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Reflektor (song)

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"Reflektor"
Six people with no faces standing, with "The Reflektors" written sideways to the right.
Single by Arcade Fire
from the album Reflektor
B-side Instrumental (12")
Released September 9, 2013 (2013-09-09)
Format
Recorded
Genre
Length
  • 7:34 (album version)
  • 5:20 (radio edit)
Label
Writer(s) Arcade Fire
Producer(s)
Arcade Fire chronology
"Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)"
(2011)
"Reflektor"
(2013)
"Afterlife"
(2013)

"Reflektor" is a song by Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire. It was released on September 9, 2013, as the first single from the band's fourth studio album, Reflektor (2013). Produced by James Murphy, Markus Dravs and the band itself, the song features a guest vocal appearance by David Bowie and was released on a limited edition 12" vinyl credited to the fictional band The Reflektors. Two music videos were made for the song, one regular and one interactive, both being released on the day of the song's release. "Reflektor" was met with positive reviews, with critics often complimenting its musical approach. It also came second in NME's list of best singles of 2013. The song had a positive commercial performance, charting in several countries.

Background and composition[edit]

The band began working on the track in 2011, with vocalist and guitarist Win Butler noting, "We recorded a little bit in Louisiana with the Haitian percussionists [Willinson Duprate and Verrieux Zile] and we kind of lived with that. It's an incredibly long process."[2] Regular Arcade Fire collaborators Owen Pallett and Colin Stetson provided instrumental parts, alongside English musician David Bowie who provided vocals for the song. Regarding Bowie's guest appearance on the track, multi-instrumentalist Richard Reed Parry noted, "It was just after The Next Day had come out. He basically just came by the studio in New York while we were mixing, just to have a listen to the stuff we were doing. He offered to lend us his services because he really liked the song. In fact, he basically threatened us – he was like, 'If you don't hurry up and mix this song, I might just steal it from you!' So we thought, well why don't we go one better, why don't you sing on our version? Thankfully he obliged, and we were really happy about that."[3]

"Reflektor" is a dance-rock,[4] indie rock,[5] and disco song.[6] The track's lyrical content is, in part, influenced by the differences between Haitian life and that of the Western world, with vocalist and guitarist Win Butler noting, "I think that life [in Haiti] is incredibly difficult and it's more amazing to see people that don't have access to food or clean water throw a party. It's not like I'm trying to sing about their experiences. I was more learning from what I saw and applying it to my own life, lyrically. I'm not trying to tell other people's stories. We're just trying to allow an experience to change you."[2]

Critical reception[edit]

"Reflektor" received critical acclaim from critics. Paste awarded the song a 9.1/10 rating, commenting that the song "pretty much kicks ass".[4] Pitchfork awarded the song the "Best New Track" tag, labeling the song a "sleek, dark disco epic that doesn't belong to the 1970s, '80s, '90s-- or any decade".[6] Rolling Stone praised it, saying "Arcade Fire are the most important band of the last decade, and the music lives up to their universe-affirming mandate. "Reflektor" turns a shared sense of isolation into communion with a sleek, surging track that seamlessly integrates arty rock and diagonal funk, breaking down [Arcade Fire]'s epic sound without scrimping on its essential cathartic thrust."[7] American Songwriter also praised the song saying "All seven-plus minutes of the song feel absolutely vital, even if the arrangement suggests something more hedonistic. It's a neat trick they pulled there."[8] NME placed the song at number two on their "50 Best Tracks of 2013" list, with only Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" finishing above it.[9]

Music video[edit]

A still from the regular "Reflektor" music video, displaying each band member wearing an oversized papier-mâché head.

