All posts by Daily Duranie

Once upon a time, there were two Duran Duran fans. One named Amanda, the other named Rhonda. Over many vodka tonics, they would laugh about the idea of one day writing a book about their fan experiences. While that manuscript is still being composed...Rhonda thought they should write a blog. (What was she THINKING?!) Lo and behold: The Daily Duranie was born.

A Cautionary Tale

Hi everyone. This is Day Two of me trying to blog and being bombarded to the point where I almost couldn’t. Unfortunately, this is going to be an ongoing issue, and I think it’s time to come clean because it may have an ongoing effect on my abilities to blog. At first, I wasn’t going to mention anything to anyone, especially here. I’m having a serious family problem, and I suppose the argument could be made that I need to keep it private. However, if sharing my story means that someone else doesn’t go through what I am currently attempting to manage and deal with…so be it. Privacy be damned. Secrets are what got me here to begin with.

Some phone calls just aren’t fun

There is quite a backstory, but I’m going to skip ahead the first ten years or so and start from the beginning of MY journey with all of this, which was yesterday when I got a phone call from my mom. I had known my mom was going to call to talk with me, and I was already anxious. I knew something was up, but never in my wildest dreams would I have come up with what I was about to be told.

About a year ago my mom moved to Maryland to live with my aunt and cousin. I was thrilled for her because she’d be with family, and she’d be surrounded by people. Unfortunately, my aunt only survived for about a year and died in early Autumn of 2019. My mom was desperately lonely and sad. Prior to my aunt, she lost my dad, then her partner/friend. She had moved far from me and my kids, and although my cousin is nearly her age and there are other family members where she is – she felt alone. She decided to join PenPalWorld in search of others. She started chatting with a few women, and then one man sent her several messages, hoping to strike up a conversation.

After being contacted seven or eight times, my mom finally answered back. They quickly grew out of using PenPal, instead choosing to text one another. He contacted her several times each day. My mom describes him as being so caring and loving, and she was bowled over by his kindness. In late January, she finally told me about this man (and I still did not know about the previous grant scam) She wanted some happiness, despite my warnings to not trust him – she kept chatting. According to my mom, there were feelings involved. I had a pit in my stomach, but there was very little I could do. I asked her to please not agree to see him without one of my cousins present, to which she agreed, and hoped for the best.

Romance Scams

So, when my mom told me sadly that this man had scammed her and scammed her good, I was irritated at best. Furious, really. The story was that he had been very concerned about the amount of debt my mom was in. Now, I knew some of it because my mom had mentioned that money was tight, and she couldn’t come visit at Christmas. Beyond that, I didn’t ask – but I figured she had gone through her entire savings and was living off of social security along with her small pension. It wasn’t the greatest, but you know, she could make it work, I figured.

So, she went on to tell me that he suggested they invest her money in Bitcoin. He’d invest it, and then get the money along with her profit back to her within two days. Forty-eight hours. What a great plan, right? He assured her all would be fine, and in fact – he had been shopping for a new house in Salisbury, close by where my mom lived. He finally had settled on a house, and wanted to take care of my mom. He had bought it, and was going to drive up from Virginia where he was currently living, sign the paperwork, then pick up my mom and go show her the house. She was overjoyed.

I’m still fuzzy on the numbers – even two days into this nightmare – but apparently my mom wired him her entire social security check. Now, on top of the only cash to her name, he had her account numbers and her routing number. In turn, he texted and assured her everything came through and that he was leaving to come up there. He’d told my mom at a much earlier time he lived in Sanford, Virginia. She didn’t know where that was, but he’d described how horrible the traffic was up to Salisbury. That day – which was last Friday, he kept texting, telling her how he was way behind and eventually texted letting her know he had stopped for the night and that he’d call the next day. She was disappointed, but figured one more night wouldn’t make a difference.

Unbeknownst to my mom, Sanford is literally 1 hour from Salisbury. A single hour.

If only it were the end

The next morning around 10:30, he called to tell her he was sitting out in front of the real estate office and would be by later. She had tried to reach him at some point only to find out that his phone was no longer in service, the email he used and PenPal login were no longer active either. He ghosted her completely, and took all of the money she had for the month, checking account number, and routing numbers right along with him.

I wish that were the end of the story. It would be sad, but manageable. Lessons would have been learned, and we would have stood up, brushed ourselves off and moved on. However, there is more. A lot more, and some of it, I won’t even mention here.

As I’ve mentioned, my father died nearly twelve years ago. At the time of his passing, my parents had a small sum of money saved for retirement. Much to my surprise, my dad also had a life insurance policy that ended up adding a sizable amount to my mom’s savings. My parents never had much as I grew up, extra money wasn’t a thing, and to be honest, my mom wasn’t used to being able to spend money. So, having the savings was likely a little more tempting than it should have been, but she tried…and we tried…to keep her grounded. The money was set to last her until she was about 85 years old, if she watched herself.

