“The Reflex” by Duran Duran

Duran Duran in “The Reflex” use several vague expressions to describe an activity that they don’t seem to have much control over. The first line for instance sums up the fact that it is a repeated activity which has probably been stretched this time round.

In the refrain, the singer appears to acknowledge the fact that there is a risk of either losing or bruising while acting on impulse. This could either refer to losing one’s mind while continuously sniffing drugs, or getting bruised while wh**king off. The chorus and second verse seems to give more clarity to the latter as it symbolizes this reflex as a ‘lonely child’ or the thing that triggers a person to do the unthinkable. In the end, the writer is left more confused by how the reflex works.

Lyrics of "The Reflex"

When was “The Reflex” released?

“Seven and the Ragged Tiger”, which was Duran Duran’s third album, is the name of the project from which this track is derived. It came out as part of said album, via EMI, on 21 November 1983. And later in 1984, “The Reflex” was also issued as the third single from the project.

Duran Duran themselves wanted this track to be the lead single from “Seven and the Ragged Tiger”. However, the label did not approve of that decision due to the fact that certain parts of the song are somewhat unintelligible.

This is the opening track on “Seven and the Ragged Tiger”. And just to note, the “Seven” in the album’s title alludes to the five members of Duran Duran in addition to their two managers, and “the Ragged Tiger” is symbolic of, according to lead singer Simon Le Bon, “fate or luck”.

Writing Credits

Duran Duran members Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and the three Taylors (John, Roger and Nick, all unrelated) wrote “The Reflex”. And collectively they also produced the original version of the track with the following record producers:

  • Ian Little
  • Alex Sadkin

Nile Rodgers’ “The Reflex”

Eventually “The Reflex” did in fact go on to blow up  But this was a remix of the song as put together by Nile Rodgers, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-level producer in his own right. And Rodgers relied heavily on a sampler for this tune back in the days when such technology was brand-new.

One of the major changes Nile Rodgers made to the song, as recounted by Ian Little, was taking the “Black session vocalists… from New York” which the band had brought in to participate on the track and then “(sticking them) right at the front of the song”. And said backup vocalists are named Michelle Cobbs and BJ Nelson.


Duran Duran was a really-happening band during the 1980s, i.e. the early era of MTV. And this track is known as being their most-successful. For instance, it topped both the UK Singles Chart and Billboard Hot 100 – a feat which very few songs are able to accomplish. And for the record it also scored a number one on the following singles charts:

  • US Cash Box Top 100
  • The Eurochart Hot 100
  • Canada Top Singles

In addition to the above, it received a platinum and gold certification in Canada and the US. What this means is that it sold a 100,000 copies in Canada and half a million copies in the United States. It was also honored with the Silver certification in UK for selling a quarter of a million copies there.

Up until today, this classic remains Duran Duran’s most commercially successful song. Actually it holds the distinction of being the band’s first single to reach number on the US Singles chart. This song was responsible for preventing Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” from reaching number 1 in America.

Famous Covers/Parodies

This song was covered by Kylie Minogue in 1999. It has also been parodied by Dave Chappelle (2006) and Weird Al Yankovic (1985).

Music Video

Most of the footage used for this song’s music video was filmed during a performance Duran Duran conducted in Toronto dated 5 March 1984. And the director of the clip was Russell Mulcahy.


The Reflex seemingly describes an uncontrolled yet instant form of adventure the writer cannot control. It is likely a reference to an addictive behavior such as drinking, taking drugs or wh**king off.

2 Responses

  1. D2Fan says:

    In writing credits you list – the three Taylors (John, Roger and Nick, all unrelated) wrote “The Reflex” – you included Nick. You mean Andy Taylor, the lead guitarist. Otherwise, an interesting read.

    Further down you’re missing “number one” on the US chart. Thanks for keeping Duran Duran history alive.

  2. Durand says:

    A lot of early Duran Duran hits were about sexual activity. The Reflex is about getting an erection. It’s not mystical or profound. A bit cryptic and poetic, but it’s just about the male erection.

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