“After The Sugarcubes, I guess I had a mixture of liberation and fear. It had been obvious for a while in the band that I had different tastes than the rest. That’s fair enough – there’s no such thing as correct taste. I wrote the melody for Human Behaviour as a kid. A lot of the melodies on Debut I wrote as a teenager and put aside because I was in punk bands and they weren’t punk. The lyric is almost like a child’s point of view and the video that I did with Michel Gondry was based on childhood memories.”
(Talking to David Hemingway about the song)
Human Behaviour was written by Nellee Hooper and Björk, and was produced by Hooper. The song was first written in 1988 when Björk was still the leading singer of the Sugarcubes, but she decided not to release it with the band. The song was inspired by David Attenborough documentaries and by the relation between humans and animals. Björk explained to Rolling Stone, talking about the inspiration for the song: “Human Behaviour is an animal’s point of view on humans. And the animals are definitely supposed to win in the end.So why, one might ask, is the conquering bear presented as a man-made toy? I don’t know. I guess I just didn’t think it would be fair to force an animal to act in a video. I mean, that would be an extension of what I’m against. I told him [Gondry], ‘I want a bear and textures like handmade wood and leaves and earth, and I want it to seem like animation.’ Then I backed out.” On a recent question and answer session with fans on The Guardian website, Björk revealed more information about the writing of the song: “I wrote it I was referring to my childhood and probably talking about how I felt more comfortable on my own walking outside singing and stuff than hanging out with humans…”
This is the first song on the “Isobel song cycle”, a transcendental cycle in Björk’s discography which goes from Human Behaviour to Wanderlust (2007). Human Behaviour bears influences from electronica, alternative rock and alternative dance. The melody-line of Human Behaviour was originally called Murder for Two and written by Björk for the Sugarcubes’ final album Stick Around for Joy. But The band didn’t know what music to play to the melody-line, so Björk used it for her debut album.
The music video was directed by Michel Gondry, and this was the first time he and Björk collaborated. The video is a loose take on the children’s tale “Goldilocks and the Three Bears“, with visuals inspired by Yuri Norstein‘s animated film Hedgehog in the Fog. The video has several elements that are present in Gondry’s first feature film Human Nature.