Human Nature (Michael Jackson song)

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"Human Nature"
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Thriller
B-side "Baby Be Mine"
Released July 3, 1983
Format 45 rpm, 7" single
Recorded November 1982
Genre Soft rock[1]
Length 4:06 (album version)
3:47 (7" remix/single version)
Label Epic
Writer(s) Steve Porcaro
John Bettis
Producer(s) Quincy Jones
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"
(1983)
"Human Nature"
(1983)
"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"
(1983)
Thriller track listing
"Billie Jean"
(6)
"Human Nature"
(7)
"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"
(8)
This Is It track listing
"They Don't Care About Us"
(3)
"Human Nature"
(4)
"Smooth Criminal"
(5)

"Human Nature" is a song performed by American recording artist Michael Jackson. It was written and composed by Steve Porcaro and John Bettis, and produced by Quincy Jones. It is the fifth single from the singer's second solo album, Thriller (1982). Initially, Porcaro had recorded a rough demo of the song on a cassette, which was then given to Jones. Enjoying the demo, Jones had the ballad included on the Thriller album. The song was the last selected for the album, removing "Carousel" from the final track listing.

"Human Nature" was released on July 3, 1983, as the album's fifth single. Although not released in the UK, the song achieved chart success in the US. Reaching number two on Billboard's Hot Adult Contemporary chart and number seven on the Hot 100, the song became Jackson's fifth Top 10 hit from Thriller. In New Zealand the single reached number 11. The ballad garnered many positive reviews from music critics. "Human Nature" has been covered and sampled by numerous artists, including Stevie Wonder, Danny Chan, Schlong, John Mayer, Miles Davis, SWV, Nas and Chris Brown.

Production[edit]

"Human Nature" was written and composed by Steve Porcaro of Toto and John Bettis for Michael Jackson's Thriller album. Initially, Porcaro recorded a rough demo of the song on a cassette.[2] Fellow Toto band member David Paich then gave the demo, along with two songs written by Paich, to producer Quincy Jones, hoping they would be included on Thriller.[2] Jones didn't like Paich's songs, but enjoyed the rough demo of "Human Nature" at the end of the cassette.[2] Jones explained, "All of a sudden, at the end, there was all this silence, there was: 'why, why, dah dah da-dum dah dah, why, why'. Just a dummy lyric and a very skeletal thing—I get goosebumps talking about it. I said, 'This is where we wanna go, because it's got such a wonderful flavor'".[3] Bettis, who had written lyrics for hits by The Carpenters and The Pointer Sisters, among others, was asked to add lyrics to the song. He completed the song in two days.[4] The producer asked if the song could be included on Jackson's album, to which Porcaro and Bettis agreed.[2] "Human Nature" was the last song selected for Thriller, ousting "Carousel" from the final track listing.

Release and reception[edit]

A template for new jack swing and hip-hop soul ballads, "Human Nature" is comparatively slower and more intimate than "Thriller's" other songs. "If this town is just an apple, let me take a bite," quivers Jackson's voice over a cascading synthesizer and percolating bass line. Though written by John Bettis and Steve Porcaro of Toto, the lyrics resonate with Jackson's yearning to break free from his tower of celebrity and mingle with young people in a "city that winks its sleepless eye."

Serena Kim, South Coast Today.[5]

"Human Nature" was released on July 3, 1983, as the fifth single from Thriller.[2] Although not released in the UK, the song achieved moderate chart success in the US.[2] Reaching number two on Billboard's Hot Adult Contemporary chart and number seven on the Hot 100, the song became Jackson's fifth Top 10 hit from Thriller.[6][7] "Human Nature" charted at number 27 on the R&B singles chart.[6] In the Netherlands the single reached number 11.[8]

John Rockwell, of The New York Times, stated that "Human Nature" was a "haunting, brooding ballad" with an "irresistible" chorus.[9] Allmusic noted that the "gentle and lovely" "Human Nature" coexisted comfortably with the "tough, scared" "Beat It".[10] They later added that the song was a "soft rocker".[11] Reflecting on Thriller, Slant expressed their fondness of the song, stating that it was "probably the best musical composition on the album and surely one of the only A/C ballads of its era worth remembering".[12] The magazine added that the track's "buttery harmonies" were powerful.[12] Stylus also praised the song, describing it as "the smoothest of ballads".[13] They further added that the music "does little to embody the song’s message" and that it couches Jackson's "glazed voice" in "bubble synths and drum pillows".[13]

"Human Nature" was described as "the smoothest of ballads" by Stylus.

