This is a good article. Follow the link for more information.

Human Nature (Michael Jackson song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"Human Nature"
Mjhm.jpg
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Thriller
B-side "Baby Be Mine"
Released July 3, 1983
Format
Recorded 1982
Genre
Length
  • 4:07 (album version)
  • 3:47 (single version)
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Quincy Jones
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"
(1983)
"Human Nature"
(1983)
"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"
(1983)

"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"
(1983)
"Human Nature"
(1983)
"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"
(1983)
Music video
"Human Nature (Live)" on YouTube
Audio sample

"Human Nature" is a 1982 song performed by American singer Michael Jackson, and the fifth single from his landmark sixth solo album, Thriller. It was originally written by keyboardist Steve Porcaro, based on a conversation he had had with his young daughter Heather after a hard day at school. Porcaro, along with some of his bandmates from the band Toto, had been assisting with the production of Thriller, but he had not intended for "Human Nature" to be used by Jackson. However, Thriller producer Quincy Jones inadvertently heard a demo version of the track and thought it would be a great fit for the album. Jones then brought in songwriter John Bettis to rewrite the verses, whose lyrics are about a passerby in New York City.[5] The track was produced by Jones and performed by members of Toto with Michael Jackson providing vocals.

"Human Nature" was released on July 3, 1983. Like the four Thriller singles before it, the song became a top 10 hit in the US; it reached number two on Billboard's Hot Adult Contemporary chart and number seven on the Hot 100. In Canada and the Netherlands, the single reached number 11. The single was not released in the UK. The song garnered positive reviews from music critics. "Human Nature" has been covered and sampled by numerous artists, including Stevie Wonder, Vijay Iyer, John Mayer, Miles Davis, SWV, ELEW, Nas, 2Cellos, Bence Peter, Jason Nevins, Danny Swain, David Mead, Toro Y Moi and Chris Brown. SWV's single "Right Here (Human Nature Remix)", which sampled the song, notably reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, approximately ten years after the original's release.[6]

Production[edit]

The first version of "Human Nature" was written and composed by Steve Porcaro of Toto.[7] He had written the song after his first-grade daughter came home crying because a boy pushed her off the slide. He blurted out three reasons for the incident to comfort her: one, the boy liked her, two, people can be strange and three, it's "human nature".[8] He recorded a rough demo of the song in their studio while the Toto song "Africa" was being mixed.[5]

Fellow Toto band member David Paich had prepared some demo tracks for producer Quincy Jones to listen to as possible songs for Thriller and asked Porcaro to make Jones a tape with the songs.[7] Running low on cassette tapes, Porcaro used the tape on which he had already recorded his "Human Nature" demo, putting Paich's songs on the reverse side and marking that on the label as the side that Jones should listen to.[5] Jones listened to Paich's songs but did not think they were right for Thriller. However, he did not stop the tape when the songs finished playing, and the cassette deck playing the tape had "auto-reverse" capability, meaning that it started playing the other side as soon as the first side was finished.[5] As Jones described it, "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'".[9] However, Jones was dissatisfied with the original lyrics for the verses and asked John Bettis, who had written lyrics for hits by The Carpenters and The Pointer Sisters, among others, to write new lyrics for the song. He completed the song in two days.[10] Jones asked if the song could be included on Jackson's album, to which Porcaro and Bettis agreed.[7] "Human Nature" was the last song selected for Thriller, ousting "Carousel" from the final track listing.[citation needed]

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.[11]

"Human Nature" was released on July 3, 1983, as the fifth single from Thriller.[7] Although not released in the UK, the song achieved chart success in the US.[7] 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.[12][13] "Human Nature" charted at number 27 on the R&B singles chart.[12] In the Netherlands the single reached number 11.[14]

John Rockwell, of The New York Times, stated that "Human Nature" was a "haunting, brooding ballad" with an "irresistible" chorus.[15] Allmusic noted that the "gentle and lovely" "Human Nature" coexisted comfortably with the "tough, scared" "Beat It".[16] They later added that the song was a "soft rocker".[17] 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".[18] The magazine added that the track's "buttery harmonies" were powerful.[18] Stylus also praised the song, describing it as "the smoothest of ballads".[19] However, 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".[19]

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".[2] Kelefa Sanneh of Blender described the "soft-serve balladry" of the song as a "silk-sheets masterstroke".[20] 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".[21] Tom Ewing, reviewer for Pitchfork Media, described the song as "meltingly tender", with MTV adding that it was an "airy ballad".[22][23] 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.[24] The Los Angeles Times concluded that it was Jackson's delivery that made the "middling ballad" take off.[25]

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 also performed the song live during his 1996 Royal Brunei concert. It was going to be performed for Jackson's This Is It concerts, which were canceled 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]

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 and several bars are cut after the final verse. The only digital sources are the 3" CD single for "Thriller" released to coincide with the Japan tour in 1988, as well as the Qobuz 24/96 digital download of The Essential Michael Jackson.)
  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.)
  4. Live – 4:29 (This version is taken from Live at Wembley July 16, 1988 and included in the deluxe edition of Bad 25.)
  5. "Speechless"/"Human Nature" – 3:18 (Immortal version)

Samplings[edit]

Songs that have sampled "Human Nature" include:

