Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Reassessing the 'Are we dancer?' debate

I'm inspired to follow up on Vellum's post yesterday about The Killers and their poor choice of lyrics in 'Human.' This had actually been a serious matter of debate amongst pop music aficionados, for most people agree it's a shit line. However, some people are inclined to defend it, given that it came out of the mouth of The Killers, clearly tehbestbandevarz!!1!*

The band, in turn, defends the lyrics as being inspired by Hunter S. Thomson, and thus being incredibly intellectual. Plus, Brandan Flowers insists he put a lot of thought into that lyric, because it meant a lot to him. Or something.

So there's accusations flying, and defenses popping out of the woodwork, which means I need to weigh in. My official opinion, thus, is:

Where have you BEEN? The Killers have NEVER written good lyrics.

The Evidence:

1) All These Things I've Done

'I got soul, but I'm not a soldier.'

I get what they were going for – 'soul' sounds like the first half of 'soldier,' blah blah. Sadly, the English language is not about pretty sounds. The meaning is, I would, perhaps strangely, argue, more important. And 'soul' has nothing to do with 'soldiers.' Vellum postulates that perhaps soldiers are defined by their souls, and thus having a soul but not being a soldier is something curious.

Yeah, I laughed in his face, too.

2) When You Were Young

'Waiting on some beautiful boy to /To save you from your old ways / You play forgiveness.'

How, exactly, does one 'play' forgiveness? Pretend? Feign? Offer? Or is Forgiveness a piano standard I'm missing? Perhaps Memory?

3) Bones

'But I don't really like you / apologetically dressed in the best / but on a heartbeat glide.'

'Apologetically dressed in the best' I'll let slide, because it's probably some poetic notion that I'm simply not going to give any thought to. But 'on a heartbeat glide'... what does that even mean? Gliding on a heartbeat? Though a perfectly acceptable phrase, that doesn't make sense in context. Or maybe it's like the Electric Slide, a retro dance move that we've forgotten about. The Heartbeat Glide. Sounds like a winner – I'll try it out at the next wedding I attend.**

4) Human

'My sign is vital.'

I get what he's trying to do here... but no. Unless you're an astrologer, no. Again, confusing the 'sounds good' with that pesky 'meaning' that words and phrases carry. Ah well. We don't pay him to write good lyrics. We pay him to make marketable, bouncy, obnoxious, family friendly music.


Thus, I'm not sure what the drama over the 'dancer' bit is. They've always written lousy lyrics. For that matter, so have most pop artists.


*The opinions expressed are not those of the author. Mercifully.

**Which will then probably be the last wedding I attend. Double score.

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