Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)

Album: We (2022)
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Songfacts®:

  • A decade after Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler married fellow band member Régine Chassagne, their first child, Edwin, was born on April 21, 2013. "Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)," is a lullaby for these difficult times sung by the couple to both their son and the wider world.
  • The song originated with Win Butler thinking about Edwin, the world he's facing, and how Win was an extremely depressed child. "And it was just like, 'Man, he's going to need to have thick skin and to just really be able to take a hit and have some fortitude," he told Apple Music. "I was just sort of thinking about that and just trying to sing to him in the future, or to his kids even."

    "The idea of unconditional love - which is this impossible thing to achieve, but we do it naturally somehow - is loving someone despite what they do or despite what job they have or how successful they are," Butler continued. "It's just something that supersedes it and it's something that, I think, we naturally have with our kids. But I think it's something that we're supposed to have for people that we're not related to as well."
  • Arcade Fire debuted "Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)" at Coachella 2022 when they played a secret set at the California festival on April 15, 2022. Before playing the song, Win Butler dedicated it to Edwin. After singing the opening line, "Look out kid, trust your heart," Butler stopped, wiped his eyes, and told the crowd, "It's been a hard f---ing year," before starting again.
  • Arcade Fire released this song as their second single from WE. The album comprises two parts; the opening side is about isolation, and the second half, reconnection. This song, which appears on the second side, relates to the album's overall theme of reconnecting with each other after an extended period of isolation.

    "There's nothing saccharine about unconditional love in a world that is coming apart at the seams. WE need each other, in all of our imperfection," Win Butler said of the track. "WE need each other, in all of our imperfection."
  • The second part, "Unconditional II (Race and Religion)," follows this song on WE.
  • Win Butler and Régine Chassagne started writing WE in New Orleans, where they were separated from the rest of the band because of lockdown. Six months later, the couple reunited with the rest of Arcade Fire and WE started coming together. The indie-rock collective recorded the record with producer Nigel Godrich in New Orleans, El Paso, and Mount Desert Island in Maine. "Every night, I would grill food and we would sit around the fire and play songs," Butler told the Montreal Gazette. "It was a very uncertain but beautiful time."
  • Besides Arcade Fire, the other musicians are:

    Andre Michot: accordion, fiddle, clapping
    Louis Michot: fiddle
    Matt Thody: violin
    Harry Harding: violin
    Helen Gillet: cello
    Owen Pallet: viola
    Orlando Primo: congas
  • Win Butler explored hundreds of different beats with Arcade Fire drummer Jeremy Gara before arriving at this song and other WE tracks.

    Back in 2020, Gara told Butler he was passing through his neighborhood and was down to do some recording. At that time, Arcade Fire didn't have any songs written, but he didn't want to waste the opportunity of a couple of days with his drummer. "So I had this idea to basically, I took like maybe a hundred songs that I love and had Jeremy just play. Like I would play them to him and have him sort of play his own version, use that as a jumping off point just for different rhythms and stuff," he told Apple Music. "Other people's songs, just hundreds and hundreds of songs like Sueto's songs, like different Latin songs, like disco, punk music. There's like some Nirvana, there's different things were just like, I like the drums. And I basically made like almost a rhythm box of Jeremy, just playing hundreds and hundreds of different beats so I could actually, instead of writing to a drum machine, I could actually write with my drummer. Just so it actually has a feel."
  • Arcade Fire played this during their fifth appearance on Saturday Night Live. They also performed "The Lightning I, II" on the show.
  • American filmmaker Benh Zeitlin directed the video, centering it on inflatable tube dancers. "There's so many precarious things in the world and so much to have anxiety about, but I've been trying to really appreciate these moments when I'm in them," Win Butler told NME. "When the world is a beautiful place, I'm trying to allow myself to appreciate it in a way that I wouldn't have before."

    Butler added: "The concept of the video for 'Lookout Kid' is that one of those tube men is depressed and their whole family is happy around them."
  • The song became Arcade Fire's second #1 Billboard's Adult Alternative Airplay chart, following "Everything Now" in 2017.

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