My iPod #553: Michael Jackson – Human Nature

What a blunder. This wasn’t meant to be published yesterday. A complete error on my part. To those of you who saw two posts up and were expecting two good reads, I’m sorry I could only provide you with one. Though in the end, you did get a sneak peek of what was coming.

“Human Nature” was released as the fifth single from his Thriller album. It is one of the four songs that were not written by Jackson himself, having initially been a rough demo by Steve Porcaro of Toto given to producer Quincy Jones in hopes of being included on the album. Jones loved the music, the original lyrics not so much. And so lyricist John Bettis was asked to write some new ones. “Human Nature” was finished in its entirety in a matter of two days, and was the last song to be included to Thriller‘s track-list.

The song is, what can be described as, an ode to New York City – the city that never sleeps – an its enticing scenery and vibrant atmosphere during the nighttime. Jackson sings of abandoning the four walls of his room to take full advantage of what the city has to offer from the ‘electric eyes’ of streetlights to the beautiful ladies he can’t help but stare at. The morning after sees him back in his room, looking out to the city with the urge to do it all over again later.

Upon Jackson’s untimely death in 2009 his music videos were played non-stop on almost every music channel. Of course it was a sad time, but I had seen/heard all of those songs before. I had not with “Human Nature”, and it was when it played on the radio a few weeks after that I could comprehend that he was gone. Was such a sad time and he continues to be missed.

My iPod #552: The Killers – Human

After deciding to enter Bruce Springsteen-ish arena rock territory on Sam’s Town, the band decided to more or less go further down that road on their third album Day & Age, but took out the guitars, implemented a lot more synthesizers and gave every song a ‘boom bap’ beat to which someone somewhere would be able to dance to. “Human” was released as the album’s first single and proceeded to become one of the band’s most popular tracks.

Brandon Flowers wants to know if we are human or dancer. Six and a bit years later, the lyric still confuses many. Though really it is a question simply asking whether we hold more significance to what meets the eye. Brandon wants the answers, so much so that he is on his knees, but knows that it will be a long time before he gets a result. As mentioned earlier, the song mainly uses synthesizers and keyboards to create a soaring sonic landscape on top of a clicky, palm-muted guitar lick that continuously fades in and out of the mix as time goes on. My personal favourite section of the track is the “Pay my respects to grace and virtue” verse, in which a lone synthesizer plays to the right along the driving bass and drums by Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vannucci. Something about that specific part is just perfect to me.

My iPod #551: Carpark North – Human

Carpark North is an alternative/electronic rock band from Denmark comprising of members Lau Højen, Søren Balsner, and Morten Thorhauge. Six years after their initial formation in 1999 came the second album All Things to All People, on which “Human” can be found as the second track. “Human” was a hit in Denmark and became the band’s first top ten single. It was to gain wider recognition when it was on the soundtrack of FIFA 08. That’s where I heard it the first and many more times as I continually played the game whenever I got the chance.

Like the other FIFAs that came before it, 08 had its share of highlights that I would always sing along to when playing Manager Mode and duds that I would skip and eventually disable them from playing because they weren’t any good. “Human”, clearly, was one of those highlights for me. A break up song of some kind, it depicts a narrator annoyed with this self-centred and arrogant being who cannot admit when they are in the wrong. It’s all there in the lyrics. With a hard-hitting beat that mimics that of “My Sharona” by The Knack and a melody that has something ever so sly about it, “Human” is a good listen. I will probably never listen to the rest of the band’s discography though; it will always only be a FIFA song to me.

Being a game that’s rated PEGI 3+, EA censored the part where the phrase ‘damn right’ is sung in the chorus. Can’t have the kids cursing so badly.

My iPod #26: The Rakes – All Too Human

Hello everybody.

The Rakes were an indie band that broke up in 2009 after the release of their album ‘Klang’.

Again I was introduced to them by MTV2. I’ve said many a time that MTV2 was a great channel to watch back in 2005-2006. Without it I definitely wouldn’t be as ecelectic as I am in my musical tastes, if I do say so myself.

The Rakes released their debut album ‘Capture/Release’ in August 2005, and originally this song wasn’t on it. It was only when they released it as a standalone single the following year, that the band decided to re-release the album with ‘All Too Human’ listed as the final track.

The video premiered on MTV2 as part of its ‘New Releases’. I haven’t actually watched it in a long time, so I can’t really remember what’s happens. From its thumbnail, I can see that it’s black and white.

The song itself is very good in my own bias opinion. The narrator has been in a relationship that is failing in front of his eyes, and he’s now pining with self-pity. He knows that she would be fine without him, but knowing this makes him feel even worse.

However morose and depressing that sounds, the key and the melody has a very light tone. The ending of the song  uses vocals from all members of the band chanting ‘Human, All Too Human’, providing a satisfying conclusion to the song and the album.

‘Capture/Release’ received quite a bit of praise on its release, so if you’re into Arctic Monkeys, The Futureheads, Bloc Party – bands like that, you might like the album.

Want to listen to more songs by them? Here are three.

Until next time.

Jamie.