Ms. MoJo’s Top 10 Duran DUran Songs

Are you familiar with the YouTube channel Ms.Mojo? It is a channel that likes to have countdowns of pretty much everything pop culture. I have seen it pop up most often when it comes to TV shows, movies or actors but the other day YouTube recommended the Top 10 Duran Duran songs. Well, then. I’m a sucker for Top 10 lists, especially when it comes to Duran so I figured I would give it a try. Unsurprisingly, I had some opinions about the choices.

Before I dive into the choices, I do appreciate that the channel not only counts down from 10 but also includes honorable mentions and some information about the song. In this case, they made the list based on “fan favorites” and commercial success. I wish I knew what they meant by fan favorites. Who did they ask? I suspect that the responses might be different if they questioned the readers of this blog, for example. On that note, let’s begin.

Honorable Mentions

The honorable mentions were New Religion, Notorious, Out of my Mind, The Chauffeur, and Union of the Snake. Overall, I thought the honorable mentions were solid. In particular, I was pleased to see Out of my Mind on the list because there are so many albums and songs from the less popular eras that get ignored but should not.

Number 10: Planet Earth

The argument here is that the song showcased both the combination of new wave and synth pop. It was also a Top 20 UK hit. It is my personal favorite song so I’m glad that it is on the list.

Number 9: Come Undone

Ms.Mojo referred to Come Undone as an alternative rock sound with male and female vocals. Of course, it also did well commercially. Now, you all know that I’m not the biggest fan of this song but I was not surprised that this made the list.

Number 8: A View to a Kill

This song will almost always be featured on top 10 lists like this forever due to being the only number one James Bond theme song. The channel described the song as a mix between rock and new wave. This was a song that I loved as a kid but have not loved as much as I have gotten older.

Number 7: Ordinary World

I would have been shocked if this wasn’t on the list. It is probably one of the Duran’s most well-known songs. While there are times that I am tired of the song, I cannot deny the quality.

Number 6: Wild Boys

Honestly, I was surprised that this one made the list. While I think it is fun live, it doesn’t tend to grab critical acclaim.

Number 5: The Reflex

Like Ordinary World, this song will always be on lists like this because it was their first number one song. I thought it was interesting that they mentioned how it was a layered track.

Number 4: Girls on Film

After mentioning that this is a new wave dance song, the rest of the focus was on the video. As we all know, there are two versions, a clean one and a x-rated version. They mentioned that there was some BDSM in the naughty version. Hmm…really?

Number 3: Rio


According to Ms. Mojo, the song represents the 80s with the video and the “driving bassline and synthesize hooks”. This one really is a fan favorite that is also well-known to the general public.

Number 2: Save a Prayer

I love how this song was described as creating an atmosphere of taking a journey to a foreign and beautiful place. I completely agree. I would have a hard time arguing against this one.

Number 1: Hungry Like the Wolf

As I watched the video of this countdown, I realized that HLTW would be the number one song before this video popped up. My reaction, “Oh geez.” The channel explained that the song was the one to put the band on the map in terms of commercial success and it shows the band’s musical chemistry. I suppose all of that is true.

So, what do the rest of you think? Is this a good list? Would you make some changes? If you look at the comments, there were lots of songs mentioned that could have been included but weren’t, including New Moon on Monday and Is There Something I Should Know? I get why they chose what they did but, obviously, I would not have used the commercial success to determine the list.

-A

When I Should Be Feeling Just Right

Have you ever thought what it would have been like to be Duran Duran in 1982? 1984? What would life have been like to be so popular that there was mass hysteria from fans wherever you went? What was it like to have press and the media following you around all of the time? What about a schedule that just didn’t stop? From what I have heard/read, they didn’t get a lot of sleep and certainly didn’t get many days off.

When I was younger, the idea of having an intense life like that appealed to me. I remember thinking in college about how I would do better and be more successful if I found that one thing to focus on. After all, I grew up reading about how passionate Duran Duran was about their career and how that translated to success. My goodness, who hasn’t heard the story about how John and Nick mapped it out in that they would be playing Hammersmith by 1982, Wembly by 1983 and Madison Square Garden by 1984. I looked up to this goal-setting, this focus, and certainly the work ethic I saw. Internalizing that, I believed that this is how success is made.

