Sunday, November 23, 2008

Are we human? Or are we really bad lyricists?

Fosco has been listening to the new Killers CD this weekend (yes, it's not quite released yet, but Fosco gots connections). At this point, he is pretty sure that it's annoying (and how!). Saxophone! Steel drum! African chant! We are in territory far more pretentious than the fun and catchy "Mr Brightside," that's for sure.

There is one song from the new disc that is pretty powerful, though--that's the one you've probably already heard on the radio (if you still listen to the radio): "Human." You can see the video here.

The problem, as you have no doubt noticed after the first time you heard the song, is the lyrics:

Are we human?
Or are we dancer?
My sign is vital.
My hands are cold.


The Killer lyricist Brandon Flowers has taken a lot of heat for the whole "human or dancer" construction. In the way of explanation, Flowers has credited the inspiration for this line to (absolutely overrated and totally pointless) journalist Hunter S. Thompson who (for no good reason, but what else is new?) disparaged America for becoming a nation of dancers. (Can we stop taking Thompson seriously now? Please?)

Of course, the grammatical asymmetry in the question (in which dancer becomes a plural category) is the invention of Flowers himself. Not that he's defensive about it:

"I guess it bothers people that it's not grammatically correct, but I think I'm allowed to do whatever I want"

However, there is that whole part about how Flowers expects to be taken seriously for writing lyrics like this. In the same interview, Flowers explains that the CD is intended to be a "cross between Johnny Cash and the Pet Shop Boys." The problem with "Human" is that it is all Pet Shop Boys (who were not known for their lyrics).

And it's not just that terrible human v. dancer line either. What about the "my sign is vital" clunker? Is that supposed to be a "play" on "vital signs"? And if it is, doesn't that actually make it worse? Were these lyrics written by a random sentence generator?

Of course, it's a damn catchy song, but jeez... It's time for someone to tell the Killers that we don't need them to save us. They need to accept that their calling is to write vapid technopop--and that's enough.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant post!

Please expand on your views of Mr. Thompson. I have no opinion of him; just wonder why you think he is pointless. A lighted alias eyes the lighted birthday.

Thank you for the random sentance generator. For the time being, all my posts will contain on of its outputs.

The BeeMaster

Anonymous said...

ONE of its outputs, sorry.


kungfuramone said...

Wait...wait. Monsieur le compte. The Killers? All they ever did was suck...BADLY! Without SKILL or FOCUS! Why do they even merit a blog post?

For me, The Killers amount to the same level of dismissal you're attributing to the so-called Dr. of journalism.

And watching the first 20 seconds of that video: that guy's HAIR is AWFUL. You know which guy I mean.