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About.com's Bill Lamb looked back on the track 25 years after its release. He felt that the song "set down a blueprint for what would become known as adult R&B".[14] Kelefa Sanneh of Blender described the "soft-serve balladry" of the song as a "silk-sheets masterstroke".[15] In a 2008 IGN review, Todd Gilchrist explained that the elements of "Human Nature" worked better today than they did before. He added that it may be because modern R&B "sucks".[16] Tom Ewing, reviewer for Pitchfork Media, described the song as "meltingly tender", with MTV adding that it was an "airy ballad".[17][18] Rolling Stone claimed that the "most beautifully fragile" "Human Nature" was so open and brave it made "She's Out of My Life" seem phony.[19] The Los Angeles Times concluded that it was Jackson's delivery that made the "middling ballad" take off.[20]

Vogue cites the poster for starting one of the hottest trends in costume jewelry that year. “Several years back he borrowed three heraldic-style brooches -with crests, crowns, and Maltese crosses- for a poster he was shooting, and the minute that poster came out, everybody wanted brooches,” says Connie Parente in the Vogue interview. Connie Parente is the popular Los Angeles jewelry collector who gave the pieces for the shoot, close to the photographers and Michael Jackson's personal stylist at the time Jyl Klein. [21]

Live performances[edit]

The song was first performed during The Jacksons' Victory Tour. Michael started to sing "Ben", but stopped and proceeded to sing "Human Nature". It was also performed during Michael's Bad World Tour and Dangerous World Tour. Jackson performed the song live for the last time during his 1996 Royal Brunei concert. It was going to be performed for Jackson's This Is It concerts, but they were cancelled due to his death, however it was included on the posthumous album to coincide with the concerts. Live versions of the song are available on the DVDs Live at Wembley July 16, 1988 and Live in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour.

Charts[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
position
Australian Kent Music Report[22] 63
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[6] 7
U.S. Billboard R&B Singles chart[6] 3
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary chart[23] 2
Dutch Singles Chart[8] 6
Chart (2009) Peak
position
Danish Singles Chart 3
Swiss Singles Chart[24] 27
UK Singles Chart[25] 35
U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Songs[26] 21

Track listing[edit]

  • 45 RPM:
  1. "Human Nature" (7" remix) – 3:47 (Misprinted as 4:06)
  2. "Baby Be Mine" – 4:20

Official remixes[edit]

  1. Album version – 4:06
  2. 7" remix – 3:47 (This version features an alternate synth before the bridge. The only digital source is the 3" CD single for "Thriller" released in Japan in 1987.)
  3. Edit – 3:46 (This edit from the Essential Collection is an attempt at re-creating the original 7" version, however it does not match the instrumentation.)

Cover versions[edit]

