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The Hardest Button to Button

"The Hardest Button to Button"
Single by The White Stripes
from the album Elephant
ReleasedDecember 9, 2003
FormatCD, 7"
RecordedApril 2003
LabelXL Recordings
Songwriter(s)Jack White
Producer(s)Jack White
The White Stripes singles chronology
"I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself"
"The Hardest Button to Button"
"There's No Home for You Here"
Audio sample
Music video
"The Hardest Button To Button" on YouTube

"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. The cover also alludes to Jack White's then-broken index finger and his obsession with the number 3. When released as a single, the song reached number 23 on the UK Singles Chart and number eight on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.

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 Hardest Button to Button" is an alternative and garage rock song that runs for a duration of three minutes and thirty-two seconds.[1] According to the sheet music published at by Universal Music Publishing Group, it is written in the time signature of common time, with a moderate rock tempo of 128 beats per minute.[1] "The Hardest Button to Button" is composed in the key of A minor, while Jack White's vocal range spans one octave and one note, from a low of G4 to a high of A5.[1] The song has a basic sequence of A5–C5–A5–C5–A5–C5–B5–D5 during the introduction, changes to A5–C5–A5–C5–A5–C5–B5–B5 in the verses and follows Asus4–C–Asus4–C–Asus4–C–B–B at the instrumental break as well as the refrain as its chord progression.[1]

Music video

A screenshot of the music video for "The Hardest Button to Button". Meg White enters and exits a train, travelling by a seemingly endless supply of bass drums.

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 PATH train station. On every beat, a new drum materializes just ahead of her and she instantly appears behind it to play that beat, leaving all the previous drums vacant. This effect was achieved by first setting up a trail of bass drums. Meg was filmed performing a single beat on the last drum in the line, which was then removed; she would move back one drum, play another beat, and so on. The sequence was edited and run in reverse for the video, making the drums seemingly materialize out of thin air. Gondry used 32 identical Ludwig drum kits, 32 identical amplifiers, and 16 identical microphone stands during the shoot. The drum kits were donated to a music school after the shoot.[2]

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 (2:25) as a man in a white suit presenting Jack with a "box with something in it".[3]

Jack White also appears with a cast on his hand, after he had broken his index finger in a car accident while on tour.

The style of the video was parodied in The Simpsons episode "Jazzy and the Pussycats", in which Jack and Meg make a cameo.

Track listing


  1. "The Hardest Button to Button" (Jack White)
  2. "St. Ides of March" (Johnny Walker, Ben Swank)


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


Chart (2003–2004) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[4] 54
Ireland (IRMA)[5] 42
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[6] 90
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[7] 31
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[8] 23
UK Indie (Official Charts Company)[9] 1
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[10] 8

In popular culture

The song and video concept is used/spoofed in The Simpsons episode "Jazzy and the Pussycats", with The White Stripes guest starring as themselves. Bart Simpson starts playing to the song, imitating the video routine, until eventually crashing into Meg's drumkit. She and Jack chase Bart until he leaves them suspended in midair over an open drawbridge at the end of a riff, and they fall onto a garbage barge.

The song is a playable track in Rock Band 3.

The song was used on a trailer for the Justice League movie.[11] Previously another White Stripes song, "Icky Thump", was used for a trailer of the same movie.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d White, Jack. "The White Stripes "The Hardest Button To Button" Guitar Tab in A Minor - Download & Print". Universal Music Publishing Group.
  2. ^ Kaufman, Gil. "The Story Behind The White Stripes' 'Hardest Button'". Retrieved 2011-06-05.
  3. ^ Jogger, Mick (2003-11-27), "HOT LIST". Rolling Stone (936):112
  4. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  5. ^ "Chart Track: Week 48, 2003". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  6. ^ " – The White Stripes – The Hardest Button to Button" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  7. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  8. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  9. ^ "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  10. ^ "The White Stripes Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 5, 2018.
  11. ^ Roffman, Michael (2017-03-25). "First trailer for Justice League swoops in online, soundtracked by The White Stripes." Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  12. ^ "White Stripes’ ‘Icky Thump’ Spotlighted in DC’s ‘Justice League’ Trailer." Retrieved 2018-07-31.

External links