Hard to Explain

"Hard to Explain" is a song by American rock band the Strokes. It was released as the lead single from their debut studio album, Is This It (2001), June 25, 2001. It peaked at number 10 in Ireland and number 16 in the United Kingdom.

"Hard to Explain"
Strokes Hard To Explain single.jpg
Single by The Strokes
from the album Is This It
B-side"New York City Cops"
ReleasedJune 25, 2001 (2001-06-25)
RecordedMarch and April 2001
StudioTransporterraum, New York City
Songwriter(s)Julian Casablancas
Producer(s)Gordon Raphael
The Strokes singles chronology
"Hard to Explain"
"Last Nite"
Australian cover
Music video
"Hard to Explain" on YouTube


The single was voted number 3 on the NME Top 100 songs of the decade. In October 2011, NME placed it at number 36 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[1] Rolling Stone placed the song at number 59 on its list "100 Best Songs of the 2000s."[2] In 2020, The Independent and Paste ranked the song number two and number one, respectively, on their lists of the 20 greatest Strokes songs.[3][4]

Music videoEdit

The music video for this song largely consists of a montage of random stock footage interspersed with images of the band members performing. It was directed by the team of Roman Coppola and Johannes Gamble (as well as an uncredited Julian Casablancas). Footage of The Strokes playing "Take It or Leave It" from MTV2's "Two Dollar Bill" concert is used in the video. Amongst stock footage, the video contains clips from Magnum, P.I. and Knight Rider (both of which are credited), a clip from the film Brainstorm, a commercial for the 1970 Dodge Charger 500 (scene of a woman sitting in a car), a clip from the film WarGames,[5] a less-than-2-second fragment from Emmanuelle ,[6] NASA footage of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in orbit, gameplay of the 1981 Sega arcade game Turbo, the rocket engine firing of the Saturn V and an image of particle tracks in a bubble chamber (which forms the American album cover for Is This It). Some of the stock footage was taken from the film Koyaanisqatsi, directed by Godfrey Reggio, which was presented by Francis Ford Coppola.

Track listingEdit

7-inch vinyl
1."Hard to Explain"3:43
2."New York City Cops"3:30

1."Hard to Explain"3:43
2."New York City Cops"3:30
3."Take It or Leave It" (in LA)3:15
4."Trying Your Luck" (in LA)3:25

Ireland CD
1."Hard to Explain"3:43
2."The Modern Age"3:30
3."Last Nite"3:15
4."When It Started"2:59
5."Take It or Leave It" (live)3:15



Chart performance for "Hard to Explain"
Chart (2001–2002) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[7] 66
Ireland (IRMA)[8] 10
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[9] 56
UK Singles (OCC)[10] 16
US Alternative Airplay (Billboard)[11] 27


  1. ^ "150 Best Tracks Of The Past 15 Years". Nme.Com. 6 October 2011. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  2. ^ "100 Best Songs of the 2000s". Rolling Stone. 17 June 2011.
  3. ^ Beaumont, Mark (April 9, 2020). "The Strokes: 20 best songs, ranked". The Independent. Retrieved April 21, 2022.
  4. ^ "The 20 Best Strokes Songs". Paste. April 9, 2020. Retrieved April 21, 2022.
  5. ^ WarGames (1983) - Trivia - IMDb
  6. ^ "Emmanuelle 1974 (Sylvia Kristel)". YouTube.
  7. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 270.
  8. ^ "Irish-charts.com – Discography The Strokes". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  9. ^ "The Strokes – Hard to Explain". Singles Top 100. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  10. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  11. ^ "The Strokes Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved April 15, 2020.

External linksEdit