Mistaken for Strangers (song)

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"Mistaken for Strangers"
Mistaken for Strangers (The National single - cover art).jpg
Single by The National
from the album Boxer
Released April 30, 2007
Format CD, 7" vinyl
Recorded Tarquin Studios
Genre Indie rock, post-punk revival
Length 3:31
Label Beggars Banquet Records
Songwriter(s) Matt Berninger, Scott Devendorf
Producer(s) Peter Katis and The National
The National singles chronology
"Lit Up"
"Mistaken for Strangers"
"Apartment Story"

"Lit Up"
"Mistaken for Strangers"
"Apartment Story"

"Mistaken for Strangers" is a song by Brooklyn-based indie rock band The National from their fourth studio album, Boxer. The song was released on April 30, 2007 in the UK and May 1, 2007 in the US as the album's first single.[1]


"Mistaken for Strangers" has received mostly positive reviews from music critics. Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone and Louis Pattison of The Guardian each praised the song as one of Boxer's standout tracks,[2][3] with Pattison adding that the song is "gloomily great."[4] Heather Phares of Allmusic said the song "touches on the side of the band that could be mistaken for a more hopeful Joy Division, if lyrics like 'You wouldn't want an angel watching over you? / Surprise surprise, they wouldn't want to watch' can be counted as hopeful."[5] Dennis Scanland of Music Emissions said it is "an infectingly beautiful upbeat song that is calling out to be the best track this year."[6] Ian Cohen of Stylus Magazine described the song as "corrosive but ingratiating, backing up [vocalist Matt] Berninger's loopy melodies with little more than spiny, corrugated behind-the-bridge picking and brick-solid godbody drumming from Bryan Devendorf."[7]

However, Ted Grant of Playlouder said the song, along with album track "Brainy," features "some especially overbearing stickwork and neo-sing-a-long choruses that don't really suit" the band.[8]

The song's title was also given to the 2013 documentary film Mistaken for Strangers which premiered April 17, 2013 at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The film takes place in 2010 as the band prepares to dive into the international spotlight. The National’s lead singer Matt Berninger invites his brother Tom to join the band on tour for the latter's directorial debut.[9]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Mistaken for Strangers" was filmed in Berninger's Brooklyn apartment, and was released in May 2007.[10] The video was directed by Thread-Count, a collaboration between Berninger's brother Tom, Ryer Banta, and Hope Hall.[11]

In a June 2007 interview with The Scenestar, Matt Berninger explained the video as "very low-budget, without any narrative. No applied story to it. We're really happy with it. That kind of stuff, when it comes to videos, we'd much rather be cinéma vérité and just shooting the band as the band. Not the band on a desert or on a spaceship. That's usually more interesting I think."[12]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Mistaken for Strangers" – 3:31
  2. "Blank Slate" – 3:17
  3. "Santa Clara" – 4:06
UK and US 7" vinyl (BBQ 405)
  1. "Mistaken for Strangers" – 3:31
  2. "Blank Slate" – 3:17


All information adapted from AcclaimedMusic.net.[13]

Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Eye Weekly Canada Singles of the Year[14] 2007 22
Pitchfork Media U.S. Tracks of the Year[15] 2007 77
Rolling Stone U.S. Songs of the Year[16] 2007 92
Slant Magazine U.S. Singles of the Year[17] 2007 47
Hot Press Ireland Singles of the Year[18] 2007 18
97X U.S. The 500 Best Modern Rock Songs of All Time[19] 2009 398
Pitchfork Media U.S. The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s[20] 2009 337


  1. ^ ""Mistaken for Strangers" - Overview". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  2. ^ "Boxer - The National - Review". RollingStone.com. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  3. ^ "Review of The National - Boxer". BBC.co.uk. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  4. ^ "The National - Album Reviews". NME.com. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  5. ^ "Boxer - Review". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  6. ^ "The National - Boxer Review". MusicEmissions.com. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  7. ^ "The National - Boxer - Review". StylusMagazine.com. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  8. ^ "Content: Boxer". Playlouder.com. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  9. ^ "Tribeca Breakdown: "Mistaken For Strangers"". Movie Room Reviews. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  10. ^ "New "Mistaken for Strangers" Video". Stereogum.com. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  11. ^ "The National: Sixeyes Interview with Matt Berninger". Sixeyes Music. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  12. ^ "The Scenestar: Interview: Matt Berninger of The National". The Scenestar. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  13. ^ "Mistaken for Strangers". acclaimedmusic.net. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  14. ^ "Eye Weekly's Singles of 2007". EyeWeekly.com. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  15. ^ "Pitchfork's Top 100 Tracks of 2007". Pitchfork.com. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  16. ^ "Rolling Stone's Top 100 Songs of 2007". RollingStone.com. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  17. ^ "Slant Magazine - 2007: Year in Music". SlantMagazine.com. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  18. ^ "Hot Press - 2007 Critics' Year-End Lists". AcclaimedMusic.net. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  19. ^ "The 2009 WOXY.com Modern Rock 500". woxy.com. Archived from the original on 14 August 2009. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
  20. ^ "The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s". Pitchfork.com. Archived from the original on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2009.

External links[edit]