The Tragic Humanity in Jon Bellion’s "Human"

There is a contemporary artist from Staten Island named Jon Bellion who fuses the genres of hip-hop, rap, alternative, and classic rock influences into his music. Hushes of Paul Simon and younger Kanye West float amongst quotes from Billy Joel, but all come together to form this haunting, beat-infused masterpiece.

One song that resonates with me is “Human” off of his album The Definition. The introduction of the song begins with an eerie set of windchimes and bouncing piano notes before shifting into a grand piano and just Jon’s voice. The beginning lyrics already convey a doubt of his own life. His Christian upbringing makes him feel guilt for some of the questionable things he has done in life, a pang of guilt cannot be relieved from penance. He fears being broke and fears commitment because all of his outlooks on life lead him to doubt.

What makes him fear this so? A choir of his soft-spoken characters whimper alongside those windchimes which return to whisper “human,” a quality he wishes to get rid of. The second verse reveals the vices he feels the guilt toward: excessive drinking, smoking, drugs, and partying until he releases the toxins all over the front lawn of the party house. His mother called but he refuses to answer when he is in that state. Finally, in the peak of his reminiscing, the climax of the song he yells out that his fears have stopped him from truly revealing to his girlfriend that he loves her.

She’s his muse, his lover, and the one he wants to be with. But being human makes him too scared to have human-to-human contact. Everything needs to be virtual or through song. The bridge of the song reveals his reliance on technology. The GPS knows his location at all times, but the metaphor of a location being known is not enough for him to have found his true self. The lyrics “[t]ell me why I still feel lost” is not only repeated twice but has a double tracking and harmony, further emphasizing his pain.

All the while the chorus of whispers repeats over and over “human” like a cult or thought constantly pounding in his head. His fears, his quirks, his doubts, all get controlled by this constant reminder. The song comes to an end with the heartbeat of a drum and the last words “human” harmonized creating a cycle of never ending doubt.