David and Goliath (or as I call him, Ron)

As time wore on, my concerns grew. I knew she was spending more than she should, but my mom was very adamant that she didn’t need my sister and I parenting her. Fair enough. We tried to take an interest without being obtrusive. I don’t know that we really accomplished much, but we tried. In the meantime, she met a man in her apartment complex that I’m going to call David. At the time, it seemed innocent enough. They sort of lived together, but not really. He kept his own apartment, even though he’d stay with my mom most every night. He had different habits that always made Walt and I a little curious. He didn’t like using credit cards, hated banks, didn’t really love having his picture taken. We didn’t know much about his background, although my mom seemed to be satisfied with what she knew about his family. Mostly, we chose to leave well enough alone. I still wonder what he was really about.

He passed away in 2016 after having a heart attack. I think having someone else die was hard on my mom, and after that, she became pretty lonely. We didn’t speak quite as often. Some of that was my fault, some of it was my mom’s. Regardless, about a year later someone claiming to be his stepbrother that I’m going to call Ron, came out of the woodwork, long after his property was turned over to the county.

As an aside, my mom and David were never married and she was not listed in his Will, therefore his possessions were not kept by my mom. I don’t mind saying that he had amassed a savings of over $1,000,000 by the time he had died – after working at local utility until he retired (and he retired early to care for his ailing mother, who had died long before he met my mom) and that money went to various charities in whatever Will he had set up. I don’t know where that money came from, and yeah – I wonder about that sometimes, especially now. My sister and I had joked that maybe he’d been in the witness protection program. He was so secretive. I don’t think we’ll ever know the truth, although I suspect we are a little closer to it today than ever before.

US Grant scams

Against my advice, my mom met with Ron, who claimed to be interested in only the health background of his deceased brother. They hadn’t grown up together (he’d claimed to have been adopted out to another family), and to the best of our knowledge, David didn’t even know he’d existed. The story seemed plausible because of the sketchy background that had been shared with us over the years by David. We never had quite enough to put all of the pieces together, and if you’re asking if we thought it was odd, the answer is YES. See the note above about the Witness Protection Program.

My mom told Ron what she knew, but they continued to chat via social media off and on. I suspect my mom felt like Ron was her last tie to David, and again – she’d been lonely. At some point, he told her all about this US grant he’d applied for and received, simply for being elderly. His story was so convincing that even when my mom consulted my sister, who is an attorney – she didn’t believe it when my sister had told her that such a thing didn’t exist. Unbeknownst to my sister and I, my mom applied for that grant, finding out that she would need to pay money to apply. The sums were paltry at first, and at each stage of the process, she was asked for more money, and oddly, within days of each time she had been approached by the people in charge of this grant, Ron would contact her asking how she was doing and how the grant process was going.

After some time – and I’m still trying to discern how long this was, my mom ran out of money to send, her savings completely gone. Even so, the people continued asking her to send phones and gift cards, and by then – after sending $72,000.00 (YES -THAT MUCH MONEY!), my mom realized that the grant was a scam. The unfortunate thing is that in the process, the people doing the scamming also had a mountain of personal information from my mom. Enough to attempt to get into her bank account and steal what was left, and because these scammers used the correct personal information to get the money, her bank believed that my mom was in on it. I found all of this out this morning. It has been a long day.

Red flags don’t pay the bills

Were there red flags? Oh hell yes. All over the place, and had my sister and I been aware of what was going on, primarily the full extent of what was happening, things could have been done. But my mom hid things from us out of embarrassment. There is of course, much more to the story. It seems like each day I’m hearing more and more. There were other times that my mom was almost taken in by scams. One time, “Facebook” was offering her a million dollars prize money. I think the only thing that stopped her from wiring money that time was because by then, she had already been wiped out from the US Grant sham. Additionally, there have been more loans and credit cards, and unfortunately – even a serious tax issue that I am having a phone call with my sister tonight to discuss.

What I am going to say here is important: pay attention! Listen to your aging parents and family members. Watch for signs of desperation and loneliness, those are a lot easier to deal with than the aftermath of scams. My mom was always a super smart cookie. Never once did I ever think, for the life of me, that she’d ever go through something like this. I never thought she’d actually go as far to lie to me about her taxes, or not listen to our warnings about giving out information online. When it came down to it, the lure of making her troubles go away, and maybe even her dreams come true, was far more enticing than the realities of my sister and I telling her that things like that don’t happen. The dreams, however far-fetched, were better.

