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Stress (song)

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Song by Justice
from the album Cross
Released11 June 2007
Recorded2005–2006 in Paris
GenreElectro house
  • Gaspard Augé
  • Xavier de Rosnay
  • Gaspard Augé
  • Xavier de Rosnay

"Stress" is a song by French electronic music duo Justice, the tenth track on their debut studio album Cross. A music video for the song, directed by Romain Gavras, was released on 1 May 2008 through the website of American rapper Kanye West. The video, which was subject to severe criticism, is notable for its extremely controversial content, which includes scenes of young teenagers committing acts of gang violence across Paris. The song itself received positive reviews from critics.



"Stress" is an electro house song that lasts a duration of four minutes and fifty-nine seconds.[1] The track contains samples of "Night on Disco Mountain" by David Shire.[2] In a Maxim interview, Xavier de Rosnay of Justice commented that the song was mixed in such a way that it could be an unpleasant listen and "almost give you a headache."[3]

Critical reception


Despite the criticism and controversy surrounding its accompanying music video, the song itself received positive reviews from critics. Thomas Gorton of Dazed called "Stress" a "brilliant tune".[4] Sarah Boden labeled the song as a highlight from Cross, saying that the song "may be the most claustrophobic club pounder you've ever encountered," and that "its piercing, incessant strings are married to a shuffling beat; think Psycho's Norman Bates doing the moonwalk."[5] Evan Sawdey of PopMatters compared the song's horror and Halloween-esque style to that of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and commented that "'Stress' opens like a double-time horror movie theme, all stabbing strings and John Carpenter undertones slowly co-existing before transforming into a Halloween party ass-shaker of the highest order".[6]

Music video


The film was never intended as a stigmatisation of the banlieue, nor an incitation to violence, nor above all, as an underhanded way to deliver a racist message. From the beginning, Stress was meant to be a clip unairable on television for a track unairable on the radio and we have refused any television broadcast of the clip, so as to impose it on no one.


The music video for "Stress" was originally uploaded to the website of American rapper Kanye West on 1 May 2008.[7] It was uploaded to YouTube shortly afterwards. Lasting nearly seven minutes, it was directed by Romain Gavras and shot in 16mm film in Paris.[7][8]

The video is centered on young, mostly black Parisian teenagers who go about the city and commit acts of gang violence;[7][9] de Rosnay himself described the video as "seven minutes of pure violence in a way people are not used to seeing".[8] During the video, they violently harass civilians in public, vandalize property, and also jack a vehicle and set it ablaze afterward.



The video received heavy criticism, resulting in immediate backlash from the public[7] and a ban from French television.[10] The video was criticized as racist.[7][9] In response to this criticism, Gaspard Augé of Justice said "We were expecting some fuss obviously, but definitely not on those topics... If people see racism in the video, it's definitely because they might have a problem with racism; because all they see is black people beating up white people, which is not what's happening in the video."[11]

In an interview with Fact in 2016, de Rosnay noted that the National Front and anti-racist organizations both threatened to sue the duo over the video after its release.[8] The video was named as one of the most controversial music videos of all time by both Dazed and NME.[4][9] Daniel Kreps of Rolling Stone compared the video to events of the Grand Theft Auto video game series, which is notable for containing events of violence similar to the ones in the music video for "Stress".[12] Jeffrey T. Iverson of Time also compared the video to the films La Haine, Man Bites Dog, and A Clockwork Orange, all of which feature similar events of violence as well.[7] Complex was less critical of the music video and awarded it the number 2 spot on their "100 Best Music Videos of the 2000s" list, commenting that "the images are so arresting that you can't look away for even a second."[10]

Usage in media


The song was later featured on the soundtrack for the video game NBA 2K13, which was curated by American rapper Jay-Z.[13] It would be later be added to Grand Theft Auto Online to the radio station MOTOMAMI Los Santos, curated by Spanish singer Rosalía, as part of the DLC The Contract in 2021. It was also heard in the trailer for the fourth season of Rick and Morty, along with Genesis, another track from Cross.


  1. ^ "Black Friday Footage Cut With Electro House Looks Like The End Of The World". Ministry of Sound. 26 November 2015. Archived from the original on 30 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  2. ^ Cross (album liner notes). Justice. Ed Banger Records; Because Music. 2007.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  3. ^ Freeman, Thomas (16 November 2016). "Justice on How Women Inspire Their Music, Their New Album and What They Think of Diplo". Maxim. Archived from the original on 18 November 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Gorton, Thomas (August 2015). "The most controversial music videos of all time". Dazed. Archived from the original on 8 April 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  5. ^ Boden, Sarah (19 May 2007). "CD: Justice, †". The Observer. Archived from the original on 15 June 2022. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  6. ^ Sawdey, Evan (1 July 2007). "Justice: Cross". PopMatters. Archived from the original on 10 April 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Iverson, Jeffrey T. (18 May 2008). "Uproar Over French Music Video". Time. Archived from the original on 7 April 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  8. ^ a b c Allen, Jeremy (13 October 2016). "Sex, sci-fi and slap bass: How Justice made their perfect Woman". Fact. Archived from the original on 9 May 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  9. ^ a b c "20 Of The Most Controversial Music Videos Ever". NME. Archived from the original on 6 April 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  10. ^ a b "2. Justice "Stress" – The 100 Best Music Videos of the 2000s". Complex. 12 December 2011. Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  11. ^ "A Cross The Universe: Justice Interviewed". The Quietus. 28 October 2008. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  12. ^ Kreps, Daniel (2 May 2008). "Kanye Debuts New Video for Justice's "Stress"". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 12 April 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  13. ^ Greenwald, David (31 July 2012). "Jay-Z Scores U2, Kanye West for 'NBA 2K13' Soundtrack". Billboard. Archived from the original on 1 April 2019. Retrieved 29 March 2016.