Then, of course, as the years have gone on, I don’t see quite the same level of intensity. The band does not work seven days a week for 52 weeks a year. No, they take more breaks than they did in 1982 or 1984. I know that this bothers some fans. Heck, it has bothered me before. I remember the time in between All You Need Is Now and Paper Gods in which I wrote countless blogs about how the band needs to hurry up, get to work and get some new music out there. I wasn’t saying that to be a jerk. No, it came from my love for the band. I figured two things. One, if they hurried up, they would have a better chance to capitalize on the momentum they had created with AYNIN. Two, that extreme work ethic proved successful in the past so why wouldn’t it now? Whenever blog posts like that were written, there would always be push-back as people didn’t see the urgency that I felt at the time. Interestingly enough, when people disagreed with me, the reasoning had to do, most of the time, with the idea that you cannot rush art. They need time to create. Very few people commented about how they deserve to *not* have to work all the flipping time.

I admit that I never really considered that side of the argument then. I struggled to see the big picture because I was so emotionally invested. My desire to continue the wave we were on with AYNIN shut out other considerations. Now, though, I see things differently.

As most of you know, ’tis the season for going back to school. In Madison, the kids return the day after Labor Day. Typically, this would mean that this week and next would be spent getting one’s classroom ready, including setting up, planning lessons, etc. This year, though, I have been at work every single day for the past two weeks. Is my classroom ready? No. What about my lessons? Ha. That’s funny. Nope. No way. Instead of all that, I have been busy working on a number of committees. One is to plan special sessions for our incoming 9th graders on their first day. That will be completely over soon. Another one is to implement a new plan, policy and procedure for students late to class. The bulk of the work for that is almost done. The last few are ongoing committees that will meet periodically. While I’m proud of the work that has been done, it has been rather intense or extreme.

The meetings have been mentally exhausting leaving me with little energy or brain power to get anything else done. Then, I have had plans in the evening all week. Many of those are fun but added to my current workload leaves me with little down time and precious few minutes to do anything else that I want or need to do. In the past, I have accepted some of this as the normal path to success. After all, Duran Duran lived and breathed their work for years and it equaled big time success. Heck, I have even been known to seek out more vigorous work with campaigns. Right now, though, I see and feel things differently. I would love a little less extreme. There should be time to do what must be done for work without giving up time to work on our research project or time to get my household chores done.

I have no doubt that the amazing work ethic and extreme focus helped Duran Duran in the early 1980s. I don’t question how it has also led me into success at my jobs. Now, though, I long for a happy medium, a nice balance. I cannot criticize how Duran Duran worked on Paper Gods or the current project as I feel like I get it in a different way now. Intensity is not always the way to go. On that note, I’m off to work for another meeting. I kid you not.

-A

In the Magazine

Lately, I’ve had to be in my car a bit more often than normal. In an effort to reduce the sheer monotony as I make way up and over the Cuesta Grade, I’ve become addicted to Audible. It turns out that I love listening to books as much as I love reading them – and just as I find library books that I can’t put down, I have the same trouble with Audible.

The books I listen to on Audible are typically beach reads, or books that I can quickly “escape” within the pages…or words, so to speak. Authors like Lauren Weisberger, Elin Hilderbrand, or even Danielle Steele (oh yes, I even read her) are on my list of “go-to” listens for in the car. As opposed to the research books I have at home in my library or in my Kindle app, they’re a welcome respite. I don’t expect to hear much about fandom, which is why today’s topic is unusual.

Keeps me hanging on

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I was young—and by young I mean anywhere from the ages of 12 to about yesterday— I wondered what it might be like to be married to a rock star. You know, someone in Duran Duran. Huge fantasy, right? I mean, even if you’ve grown out of it, or like me, you’ve been married for a hundred years, you still think about what it must be like. There are moments when I’m cleaning up the kitchen for about the fourth time that day, or taking out the trash (when I’ve already asked that it be taken out twice), or as I’m making the bed even though I was the first one up on and out (is it really that difficult to pull up a comforter and straighten a pillow???) that I fantasize about what it must be like.

