"Human" / The Killers
Please get this one out of my head! These guys were on Saturday Night Live (not even a new show, but a repeat) last weekend and I've been trying to dislodge this song ever since. The thing that bugs me most about it is the refrain -- the grandiose statement (underlaid with self-important synthesized strings), "Are we human? / Or are we dancers?" Well, um...last time I checked, it was entirely possible to be a human and a dancer at the same time. (Oddly enough, one of the internet lyrics sites interprets this line as, "Are we human/ Or are we denser?" But perhaps that is the lyric -- in Sweden.)
For some reason -- and it's not just the grandiosity -- this record sounds to me like Coldplay. And I'm sorry, to me that's not a good thing. Maybe it's the lead singer's yelpy voice, maybe it's the anthemic melody, or maybe it's the cloudy allusions of those lyrics. I think it's a break-up song; at least, that's what all those lines like "cut the cord" and "wave goodbye" hint at. But it doesn't relate to any relationship I recognize. I have to assume that the author/singer/narrator (is this guy's name really Brandon Flowers?) is writing about a real love affair and doesn't want to get too specific. But jeez, could you at least give us something concrete? All this chitter-chatter about "platforms of surrender" and "grace and viritue" and "your systems" -- it's just plain baffling. And boring.
But man, that dance hook works.
And here I am, singing along. "Are we human? / Or are we dancers? / My signs are vital / My hands are cold." It just keeps building and building, like a U2 fever dream, or REM at its most grating and strident. "And I'm on my knees / Looking for the answer --" wait, yes? The answer to life? Does Brandon Flowers really possess the answer to all human existence? He must, he must, because the synths are really going to town now. And here it is, the Secret of Life: "Are we human? / Or are we -- dancers?" HUNH?