Album: Crash (1986)
Charted: 8 1
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Songfacts®:

  • In this song, a guy is coming clean after cheating on his girl, telling her he only did it to fill the empty void inside him while they were apart. He comforts her, assuring her, "No one else could ever take your place." His excuse is a lame one, but it's all he's got: "I'm only human."

    Later in the song, we hear from the woman, who reveals that she also cheated on him while they were away. She's human too.

    Terry Lewis came up with the concept by thinking about how cheating men tend to either get caught or spill their guts, while women who cheat are better at hiding their secrets.
  • 1986 was a breakout year for the production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who produced Janet Jackson's Control album, released that February. Human League leader Phil Oakley knew of their earlier work with the R&B acts Change, Cherelle and the SOS Band, so he enlisted them to work on their album Crash. Human League are a British synth-pop band with a very different sound than the artists Jam and Lewis typically worked with, but the union was a success, with Jam and Lewis not only producing the album but also writing three songs, including the first single, "Human." Human League met Jam and Lewis on their turf, traveling to Minneapolis to work at their Flyte Time Studios.
  • This was a difficult song for Human League frontman Phil Oakey to sing because it requires lots of emotion and he usually sings in a more mechanical style. He gradually got comfortable with the song over the course of a few weeks as they worked on it.
  • Human League have two female vocalists - Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall - but Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis brought in Lisa Keith, a session singer they often used, to provide the backing vocals. This didn't go over well with Sulley and Catherall, so Lewis created the spoken-word part for Catherall to recite. Sulley mimes the singing in the video.
  • This was the first Human League hit Phil Oakey didn't have a hand in writing. The group had a transatlantic #1 with their 1981 song "Don't You Want Me," but they were getting diminishing returns leading up to their Crash album, especially in America. Bringing in Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis gave them a fresh perspective and got them back to the top of the chart in the US. For the producers, it was their second #1, following Janet Jackson's "When I Think of You," which topped the chart just five weeks earlier.

Comments: 9

  • Mike Millwood from Santa Cruz, CaliforniaIt sounds like Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were the only ones who played the instruments (synthesizers ) on the song, "Human". Does anyone know if that is true?
  • Easy Eddie from Chicago IllJoshua, I think the young lady is saying
    “ I am just HU-MAN...”

    Just an FYI
    I got your back , player .
  • Chris from Germany When I was a little boy my mother let me see and watch MTV and that was Greatest Hits on MTV which played the video very often. That was 1992.

    Later the band had another hit with Tell Me When.
  • George from Vancouver, CanadaAnother, with "Don't You Want Me" song about power politics between two people.
  • Jeng from NycThe cute story of the lyrics is really similar to Joe Jackson's Biology. I listened to Human many times and the lyrics always made me laugh so I was really surprised when I finally heard Joe Jackson's Biology which came out years earlier. I guess this was the answer song to Biology but really prettied up. I wish Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were still active. Their music is so polished and perfect.
  • Big Ed from Pulaski, TnGREAT TUNE! I had my first high school crush on a Sr. girl ( I was a Sophmore) when this song came out. To this day when I hear this song I ALWAYS think about her. This was a great 80's band, I wonder what ever happened to them.
  • John from Manchester, EnglandAnother one of those songs that immerses you into it. Sit back eyes closed and you can see it as well as hear it. Very very true lyrics.
  • Pete from Nowra, Australialove this song...always liked Human Leagues music
  • Joshua from Twin Cities, MnThe second and third choruses feature the line "I am just a man" - sung by a WOMAN backing vocalist.
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