trying hardest

The Hardest Button to Button

"The Hardest Button to Button" is a single by The White Stripes. It is the third single from their album Elephant.

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

Music video

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.

Much of the video was filmed around Riverside Drive and the Columbia University area near Grant's Tomb and around the 125th Street exit and surrounding neighborhood, - all part of the Upper West Side in Manhattan - New York City. Parts of the video were filmed at the 33rd Street PATH station.

There is a short cameo by Beck about two and a half minutes in as a man in a suit presenting Jack with a "box with something in it".

Track listing


  1. "The Hardest Button to Button"
  2. "St. Ides of March"


  1. "The Hardest Button To Button
  2. "St. Ides of March"
  3. "The Hardest Button to Button" (video)


  • The song was featured on "Jazzy and the Pussycats", in The Simpsons 18th season. Bart plays the song's drumbeat with multiplying drums through the town (exactly as in the video) and eventually runs into (literally) Meg and her drumkit. The Stripes briefly give chase (with their own multiplying instruments) until a break in the beat ends up with them hovering over an opening in a draw bridge, through which both Meg and Jack fall after a slight pause (in accordance with the established Laws of Cartoon Physics) into a recycling barge.
  • The cover of the single, shown above, 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.
  • When The White Stripes were unable to play the Reading Festival 2003, due to Jack White's broken finger, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club were moved up to their slot and covered "The Hardest Button to Button".
  • This song was aired during the Lazy Man's Guide to Making Toast on the first episode of Brainiac: Science Abuse in 2003.
  • It was sampled by The Kleptones on their album 24 Hours.


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