Electric Barbarella amongst the #MeToo movement

Day two from Santa Barbara. Last night we took a drive to see a couple of homes we like, and we were able to cross a couple of others off of our list of favorites. I think that if we threw caution to the wind, we’d have our answer….but I’m not quite ready to do that just yet, so today will bring more looking around. If nothing else, it’s lit a fire under me to get our current house on the market!

On to more important things, like Duran Duran. (Right?!?) Does anyone remember What Unfolds? What if I gave you the name, Steve Aoki? Terminal Five? How about champagne and cake?? Well, if you were there, tomorrow is in fact your sixth anniversary of making it out alive. I would have mentioned this tomorrow, but it is also someone’s birthday, and that needs to take precedence. So, happy early anniversary to those of you who survived the insanity at Terminal Five. (Sounds like a great book title, in my opinion!)

Today also has an anniversary of sorts. On this date in 1997, the filming for “Electric Barbarella” wrapped up, and Pop Trash was also released on this date in the UK.

I don’t know if I’m alone here, but I’ve always had misgivings about “Electric Barbarella”, in particular the video…but the song as well. Cheeky as though it may be, when I watch the video, I can’t help but cringe. An electric Barbie, bought off of a floor, to do anything and everything the men want. A problem arises only when the doll starts thinking on her own. Music video or not, it’s cringe-worthy even by 1997 standards, but certainly more so today, in the shadow of the #MeToo movement. It is hard for me to defend the merit of “Electric Barbarella”. I always felt the content was anti-female, and I couldn’t help but wonder why on earth a band who was loved by so many women would put out a song (not to mention a video) like that. Maybe I missed something somewhere.

I don’t know that the intention of music videos created back in 1997 were necessarily a call to arms to fight injustice or to make any kind of a social statement. Maybe some were, but I can’t think of them off-hand. I’m sure someone out there will have great examples.  I can’t help but think about Childish Gambino’s recent video for “This is America”. There’s nothing lighthearted or joyful going on there. It is a powerful, social statement, from song lyrics to one of the first images in the video where a man is savagely shot from behind while sitting in a chair. The scene is disturbing and stays with you, but even more so when you continue watching and notice that the point of the video is not necessarily the violence or injustice itself – it is that while all of that goes on, no one else pays any attention. As alarming and shocking as the video might seem, the portrayal of America is disgustingly accurate. I don’t know about anyone else, but it is a tough video for me to watch. Art can be like that, and yes – I do believe it is art. I had a long discussion with my oldest about the video when she insisted I watch it. Instead of being disturbed by the graphic nature, she was thrilled that in 2018, artists are being encouraged to really be so open and honest.

It is funny, and by funny I mean very strange and slightly discomforting, that back when I was her age, I felt the same way. I have to wonder what the future will bring.

In contrast to “This is America”, “Electric Barbarella” at least seems to be the epitome of the throwaway 1990s culture. Bright colors, animated graphics, shallow, plastic and pretty.  It is hard to see past the facade…and I admit that I just can’t seem to find what the real message is, if in fact there is anything going on there to be seen. My question to you is simple – what do you think the band was really trying to convey? Do you like the video or the message, and does it still have a place in 2018 amidst #MeToo?

-R

Duran Duran Playlist for Newbies!

Today, I’m writing from a Starbucks on State Street in Santa Barbara. I woke up at the unkind hour of 4am, and accompanied my husband Walt up here for the week. He’s working, and I’m…well…I’m not really sure. I’m looking around, trying to decide if I mind how compact and busy Santa Barbara is, or if I prefer to be farther north with more land and fewer people. (I am leaning towards the latter) For this morning though, I’ve made this Starbucks my mobile Daily Duranie office!

Last week, I participated in a fun survey, courtesy of GuyFansofDuran on Twitter (@BoysMakeNoise). The question was simple: If you had to create a comprehensive mix tape/playlist for someone who had never heard of Duran Duran, what songs would you pick?

In order to make it easy and give everyone a good starting point, he did one survey per album. All one needed to do was pick the song they felt best represented the album (or whatever song they wanted). At the very end, he did a survey to choose one B-side, and as a bonus track (there are ALWAYS bonus tracks!), we could write in an additional B-side.