Surely JOHN wouldn’t leave crumbs on the counter, right??? Simon would absolutely take out the trash when asked – the first time! Roger seems like the type to not only throw the comforter on straight, but maybe he’d even take time to smooth the sheets! Nick…well, Nick would probably teach me how to make my eyes pop just “so”. I can’t be mad at that.

Ok, maybe not…but in my fantasies? I’m going with a definite YES.

Shocking colour on the page

Never once in those fantasies, do I ever consider what the cost of being famous might really include. I’m sure all of us have stood in line at our grocery store, and while unloading the cart or waiting for the person in front of us to pay and leave, our eyes wander over the covers of the tabloids, brightly displayed at just the right level so that you can’t miss them. Elvis Lives….Aliens Invade Nevada City….<Insert famous couple here> Split! The headlines are everywhere. Most of them seemingly too “out there” to believe, but the magazines obviously sell. People want to know the nitty-gritty.

That tabloid fodder has to come from somewhere, and the most likely, at least when it comes to celebrities, are from paparazzi. I never really think about it, probably because my life is so much the opposite. I live on a winding, private road in a semi-rural, very middle-class, community. Our “big event” of the year is Crusin’ Weekend – where we gather and sit on the sidewalks on El Camino Real (it is our largest street) and watch old cars cruise up and down the boulevard. I’m not kidding. It’s the opposite of Hollywood and Southern California in every single way, and I love it. I have no idea what it might be like to not only be chased by paparazzi, but be stalked by them, as a hunter my lay in wait for prey.

Currently, I’m listening to a book named Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger. The premise is that a woman is married to a struggling musician who becomes signed to Sony, and becomes the next big thing. His first album goes platinum after four weeks, and so on. They go from living a quiet, private, life to fame, and the trappings that go along, including being followed by paparazzi. The plot thickens as the rock star is photographed in compromising positions, and his wife is fired from the job she loves, all because of her husband’s celebrity status.

Dare you not to notice

At various points throughout the book, I couldn’t help but think of Duran Duran. We fans can be fairly nasty to one another. Calling each other stalkers, or groupies…whatever name we can come up with that does the double duty of being an insult as well as policing our own fan-boundaries. As if those women waiting in the lobby, or trying to sneak in through side doors are the band’s only problems. What many of us fail to acknowledge is that for the band, not only do they have to deal with all of us (and let’s face it, that should probably be more than enough for anyone!), they have to deal with paparazzi and the overall lack-of-privacy. I know it isn’t something I think about very often.

The book describes the couple going on a trip to a quiet town and they head to breakfast. Neither of them is dressed nice – they’re on vacation and are new to the celebrity game. The next thing they know, photographers have pressed themselves to the windows, taking as many pictures as possible. It isn’t just the photos, either. Stories run in the tabloids that are outlandish, but with just enough truth to them to make the couple uncomfortable. Who can they trust? Anyone? No one?

While the book is clearly fiction – it is also obvious to see that it is based on something very real. It is a side of fame and celebrity to which few of us are privy. I know I’ve never really sat and thought about how it must really be to have no privacy, and to have to worry about not only what is printed – but “staying on message” and “mitigating damage”. Watching every word uttered for the greater good of the brand, rather than defending yourself.

Ick.

(Obviously I would not be very good at much of that. Let’s just be honest.)

Hard to escape when your head is stuck in the vice

We (and by “we” I obviously mean “I”….) wonder sometimes why Simon, John, Nick and Roger are hardly seen “out and about” these days. I think you know what I mean – after the shows – and that sort of thing. Fans aren’t THAT horrible, are we?

(definitely a rhetorical question…no need to answer)

It’s the collective. It’s not just about one of us, or a hundred of us for that matter. It isn’t all the people who are only there to see, meet and mingle…but also those looking for a story, even if they’ve got to create one. And perhaps there aren’t so many of those as there were back in the 80s and 90s — I honestly don’t know, but I do have to imagine that after living through all of that, why would someone want to invite it? I know I wouldn’t.

Sure, I’ll let myself think about the sheer fantasy of living the rock star life every once in a while…but I’ll also be thinking of all the reasons why I’m grateful I don’t. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go clean my kitchen, take out the trash, and make a few beds.

