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The Reflex
45 the reflex uk duran 2 poster sleeve duran duran band discography discogs
single by Duran Duran
B-side "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" (Live)
"New Religion" (Live)
Released 16 April 1984 (Worldwide)
21 April 1984 (US)
Recorded 1983
Format 7", 12", CD
Genre New wave, synthpop
Length 5:29 (Album Version)
4:25 (Single Version)
Label Capitol, EMI
Writer(s) Duran Duran
Producer(s) Duran Duran
Ian Little
Alex Sadkin
Duran Duran

"The Reflex" is the eleventh single by Duran Duran, and their most successful, reaching #1 in both the United Kingdom and the United States and #4 in Australia.

It was the third and last to be taken from their third album Seven and the Ragged Tiger, released internationally by Capitol-EMI in April 1984.

About the song[]

The song's lyrics are puzzling to most listeners. Lead vocalist Simon Le Bon said he has no clue what the song means. However, it appears widely accepted to be a song about sex.

The remixes for both the 7" and 12" singles were done by Nile Rodgers, of Chic fame. It was his first work with the band, and he would later go on to produce "The Wild Boys" single as well as the album Notorious (1986) and several tracks on Astronaut (2004).

Producer Ian Little recalls the sound Nick Rhodes came up with on his Roland Jupiter-8 keyboard: "...whenever I hear that steel-drum part it always brings a smile to my face because it's so out of tune. Steel drums always are, but it was exactly right in terms of rhythm and tone. So a wood-block sound was mixed in to make it even more percussive and, Bob's your uncle, it did the job.

Song Development[]

On June 15th 1983. Duran begins five weeks of recording at George Martin's AIR Studios in Montserrat - a small Caribbean island located directly South-West of Antigua, hoping to become more focused. Alex Sadkin was brought in as the head production honcho. The band are finding working conditions in Montserrat difficult. Nick says: "The food was bad. The studio kept falling to bits. The tape machines weren't running at the right speed. I thought the whole place was very shoddy."

John celebrated his 23rd Birthday on June 20th, 1983. During that day, Duran records “The Reflex” with the help of a couple of bottles of John's birthday champagne. The song is said to be about "popping one's cork".

The band left Montserrat on July 18th. Titles for songs on the new album are: Union of the Snake, The Reflex, Cut loose, Spidermouse, Madagaska, and Seven and the Ragged Tiger. On July 25th, the band returns to Montserrat for another month of recording. It is Hurricane season, and they only get one more "useful" song.

7" Remix - Produced by Nile Rodgers[]

In February of 1984, the band were in the midst of their most crazy tour of Canada and North America. After the release of New Moon on Monday in January, the record execs were keen to have a new single out during that tour. Nile Rodgers was chosen to remix The Reflex for release in mid April. Nile was riding high on production work for David Bowie Let’s Dance, and the band approached Rodgers to remix The Reflex after hearing his reworking of INXS’s Original Sin. At this time, the band were too busy with touring, and “The madness was always a micron below the surface,” a struggling John Taylor said. Founding member and keyboardist Nick Rhodes would describe the lengthy Sing Blue Silver tour as a “golden cage”. “There were always hundreds and hundreds of people outside… I can say that I am very familiar with the kitchens of the world’s hotels,” he remarked.

In Steve Malins’ Duran Duran biography, Notorious, Nile Rodgers recalled, “I got the track and listened to it, and I picked up on this obvious little hook thing – ‘tra-la-la-la, tra-la-la-la’. I went, ‘Wow, that’s the record, I could make a loop out of that.’ And then I came up with the ‘Fle-fle-fle’. I sent it to the guys; they thought it was fantastic.” [1]

There is a story here, often told by the band, where they say they thought their tape machines were broken the first time they heard the ‘Fle-fle-fle’ sample. Nick apparently spent ages trying to work out why their tape machine was broken, and then they decided to go out to John's car, and play the music on his car radio, in order to check the tape. This story seems unlikely unless the remix was created much sooner, before the tour.