The votes were counted, and after each survey ended, the results would be posted for discussion and fodder. More often than not, I wasn’t surprised by the result, but saddened that my choices never quite made it to the top. I didn’t start questioning my own choices and/or sanity until later in the week, beginning with the winner for The Wedding Album – “Femme Fatale”.

To be honest, I never even considered “Femme Fatale” as a possibility to win, particularly since it shares album space with “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone”. I narrowed my eyes a bit when I read the results, wondering if I’d either lost more of my vision that day, or that I’d woken up in an alternate universe. I even checked to make sure that Ordinary World and Come Undone were in fact included in the choices for the survey. I did not choose any of those songs, but I’ve been in the fan community long enough to know that many others would – and to think that neither of those songs won – well, that blew my mind. But hey, whatever, right? It’s all just for fun.

Similar things happened for Big Thing, and then again for Rio, to the point that @BoysMakeNoise decided to clear the results and try again. Apparently, either as an attempt at a joke…or to pad the ballot box, someone had figured out how to foil the system. My feeling is, if you’re going to make a joke – go full throttle! Don’t stop at “Femme Fatale”, go “Shotgun”!!  Make me crazy and pick “Can You Deal with It” off of Liberty. Then again, maybe you did.

Eventually, a mixtape did result from the redone surveys, and it was a fun experiment to see what the community came up with. The mixtape was put together on YouTube, and I have the link here. If you’re a Spotify fan though, here is YOUR link!  What do you think?  What would you choose??

-R

“Special” Shows: Yay or Nay?

Every year on this date, June 17th, I think about the “Fan-Only” show that was held in New York City in 2007.  I cannot help it.  It always pops into my mind because it was such a memorable show/experience.  In the past, I have talked about it in relation to Red Carpet Massacre as it was the fans’ introduction to much of the album.  It took place during a time in which the fan community was split between those excited by the album that would feature Timbaland producing along with Justin Timberlake and those nervous about not feeling like a Duran album.  I mentioned about how the fan events surrounding the show were much more fun than the show itself.  Yet, I have never really zoned in on the idea of a special show itself.

At the time of this fan only show and years following, I couldn’t get passed the show as it was plagued with problems with sound, mistakes with lyrics, a seemingly unenthusiastic band, etc.  Now, though, I am ready to put all of that behind me.  It happened.  It wasn’t pretty but the intention behind it was good.  I’m not sure that I ever acknowledged that before.  Let me back track, in case you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about.  In the spring of 2007, DuranDuranMusic announced that the band would play a show for members of the band’s paid fan community only in New York City on June 17th.  As part of this show, tickets would be assigned via a lottery after fans requested what type of tickets they would be interested in.  Likewise, the fans could vote on an extra song from a list of five or so songs.

At the time, I remember just being excited about the whole thing as a fan.  Who wouldn’t want a show just for fans?!  I figured that the crowd there would be into every song, every word.  Did I hope that the band would play more obscure tunes since the crowd would just be “die-hards”.  Sure.  Did I stop and think about what they would need to do to mix up their setlist?  Nope.  Of course, the idea of fans only became a bit more problematic when it came to assigning tickets.  A lot of fans wanted VIP tickets.  A lot more wanted them than were available.  This meant that someone or lots of someones would be disappointed.  Yet, what was the alternative?  Not give out VIP tickets?  Just have general admission?  Again, the idea behind this show was great, but…nothing can be perfect.

Back in 2007, those little pesky details frustrated me.  They bothered me so much that I stopped thinking about the purpose of the show.  The band and the powers that be wanted to do something nice for the fans, to show appreciation for us.  I don’t know that I ever really acknowledged that idea before.  I appreciate that they cared enough about us to want to do something special for us.  Of course, the details on top of a less-than-stellar show clouded that fact for me and others.

This leads me to think about the fact that the band’s 40th anniversary is coming up.  Will they attempt to do something like a fan only show again?  Should they?  If someone had asked me this question a couple years ago, I would have firmly said no.  I would have mentioned all of the details that frustrated fans like me on top of a show that left something to be desired.  Now, though, I think I could separate the intent from the execution.  No event, no matter how well thought out or how well planned will be perfect.  They cannot be.  I realized that when planning our convention or meet-ups.  No organizer can make an event flawless.  It is impossible.  Yet, now, I can applaud the attempt, the meaning behind the show.  Maybe a special show isn’t the way to thank fans.  Perhaps, there are lots of other ways to show gratitude towards those people who have been supporting the band over the years.  If the band and their people do decide to do something special for the fans, I promise to not focus on any of the imperfections but instead appreciate the sentiment.  It’s the least I could do.

