“The Reflex” is the eleventh single by Duran Duran, released worldwide on 16 April 1984. The song was heavily remixed for single release and was the third and last to be taken from their third album Seven and the Ragged Tiger.
“The Reflex” became the band’s most successful single. It was their second single to top the UK singles chart, after “Is There Something I Should Know?” in 1983, topping the chart on 5 May, and would prove to be their last UK #1. The single entered the charts in America on 21 April 1984 at #46, became Duran Duran’s first of two singles to hit #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 (for 2 weeks) on 23 June 1984 (see 1984 in music), and was a huge hit internationally. (Their only other single to hit #1 in the US was the title song to the James Bond film “A View to a Kill”.) It was also the first of two songs that kept “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen out of the top spot, (The other one being Prince’s “When Doves Cry”). The band wanted it to be the lead single from Seven and the Ragged Tiger, but their label didn’t like the warbling singing during the “why don’t you use it” segments, thinking this would hinder its success as a stand-alone single track.
The remixes for both the 7″ and 12″ singles were created 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 recalled 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, successfully, it did the job.”
The video for “The Reflex” 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. 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 typical at the time, but rapid advancement in the field quickly made the effect look dated.
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.
Some symbolic scenes from the official video were taken and later mixed with the alternate version shown in the band’s concert film Arena (An Absurd Notion); in the final segment when the band, the crowd and even the fans undertake the final and crucial battle against the evil Dr. Durand Durand.