I’m often asked to name some of my favourite tracks. Of course there are hundreds of great tracks we dance to, but I’ve come up with a list that I hope will get some approval. My criteria for choosing a track are: that I must have heard it in at least three different venues, and it should be at least 5 years old. The list is in no particular order and my thirteenth choice is Human by The Killers.
Is this the perfect rock pop song?
Even before you consider Human as a modern jive dance track, you have to appreciate it as a great piece of popular music on its own. Not for nothing was it voted the Best Song of 2008 by the readers of Rolling Stone. I’m tempted to describe it as a rock anthem (The Killers are seen as one of the biggest rock bands of the 21st century), but it’s one of those tracks that defies pigeon holing.
On one level it’s simply a great pop song, that conquered the charts across the globe. Even before the heavy drum and bass kicks in, it’s as catchy as hell, and has a sing-a-long lyric that has a universal appeal. It’s catch line ‘Are we human or are we dancer’ is as philosophical as the age old question asking ‘What’s the meaning of life’.
It’s perfect as a dance track too
I’ve included it in my Top Favourites list because it is simply (please excuse the pun) a killer of a dance track. Immediately the distinctive guitar lick starts up, you realise why dance DJs picked this track up.
Even without any drum and bass you can easily connect to the rhythm. You soon become aware of a synthesised backing track slowly building, and as its joined by a simply bass drum you sense that this track is going to exploded.
Explode it does, as a thumping bass joins in with layer upon layer of instrumentation, and every so often the funky guitar lick is brought to the fore – you can not fail to connect with every bit of it. But still the track has more, as it continues to build towards another great explosion of energy when every bit of the instrumentation is soaring high.
It’s for those who want to release their inner rock demon
I know everyone doesn’t connect to dance music in the same way. Human is never going to find it’s way on to the playlist in the Chill Out Zone, but for those who like to dance with energy and bring out their inner rock demon this is the perfect track to indulge yourself in.
Let’s not forget here, that talk about rock demons isn’t just a man thing – there are lots of ladies on the dance floor who also love the chance to bring out their inner rock chick. Tracks like the Killers Human give all of those with Rock Music woven in to their DNA, an opportunity to transgress a little – and why not.
Isn’t one of the joys of dancing to be able to disconnect with the reality of our lives, and escape to a place where only the beat matters. And if the beat slowly builds with a thumping intensity, shouldn’t we give ourselves up to it. Isn’t that the mark of a dancer?
So, are we Human or are we Dancer
Which is a nice way to lead in to the question the song asks us to answer – ‘Are we Human or are we Dancer?’ I thought I’d take a look at the lyrics before offering up an answer, however they don’t seem to have any coherent meaning I can decipher.
They certainly don’t give any clue to the meaning of the song, or give any indication as to what the answer might be. In fact I’m happy to agree with a 2014 poll which ranked the lyric as the weirdest of all time.
One clue is to be found on Wikipedia, which quotes from The Killers own official website:
. . . the lyric was inspired by a disparaging comment made by Hunter S Thompson, who stated that America was “raising a generation of dancers”
Wikipedia also quotes Brandon Flowers, one of the band members and co-writer of the song:
“It’s supposed to be a dance song, it goes with the chorus,” he says. “If you can’t put that together, you’re an idiot. I just don’t get why there’s a confusion about it.”
It is a dance song and a great one at that. Perhaps the song is commenting on the fact that some people have exchanged the society minded human values for a more selfish lifestyle of hedonistic enjoyment.
I’ll admit that when I’m dancing to tracks like this, the enjoyment of myself and my partner is foremost in my mind, but lest we beat ourselves up, let’s remember that we all have a life off the dance floor, where the morals of human existence soon take precedence.