-A

Video Popularity

What would you say is Duran Duran’s most popular video?  I bet many of you would pick something from the 1980s, from the peak of the band’s popularity.  How would you determine the most popular?  Could that be decided via a poll of everyone in the world with a question about which videos have been seen?  What about a question about favorite video?  Perhaps, one could research which videos won awards?  Clearly, the question is more complex than what it might first appear.

This question of popularity is one that I have been thinking about for awhile.  It started when our questions of the day began to focus on the videos.  For those polls, I always go over to YouTube to include the video for people to watch if they needed, wanted to determine their choice.  I have to admit that I’m sometimes surprised by the number of views various videos have had.  Which Duran video do you think has had the most number of views?  Again, you might say one from the 80s, but which one?  Hungry Like the Wolf?  Rio?  The Reflex?  Let me share the number of views as of today, in order of most viewed.

Meet el Presidente:  147,000
Last Night in the City:  207,000
Night Boat:  218,000
Falling Down:  223,000
Femme Fatale:  237,000
Someone Else Not Me:  294,000
Violence of Summer:  295,000
Out of my Mind:  307,000
Breath After Breath:  359,000
White Lines:  417,000
Too Much Information:  426,000
My Own Way:  436,000
Lonely in Your Nightmare:  461,000
A View to a Kill:  472,000
Do You Believe in Shame:  509,000
Burning the Ground:  524,000
Sunrise:  554,000
Perfect Day:  690,000
Careless Memories:  702,000
All You Need Is Now:  829,000
Friends of Mine:  898,000
What Happens Tomorrow:  919,000
Skin Trade:  1.2 Million
The Chauffeur:  1.3 Million
Electric Barbarella:  1.3 Million
I Don’t Want Your Love:  1.5 Million
All She Wants Is:  1.5 Million
Serious:  2.1 Million
Is There Something I Should Know:  3.8 Million
Pressure Off:  3.9 Million
Union of the Snake:  4 Million
Girls on Film:  4.9 Million 
New Moon on Monday:  5.5 Million
Planet Earth:  5.7 Million
Notorious:  7.6 Million
Girl Panic:  7.6 Million
Wild Boys:  12 Million
Rio:  17 Million
The Reflex:  18 Million
Save a Prayer:  35 Million
Hungry Like the Wolf:  43 Million
Ordinary World:  64 Million
Come Undone:  67 Million

Anything surprising to you?  I know that I was surprised that the videos from the Wedding Album were more popular than videos from Rio.  I tend to think of the videos from 1982 as being the standard Duran videos, the ones that most come to mind when people mention Duran Duran.  Interestingly enough, Girl Panic has a lot of views, more so than many from the 1980s.  It is definitely the most viewed of the post-reunion time period.

Then, I wonder what would these totals look like if YouTube had been around in the 1980s.  I am willing to bet that the views would be a ton more.  After all, when these videos came out, many of us would watch MTV for hours just hoping that a Duran video would come on.  Then, many of us bought the Video Album that came out in 1983 just to watch the videos whenever we wanted.

There is a part of me that really wishes that all of the video views would be a lot more than they are.  Maybe that is why I include them for each of the questions of the day.  After all, I suspect that many of us don’t need to watch the videos to determine which video has a better looking band member.  So, why does popularity matter?  It doesn’t really, of course, but as a fan, I think everyone should love Duran as much as I do.

-A

Leaving the Light On

Am I really back home?  Am I really on summer break?  I feel like someone is going to wake me up at any moment, telling me that I was dreaming.  Maybe I feel this way since I only returned home yesterday morning.  I only now finished unpacking and getting organized.  As much as it feels weird to be home with nothing that I have to do, the lack of due dates is already appreciated by me.  All that said, I feel out of it when it comes to Duranland.  My insane, end-of-the-school-year schedule and trip to Boston meant that I haven’t been able to do much when it comes to paying attention to any and all news, info, and tidbits surrounding the band I love so much.  Despite that, I do want to touch on a few items, including a purchase, memorable moments in Duran history and my summer plans.

