Music / The White Stripes

The White Stripes were an Alternative Rock duo consisting of Jack and Meg White. They were founded in Oak Park, Michigan (one of Detroit's smaller northern suburbs) in 1997. In the band's lifetime they released six albums (and a few live albums):
  • The White Stripes (1999)
  • De Stijl (2000)
  • White Blood Cells (2001)
  • Elephant (2003)
  • Get Behind Me Satan (2005)
  • Icky Thump (2007)

The height of their popularity would likely be in 2007-08, around the release of the single "Icky Thump" (their only US Top 40 hit, something they achieved without bothering with pop radio airplay), though the 2003 release of the single "Seven Nation Army" (which reached #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart without crossing over) was a previous peak. In February 2011, in a statement on the band's website, it was announced that the band had disbanded after 14 years of existence.

Jack White has gone on to a successful career in his on right, opening Third Man Studios in Nashville, TN, releasing a solo album in 2012 and running two other bands in the process.

Jack and Meg were married before founding the band, and now consider each other siblings. Meg White remarried in 2009.

The White Stripes provide examples of:

  • Animated Music Video: "Fell in Love with a Girl": stop-motion LEGO animation.
  • Amicably Divorced: An extremely close platonic friendship has evolved out of Jack and Meg's earlier marriage. Meg was the maid of honor at Jack's 2005 marriage to model/musician Karen Elson. Meg and her second husband Jackson Smith were married in Jack White's backyard in 2009.
  • Anti-Love Song: A few of them. Examples include "I'm Finding It Harder to Be a Gentleman", "Fell In Love With a Girl", and "Effect and Cause".
  • Arc Number: The number 3 is a big part of the band's methodology, especially in their image (the red white and black combination) and music (which adheres to three basic elements: melody, rhythm, storytelling).
  • Audience Participation Song: "Seven Nation Army".
  • Author Appeal: As mentioned below, Jack seems to have a thing for redheads, and several of the band's songs make reference to (or are just plain about) sexy red-headed women ("Fell In Love With a Girl", "Take, Take, Take", "300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues", etc.).
  • Badass Boast: These occur in a few of their songs, but "Ball and Biscuit", which is basically 7+ minutes of continual Badass Boasting, particularly stands out: "Right now you could care less about me / but soon enough you will care by the time I'm done."
  • Better as Friends: Luckily, they managed to find this out without breaking up their music duo.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: "Little Ghost".
  • Break-Up Song: Many ("I'm Bound to Pack It Up", "There's No Home For You Here", "Red Rain", "You've Got Her In Your Pocket", "The Denial Twist", "I'm Finding It Harder to Be a Gentleman", etc.) covering the topic from every conceivable emotional angle. Kind of funny when you consider that they were once a couple themselves.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Jack White, non-stop.
  • Chained to a Bed: The music video for "Icky Thump".
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Meg White, who often performed and posed for photos barefoot.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": The lyrics in "The Hardest Button to Button" mention the birth of a baby boy that is named "Baby".
  • Duel of Seduction: "Conquest"
  • Droste Image: The video for "Seven Nation Army".
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Jack and Meg.
  • Epic Rocking: "Ball and Biscuit," clocking in at over seven minutes.
    • "Death Letter" could get quite long, too, when played live.
  • Gainaxing: Meg plays the drums without wearing a bra.
  • Garage Rock: Along with The Hives, they were the Genre Popularizer of it's revival in the early 2000s.
  • Garfunkel: Meg, but she was so modest and shy that she isn't an obnoxious Garfunkel.
  • Gratuitous Panning: The lead guitar in "Hello Operator" stays in the right channel for much of the song. The vocal track in "Take, Take, Take" will occasionally fly between channels at random.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Jack beat the living crap out of Jason Stollsteimer, the lead singer of The Von Bondies, and was forced to take anger management classes.
  • Happily Married: Inverted, into "Happily Divorced".
  • Heavy Meta:
    • "Rag and Bone" is about taking and reusing old stuff no one else wants, a transparent metaphor for Jack White's approach to making music.
    • Jack & Meg consider each other siblings, and pretended to be related when they first gained media attention. Jack claimed this was because he wanted them to focus on the music and not their relationship. John Anthony Gillis changed his name upon marrying Megan Martha White, before they formed the band together.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Jack sang about redheads on a least one song on every album after De Stijl. And then married one.
  • I Am the Band: Many people tend to assume that the White Stripes were Jack White, since he was the sole composer of almost all of their original material, sang lead on most songs, and played all the instruments aside from drums. According to White himself, however, the band is actually an aversion, as he claims that Meg's drumming was the foundation of their sound and a major source of creative inspiration to him.
  • "I Am Becoming" Song: "I'm Slowly Turning Into You".
