Human (The Killers song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Not to be confused with Human (The Human League song).
Single by The Killers
from the album Day & Age
B-side "A Crippling Blow"
Released September 22, 2008
Format Digital download, 7", 12"
Recorded 2008
Genre Alternative dance, new wave
Length 4:05
Label Island
Writer(s) The Killers
Producer(s) Stuart Price, The Killers
Certification Platinum (RIAA)
The Killers singles chronology
"Don't Shoot Me Santa"

"Human" is a song by American rock band The Killers. It was released as the first single from their third studio album Day & Age (2009).[1]

Musically, "Human" is an upbeat alternative dance without acid house elements track with influences of new wave and indietronica. "Human" has received generally positive feedback from music critics, praising the composition, the new wave-pop rock-feel and the production.

It became the third song by the band to enter the top 5 of the UK singles chart. It was their first top ten hit in the Netherlands (peaking at #2). The song was released on a 7-inch picture disc throughout the world on various dates in November, with a B-side entitled "A Crippling Blow".


In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine's Smoking Section, Brandon Flowers described "Human" as "Johnny Cash meets the Pet Shop Boys". Flowers stated that the song was created with Stuart Price during their work with him on the Sawdust album, and has changed very little since then. He confessed to not putting it on Sawdust as "it was too good".[citation needed]

The cover art for the single is a portrait of the band's guitarist Dave Keuning, and is one of the four portraits drawn by Paul Normansell for the album.

The earliest digital release of the song was missing a hi-hat section at the beginning of the song.


The song received positive reviews from contemporary critics. An interview in The Observer newspaper stated that the track "is a cross between New Order and Bruce Springsteen - that should please fans of 'Mr. Brightside'." Chris Williams of Billboard gave a positive review, echoing The Observer's description of "merging a Boss-like melody over a New Order-injected rave-up." He also praised the song for "stretching the soundscape of alternative rock, which has increasingly become difficult to differentiate between mainstream rock".[2] Music Radar complimented the song in their review of Day & Age, saying "A gentle, phased, clicky guitar riff opens this gorgeous nod to the gentle side of '80s new wave."[3] Caryn Ganz with Rolling Stone gave the tune three-and-a-half stars, calling it "delicious."[4] "Human" was voted the Best Song of 2008 by the readers of Rolling Stone.[5]

In 2010, a vote by listeners to UK radio station XFM polled the song at #97 in their poll of the Top 1,000 Song of All Time.[6] In December 2009 it was voted the 25th Best Song of the Decade by listeners of UK music station Absolute Radio.[7] In October 2011, NME placed it at number 144 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[8]

Music and lyric[edit]

There remains confusion and debate over the line "Are we human, or are we dancer?" in the song's chorus due to its grammar.[9] Debate raged across the Internet over whether the lyric said "dancer", "dancers" or "denser", a misunderstanding which elicited conflicting interpretations of the song's meaning.[10][11] On the band's official website, the biography section states that Flowers is singing "Are we human, or are we dancer?" and also says that the lyric was inspired by a disparaging comment made by Hunter S. Thompson, where he stated America was raising "a generation of dancers".[12][13]

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Flowers said that he was irritated over the confusion about the lyric and also that fans were unhappy with the song's dance beat: "It's supposed to be a dance song, [the beat] goes with the chorus...If you can't put that together, you're an idiot. I just don't get why there's a confusion about it."[14]

In 2014, it was voted the "weirdest lyric of all time" by a Blinkbox survey.[15]

Chart performance[edit]

