectern, occasionally drinking something from a flask.

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What's the story?

TURN BLUE is an album by The Black Keys, whose previous release, El Camino earned two Grammys for for the band and a Producer of the Year Non-Classical award for Dan Auerbach. This album expands upon the psychedelic and funk rhythms of El Camino, but includes plenty of blues and rock 'n' roll, and some glam-rock moments as well. The lyrics focus on an extremely painful romantic breakup. The official video for the first single "Fever" depicts Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach as a preacher, speaking earnestly and theatrically in front of a large assemblage of people, while his collaborator -- drummer Patrick Carney -- sits off to the side observing occasionally drinking from a flask. The video seems to be edited with other footage of televangelists, where volunteers are "healed" by a preacher.

Is it any good?

Turn Blue departs in some ways from previous Black Keys albums -- there's definitely more psychedelia and less blues and rock 'n' roll. Some fans may be unsure of the way in to this album, which starts off with a track ("Weight of Love") that sounds a lot of like Pink Floyd. But there's also loads for teens to relate to in these songs about the agony of breaking up, and some great, funky up-tempo rock 'n' roll, too, such as on the single "Fever" and the glam finale, "Gotta Get Away."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how it feels when a relationship ends. What are some healthy ways to express your feelings when you've been hurt?

  • How does Turn Blue differ from El Camino? Which songs mark new musical territory for the band? Which songs are most faithful to their signature blues-rock? 

  • Why do you think the video for "Fever" shows Dan Auerbach as a preacher? Can you identify religious symbolism in the song?

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