Words of caution

I know this has nothing to do with Duran Duran, except that the chances of me being able to do future shows is pretty grim. I am going to be very busy sorting this out, and in order to get her out of trouble, it’s going to cost money to hire an attorney that isn’t related to me to help out. I just think that there are so many of us with aging and elderly parents, that it’s pertinent. Don’t assume it can’t happen to you, or that your parents will know better. Trust me, with just the right set of issues: a death of a spouse, friend, or family member, desperation, loneliness, and the wishes to help – it can happen to anyone.

Forgive me for not being able to blog much this week. I’ll do it when I can, and of course – if there’s anyone out there (ha ha ha) that is able and willing to help in my absence, let me know. I would be most grateful. Watch out for your parents and family!!

-R

Serious – The Daily Duranie Review

Hey hey hey, it’s just past the middle of February and we’re already to “Serious”, off of Liberty. You’d think we weren’t slackers!!

The song is the 22nd single from Duran Duran, which reached a staggering #3 in Italy, and a disappointing #48 in the UK. We won’t even discuss the US. By the time Serious was released, interest in Liberty had already cooled. Unfortunately, Serious was the band’s least receptive single to that date.

Something Rhonda discovered as she did some background research for this review was that the sales of Liberty were so poor that plans for a third single (“First Impression” in the states, “Liberty” for Europe) were shelved.

We have to ask, was the song really that bad? We already know Nick wasn’t a fan of making this song the second single, but maybe it’s time to give it a listen again!

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

There is something about the guitar groove of this song that just sends me. I hear the hook and immediately think of warm, sunshine-filled summer late afternoons on the patio, and I really don’t know why. Maybe it’s because the song feels so easy and natural, just like a summer weekend afternoon. The guitar is almost but not quite a jazz groove, and it drives the whole song. As the conductor of my orchestra says, “There are tempos that are meant to be played dead on, others that are meant to feel like they are dragging just the tiniest bit, and still others that move the song ahead.” This one does the latter, thanks to the guitar. It isn’t a strong driving beat in the same way that JT drives the tempo in Careless Memories, but the groove keeps the song from being a slow ballad, if that makes sense.

In this case, guitar is the star of the song, and does the job well. That melodic groove sets the tone, drives the tempo, and steers the ship. I think my one complaint is that there’s this whole bridge section that sounds to be nothing more than a dreamy sequence with some syncopated drums to open it. There’s no real purpose, as no instruments are being shown off, and it isn’t as though the tone of the song suddenly changes. It’s just…there. The song didn’t really need it, other than to fill space and time.

I love that the rest of the instrumentation is balanced. I can hear the bass in the depths of the mix, the drums bring it together, and synthesizer/keyboards are only there to help anchor the lyrics to the music. There aren’t many songs when I can say that keyboards really take a backseat, but in this one – they do. Musically, I think it’s one of their best, but perhaps on the wrong album at the wrong time.

Vocals

I’m sure it’s not the case, but the vocals sound so effortless and easy that I’d swear they recorded them in a single take. (That is a compliment, I promise!) No whiny falsetto, there aren’t layers upon layers of vocals beyond a few tracks in the background to do a sort of call and response, it just feels easy breezy and natural. Hard to imagine going from the “sounds like he swallowed gravel” in Violence of Summer or even Hothead straight to some of the smoothest crooning I’ve heard from Simon, but he does it with style and grace.

Lyrics

These are not the craziest lyrics ever written, nor are they that complicated, or hard to understand. They’re very simple, with an easy message…which may or may not appeal to long time fans. It’s the love song that doesn’t quite play like a love song. It’s not slow, it’s not overly gushy or sweet. In fact, the words are quite playful in parts, which I can appreciate. I know that die hard fans look for those slightly more intelligent, less black-and-white lyrics. On this album, I think they’re hard pressed to find them, and that just might have been about where the band was in their career at the time, or where Simon was in his life, too.

Overall

I love being able to go back and review Duran Duran’s catalog. We try our best to be fair, but I think it’s very difficult to replicate how I might have rated the music when first introduced to it. For example, I like this song, but I can’t remember what else I was listening to in 1990. What was on the radio? Did Serious fit? I had to consult Google and see what else was popular in order to truly address why this song didn’t hit the charts or receive radio play (and in fairness, the answer is far more complicated than I can address here). To my ears, there’s no reason why this song wasn’t at least a mild hit, except that maybe it was a bit too easy, a bit too jazzy compared to what was on the radio.

