"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.
Jack White says that the song is about a child trying to find his place in a dysfunctional family when a new baby comes.
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. Then, Meg would be filmed performing a single beat on the last drum in the line, which would then be removed; she would move back one 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. 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.
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".
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 Hardest Button to Button" (Jack White)
- "St. Ides of March" (Johnny Walker, Ben Swank)
- "The Hardest Button to Button"
- "St. Ides of March"
- "The Hardest Button to Button" (video)
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 Simpsonstarts 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.