Sampling[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Michael Jackson's musical career". The Denver Post. 2009-06-26. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Halstead, p. 144
  3. ^ Thriller 25: The Book, p. 13
  4. ^ Shannon, Bob; John Javna (1986). Behind The Hits:Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York: Warner Books. p. 14. ISBN 0-446-38171-3. 
  5. ^ Powers, Ann (February 15, 2008). "Nine reasons why Jackson masterpiece remains a 'Thriller'". South Coast Today. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b c d George, p. 39
  7. ^ Borza, Michael J. (September 7, 1984). "Jacksons captivated JFK Stadium". The Daily Collegian. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b "Dutch Singles Chart Archives". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  9. ^ Rockwell, John (December 19, 1982). "Michael Jackson's 'Thriller': Superb Job". The New York Times. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  10. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Allmusic's 'Thriller' Review". Allmusic. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Allmusic's Thriller 25 review". Allmusic. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  12. ^ a b Henderson, Eric (2003). "Slant's 'Thriller' review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  13. ^ a b "Thriller - The Diamond". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved February 21, 2009. 
  14. ^ Lamb, Bill. "About.com's Thriller 25 review". About.com. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  15. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa (April 11, 2008). "Thriller - 25th Anniversary Edition Blender review". Blender. Retrieved March 10, 2009. [dead link]
  16. ^ Gilchrist, Todd. "IGN's Thriller 25 review". IGN. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  17. ^ Ewing, Tom (April 11, 2008). "Pitchfork Media's Thriller 25 review". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on January 13, 2009. Retrieved February 21, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Michael Jackson biography". MTV. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  19. ^ Sheffield, Rob. "Rolling Stone's Thriller 25 review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  20. ^ Gamboa, Glenn (February 12, 2008). "Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' turns 25". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 11, 2009. [dead link]
  21. ^ Betts, Katherine (1 December 1991). "Connie Parente's vintage pieces recall a more glamorous past - with a hint of whimsy". Vogue 181 (12): 110–114. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  22. ^ Kent, David (2003). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  23. ^ Hyatt, Wesley (1999). The Billboard Book of #1 Adult Contemporary Hits (Billboard Publications), page 269.
  24. ^ "Swiss Singles Chart Archives". hitparade.ch. Retrieved July 18, 2009. 
  25. ^ "UK Singles Chart". The Official UK Charts Company. Archived from the original on July 30, 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2009. 
  26. ^ "U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 15 July 2009. 
  27. ^ "allmusic (( Steppin' Out > Overview )))". Allmusic.com. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h Halstead, p. 145
  29. ^ Davis, Francis (July 4, 1985). "You're Under Arrest review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  30. ^ Hackett, Regina (September 5, 1987). "Miles Davis treats a forgiving crowd to his lean, hard-driving dance music". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved April 11, 2009. [dead link]
  31. ^ Carr, Ian (1998) Miles Davis: The Definitive Biography, rev.ed (paperback) HarperCollins, London p.510f.
  32. ^ Harris, Mike (February 11, 2005). "'Throwback' review". PopMatters. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  33. ^ Spencer, Todd (August 23, 2004). "New CDs: R. Kelly, Earle". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  34. ^ "Heroes overview". Allmusic.com. 
  35. ^ "Heroes : David Benoit : Concord Music Group". ConcordMusicGroup.com. 
  36. ^ Powers, Ann; Martens, Todd (July 7, 2009) "Michael Jackson memorial: John Mayer performs 'Human Nature'". LA Times (accessed July 8, 2009))
  37. ^ (August 5, 2009) "CHUM ONAH: BxF celebrates the music of M. Jackson. butterxface.blogspot.com/ (accessed September 12, 2011))
  38. ^ Gary Trust (2012-02-10). "Weekly Chart Notes: Madonna, Michael Jackson, 'Godspell'". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  39. ^ http://www.toriset.org/c.php?c=1878
  40. ^ "SWV biography". MTV. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  41. ^ "Journey to the Past". Enotes.com. Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  42. ^ Farley, Christopher John (June 20, 1994). "Street stories". Time. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  43. ^ Rivaldo, Joey. "Jason Nevins featuring Holly - I'm in Heaven". About.com. Retrieved June 7, 2009. 
  44. ^ Litman, Joseph (March 31, 2003). "Blackstreet - Blackstreet Level II". Michigan Daily. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  45. ^ "Ne-Yo feat. LL Cool J's So Sick (Remix) sample of Michael Jackson's Human Nature". WhoSampled. Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  46. ^ "Yung Berg ft Lil Wayne We Miss You (MJ Tribute) mp3 - Free Download from 4shared". FilesTube.com. 2010-06-23. Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  47. ^ Name (2011-05-03). "Video Premiere: Chris Brown “She Ain’t You” Dedicated To Michael Jackson". Drfunkenberry.com. Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  48. ^ "“Human Nature” | Soul Sessions". Blogs.centrictv.com. 2011-05-03. Retrieved 2011-08-28. 
  49. ^ a b c d e f g h i Jackson, Michael. Thriller booklet. Sony BMG.

References[edit]

External links[edit]