-R

Back to the Sugar Shack: Liberty Turns 29

Another Duraniversary popped up this week on the socials. Has it really been twenty-nine years since Liberty arrived, somewhat uncomfortably, in our lives? Often dismissed as the band’s worst album, it was a difficult album for me to grasp upon its release. The 80s were over, that much was clear and where the new decade was headed remained unclear. Caught between decades, Duran Duran’s Liberty remains an important piece of the band’s history, and might even be a more consistent listen than the commercial juggernaut that followed it.

As far as album openers go, Duran Duran has done far worse than “Violence of Summer (Love’s Taking Over)”, and it made for an effervescent first single. The 12” single was a wonderful introduction to the band’s new direction. The artwork and the video clicked for me, and I was excited about the album. Ultimately, it never wormed its way into my bloodstream like previous albums had. Some of this was the new decade and exciting new bands arriving on the scene. However, Duran Duran also bears some responsibility for putting forth an album where insecurity and over-confidence lock horns.

Overconfidence or insecurity?

The over-confidence comes through in the guitars of Warren Cuccurullo and the lyrics of Simon LeBon. Playing against the melody, as if to prove a point, Cuccurullo’s work disrupts the otherwise perfectly pleasant “Liberty” while LeBon’s socially charged lyrics on “Hothead” are all a bit silly coming from a band that capitalized on the decade of excess better than most. While the band revisits that sentiment a bit on “Too Much Information”, the song rocks so hard that I give them the benefit of the doubt. A cola company is sponsoring the war? Well, they also sponsored your biggest tour. We are winking at each other, right? 

The insecurity comes through whenever LeBon tries to sing about sex. Unless your Prince, rhyming jism and catechism sounds creepy and desperate. “Take Me To Your Water” doesn’t exactly conjure pastoral images of an English countryside and “Read My Lips” unfolds like a drunken come-on by a once cool geezer in a once trendy club. Listening almost three decades later, I hear a writer trying to recapture his mojo by becoming edgier. While it worked in 1990 for Madonna with “Justify My Love”, LeBon’s poetry was never meant to be so direct and explicit.

Liberty and The Wedding Album, side-by-side

It isn’t hard to pick “Serious” and “My Antartica” out of this album as the crown jewels of Liberty. I’d trade “Ordinary World” for “My Antartica” in a set list each and every show. It is more “Duran” than “Ordinary World” even if it didn’t re-ignite their commercial fortunes. The sophisticated “Serious” ranks up there with some of the best music on Notorious and still sounds like a hit single to me. Having hung my heart on the importance of Andy Taylor’s guitar, the rock-n-roll stomp of “First Impression” remains an absolute high point even if the song is, ahem, a bit like this Lords Of the New Church song (https://open.spotify.com/track/3Em6rJJUdozR2qj6jnAZ5u). If nothing else, it finally gave Sterling Campbell’s youthful energy room to move.

But, really, is Liberty a more consistent listen than the wedding album as I hypothesized earlier? Side by side, I find about six songs on each that I am excited to hear more than a few times a year. The production of Liberty is, even by the band’s own admission, dreadful. The rumor of demos being out there on a bootleg sounds tantalizing (someone hook me up!). Much like the fabled Reportage, a different production might have yielded a far different result for the album and the Duran Duran story could be totally different. However, the wedding album has some filler on it and the cover of “Femme Fatale” should have been enough to sink the whole idea of a covers album. 

For your reconsideration

Without Liberty, the band would not have been forced to reconsider everything. Commercial flops have a way of doing that. Returning with a hit single in “Ordinary World”, the confidence of a band rejuvenated was enough to sell us on an album that wasn’t a huge artistic leap from Liberty. If anything, revisiting Liberty on its 29th anniversary makes me appreciate how important it was in shaking up the band. We learned that Campbell was not a good fit, that LeBon’s lyrics were best when shrouded in metaphors, and that the band could write sophisticated pop songs when they didn’t push too hard to fit into the foreign landscape of a new decade. For their so-called worst album, that is a pretty fabulous outcome! 