In 1990, on one end of the gamut there was Warrant with
“I Saw Red”, or “Silent Lucidity” from Queensryche, then on to “Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains…and on the opposite end…”Step By Step” by New Kids on the Block, or “Giving You the Benefit” by Pebbles, or even, “It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette. Admittedly, that song is the closest to what Duran Duran was bringing with “Serious”. Was there really space for them? Roxette was still semi-new, and Duran Duran had already been huge in the early to mid 80s. It would have taken something much more monumental for a resurgence on Top 40 radio at that point (which came a few years later!) There wasn’t a lot of places for Duran Duran to go, other than be relegated to flashback lunches on KROQ or elsewhere. Yet Liberty was a new album, and “Serious” was nothing like the 80s New Wave that Duran was known for. I can see where this became a problem of identity for Duran Duran during this period. While yes, it’s advantageous to have the space to recreate sound and never be pushed into a box, I would also say there has to be something to connect a band with identity, and in my opinion, however great Serious is, that identity is something that is lacking in both the single and the album.

Cocktail Rating

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

In thinking about the musicality/instrumentation of this song, I am struck by the guitar of this song. Typically, it is not my favorite instrument but I really like it in this one. It definitely is the dominant instrument without being drowning out the others. It is taking the lead, but allowing the others to play the supporting role that they should. It feels secure in the lead and doesn’t need to prove itself in the way that too many songs with a guitar focus do. I also really like the drums in this one as well, which feels weird to me. Warren and Sterling are not typically the ones whom I praise but I think it is worthy here.

Vocals

This vocals to this song very much match the lyrics. Both are simple, straightforward. Simon’s range doesn’t vary in some crazy way and there is very little layering. It is just Simon being at a comfortable range with little, if any complications. This makes for easy listening as no one has to worry about what is going to come next or if there would be a surprise, vocally. It allows for people to relax and just let the song be.

Lyrics

These lyrics, unlike many Duran Duran lyrics, would fit into the more obvious, straight forward category. As I listen, I can definitely see a couple who are struggling to figure out how to really communicate with each other, how to deal, how to figure out what is important (or serious) and what is not. While I doubt that these lyrics really make anyone ponder a deeper meaning, I suspect that many might be able to relate to them. Sometimes, people need that just as much as they need to pushed to think or feel deeper. In this case, it might even cause people to feel better knowing that their relationship isn’t the only one who struggles with this.

Overall

This song makes me smile as I think it does for many Duranies. For me, I cannot help but to think of the video with the very cute JoSi moment and Nick so obviously chewing gum. It is a song that just makes people feel good. It isn’t super deep or as complicated as so many others. The song doesn’t require a lot of deep thinking. Instead, you can sit back and just enjoy it. All that being said, I’m not sure why this song doesn’t rank higher than the 3.5 cocktails that I’m giving it. I feel like it is good but it isn’t great. I’m not sure why. Maybe, in my own bias, I feel like a song cannot be great if it isn’t something more than just a feel good song. I know many, many people who love it and I get it. For me, though, it just cannot reach that level.

Cocktail Rating

Cocktail Rating

Answered with a Question Mark

If you are a consistent reader of this blog, you probably realized that there were no questions of the day on Thursday, Friday and even today. I have been thinking about these questions that I have been doing for years. At times, they have been super popular like when I asked about favorite band members (EEK!). At other times, they have not gotten much of a response. We are in one of those times. I think interest decreased when Rhonda and I took our break in the fall, which is fair. It is easy enough to fall out of the routine of checking and voting. Likewise, social media might have stopped sharing our posts with people at the same level. People might just be busy. They might also not care as much about the question. I get it and I understand.

This has caused me to re-evaluate, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe I need to do them differently. On top of that, I have been doing a lot of thinking about ways that I could give myself more time to breath, to relax, etc. So, after thinking I came to this conclusion. Instead of doing a daily question, I will do a weekly question. The questions will include from ones that focus on the band like I generally do. For instance, right now, we are trying to determine which song best represents the All You Need Is Now Tour. I will also include fun survey questions like which band member would you want to go to a concert with. Just to mix things up a bit!

I hope that everyone is okay with this. More than that, I’m crossing my fingers that people also participate. Speaking of that, I would welcome any ideas that people had for questions to ask. Is there something you always wanted to know about Duran fans or what they think? Throw the question my way!

On that note, let’s finish this question about the song that best represents the All You Need Is Now Tour!

Coming Soon
Which Song Better Represents the All You Need Is Now Tour?
All You Need Is Now
Before the Rain
Is There Something I Should Know
Girl Panic
Mediterranea
Other People's Lives
Safe
Secret Oktober

The Closing Down

This week, like many of the last few, has been pretty intense on a variety of levels. As I attempted to hold on, emotionally, I found myself wondering what life will look like and be like next year at this time. What about five years from now? Ten? 15? It reminds me of when I was a kid. Every year, my dad would sit us kids down to talk about our goals. This meant that we had to share our ideas for our future. As a kid, I just thought my dad was being weird. How the heck was I supposed to know what my goal in five years should be?! Now, as an adult, I get it more. For example, I am starting to see retirement far on the horizon. Granted, it is just a tiny speck and too far away but it’s there. When I think about that, I often wonder what it will feel like knowing that it was my last year of teaching. Will I get sad with every last whatever? Will I just not give a crap? Will I spend time appreciating every moment? Is it better to know it is the end?

