What was THAT line in The Killers' Human inspired by and why is it so controversial?

22 September 2020, 17:36 | Updated: 22 September 2020, 18:21

As Brandon Flowers and co's 2008 single celebrates its anniversary, we look back at the inspiration behind one of its most troublesome lyrics.

The Killers' Human single celebrates its 12th anniversary this week.

The iconic song - which was the first track to be taken from their third studio album Day & Age - was released on 22 September 2008 and became an instant indie anthem.

Over a decade later and it's still one of the most popular tracks during their 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" which apparently the frontman admits "ran" with.

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 it at the time.

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

He added, defiantly: "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.

They even beat 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 its one of their more successful and most-loved anthems to date.

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