A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that "Reflektor" is the first single off Canadian indie-rock band Arcade Fire's album of the same name. Sophisticated lyrics about self-perception and digital communication may be too abstract and cerebral for most young kids to understand. However, David Bowie's guest vocals and the song's dancey rhythm and sleek production (courtesy of LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy) may draw a wider audience, including kids, to this single. The groundbreaking video is an ironic twist on the song's wry messages about technology; kids can "participate" by downloading Google Chrome and using their smartphones to affect the visual display of the video. "Reflektor" made headlines for that interactive video, so kids may try to access the needed technology by begging parents for a smartphone or by downloading a Chrome browser.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
REFLEKTOR is Arcade Fire's testament to our detached 21st-century digital world. Through cynical commentary about the impact technology has on many facets of life (from relationships and communication to art and self-perception) while also acknowledging our reliance on and reverence of it, the band weaves a complex, thought-provoking story. Kids will be able to identify with some of the more straightforward lyrics such as "We fell in love, alone on a stage / in the reflective age" and "We're still connected but are we still friends?"
Is it any good?
The sophisticated themes, wry lyrics, tight instrumentation, and restrained production -- not to mention a groundbreaking interactive video -- all serve to make "Reflektor" more than just another dramatic, indie-rock critique of our culture. Arcade Fire's signature overwrought pomposity is part of what drives "Reflektor," but the dancey rhythm and vulnerable lyrical matter keep this song from being too heavy and pretentious. Most listeners will be able to identify with the isolation of our digital lives and the feeling of living in a public sphere ("alone on a stage"); anyone on social media can understand the notion of empty friendships. It's those weighty, immensely timely themes -- and brilliantly executed recording -- that make "Reflektor" a testament to the digital era and a song that can be listened to over and over again.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about indie culture. What does it mean to be "indie"? Why is Arcade Fire considered "indie rock"?
Can you hear David Bowie on this song? Why has Bowie been called the chameleon of rock? What are some of the stylistic and musical phases he's adopted throughout his long career?
"Reflektor" speaks to the negative impact that technology has on relationships, art, and self-perception. Why then do you think the band made both a Google browser and smartphone integral to the video experience?
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