Monday, March 24th, 2014

Christina Perri – Human

It’s ballad Monday! Please try to contain your excitement.


Patrick St. Michel: Overly dramatic song about a basic idea. Sounds great, but the bigness kinda makes it less relateable.

Alfred Soto: A theater kid’s monologue, budding under klieg light, piano stolen from the acting coach. I’d have preferred a Human League cover.

Crystal Leww: The little pitter-patter of the drum that resembles a heartbeat during the quiet bit right before the last explosion of the chorus is kind of a perfect encapsulation of the entire song: a nice little touch that will pass you by if you aren’t listening hard enough, but ultimately trying too hard on a trope that has been done a zillion times before.

Jer Fairall: Oversharing as melodramatically as Alanis circa Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, but without constructing the kind of tangled verbal labyrinths that were occasionally fun to navigate, and which at the very least came with hooks far sharper than the soggy mess that Perri tries to call a chorus. 

Will Adams: “I can do it,” sings Perri, sounding like she can’t. Then she repeats the line twice more, as if stalling the chorus that she knows she can’t pull off. It never fails to surprise me how Perri’s unpleasant voice is consistently pushed to the fore in her music. To its credit, “Human” attempts to hide her flaw more actively than, say, “Jar of Hearts,” via its overblown production, but there’s still the nagging thought that it would sound far better in the hands of almost anyone else.

Jonathan Bradley: “I’m only human” is a thing we say from frustration, a feint against outsized expectations. The lyric is aware of this — under such pressure, it demands, we should not fault our protagonist for faltering — but Perri sings like Shylock insisting he bleeds when cut. “I’m just a little human,” she says at one point, turning the title into a word that doesn’t sound right as adjective or noun. Is she requesting patience or rebutting cyborgs with no tolerance for meatbag frailty? Either way, this would be a better song were she a bigger human: bleeding and crashing with a heart that’s been knifed aren’t traumas that should be recounted this delicately.

Megan Harrington: Perri’s voice hangs tough with the epic string swells, but in the song’s minimal moments she’s not quite quavering. “Human” doesn’t properly arc from tiny to transcendent, but a satisfying pop song needs to nail the chorus and Perri’s is a bullseye. 

Brad Shoup: “Just a little human,” she sings, which is a kinda funny ad-lib. The console actually needed a couple more humans, cos the percussion lands softly, but whoever was responsible for the opening arrangement — the drums crackle like distant thunder, and a harp-like figure paddles things along — is to be commended. In the second half, though, the backmasked twinkle annoys. The text and Perri’s delivery are thoroughly anonymous, which makes it human enough, I guess.

Iain Mew: I love the arrangement for the opening of “Human”, a progression of little twinkles and flutters that set the scene for an initially understated performance from Christina Perri. The sound and its elegant openness puts me in mind of Paris Motel, which is an unexpected pleasure. Sadly the mood doesn’t last the song — the weak robot lyrics aren’t quite enough to kill it off, but Perri’s determination for a monster chorus at all costs is.

Katherine St Asaph: Back when I was on coffee-shop arrest (like house arrest, but enforced by roommate, not cop, on pain of bullying, not jail), I’d hear this one lilting ballad about four times a day, the kind of rotation you’d give a crowdpleasing monocultural huge fucking deal that I’d somehow never heard of. Turns out once a day was me mixing it up with Adele’s “One and Only.” The other three were “A Thousand Years,” which apparently was in Twilight — twice — and singlehandedly either sustained or resuscitated her career. It also apparently bought Perri a new vocal coach and arrangement budget. It didn’t make her more exciting.

Reader average: [5.8] (5 votes)

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