  • Kayfabe Music: Jack insisted that his and Meg's relationship was that of being the two youngest siblings of ten (note that Jack actually is the youngest of ten kids), and that the idea for the band forming came when Meg began playing on Jack's drumkit in 1997. Jack says that this was to hide the true relationship of them being married (and Amicably Divorced), as he feared people would focus more on the band's relationship than their music.
  • Let's Duet: "This Protector", "Rag and Bone"; "It's True That We Love One Another" is a three-way Call-and-Response Song among Jack, Meg, and English singer Holly Golightly.
  • Letters 2 Numbers: Subtly done with the back cover of Elephant - the E's in the title are actually rendered as backwards 3's.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Limited to white, black, and red.note 
  • Long-Runner Line-up (Logical Extreme): It was just Jack and Meg from formation to split.
  • Love Hurts: A major theme at times; Jack described Elephant as "a concept album about the death of the sweetheart".
  • The Maiden Name Debate: Jack (born John "Jack" Gillis) took Meg's last name when they married and kept it when they divorced.
  • Mind Screw: "St. Andrew (This Battle Is In the Air)".
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Depending on the song, they could vary anywhere from the 1-2 range to the 6-7 range, often on the same album; part of what made the band so critically beloved was their ability to write and perform with equal skill songs that ranged wildly in style, instrumentation, and attitude.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Black Math", "The Air Near My Fingers", "Passive Manipulation", "Instinct Blues", etc. More frequently averted however. On the other hand, all but one of the band's albums (Icky Thump) had a Non-Appearing Title.
  • Notable Music Videos: From the likes of Michel Gondry and Alex And Martin.
  • Ode to Youth: "We're Going To Be Friends"
  • Off the Table: The White Stripes made a music video entirely out of LEGO and stop-motion. Jack White consulted with the LEGO company about having LEGO figures of Meg and himself packaged with the release of the single. LEGO refused, claiming they wouldn't cater to a market other than children. When the video was a hit, LEGO changed their minds, only for Jack to turn around in a fit of anger and refuse.
  • Once per Episode: The word "Little" was used in at least one song in every one of their albums.
  • The Oner: The video for "The Denial Twist".
  • Piss-Take Rap: The song "Icky Thump" has rapid fire singing from Jack White, and the lyrics:
    Who's using who?
    What should we do?
    Well you can't be a pimp
    And a prostitute too.
  • Protest Song: The Stripes had two of these: the first being "The Big Three Killed My Baby" about how much Jack hates the Big Three for killing Detroit. The second is Icky Thump, which focuses on illegal immigration (he thinks it's kind of ridiculous for white Americans to be complaining about it).
  • Retraux: Jack consciously appropriates imagery and music from everything from The Thirties (Robert Johnson, De Stijl), The '50s (portions of Get Behind Me Satan) to The '60s. There is also the Victorian-style video for "Blue Orchid".
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: "There's No Home For You Here", which features a chorus of backing vocals, all by Jack White.
  • Self-Titled Album: "The White Stripes", their debut.
  • Shout-Out: "The Union Forever", from White Blood Cells, is about Citizen Kane. Most of the lyrics are lines from the movie.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: "Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn" and "St. Andrew (This Battle Is In the Air)" from Icky Thump.
  • The Silent Bob: Meg.
  • Single Stanza Song: "Passive Manipulation" and "Little Room".
  • Something Blues: "Instinct Blues", "Catch Hell Blues", "300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues", etc.
  • Something Completely Different: Get Behind Me Satan largely eschewed the band's earlier distortion-heavy blues/punk rock sound in favor of lighter, country-inflected songs featuring piano and marimba; they'd return to their roots on their next and final album Icky Thump however, so the record fell short of being a full-blown New Sound Album.
  • Song Style Shift: Jack has commented that "300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues" was an attempt to write a song that incorporated as many different styles of blues playing as possible; hence its abrupt shifts from gentle, country-style acoustic blues to screeching, up-tempo electric blues and back again.
  • Spoken Word in Music: The beginning of "Little Acorns", the end of "Your Southern Can Is Mine".
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "We're Going To Be Friends", a nostalgic acoustic number about an innocent childhood friendship between a boy and a girl on an album (White Blood Cells) full of passionate, often bitter and angry hard rockers about messy adult relationships between men and women.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Meg sings "In The Cold, Cold Night", "Passive Manipulation", and "St. Andrew".
  • Studio Chatter: The end of "It's True That We Love One Another".
  • Textless Album Cover: White Blood Cells, Elephant, and Get Behind Me Satan.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Their entire philosophy, especially prior to Get Behind Me Satan.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Jack is part Scottish — see Hair-Trigger Temper.
  • Working with the Ex

Alternative Title(s): Meg White