Still Fangirling

I came by invitation

When I was in middle school, my experience as a fan pretty much consisted of buying teen mags, searching for pinups I didn’t already have, gabbing with friends about Nick’s seemingly new (to us) hair color, John’s fedoras, or maybe even Simon’s tiger baby pendant. I would listen endlessly to the Duran Duran albums I had, and whenever my friend Marsha’s mom agreed to take us to Tower Records, I’d search the record bins and inevitably I’d find new Duran Duran singles in there that I’d never heard of prior. As MTV arrived in my town and Friday Night Videos or Video One became a thing, I spent a fair amount of time waiting for the next video to arrive, or calling in to local radio stations, begging the DJ’s to play a request. Concerts weren’t really a thing for me, although I would sit and listen intently to friends who had either already seen the band at the Greek theatre (not many of us were that lucky), or were planning to go to the Forum in 1984.

I didn’t really have stories of my own to tell. No descriptions of late nights, running into a band member as he walked out of a club. There were no tales of sitting in lobbies, or trying to tail them from Milwaukee back to their hotels in Chicago. There were just the pinups, the music, the videos, my friends, and me.


Going on to somewhere

In many ways, those times were easy. The only way we could truly “compete” for Duran Duran real estate, so to speak, was through knowing everything there was to know about the band, and whatever we owned – pinups, music, t-shirts, and other merchandise. We’d each lay claim to our favorite band member, and hope no other friend decided to make a contest out of it…although I suspect that even then, we knew there was almost zero chance of any of us ever meeting the band, much less marrying one of them!

Decades later – and in a lot of ways it pains me to type those words (how can I really be nearing 50 anyway??) – fandom, or at least the practice thereof, has changed a bit for many of us. Hannah Ewens wrote in Fangirls, “Fandoms are a sphere where contribution increases with age, the more stories the better, the more access, the more information, the more gossip, the longer loving.” I’ve been thinking about quote that a lot this morning.

Back in 2003 as I attended my first Duran Duran fan convention, I can distinctly remember being fascinated by the stories. So many people I met had their own Duran Duran tales to tell. Stories of traveling, of meeting them in the 90’s, running into them in bars, hotels, restaurants. I wasn’t jealous, I was shocked. The world I never thought would collide with my own was right there, almost within reach.

A crush panic

I can’t really argue that as I’ve aged, I’ve done things that would have seemed completely out of this world in 1984. The very idea of ever being in front row, for example. In late 1983, as tickets for the Sing Blue Silver tour went on sale – my parents were dead set against the idea of even trying to get a ticket. My dad felt that I was far too young, and without having any older siblings (he absolutely wasn’t going to be taking me), I was pretty much sunk. My friend Marsha’s father stood in line the day they went on sale and came up completely empty. The tickets sold out very quickly, and she was sad when she came to school the following day. We stood around at break, listening to some of our other friends squeal in delight that they had not only gotten tickets, but their mothers – clearly wiser and far more hip than our own – had called a local ticket agency and gotten even better seats. Some of our friends were as close as third row, and their moms had no issue with forking over $100 or more to be up there.

This was 1984, I’ll remind you. One of my friends went to the Forum show, and I believe her seat was $11.00. Comparatively, $100 seemed like a fortune. It absolutely did to my dad when I told him later that night! After watching my dad’s face go from his regular ruddy complexion, to tomato red as he gasped in horror at the ticket price, declaring that he would never be “the kind of fool to pay those kinds of prices just so his kid could sit near the front of a damn rock concert!”, I figured front row wasn’t going to be an option. Hell, even just going to a concert was a long way off as it was. Little did I ever realize that someday, I would do exactly that…more than once!

My stories aren’t that amazing in the sense that no, I don’t have tawdry backstage tales, or memories of hanging with the band. I do, however, have some wonderful friends I’ve made. We’ve traveled to far off places that, back in 1984, wouldn’t have ever been in my biggest daydreams. My fandom is so much bigger at 48 than it was at 12 or even 13 – I wouldn’t have ever thought it possible.

Midnight traffic in her eyes

My tears during Seventh Stranger in Las Vegas were as much about my youth and experiences along the way as they were the band’s. Seeing the images I remember of Duran Duran from the 80s, bigger-than-life onscreen, combined with the Duran Duran I know from today felt like a lightning strike on my heart. We’ve walked a lot of miles together. Duran Duran created a safe place for me during my most awkward years. They gave me a place to grow, to feel connected to others, and to be understood. They still do.

