Why is THAT line in The Killers' Human so controversial?

22 September 2023, 14:48 | Updated: 18 December 2023, 17:21

The Killers - Human (Official Music Video)

Are we human? Or are we dancer? The story behind one of Brandon Flowers' most troublesome lyrics.

The Killers' Day & Age was Brandon Flowers and co's third studio album, released on 18th November 2008. The LP included the likes of Spaceman, A Dustland Fairytale and their enduring hit and stadium filler, Human.

The iconic song - which was the first track to be taken from the album - was released on 22nd September 2008 and became an instant indie anthem.

Over a decade later and it's still one of the most popular tracks during their live set, but what were the song's most famous lyrics inspired by and why are they still somewhat troublesome today? Find out more here.

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The Killers' Human artwork
The Killers' Human artwork featured a portrait of the band's guitarist Dave Keuning. Picture: Press

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What were The Killers' Human lyrics inspired by?

The Killers' Human single is known for posing the immortal question: "Are we human or are we dancer?" But what does it actually mean?

As Brandon Flowers told Rolling Stone in 2008, “It’s taken from a quote by [Hunter S.] Thompson."

The gonzo journalist and author is quoted as saying: "We’re raising a generation of dancers, afraid to take one step out of line". Flowers claims he "ran" with this idea in the song.

However, that's not quite where the story ends.

The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers and author Hunter S. Thompson
The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers was influenced by author Hunter S. Thompson. Picture: 1. John Shearer/ Getty Images 2. Mikki Ansin/Getty Images

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Despite Flowers being inspired by the famous late author, he copped a lot of flack for the lyrics not being grammatically correct (he intentionally uses the singular dancer rather than the plural dancers, which led to a lot of misquoting of the lyrics).

Though we imagine he's pretty philosophical about the whole thing now, the Las Vegas rocker was pretty salty about people's reactions to it at the time.

"I really care what people think but people don’t seem to understand Human, he told Rolling Stone. They think it’s nonsense. But I was aching over those lyrics for a very long time to get them right."

He added, with defiance: "I guess it bothers people that it’s not grammatically correct, but I think I’m allowed to do whatever I want."

Brandon Flowers' defence didn't stop the song topping a poll of the weirdest song lyrics in 2014.

According to a survey by streaming service Blinkbox Music, a sample of 2,000 people named the lines the most confusing in music.

Brandon Flowers on The Killers' Pressure Machine

They even beat out stiff competition from the likes of The Beatles' I Am The Walrus to get to the top spot... which is quite a feat.

The Las Vegas outfit may be catching flack about that one line for decades to come, but we reckon they probably sleep pretty well at night knowing it's one of their more successful and most-loved anthems to date.

READ MORE: Why are The Killers called The Killers?

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