Are We Human or Are We Dancer?

I absolutley love the new Killers CD Day & Age. This band is the closest thing to 80's nu wave that I've been able to find since, well, 80's nu wave. When I listen to the Killers I can't help but be transported back to 1982, hanging out with my friends and cranking Duran Duran's Rio vinyl on my jukebox. There's a bit of Duran, a bit of The Cure, a bit of Howard Jones and a bit of The Beatles in The Killers' style, and I really enjoy it.

The hit single off this album is "Human," a song that is quite catchy, but mysteriously ambiguous with regards to the lyrics.

For example, the chorus continually asks the puzzling question: are we human, or are we dancer?

Some have argued that the word dancer is actually "denser," but Brandon Flowers, lead singer of the band said in an interview that the line was inspired by a quote from the late journalist Hunter S. Thompson who once quipped that "America is now raising a 'generation of dancers.'"

The singular use of the word in the chorus "dancer" instead of "dancers" prompts me to believe that Flowers was considering the word as an adjective instead of a noun. In other words, Flowers specifically wanted the word to connote a different species.

Having said all that, I think that one of the things that attracts me to this song is the fact that it really pushes me to consider the deep ontological and metaphysical questions of existence and being (I'm sure that is precisely what The Killers were hoping for :)).

The first image that comes into my mind when I think about the word "dancer," is the little pink ballerina that twirled around on my daughters jewelery box when she was a little girl. It just spun around in circles as long as the music played and/or the box remained open. Is this what the lyrics are suggesting: that we have somehow lost the ability to be truly human and instead have been reduced to individuals who twirl our way through life?

Perhaps I just think too deeply, and the lyrics to this song don't really mean anything at all. But then again, maybe they do. If you like to think deeply about song lyrics, and this particular song has inspired some thoughts, I'd like to hear them.

The question remains: are we human, or are we dancer?


  1. It is a somewhat addictive song, isn't it? The Killers CDs are the only ones I bought in 2008, or at least the part of 2008 that I can remember. Because my daughter spends lots of time dancing, I tend to not think of it in the negative, but more along the lines of "I will dance I will sing, to be mad for my King."

  2. Though I doubt the songwriter meant it so, I cannot avoid thinking the lyric means are we puppets (dancers), not thinking but attempting to gracefully find our way through life on the easiest track, or are we in fact human, using the mind and abilities we have to make the world a better place here and now and into the future.


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