9.22.2008

[Elevator] The Killers :: "Human"

It is, perhaps, appropriate that The Killers' newest single, "Human" is a completely synthed-to-death meditation on the nature of humanity in a digital age. The first track in support of a new record, Day & Age, "Human" is by far the most artificial the band has ever sounded. This is saying a lot when you consider their first record reflected an unabashed affinity for copy-cat synth-rock.

But the question has always been, how much does the band realize that they are unoriginal? The problem is less that they are unoriginal and more that they may not know it. And on the heels of Hot Fuss, Brandon Flowers only managed to switch influences for Sam's Town. The question of his originality wasn't on trial, but suddenly, his self-awareness was. Fast-forward to this afternoon and my desk. "Human" comes pounding out of the tiny computer speakers with the metallurgy of When In Rome's "The Promise;" which is to say, mildly, this song is slick and polished within an inch of its digitized life.

The lyrics hint at non-sense but underneath, down below what seems ripped-off, is something deeply ironic and ironically, deeply important. Flowers is taking on his own death at the hands of the machines - all to the tune of packaged drums and soaring, synthetic chords. To what degree do we mindlessly dance to MGMT and Justice as our souls slowly metastasize into zeros and ones? To what degree are we living inside of a gigantic discotheque, too busy moving to digital heartbeats to ask: "are we human or are we dancers?" It seems profoundly stupid and it is absolutely not.

In the bridge: "Will your system be alright/when you dream of home tonight?/there is no message we're receiving/let me know, is your heart still beating?" The artificial kick-drum mimics the digital heart beating itself to death as Flowers breaks us down, before asking one last non-sensical time, "are we human or are we dancers?" It's a death dance song. It's a digital answer to a computerized question. Do we even feel anything anymore?

The answer is in the title. Human. Armed with keyboards. Denser.

Listen :: The Killers - "Human" (link fixed)

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

best post yet. love it, and the track.

Scott said...

clever analysis, but if you listen closely it's actually "denser", not "dancer", it's just pronounced to rhyme with "answer"

32feet said...

it is not "denser." it is dancer. i refuse to believe otherwise.

32feet said...

seriously though, it could be "dansers," plural but it's probably just "dancer," singular. why? because it hits harder.

RealesTalk said...

the link was broken again so i had to listen to this off some guys blog titled 'fu*k you on friday'. however, i chose to comment on yours.

the fact that this sounds nothing like the killers i like, yet i still like it says something to me. i'll take it: dansers/dancer/denser.

Steady Machete said...

This is a great take/post on their new single. At first I admit I like it because it's the killers and they were such a huge influence on me. Whether or not they are re-packaged, re-mixed versions of older, 80's bands, doesn't seem an important question to me. Rather, during a time when the early 2000's were full of poorly rehashed grunge (Nickelback, etc.) The Killers came along with that new familiarity. Hopefully the rest of the album is better than this song though.

Anonymous said...

i love the killers, and brandon, but god i wish i knew if it was denser/danser, grr..

Anonymous said...

It's "dancer." From their record label's website (http://www.islandrecords.com/site/artist_bio.php?artist_id=547):
"Flowers sings: 'My sign is vital/ My hands are cold/ And I'm on knees, looking for the answer/ Are we human, or are we dancer?' He says the lyrics were inspired by a disparaging comment made by Hunter S. Thompson about how America was raising a generation of dancers."