  • "Right Here (Human Nature Remix)", a 1993 Teddy Riley-produced remix of the 1992 SWV song "Right Here". The remix far exceeded the popularity of the original song, spending seven weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart. The music video for the remix included clips of Jackson performing on the Dangerous World Tour.
  • "It Ain't Hard to Tell" (1994) by Nas. Nas has performed "It Ain't Hard to Tell" as a mashup with "Human Nature" using Jackson's original vocals at some concerts.[50]

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Baca, Ricardo (June 26, 2009). "Michael Jackson's musical career". The Denver Post. 
  2. ^ a b Lamb, Bill. "About.com's Thriller 25 review". About.com. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  3. ^ Shelter, Scott (25 June 2014). "The 10 most underrated Michael Jackson songs". AXS. Retrieved March 23, 2018. 
  4. ^ Johnston, Maura; Reeves, Mosi (August 8, 2017). "The 30 Best '90s R&B Songs – 20. SWV, "Right Here (Human Nature)" (1992)". Spin. Retrieved March 23, 2018. 
  5. ^ a b c d "KLCS interview of Steve Porcaro". Youtube. 3 September 2015. 
  6. ^ "SWV Right Here (Human Nature)/Downtown Chart History". Billboard. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Halstead, p. 144
  8. ^ Knopper, Steve (2015). MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson. Scribner. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-4767-3039-4. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 
  9. ^ Thriller 25: The Book. p. 13. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ Powers, Ann (February 15, 2008). "Nine reasons why Jackson masterpiece remains a 'Thriller'". South Coast Today. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  12. ^ a b George, p. 39
  13. ^ Borza, Michael J. (September 7, 1984). "Jacksons captivated JFK Stadium". The Daily Collegian. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  14. ^ "Dutch Singles Chart Archives". dutchcharts.nl. Archived from the original on July 8, 2009. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  15. ^ Rockwell, John (December 19, 1982). "Michael Jackson's 'Thriller': Superb Job". The New York Times. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  16. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Allmusic's 'Thriller' Review". Allmusic. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Allmusic's Thriller 25 review". Allmusic. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  18. ^ a b Henderson, Eric (2003). "Slant's 'Thriller' review". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on February 28, 2008. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  19. ^ a b "Thriller - The Diamond". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved February 21, 2009. 
  20. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa (April 11, 2008). "Thriller - 25th Anniversary Edition Blender review". Blender. Archived from the original on May 23, 2016. Retrieved March 10, 2009. 
  21. ^ Gilchrist, Todd. "IGN's Thriller 25 review". IGN. Archived from the original on February 14, 2008. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  22. ^ 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. 
  23. ^ "Michael Jackson biography". MTV. Archived from the original on August 4, 2012. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  24. ^ Sheffield, Rob. "Rolling Stone's Thriller 25 review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  25. ^ Gamboa, Glenn (February 12, 2008). "Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' turns 25". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 11, 2009. [dead link]
  26. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  27. ^ "Ultratop.be – Michael Jackson – Human Nature" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  28. ^ "Radio2 top 30: 8 oktober 1983" (in Dutch). Top 30. Archived from the original on March 27, 2016. Retrieved June 3, 2016. 
  29. ^ "CHART NUMBER 1394 – Saturday, October 01, 1983". Archived from the original on February 13, 2006. Retrieved June 3, 2016. . CHUM. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  30. ^ "Adult Contemporary - Volume 39, No. 4, Sep 24, 1983". RPM. Retrieved June 3, 2016. 
  31. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 39, No. 5, Oct 01, 1983". RPM. Retrieved June 3, 2016. 
  32. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Michael Jackson – Human Nature". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  33. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Michael Jackson" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  34. ^ a b "Dutchcharts.nl – Michael Jackson – Human Nature" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  35. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Michael Jackson – Human Nature". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  36. ^ a b c d e "Thriller – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved June 3, 2016. 
  37. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending SEPTEMBER 24, 1983". Cash Box magazine. Archived from the original on February 25, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2016. 
  38. ^ "Week Commencing 13th July 2009" ARIA Top 100 Singles. National Library of Australia. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  39. ^ "50 Back Catalogue Singles – 18/07/09" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved June 3, 2016. 
  40. ^ "Danishcharts.com – Michael Jackson – Human Nature". Tracklisten. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  41. ^ "Classifica settimanale WK 29 (dal 2009-07-13 al 2009-07-19)" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved June 3, 2016. 
  42. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Michael Jackson – Human Nature". Singles Top 100. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  43. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Michael Jackson – Human Nature". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  44. ^ "Michael Jackson: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  45. ^ "Lescharts.com – Michael Jackson – Human Nature" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  46. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1983" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on January 26, 2014. Retrieved June 5, 2016. 
  47. ^ "The Top Singles of 1983". RPM. December 24, 1983. Retrieved June 5, 2016. 
  48. ^ "Top 100 Hits for 1983". Longbored Surfer. Retrieved June 5, 2016. 
  49. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1983". Cash Box magazine. Archived from the original on December 29, 2013. Retrieved June 5, 2016. 
  50. ^ It Ain't Hard To Tell vs. Human Nature – Nas feat. Michael Jackson (live at Lovebox 2014, London – fancam) YouTube
  51. ^ a b c d e f g h i Jackson, Michael. Thriller booklet. Sony BMG.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]