The positive reception wasn’t universal. Rodgers recalls Nick Rhodes calling him from Duran Duran’s tour bus during the tour to say that executives at the band’s US label, Capitol, had concerns. “I still remember the sorrow in Nick Rhodes’ voice,” said Rodgers. “[He said] ‘Nile, we’ve submitted it to the record company, and they hate it – they say you’ve made us sound too Black.’” [2]

Music video[]

The video for "The Reflex 7' Remix" was shot during The Sing Blue Silver Tour at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, on 5 March 1984. Director Russell Mulcahy filmed some of the closeup footage in the indoor arena that afternoon, and the rest was filmed live during that evening's concert.

"The Reflex" is primarily a concert video, accurately portraying Duran Duran's Sing Blue Silver tour performance style (perhaps with a little more hair spray and a little less sweat than usual). However, in keeping with the band's insistence that their videos "never be ordinary", the video screen above the stage displayed bits of naked models wearing collars and chains illuminated with black light, occasionally interrupted by computerized video white noise. At one point, a waterfall appears to pour out of the video screen above the stage to soak the audience. The computer graphics used to achieve this were cutting edge at the time, but rapid advancement in the field quickly made the effect look dated.

Mulcahy found it challenging to edit the video to match the jumpy fast-and-slow edits in the Nile Rodgers remix of the single. For the instrumental break in the middle of the song, he had to do some video "scratching" with Simon Le Bon's silhouette.

Keyboard enthusiasts have taken special note of the Fairlight CMI (the first digital sampling synthesiser) that Nick Rhodes operated with a light pen in this video, and throughout the tour.

B-sides, bonus tracks and remixes[]

The live B-side "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" is a cover of a Cockney Rebel song, recorded on 16 November 1982 at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, with lead Rebel Steve Harley joining the band onstage.

A second live B-side, "New Religion", was recorded on 7 February 1984 at The Forum in Los Angeles. This is not the same live version that appears on the Arena album.

Covers, samples, & media references[]

Cover versions have been recorded by Less than Jake and the duo of Kylie Minogue and Ben Lee. This version was released on The Songs of Duran Duran UnDone.

The song has also been featured in the soundtracks for the movies American Wedding (2003) and Corky Romano (2001), as well as an episode of the 2002 television series That '80's Show in which bassist John Taylor made a guest appearance.

The song was referenced by Dave Chappelle in one of his skits that aired on The Lost Episodes.

The song was featured in the 2440th episode of the British soap Coronation Street from 20th August 1984.

Chart positions[]

In its heavily remixed form, "The Reflex" was the band's second single to reach number one the UK singles chart, after "Is There Something I Should Know?" in 1983, and it would be their last #1 song there. It was preceded at number one by "Hello" by Lionel Richie and followed by "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" by Wham!

The song was also the band's first single to hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 (for two weeks) on 23 June 1984. It was preceded at number one by "Time after Time" by Cyndi Lauper, and followed by "When Doves Cry" by Prince.

Track listing[]

"The Reflex" was the second Duran Duran single to feature a vanity catalogue number in the UK, DURAN 2.

7": EMI DURAN 2 (UK)

  1. "The Reflex" (7" Version) - 4:20
  2. "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" (Live) - 4:54

12": EMI 12 DURAN 2 (UK)

  1. "The Reflex" (Dance Mix) - 6:35
  2. "The Reflex" (7" Version) - 4:20
  3. "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" (Live) - 4:54

7": Capitol B-5345 (US)

  1. "The Reflex" (The Dance Mix - Edited) - 4:25
  2. "New Religion" (Live in L.A.) - 4:52

CD: Part of the "Singles Box Set 1981-1985"

  1. "The Reflex" (7" Version) - 4:20
  2. "Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" (Live) - 4:54
  3. "The Reflex" (Dance Mix) - 6:35


  • The Dance Mix - Edited and 7" version are the same mixes.