Record Store Purchases

Whenever I visit my brother (or my sister), I usually spend a day visiting a record and/or book store.  My family all appreciates reading and listening to great music (even if we don’t all agree on what makes a “great” album or novel).  Therefore, we enjoy going to places where we can spend hours just browsing for hidden treasures.  This time, we stopped a record store in Gloucester, Massachusetts, a city right on the coast.  We didn’t spend as much time as we might have liked as we wanted to visit an art/history museum there, too, before my sister-in-law had to get back to go to work.  Despite our short time, my brother, eldest niece and I went hunting for good music.  I’m happy to report that I found quite a treasure!

I purchased some 12 inch singles (on vinyl, of course!)!  In fact, I bought 4 of them!  I found the following:  Wild Boys, I Don’t Want Your Love, Burning the Ground and Violence of Summer.  Obviously, I couldn’t be more thrilled.  For me, it made the trip worthwhile!  Of course, when I was making my purchase, the store employee had to make a comment about how I had just “gone for it” by buying all this Duran.  I snorted and made some sort of statement along the lines of, “You have no idea.”  Indeed.

Today in Duran History

I cannot allow this day to go by without acknowledging what this date means to Duran Duran and Duran history!  On this date, back in 1981, Duran’s very first album, debuted.  37 years ago, the Duran story began, at least for the general public.  While the band had been working hard, writing and recording, now everyday people all around the world could enjoy the band, too!

Summer Plans:

Last and probably even least, I have to comment about my summer plans.  Over the last couple of weeks, I have answered the question, “What are you doing this summer?” about twenty-five times.  Sometimes, the question came from colleagues.  Other times, friends or family members wondered how I plan to spend my time.  While the question entertains me in general, this year I found myself smirking almost each and every time.  Why is that?  The question changed a little this year…it isn’t just what my plans are for the summer.  This year, the question came out like this, “Why are your plans for the summer?  Following Duran Duran?”  As I resist the full-blown smile, I comment about how it is quiet in Duranland and that the band maybe is busy getting ready for the upcoming 40th anniversary.  I then list reasons why this is probably for the best.  I can spend time on reorganizing my house.  A big election is coming and I need to spend time campaigning.  I desperately need to save money for whatever the band does do next.

I admit that the question makes me smile.  I like that people I know, colleagues, and friends associate me with Duran Duran.  They don’t think it is a big deal that my life often revolves around Duran Duran and their plans.  It feels like acceptance to me, which is great.  Yet, there is a part of me that is a little sad about my answer.  I love that I have time to get things done that I cannot do during the school year.  I do need the time to save money.  But, I wish that there was something Duran on my schedule.  I know that makes me a bit pathetic but it is true.  I will miss seeing the band and I miss hanging out with my friends.  To get through it, I’ll look ahead to whatever might come next, look back on fond memories and enjoy every little nugget that gets released in a way that I cannot during the school year.  I’ll try to celebrate the little moments until I get to the next big one.

-A

Happy Birthday Dom! (2018)

It is Thursday, June 14th…which means it MUST be Dom’s birthday!  Happy Birthday Dom!

I’ll be honest, I could gush about Dom all day, and that could be embarrassing (for me, no doubt). So I won’t. Much.

Dom first performed with Duran Duran in December of 2004, while Andy was out ill. That continued off and on into 2005, and in 2006 when it was announced that Andy would no longer be in Duran Duran, Dom stepped into the role recording the guitar parts for Red Carpet Massacre and as the band’s permanent touring guitarist. He’s been performing with the band now for nearly 14 years. I can say that for me, seeing Duran Duran would not be the same without him on stage with them.

Every single year, for each of the band’s birthdays – we try to write some sort of poignant blog about them. It’d be great to believe they read them, but Amanda and I both know that might be a little too lofty of a goal. So we write them to share with you, and hey – if they hear about them or see one eventually, fabulous. We’ve been publishing the blog for nearly eight years now, and to be honest – I’m not sure we’ve actually had enough personal experiences with the band to keep writing these birthday blogs (but we try!).  This year, I’m kind of struggling over what to write.