This leads me to think about Duran Duran and my fandom. When I was a kid, I never once thought about when Duran Duran was going to retire or leave the business or even break up. Likewise, I never considered that I might stop being a fan. Even, when the side projects happened in 1985 or when Roger and Andy departed, I never thought about the end. I just assumed it would go back to what it was like. I didn’t realize what it meant when the band recorded, Notorious, as a three person group rather than five. I just put my entire faith that everything would work out. Ah, the innocence and ignorance of being young. What if I did get it? Would it have been better to really get it and know things were changing as it happened?

As an adult, I have often thought about the end of Duran Duran. Just to be clear before people start screaming at me–I’m not wishing that or thinking that is happening. I think as I have gotten older and have started to deal with some health issues, I have realized that not everything lasts forever even if I want it too No one has that much control, especially me. Whenever I begin to think about the end of Duran, or my fandom, I just go back to the question I asked above. Would I want to know? Would I want to know if this next album would be the last? What about the last tour? Would it be good to know? What about my participation? What if I know that a show is going to be my last–not just the last of a tour or until next time but the last last. The final. The end. Would it be better to know or not?

This is obviously not an easy question. If I knew it was the last album/tour/show, would I appreciate it more? Maybe. Perhaps, I would take time just to appreciate, to stop and smell the roses more. I could see myself documenting everything more. There might be more photos, more everything. In some ways, I think that would be great. I would try to capture as much as I could and I wouldn’t haven’t any regrets at the end. On the other hand, would this make it harder, emotionally? Would I be too sad to really enjoy myself? Would I be too worried about capturing it all that I wouldn’t actually experience it? I don’t have a good answer but it does make me wonder.

-A

One Billion Sets of Beautiful Eyeballs

Congrats to A-ha!

During my daily scroll through Twitter, I noticed that the video for “Take On Me” by A-ha has reached the crazy milestone of one BILLION YouTube views. It is only the second video from the 1980s to have reached that pinnacle. More on that later…

One billion views is a lot. If I only had a dollar…. well, away, that’s a lot of eyeballs watching a video from 1985. (note: the original song was released in 1984, but the video, along with the updated version of the song produced by Alan Tarney, came out in May of 1985

Now, I have a sneaky suspicion that many of you out there reading are wondering “Well, where do any of Duran Duran’s videos fit into this? Are any of them near one billion?? I mean, this is A-ha. Surely “Rio” has to be close to that, or “Hungry Like the Wolf”??) 

Have you ever wondered…

Let’s just have a look-see on YouTube. At first, I just looked up the videos I thought of first, but then (as typical with me) I got caught up into it and decided to check out ALL of their videos. The criteria was that I only took the stats for the official music videos unless otherwise noted (for example, Friends of Mine has [HQ] denoted because there is no “official” official version. This was the closest I could find). I didn’t track the exact number of views, relying on what my YouTube search gave me when I’d type videos into the search bar, so if they’re slightly off from what you find when you do a detailed search – I don’t need to know. I also didn’t choose to include the separate Sunrise edits for each band member.

In order of most views:

  • Save a Prayer 56 M 
  • Come Undone 53 M
  • Wild Boys 15 M
  • Girl Panic 7.7 M
  • New Moon on Monday 7.6 M
  • Planet Earth 7.5 M
  • Ordinary World 7.2 M
  • Girls on Film 6.9 M
  • Is there Something I Should Know 5.3M
  • Pressure Off (Uncensored version because JT is funny!) 5M
  • Union of the Snake 5M
  • Hungry Like the Wolf 4.8 M 
  • Serious 3.2M
  • A View to a Kill 3M
  • Rio 2.6 M
  • The Reflex 2.3 M
  • All You Need is Now 2.2 M
  • All She Wants Is 2.1M
  • What Happens Tomorrow 2M
  • The Chauffeur 1.9M
  • Skin Trade 1.9M
  • Electric Barbarella 1.7M
  • Notorious 1.2 M
  • Sunrise 1.16 M
  • Perfect Day 1.1 M
  • Friends of Mine [HQ] 1M
  • White Lines 844M
  • Do You Believe in Shame 797K
  • Too Much Information 659K
  • Burning the Ground 639K 
  • Lonely in Your Nightmare 632K
  • My Own Way 596K
  • Breath After Breath 566K
  • Violence of Summer 456K
  • Pressure Off (Lyric video, because you can’t get enough!) 362K
  • Night Boat 342 K
  • Femme Fatale 314K
  • Falling Down 297K
  • Last Night in the City 290K
  • Meet El Presidente 288K
  • I Don’t Want Your Love 253K
  • Careless Memories 116K 
  • Lonely in Your Nightmare (V2 – another official version) 97K
  • Edge of America (does not say official ) 88K
  • Pressure Off (Censored version, thanks to JT!) 76K
  • Make Me Smile 64K
  • Face for Today 59K

What does it all mean?