A music video for "Reflektor" was released on September 9, 2013 through YouTube.[10] It was directed by Anton Corbijn,[10] with art direction done by Anastasia Masaro.[11] The video won the Best Art Direction award at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards.[11] Katie Hasty of HitFix summarized the video, stating that "Corbijn's black-and-white version of the "Reflektor" experience has its own quirks, too, as the band dons oversized papier mache heads like puppet versions of themselves, hunting down the Disco Ball Man and putting the doll versions of themselves in a shiny coffin."[10] An interactive music video was also made available to the public, which was directed by Vincent Morisset. However, it was made only accessible through the web browser Google Chrome. For this video, the user oversees dancer Axelle Munezero's journey through the streets of Haiti.[10]

Packaging[edit]

Artwork[edit]

The single's cover artwork makes no mention of the band's name, and is instead credited to the fictional band The Reflektors. The front cover features a silhouette image band's core members. The album's back cover features a woman touching one of the band's Haitian veve images, used previously in a guerrilla marketing to promote Reflektor's forthcoming release.[12]

Fictional track listing[edit]

The remainder of the 12" vinyl's artwork suggests that it is a full-length album by The Reflektors. A fictional album track listing, inspired by the song's lyrical content, is featured on its back cover.[12]

Track listing[edit]

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Reflektor" 7:42
Side B
No. Title Length
1. "Reflektor" (Instrumental) 7:42

Credits and personnel[edit]

Personnel adapted from the single's liner notes.[1]

Charts[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

"Reflektor" charted in several countries, peaking within the top 20 in Canada and Ireland. The song was the band's highest-charting song in Canada,[13] their home country, and their first song in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart (excluding "Ready to Start" which peaked while in the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart[14]), where it peaked at number 99.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Reflektor" (single liner notes). Arcade Fire. Merge Records / Sonovox Records. 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Doyle, Patrick (October 22, 2013). "Win Butler Reveals Secret Influences Behind Arcade Fire's 'Reflektor'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  3. ^ Bychawski, Adam (September 18, 2013). "David Bowie 'threatened to steal' 'Reflektor' from Arcade Fire". NME. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Deusner, Stephen M. (September 9, 2013). "Arcade Fire - Reflektor". Paste. Retrieved September 23, 2013. 
  5. ^ ""Reflektor" (CD Single) Music Review". Common Sense Media. Retrieved February 13, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b Cohen, Ian (September 9, 2013). "Arcade Fire: "Reflektor"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved February 22, 2016. 
  7. ^ Dolan, Jon. "Jon Dolan's Four-and-a-Half Star Review of Reflektor". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 12, 2013. 
  8. ^ Terich, Jeff. "Arcade Fire, David Bowie Triumph On "Reflektor"". American Songwriter. Retrieved September 12, 2013. 
  9. ^ "NME's 50 Best Tracks Of 2013". NME. November 26, 2013. Retrieved February 20, 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c d Hasty, Katie. "Arcade Fire's new single 'Reflektor' in full: Watch two music videos". HitFix. Retrieved September 12, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Nostro, Lauren (August 24, 2014). "2014 MTV VMA Winners". Complex. Retrieved February 20, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b c "The Reflektors – Reflektor". Discogs. Retrieved February 20, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Arcade Fire – Billboard Canadian Hot 100 chart history". Billboard. Retrieved February 20, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Arcade Fire : Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart search". Billboard. Retrieved March 23, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Arcade Fire – The Hot 100 chart history". Billboard. Retrieved February 20, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Ultratop.be – Arcade Fire – Reflektor" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  17. ^ "Ultratop.be – Arcade Fire – Reflektor" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  18. ^ "Canadian Music: Top 100 Songs Charts : The Week of September 28, 2013". Billboard. Retrieved February 20, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Arcade Fire – Reflektor : Chart search". Billboard. Retrieved February 20, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Lescharts.com – Arcade Fire – Reflektor" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  21. ^ "Chart Track: Week 37, 2013". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  22. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Arcade Fire – Reflektor" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  23. ^ "Arcade Fire: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  24. ^ "Arcade Fire – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Arcade Fire. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  25. ^ "Arcade Fire – Chart history" Billboard Adult Alternative Songs for Arcade Fire. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  26. ^ "Arcade Fire – Chart history" Billboard Alternative Songs for Arcade Fire. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  27. ^ "Arcade Fire – Chart history" Billboard Hot Rock Songs for Arcade Fire. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  28. ^ "Arcade Fire – Chart history" Billboard Rock Airplay for Arcade Fire. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
  29. ^ "Hot Rock Songs: Year End 2013". Billboard. Retrieved December 21, 2014.