In the US "Human" debuted at number 13 on Billboard's Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart, and peaked at number 6.[16] It is the band's sixth top ten hit on the chart. The song debuted and peaked at number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 on the chart week of October 18, 2008,[17] giving The Killers their third top 40 hit there. It reached number 3 on the UK Singles chart and in 2012 BBC Radio 1 announced that it was the 39th most downloaded song of all time in the country.[18] On the Canadian Hot 100, the song debuted at number nine.[19] It debuted at number 34 on the New Zealand RIANZ chart,[20] and entered at number four on the Norway Top 20 before reaching number one.[21] "Human" reached the top ten on the Irish Singles Chart and in Sweden.[22][23] The song debuted at number 48 on the Australian Aria Charts and peaked at number 28.[24]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Human" was released in mid-October 2008 and directed by Danny Drysdale.[25] It features the band performing the song in Goblin Valley State Park, Utah. The portraits of the band drawn for the album by Paul Normansell are shown in the video, such as when the band members hold the portraits in front of their faces.[26] Various animals are also shown throughout the video, such as a white tiger, an eagle, and a cougar. It's been noted to have heavy similarities to Pink Floyd's Live at Pompeii concert film, such as the band playing the song in a desert landscape amongst various amplifiers and other stage equipment and mostly in much of the camera angles. The video ends with the band watching the sun setting in the desert, which turns into the album cover, also drawn by Paul Normansell.[27]

In popular culture[edit]


The song was used for the Spanish television station Telecinco for the "ad" of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final. The motto was "Una final no se juega; una final se gana" (A final is not played; a final is won).[28]

On November 25, 2008, the song was available as downloadable content for the game Guitar Hero World Tour.

Cover versions[edit]

Track listings[edit]

7" vinyl single

  1. "Human" – 4:09
  2. "A Crippling Blow" – 3:37

Limited edition 12" vinyl single

  1. "Human" – 4:09
  2. "A Crippling Blow" – 3:37

European cardsleeve single

  1. "Human" – 4:09
  2. "A Crippling Blow" – 3:37

German CD

  1. "Human" - 4:09
  2. "A Crippling Blow" – 3:37
  3. "Human" (Armin van Buuren Club Remix) - 8:11
  4. "Human" (Video Clip) - Enhanced CD


Chart procession and succession[edit]

Preceded by
"Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" by Beyoncé
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
January 24, 2009
Succeeded by
"Fame (The Game)" by Donna Summer
Preceded by
"Still Water" by Erlend Bratland
Norwegian Singles Chart number-one single
October 14, 2008
Succeeded by
"Womanizer" by Britney Spears


Year Ceremony Award Result
2009 MuchMusic Video Awards Best International Video - Group Nominated

Sales and certifications[edit]

Country Certification Sales
Denmark Platinum[57] 15,000+
Germany Gold[58] 150,000+
New Zealand Gold[59] 7,500+
Sweden Gold[60] 10,000+
United Kingdom Platinum[61] 600,000+
United States Platinum[62] 1,000,000+