When I’m in the audience at a Duran show – I can see thousands of different versions of myself in the audience. The shy introvert, the confident mom, the girl who saved up extra change from lunch to buy her first Duran Duran t-shirt, the new mother who survived post partum depression, the middle-aged woman that isn’t completely satisfied with her life or marriage. The seventh grader who just wants to be accepted. We’re all out there, living the music, enjoying the moment, together.

“Being a fan means you don’t have to be the person you are in this moment, restricted by time, space and circumstance, rather you can be strengthened by and exist through all the others you’ve been.” (Ewens)

-R

Headlights Shining In My Face

It’s Monday, the beginning of our first full week being back to school, and I’m relatively uninspired. This whole “going to school every single day” thing may take me some time. (We are ex-homeschoolers!)

I was looking at a calendar that Amanda made for me (she makes one every year for us – I love it because the calendar includes pictures and dates that are important to the two of us!), and saw that on this date in 2012, we were driving to Atlanta to see a show!

Driving on the autobahn

The show was at Chastain Park, and it was part of the All You Need is Now tour. The night before, we’d been in Biloxi, Mississippi to see them play at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. I remember that the drive from Biloxi to Atlanta felt ridiculously long. We’d gotten up and out on the road quite early, but by the time we came rolling into Atlanta, we realized we were under the gun. We had to hurry to get ready and get ourselves over to the restaurant/bar named Shout, where we were hosting a meet up that night before the show.

The meet up was fun, and we had a decent-sized crowd of enthusiastic, excited Duran Duran fans gathered. I can remember chatting as we waited for food to arrive (as I recall, that took a while!), and before we knew it – the party bus we’d hired to take us to and from the venue (parking is tough up at Chastain Park!) had arrived. It never felt like we had enough time to relax and chat on this particular road trip – probably because we drove 1600 miles or so over a four-day period, which was insane.

Both Amanda and I were thankful we’d organized the party bus/shuttle as we saw the line of cars waiting to get in (and later on…out) of the neighborhood leading up to the amphitheater. It had been raining that day, and I distinctly remember feeling like I’d entered a steam room as we waited for the band to take the stage that night.

Despite the crazy amount of driving we were doing on that road trip, I had a lot of fun. Amanda calls it one of our stranger trips – and I suppose she’s right in some ways. In hindsight, I see it as one of those roadtrips that sounded right at the time we’d organized it, but in practice – nothing went quite as planned. Even so, I saw a part of the country I’d never been to before, and met Duranies I’d only previously chatted with online. I still can’t get over the crowd we had show up in Durham for our meet up there. We took over a wine bar just a few blocks from the venue, and it was the most fun I’ve had outside of the conventions I’ve attended.

Losing my way as the night gets long

I remember specific instances from each show, too. In Biloxi, we were at the front for the very first time. I gripped the rail with a white knuckle grip that I only loosened about halfway through the show. Amanda and I will always recall that show as being a sort of out-of-body experience. We were in the front, but I felt like my body was rooted directly to the cement floor under me. We’ll just call that ‘nerves’.

In Atlanta, it was the drippy stage roof. It sounds like a strange thing to remember, but there Amanda and I were, dancing like fools in front of Dom’s spot in the second row. There had been rain on and off all day, but by that time – the rain had slowed down to a sprinkle that came and went throughout the show. It was just far enough back to where the roof line was directly over us. All was fine until I felt a drip hit my heck and then roll down my back. Then again, and again! I couldn’t escape them, and every so often, I’d feel another hit, which would make me shiver a bit as I danced and tried to forget the feeling of being in a steam pit!

Durham was in their performing arts center, which is beautiful. After the show, Amanda and I found ourselves in the back of the venue, waiting for the band to come out. They eventually did – and it was a thrill to see them wave to everyone as they left, even turning around to wave out the windows of their vans and SUV’s as they were driven away.

I bought into the dream

Our final show on that trip was Portsmouth in Virginia. I loved this venue because it was set right on the water, but also disliked it because the stage was so high and our chairs were so close to the stage that we either kinked our necks looking up, or stared at the blank “wall” of the stage in front of us. Another tour had come and gone, and the next day we were driving back to Raleigh so that I could catch my flight home.

This was the tour where we had spent many hours outlining a writing project, and the one where I’d had the nerve to suggest we host a convention.

Makes me wonder what crazy idea I’ll come up with next!

-R

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!