The thing with Dom is that I’ve been a fan since nearly the first time I saw him live. There’s something about his being the new guy, and realizing how difficult it was going to be for him to take over for Andy that made me pay attention. I liked that he didn’t seem overly confident. He was just trying to do a good job, and I knew that no matter how perfectly he played the songs, there were some fans he’d never win over.  I suppose I just wanted to encourage him, and yeah – I usually have seats close enough to where he can and does see me. I think he probably still sees me as that semi-crazy person that writes some silly blog for the band.  He’s probably right, but I can at least appreciate that he doesn’t call for security when he sees me!

One time, I got up the nerve to ask him to do a Q&A for us. Actually, I’d asked him to do an interview, which secretly freaked me out. The idea of actually speaking to any of the band on the phone?? Are you joking?!? Not this girl. I hate being on the phone with just about ANYONE, much less any sort of member of Duran Duran.

That’s right. I am a female who hates the phone. I’d rather email, text, send smoke signals…telegraph…sign language…anything but be on the phone. 

Back to my story – I must have spent an hour typing this ridiculous email, asking him for an interview. I assumed he’d have not a single clue of who I was, so I described myself (I have no idea what I said but I’m sure it was something dumb), asked if he’d be willing, and clicked send. The pit in my stomach was more like a sinkhole, and I just shut the screen to my laptop quietly, muttered something about how much of an idiot I was, and figured I’d never hear a word back.

Well, I was wrong. In what I would consider to be record time, Dom answered back. He knew exactly who I was (I still think it’s because it’s difficult to miss an insane person in the crowd, and I’m sorry about that), and he asked if we could do it as a written Q&A. I was RELIEVED. Like I said, not a phone person! This is also why we don’t do many interviews for Daily Duranie. I’d rather conduct an interview in person before I would over the phone or even Skype, and yes I know that’s weird. In any case, I wrote up the questions, sent them to him, and he sent answered them. I worked to edit it all up, and posted it as our very first interview. I really owe him for being nice to me when he could have easily just said no, your blog isn’t Rolling Stone magazine. 

(By the way, Mr. Brown….assuming you’re reading this…you owe me a Q&A. I sent it to you MONTHS AGO, and it’s super short. I think just five or ten questions. You’re not even touring right now…you could answer it over breakfast or tea or whatever you do these days, and send it back so I’d have something exciting to publish.  Just saying.  :D)

A year or two after that first interview, Dom and his dad recorded their Blue to Brown album. In short, I am not/was not a blues fan, but I wanted to help promote and support Dom. So, I dusted off a couple of textbooks I kept from college, and studied up on the blues. When his album came out, I reviewed it.  Here’s the thing: I am not a critic. I’m sure that is shocking to read. I’m not a journalist. (also shocking) I’m a music fan, but more importantly – I am a fan of Dom’s work, and I wanted to help him in some small way. I wrote up my feelings about his album, which to this day I will still take out every now and then and play. I tweeted the review to him, just because SOME people don’t really check out Twitter very often cough, cough. He commented back that it was great, and now if he could just get Rolling Stone to do one, he’d get somewhere.

Of course now when I tweet him about something to do with the blog, I always have to mention how we’re not Rolling Stone…but we’re not too bad for a fan blog!

Compared to many of you reading, I’ve spent very little time with Dom in person. I’ve seen him a few times in passing before or after a show, for example. I did see him one time at a rooftop bar in Los Angeles though. I’m here to tell you that if you are like me and cannot hear very well, it is almost 100% impossible to actually have a conversation with someone in a packed room. I’m self-conscious about my hearing even on a good day, and in front of him it was 10,000 times worse.  I know he said or asked me things during the two minutes I tried to talk with him and I just couldn’t make out what he was saying. That could be why the next time I actually stood in front of him, he leaned over and whispered directly in my ear. (Wait, how did he even know to do that? Does he read this blog?!?) He’s never forgotten my name, and he always has a smile and a nod for me even when I’m pretty sure on the inside he is thinking, “Seriously, you again!?!” (my husband says the same thing about me – so I get it. :D)

I have no idea when or where I’ll see the band again, but I do miss the  few moments during the show where I’ll catch Dom’s eye and make a face and he’ll laugh and do it back. He makes the shows fun. I hope that in some small way I made it easier for him to find a friendly face out in the audience when he first started with Duran Duran, too. There are plenty of people who adore Dom now, and I’m glad. He’s a good guy, and I hope he has a fantastic birthday. He’s loved by many.

Happy Birthday Dom – send me that Q&A!!!  😀

-R