The Strokes’ “Reptilia” Lyrics Meaning

The title of this track alludes to, let’s say the base, animal part of the human brain. And the word “reptilia” is never actually mentioned in the lyrics. But the way it has been understood in relation to the featured narrative(s) is that the singer is relying on said part of his psychology as opposed to say reason or emotion. As so the first verse has been deciphered as The Strokes addressing the pop media, a socializing institution which they’ve never been overly interested in interacting with. And the second verse features Julian Casablancas apparently addressing a romantic interest. 

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for The Strokes's Reptilia at

In both cases, what he is seemingly putting forth is this attitude of refusing to capitulate to the other’s demands. Or stated differently, he is allowing the “reptilia”, animal part of his brain to take over. And whereas doing so may be somehow beneficial to his overall wellbeing, counterwise it is not so pleasing to those he is addressing.

Facts about “Reptilia”

This is the second single from “Room on Fire”, The Strokes’ sophomore album. And RCA Records issued it as such on 9 February 2004.

The music video to this track was directed by Jake Scott. And the song itself proved to be a notable success, most impressively breaking the top 20 on the UK Singles Chart and being certified gold in Australia. And overall “Reptilia” is considered by many to be the best song The Strokes ever dropped.

Additionally a phrase from this track is actually where the title of the album, “Room on Fire”, was derived from.

Meanwhile the cover art to the song itself actually originates from the classic 1980 Atari videogame Centipede. And the idea to use such imagery came to Casablancas after he came across the game while visiting the home of Hollywood actress Drew Barrymore.

Cover art of “Reptilia”

And “Reptilia” itself has made an appearance on quite a few notable videogames. For example, it has appeared in a number of titles belonging to the Guitar Hero franchise.

Julian Casablancas, the lead singer of The Strokes, is also the musician who wrote “Reptilia”. And the track was produced by one of the regular early collaborators of the band, Gordon Raphael.

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