Other appearances[]

Apart from the single, "The Reflex" has also appeared on:




Duran Duran are:

Also credited:


(na-Na) (Da-Na-na-na) The-The-The-The The Reflex.
(Da-Na-na-na) The Reflex
(Da-Na-na-na) The Reflex
(Da-Na-na-na) The Reflex
Flec-Flec Flec-Flec Flex!

You've gone too far this time
But I'm dancing on the valentine.
I tell you somebody's fooling around -
With my chances on the danger line.
I'll cross that bridge when I find it -
Another day to make my stand, Oh-oh.
High time is no time for deciding -
If I should find a helping hand. Oh-oh.

  (So) why don't you use it?
  Try not to bruise it
  Buy time don't lose it

  So why don't you use it?
  Try not to bruise it
  Buy time don't lose it

  The reflex, is an only child, he's waiting by the park
  The reflex, is in charge of finding, treasure in the dark
  And watching, over lucky clover, isn't that bizarre
  Every little thing the reflex does
  Leaves you answered with a question mark.

I'm on a ride and I want to get off -
But they won't slow down the roundabout.
I sold the Renoir and the TV set -
Don't want to be around when this gets out


  So why don't you use it?
  Try not to bruise it
  Buy time don't lose it

  Why-ya ya-ya ya, wa wa, Why-ya-ya
  Why-ya ya-ya ya, wa wa, Why-ya-ya
  Why-ya ya-ya ya, don't you use it.

  The reflex, is an only child, he's waiting in the park
  The reflex, is in charge of finding, treasure in the dark
  And watching, over lucky clover, isn't that bizarre
  Every little thing the reflex does
  Leaves an answer with a question mark.

  So why-ya ya-ya ya - don't you use it? 


  The reflex, is an only child, he's waiting by the park
  The reflex, is in charge of finding, treasure in the dark
  And watching, over lucky clover, isn't that bizarre
  Every little thing the reflex does
  Leaves me answered with a question mark.

Ahh the reflex, what a game - he's hiding all the cards
The reflex, is in charge of finding, treasure in the dark
And watching (Uh!), over lucky clover, isn't that bizarre
Every little thing the reflex does
Leaves you answered with a question mark.

See also[]

Simon Le BonNick RhodesJohn TaylorRoger Taylor
Andy TaylorWarren CuccurulloSterling Campbell

Duran DuranRioSeven and the Ragged TigerArenaNotoriousBig ThingLibertyDuran Duran (The Wedding Album)Thank YouMedazzalandPop TrashAstronautRed Carpet MassacreAll You Need Is NowPaper GodsFuture PastDanse Macabre


CarnivalDecade: Greatest HitsGreatestNight Versions: The Essential Duran DuranStrange BehaviourSingles Box Set 1981-1985Singles Box Set 1986-1995From Mediterranea With Love


"Planet Earth" • "Careless Memories" • "Girls on Film" • "My Own Way" • "Hungry Like the Wolf" • "Save a Prayer" • "Rio"• "Is There Something I Should Know?" • "Union of the Snake" • "New Moon on Monday" • "The Reflex" • "The Wild Boys" • "A View to a Kill" • "Notorious" • "Skin Trade" • "Meet El Presidente" • "I Don't Want Your Love" • "All She Wants Is" • "Do You Believe in Shame?" • "Burning the Ground" • "Violence of Summer (Love's Taking Over)" • "Serious" • "Ordinary World" • "Come Undone" • "Too Much Information" • "Perfect Day" • "White Lines" • "Out of My Mind" • "Electric Barbarella" • "Someone Else Not Me" • "(Reach Up for The) Sunrise" • "What Happens Tomorrow" • "Nice" • "Falling Down • "All You Need Is Now • "Girl Panic! • "Leave A Light On • "Pressure Off" • "Five Years" • "Invisible" • "More Joy" • "Anniversary" • "Tonight United" • "Give It All Up " • "Danse Macabre" • "Black Moonlight"

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