I have to admit, some of the results surprised me. I wasn’t expecting Save A Prayer to be the most widely viewed video, nor did I think that Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf would be so far down the list. Of course, if any Duran Duran video has been uploaded multiple times in addition to the “official” video and received views, that wouldn’t add into the total, which in turn wouldn’t help the band. That’s something to think about (in addition to respecting copyrights). I also was surprised to see how little love Edge of America or Face for Today seems to get, but then again – the band doesn’t appear in either video, and that seems to matter. Ultimately though, we have quite a ways to go before any Duran Duran video nears the 1 billion mark!

That other video…

I did mention that another video from the 80s has also hit 1 billion views. That video (brace yourself) is “Sweet Child o Mine” by Guns N’ Roses. Please digest that information however you see fit. Out of a decade that saw massive video creativity and innovation, it’s a little off-putting to see a lackluster, everybody-does-one “rehearsal” video hit one billion views.

Billboard did a top ten best video list of the 80s. “Hungry Like the Wolf” was on it (as it should be), even “Take on Me” has a place on the list, along with “Thriller”, “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel and even “When Doves Cry”, by Prince, but “Sweet Child o Mine” isn’t on it at all. There’s no accounting for taste, but it is interesting to see how the general public feels.

Then again, maybe GNR watches their own videos. A lot.

Yes, I said that. My blog = my opinion, no holds barred. You’re welcome.

-R

What’s Pop anyway?

Sticky-sweet pretentious pop

As I mentioned yesterday, lately I’ve been more interested in learning/reading/discussing music than rehashing fandom. One of the books I’m currently reading is about rock music and social history in America. It’s been many years since I sat in a history of rock music class, so it was time for a catch-up while I pondered where Pop music fits in.

Over the years that I’ve written Daily Duranie, one of things that has frustrated me is the knowledge of how little credit the band receives. If not about their fan base, then about their music. I’ve seen it referred to as anything from sticky sweet bubble gum pop to overly-pretentious pop garbage.

I suppose the common word there is “pop”. Ask any critic, read any book about music history, and the word isn’t usually aligned with descriptions of greatness. It tends to be used to describe crappy music, and that seems pretty unfair.

Cultural perspective

This whole subject came to a head for me as I was reading last week. Rock Music in American Culture describes how rock tends to transcend or it comments on social structure. That’s why the history of rock music tends to align seamlessly with American social history, or the history of American culture. Not all rock music does that, but according to this author, the very best rock music is capable of cultural perspective. I’ve written about pop before, but I’ve never read quite the damning definition in oh-so-many words that I found in this current book.

There are plenty of artists, bands, and songs that have ended up being exploited by the social order. That kind of means they’ve become so popular that the songs aren’t heard for their true, original meaning. They’ve become anthemic without the audience knowing what in the hell they’re singing, for instance. Others are so “ethereal that they don’t have grounding in the revolutionary struggle” – so the music doesn’t have anything to do with this world, or the artists have been so blinded by the delights that follow success that they’ve sold-out. Meaning, you guessed it, that they just want another hit, however they can get one. In any of these cases, the music is no longer capable of providing prospective, or it’s so heavily self-absorbed there’s just no seeing past it all.

Shlock rock is still rock

Interestingly enough, some bands and songs manage to do all of the above. In which case, the author believes is the best characterization for “schlock rock”, which, for those who just came in – is essentially pop music, circa 1956-1963. The only difference between shock rock and pop, based on the definitions used by this author, is that “shlock rock is still rock, it just ceases to be effective.”

Effective? I suppose if one is characterizing and judging rock music solely on it’s use for social revolution, then maybe. But is that all there is to it?

As the author continues to categorize music styles in order to explain his thought process and prove the basis for the theories presented in the book, he comes to an actual definition for pop. It isn’t kind.

Pop, pop…pop music

“Of the styles noted thus far, only Pop is intrinsically inauthentic, (and he backpedals a bit with the second half of the sentence) and this only to the extent the term is used to describe music deliberately created exclusively for monetary gain and no other reason.