  1. ^ "The Killers' new album details revealed - exclusive". NME. 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  2. ^ "Human-The Killers". Billboard. 2008-10-04. Retrieved 2008-10-04.  Template:The Killers - Chart History
  3. ^ "The Killers:Day and Age". Music Radar. 2008-10-23. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  4. ^ Ganz, Caryn (2008-10-16), "Human". Rolling Stone. (1063):80
  5. ^ Rolling Stone. "Readers’ Rock List: Best Songs Of 2008 : Rolling Stone : Rock and Roll Daily". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-03-22. [dead link]
  6. ^ "The Top 1,000 Songs Of All Time". XFM. 2010-12-24. Retrieved 2011-08-26. 
  7. ^ "Human by The Killers". Song of the Decade. Retrieved 2010-04-11. 
  8. ^ "150 Best Tracks Of The Past 15 Years". NME.COM. 
  9. ^ "Brandon Flowers Wound Up Over Misquoting of Killers’ "Human"". Rolling Stone. November 19, 2008. Retrieved November 20, 2008. 
  10. ^ Vozick-Levinson, Simon (September 25, 2008), "Does the Killers' 'Human' have the silliest lyric of the week?" . Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  11. ^ Spence, Darren (January 16, 2009), "Chart Choice". . Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  12. ^ "The Killers official website @". Island Records. 2008-10-06. Retrieved 2008-10-06. 
  13. ^ "Killers' Brandon Flowers stands behind 'Human' chorus...". 2008-10-13. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  14. ^ Hiatt, Brian (2008-12-25), "The Killers Inside"[dead link]. Rolling Stone (1068/1069):78-81
  15. ^ Harriet Gibsone. "What are the weirdest lyrics of all time?". the Guardian. 
  16. ^ "Weekly Chart Highlights". Radio & Records. 2008-09-29. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f "The Killers > Chart History > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved on December 4, 2008.
  18. ^
  19. ^ "The Killers - Human - Music Charts". Retrieved 2009-03-22. 
  20. ^ a b "The Killers - Human (Song)". Retrieved on December 4, 2008.
  21. ^ a b "The Killers - Human (Song)". Retrieved on December 4, 2008.
  22. ^ "Search the Charts". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved on December 4, 2008. NB: User needs to enter "Killers" in "Search by Artist" and click "search".
  23. ^ "The Killers - Human (Song)
  24. ^ a b Steffen Hung. "The Killers - Human (Song)". Retrieved 2011-08-18. 
  25. ^ Human Music Video. Universal Music Group. 2008-10-22. Retrieved 2009-04-28. [dead link] or from Universal Music Group direct
  26. ^ Music Video at 1:55, 1:59 and 2:03
  27. ^ Music Video at 4:08 and [1][dead link]
  28. ^ "Spanish ad of the 2010 Final Fifa". 
  29. ^ BBC. "BBC - Radio 1 - Live Lounge - Robbie Williams". 
  30. ^ Mike Ayers. "Minnie Driver Covers Elliott Smith, the Killers, the Cure on ‘Ask Me to Dance’ (Exclusive Album Premiere)". WSJ. 
  31. ^ Austrian singles Chart[dead link]
  32. ^ "Canadian Hot 100". Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  33. ^ "The Killers: Human" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  34. ^ "Chartverfolgung / Killers, The / Single
  35. ^ "Hungarian Airplay Chart 2009. 7. hét". Retrieved 2010-06-12. 
  36. ^ "Media Forest: Airplay chart". 
  37. ^ Steffen Hung. "The Killers - Human (Song)". Retrieved 2011-08-18. 
  38. ^ Billboard. Prometheus Global Media – October 17, 2013 – October 17, 2013 |url= missing title (help). Retrieved October 17, 2013. 
  39. ^ Romanian Top 100 Retrieved on February 26, 2009.
  40. ^ "SNS IFPI" (in Slovak). Hitparáda – Radio Top 100 Oficiálna. IFPI Czech Republic. Note: insert 200904 into search.
  41. ^ [2][dead link]
  42. ^
  43. ^ Steffen Hung. "Die Offizielle Schweizer Hitparade und Music Community". Retrieved 2010-04-11. 
  44. ^ "Human". Chart Stats. Retrieved on December 4, 2008.
  45. ^ The Killers - Human (Nummer)". (in Dutch). Retrieved on January 19, 2009.
  46. ^ "The Killers - Human (Song)". Retrieved on January 19, 2009.
  47. ^ "De Nederlandse Top 40 (Week 4, 2009)[dead link]". Retrieved on January 24, 2009.
  48. ^ [3][dead link]
  49. ^ [4][dead link]
  50. ^ "Éves összesített listák - MAHASZ Rádiós TOP 100 (súlyozott)". Mahasz. Mahasz. 
  51. ^ "FIMI - Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana - Ricerche e dati di mercato". 2010-01-19. Retrieved 2010-12-18. 
  52. ^ "2009 Year End Swiss Singles Chart". Swiss Music Charts. 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-16. 
  53. ^ "Charts Plus Year end 2009" (PDF). Charts Plus. Retrieved 2010-07-19. 
  54. ^ a b "Billboard.BIZ". Billboard.BIZ. Retrieved 2011-08-18. 
  55. ^ "Pop Rock" (in Spanish). Record Report. 2009-02-21. Archived from the original on 2009-01-19. 
  56. ^ Radio 1 Chart of the Decade, as presented by Nihal on Tuesday 29th December 2009
  57. ^ "Hitlisten.NU". Retrieved 2010-04-11. 
  58. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (The Killers; 'Human')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 2010-04-11. 
  59. ^ New Zealand RIANZ Gold Certification
  60. ^ "Guld & Platina | ifpi". Archived from the original on 2012-05-27. Retrieved 2010-04-11. 
  61. ^ "Certified Awards". 
  62. ^ "Gold & Platinum - April 11, 2010". RIAA. Retrieved 2010-04-11.

External links[edit]