The Hardest Button to Button (3:32)

Cover of Elephant

From Elephant and 22 other releases

“The Hardest Button to Button” is a 7” single by the American alternative rock band The White Stripes. It is the third single from their album Elephant. The cover of the single is an allusion to the graphics of Saul Bass, seen in the movie posters and title sequences of films such as Anatomy of a Murder and The Man with the Golden Arm.

Jack White says that the song is about a child trying to find his place in a dysfunctional family when a new baby comes.

The music video for “The Hardest Button to Button” is the third White Stripes video directed by Michel Gondry, after “Fell in Love with a Girl” and “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” (two years later, he would direct the music video for “The Denial Twist”).

The video utilizes pixilation animation to create the effect of dozens of drum kits and guitar amplifiers multiplying to the rhythm of the song as Jack and Meg perform. For example, in one sequence, Meg is seen playing the bass drum at a subway station. At every beat she plays, she appears with a new bass drum while the last becomes vacant. This was achieved by first setting up a trail of bass drums. Then, Meg would be filmed performing a single beat on the last drum in the line, followed by the removal of that drum. Meg would then proceed to the next drum, play another beat, and so on. The final video is edited to include the drum beats with the sequence reversed, making it appear as if the drums are being added to the beat, appearing out of thin air. As many as 80 identical bass drums and Fender guitar amps were used in the video.

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