There’s so much wrong with that definition, beginning with the fact that I know of startlingly few artists that create music SOLELY for the sheer joy of doing so. I also know of no one who goes to the trouble to create music solely for money. Sheer economics tells me otherwise. In 2020, music doesn’t pay well. Concerts might, but writing and recording? Think again. For 99% of the bands out there, sales aren’t great. It can’t just be about money for most bands and artists.

The author goes on, doubling down on his original comment. “Pop, therefore, reflections no one’s present experience, and thus has no immanence whatsoever. Nor does it convey with any conviction any particular set of values (expect perhaps plutocratic values), so it is totally devoid of transcendence as well. Pop music is best described as early rock and roll once was, namely, music consciously contrived to make money by appealing to the widest possible audience substance, merely empty calories.”

I prefer Pepsi for my empty calories

He goes on to equate pop with muzak heard on “EZ” listening stations, and finishes by adding, “Top 40 radio is a better target; it is obviously not immune to the “pop” disease. In all cases of “pop”, however, imitation (not merely making money) is pop’s key distinguishing feature, no matter how difficult it might be to accurately diagnose it’s presence.”

So, pop has no quality, it is unable to provide perspective, and is the non-food/beverage equivalent of a can of Coca-cola. Or…pop.

He goes as far as to call pop a disease. I can see that Robert Pielke and I are not going to be friends, and as a retired philosophy professor, he is an excellent example of why I avoided taking philosophy in college. Is there anything in here worth gleaning? Obviously, I don’t agree with some of his more editorial-sounding comments about pop, but that doesn’t make his definition any less accurate…or widely held.

The fact is, this is why Duran Duran has had such a difficult time with critics. It is why so many have an issue with the Hall of Fame, too. Rock is seen as serious, as something “worthy”. Pop is not. Even better (or not), pop was created as a music category for a female audience. Those EZ listening stations and Muzak? All designed and devised for female ears. Better to have them listening to something like that at work, or at the grocery store, or even at home over FM radio, rather than, God forbid, organizing a takeover of some sort with other women. Listening to music makes women more productive. Ever listen to some tunes while house cleaning or working out? It was all created with you (and me) in mind.

It was created for you

While the author explains that all styles of music, and all bands, have fallen prey to this pop disease at one time or another, it does little to sway my thinking. Even albums like Seven and the Ragged Tiger, or Red Carpet Massacre have their significance, even if critics are not able to see past the surface. Writing them off as bloviated examples of self-absorption is the easy way out for cowards unwilling to do the hard work necessary to understand the message contained within. I mean, if I can do it as a mere female….well, you get my point.

If bands and artists like Duran Duran are held to this definition of pop, and are regarded in this manner, then there is no question as to why they are never mentioned in history books, or given due credit. To say that Duran Duran are pure empty calories is like saying that songs such as “Rio” or “Pressure Off” have no significance beyond monetary value whatsoever. I am just not convinced that is the case. Moreover, working in absolutes, particularly in music, seems about as effective as shoveling out a horse stable with a teaspoon.

-R

Question of the Day: Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Yesterday’s winner: Other People’s Lives

Which song better represents the All You Need Is Now Tour: Safe or Shadows on Your Side?

Coming Soon
Which Song Better Represents the All You Need Is Now Tour?
Safe
Shadows on Your Side

Still Reaching

The time has come

Lately, I’ve been feeling far removed from the Duran Duran fandom. That isn’t so much a symptom of some personal strife keeping me from fully embracing all that is the band and fandom, as it is the effect of being between albums. Even so, aside from occasional dinners with my friend Lori, whom I met while road tripping to see Duran Duran in 2012, and writing this blog, there’s not much going on in my own fandom. (Real life, however, is very busy, and I’m enjoying it!) While I haven’t minded the quiet in Duranland, and I’m not in a hurry to have whatever is happening next to take place, I can’t help but notice the difference in how I’ve adjusted.

Before Paper Gods was released, I was chomping at the bit, almost angrily so, wondering why the album was taking so long. I felt like there was very little news coming from the band, and in a lot of ways for me personally, that seemed to make the waiting worse. This time around, for reasons I’m not entirely certain, I don’t seem to notice.

There still isn’t a lot of news coming from the band. I would say I know even less about this album, or what is to come from 2020 than I did Paper Gods. I barely batted an eye when John mentioned that the album wasn’t at a stage where it could be discussed, for instance. When rumors of summer dates recently trickled their way down to me, I didn’t really think twice about them. I figured when and if they’re announced, that would be the time to concern myself. I can’t imagine I’ve actually learned the art of patience before I turned the magic 5-0, so what is it?

