87. Michael Jackson – ‘Human Nature’ (1982)

“Get me out into the night time
Four walls won’t hold me tonight
If this town is just an apple
Then let me take a bite

If they say why? Why?
Tell ’em that it’s human nature
Why? Why?
Does he do me that way?”

Written by Steve Porcaro/John Bettis

Produced by Quincy Jones

Taken from the album Thriller

Also released on The Ultimate Collection, The Essential Michael Jackson, Thriller 25, King Of Pop and Michael Jackson’s This Is It: Original Soundtrack

US #7, UK #62, AUS #63

Written by Toto’s Steve Porcaro, ‘Human Nature’ certainly has some things in common with their megahits ‘Africa’ and ‘Rosanna’, in atmosphere and in melody. But Michael Jackson brings to the table something vocal that Toto never could, a sense of extreme melancholy and intrinsic sadness that seems to permeate every song that isn’t about dancing. The paranoia, the turmoil, the inner struggle, all of it put out there for the world to see on ‘Human Nature’.

Even though it wasn’t meant that way (or was it?) it’s hard not to see ‘Human Nature’ as a coming-out song of sorts, whether that actually meant anything to the artist or not. “If they say why? Why? Tell ’em that it’s human nature”, the chorus goes, which has implications that go into overdrive on the next line: “Why? Why does he do me that way?”.

The melody is endlessly pretty, and you can feel the bright lights Michael singing about in the lyrics, you’re there with him in the big city in the middle of the night. His voice has this warmth to it that made it so perfect for R&B like this. With beautiful production from Quincy Jones, and the aformentioned perfect writing and vocals, ‘Human Nature’ is an underrated classic, and one of the very best songs on Thriller.


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