Happy People

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 2020
Original album - Hotspot
Producer - Stuart Price
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

According to Neil, this song is "a guy's inner monologue about having to leave his child behind and go off to work… and it's about the contrast between a happy life at home—or a personal life—and then the kind of nightmare of the outside world, as it sometimes feels." The music originated with an instrumental demo created by Chris in March 2017, which he titled "House Piano," an apt description of at least one aspect of its heavily house-influenced style. Intriguingly, the opening keyboard chords sound a little off-kilter, slightly out of tune. That's surely no accident, so what does that suggest? Could it be hinting at somewhat "off-kilter" lyrical content to follow?

The album's opening track, "Will-o-the-wisp," saw Neil once again employing his patented but, in recent years, largely underused "Brit-rap" vocal style (you know, the one that launched their success in such spectacular fashion roughly 35 years before with "West End Girls") for several lines. In "Happy People," however, all three verses are delivered in this manner, with only the refrain actually "sung":

Happy people
Living in a sad world

It's the jarring contrast, profound in its mundanity (or is that mundane in its profundity?), of billions of people needing to divide their time between the simple yet sublime pleasures of their private, personal lives—love and family—and the daily grind of having to earn a living in the workaday world:

The outside world demands me
And I have to say goodbye….

The sense of so much missing
When the world gets in the way

But that's the way it's always been, from time immemorial, "the rhythm of our history… the beat behind our lives." People have always had to carve out moments of happiness from the drudgery of having to earn a living.

As one might expect from a pair of experienced professional musicians, Neil and Chris summarize this dilemma, if you can call it that, in musical terms:

A blues would be in B flat
Pain defining wisdom
But the soul is in the high hat
Programmed in the system

In other words, the "souls" of our lives are found in those personal highlights that provide contrast with the "blues" of the more laborious aspects of our existence. It's what we've always done. It's part of who we are. It's what we do to survive.



Officially released

List cross-references