Change

A lot of it, I think, really has come from just knowing this band. The album will arrive when it is ready, and hopefully not a second before. Dates are announced when it is time to announce them. Many of them will be in places I’m not able to travel. That said, I’ve already done more than my share. I’ve had a great deal of fun over the last fifteen years that I’ve traveled to see Duran Duran. I’m in a good place with all of that, and despite some objections from well-meaning friends otherwise, I’m seriously and truly not the least bit worried about how I’ll feel when and if concert dates are released. I don’t think I’ll feel left out, because I have one heck of a lot going on here at home. I’ll still do what I can, but the likelihood of traveling much beyond my bordering states is pretty slim. Believe it or not – I’m fine with that. I feel good about where I’m at.

Much more of my sense of disconnect though, comes from something different. I think I’m tired. Seeing posts from people who intentionally knock other fans just makes me roll my eyes in disgust. I really have come to hate the near-constant assertions of “I’m the best fan because ________________”. In that sense, I’m exhausted! Just today I saw a tweet from someone that read “eff the RCM haters”. Really? OK. That’s one hell of a way to make friends and influence people, but great. Sure, you can like or dislike whatever music you want. I couldn’t care less…and maybe that is what is really different from me now than five years ago.

At one point, I might have responded to that person in some sort of effort to A. take their attitude down a notch, and B. to prove that I’m not such a horrible fan for not loving every single song they’ve ever written. I’m sure it would have devolved into the type of “shouting” match that seems to happen on social media and nothing would have ended up being accomplished. I’d love to believe I have somehow grown past the urge to do that, but I don’t think that’s entirely it. This morning when I read a few posts of that vein, all I felt was an enormous sense of just being tired. I clicked off of the thread, put my phone down, and debated whether or not I even wanted to write. Is that a good or a bad thing? Difficult to say.

Go round together

I still love Duran Duran. That hasn’t changed one bit. I care about those guys, and intend to support whatever they come out with because seriously – forty years in, they’re still writing, recording, and performing. I’m going to applaud that because it’s far more than I’ve ever done or could hope to do. Their blood, sweat, and tears are worthy of my respect.

What I do struggle with though, is that although I write a blog for fellow fans to read – I am finding that I’m opting not to connect online any more than by writing each day. Whereas at one point I spent a great deal of time trying to cultivate more friendships, or chatting with fans, nowadays – I just don’t. It is as though I’m happy to go back to the band being more of a singular activity for myself – kind of as though I’ve run the entire trail and I’m back to where I first started. I never thought I’d get to the point where I just said “Enough!”, but here I am.

Music’s between us


Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy having heartfelt, genuine, knowledgable conversations about the music. Any music, for that matter. I find that I get far more out of talking about the history of rock and pop music in conjunction with American social history, than I do when I analyze why fans seem to fall into the same predictable patterns over, and over again. Again, I can’t decide if any of this is really a good thing, or a bad thing, or even how it might affect me or the blog going forward. That’s probably why I chose to write about it today. Sometimes, it helps to sort it all out. Today, I finish feeling conflicted, but at the same time a little relieved. At least my feelings are out there, and perhaps at a later date, everything will be clear to me. Until then, I’m off to enjoy some sunshine.

-R

Question of the Day: Monday, February 17, 2020

Yesterday’s winner: Mediterranea

Which song better represents the All You Need Is Now Tour: Other People’s Lives or The Reflex?

Coming Soon
Which Song Better Represents the All You Need Is Now Tour?
Other People's Lives
The Reflex

Happy Birthday Andy!

Rhonda and I have been writing this blog for over nine years! Yet, I don’t think I have ever written a blog post for Andy’s birthday before. How is that possible?! Anyway, today is Andy’s 59th birthday and I definitely want to celebrate him before wishing him the best birthday ever! What is the best way to acknowledge his big day? For me, it is to watch some Andy highlights and to cheer his amazing career.

Duran!

How in the world can I choose videos that capture what Andy Taylor meant to Duran in those early years? I’ll just pick a few but there were a ton more that I could have chosen.

Power Station!

I could not forget about Power Station both in 1985 and in 1996.

Solo career

Who didn’t love Andy’s solo work from the 1980s? As much as most of us didn’t want him to leave Duran, many had to admit that his solo work was pretty dang good like this one:

Reunion

Whenever I think about the reunion and having all five members back together, I cannot help but to smile. It was my childhood dream coming true! When the first songs and videos were released from that time, I ate it all up and could not get enough. One thing I thought was particularly awesome was the set of Sunrise videos that focused on each guy. Here’s Andy’s:

Here’s a video of Andy playing Save a Prayer during that Astronaut Tour.

Live 2019!

I love that Andy is still out there performing and love it even more that he has not rejected his Duran history as seen here:

On that note, I wish Andy the best birthday ever!

-A