Category Archives: chart success

You Walk the Line

Yesterday, I came across a short article from tvovermind.com, titled “Five 80s Bands We Really Want to Make a Comeback”

Naturally, I had to click on it.

It turns out, and you may want to sit down before reading on, because it is certainly a shock…but Duran Duran is one of the 80s bands they want to make a comeback.

Now I can see the big idea

Strange things happen overnight. An article that had originally been worded with a vague reference to an MIA fan base was reformed. Now it’s not a “knock on Duran Duran.” It’s the opposite, so the article states. They’re just interested in a “certain type of music to be more prevalent”. Yesterday, comments about personnel changes and setbacks took the lead. Today, the blurb was edited so that the reader might understand that Duran Duran has taken their knocks along the way. But hey, they’re still thriving.

Well, there’s something I agree with!

Duran Duran IS thriving.

However, the writer wants the band to go back to their 80s roots, claiming that we’d all love them more.

Would we, though?

An empire in a day

I say again, it is 2019. Do we really want Duran Duran to go back to playing the same old, same old – or do we want this band to continue to challenge themselves as well as their listeners? I would argue that to continue writing music circa-1985 would be the easy way out. I also think we’d all be incredibly bored by now. I’ll just say it myself: I would be so bored!!

No, I haven’t fallen deeply in love with every single thing the band has ever done. I do; however, have a deep appreciation and respect for the course the band has taken to get to this point right here and now. As I tell my own children—sometimes, you have to fall, in order to get back up again.

Duran Duran isn’t the same band that they were back in 1985. Then again, it isn’t still 1985. A good many things have changed since then. Even the music industry itself has changed! Music doesn’t sell the same way, bands can’t market themselves with a glossy, lacquered video and expect the money to roll on in. This band, or any band for that matter, cannot simply turn back the dial to 1985 in order to hear their name roll swiftly off the lips of all who inhabit Planet Earth again. I’m not even sure I wish that as a possibility.

Out of range, but in time

As I complained openly on Twitter yesterday, I’m tired of reading about the hopes of a comeback. During the past 19 years, Duran Duran has released five albums (thank you to C.K. for reminding me that Pop Trash came out in 2000….five lashes to me for leaving that out!), and Paper Gods even sat in the top ten. That doesn’t sound like a band that needs to make a comeback at all. They’ve been bringing it the entire time! Where have YOU been?

While the band itself might be unfazed by such articles, and perhaps might even secretly enjoy seeing them because it puts them in the position of looking like they are constantly fighting—I specifically took issue because the original unedited piece made it seem as though the fans have been somewhat MIA.

I don’t know about you all, but I haven’t gone anywhere. I’m not done yet. Are you?

-R



Paper Gods and Chart Success

I don’t pay a lot of attention to chart success, but occasionally something will grab my interest. This past week there were two things! First off, I couldn’t help but notice that David Bowie’s album Blackstar went to #1. I can’t imagine I’m the only one out there struck by the thought that this is his first #1 album ever.  Really?!?  (yes, really!) Secondly, I saw that Paper Gods re-entered Billboard at #45. The year 2016 seems as though it might be full of surprises…

It wasn’t the fact that Blackstar hit number one that surprised me. In many ways, I anticipated as much, and truthfully I think it would have disappointed me had it not charted that way.  No, what really surprises me is that this is his very first #1. I just don’t get it.  I’ve seen all of the love, the devotion, the sadness, the pure emotion…and yet there’s not been a number one hit for Bowie until this album. I guess that really just goes to show how incredibly screwed up the charts and sales can be. I am sure that I could invest many hours of time looking over the past charts, finding out what albums/singles did hit number one during the same periods of time that David Bowie had albums release….but I won’t.  I think we all understand, or we all should understand by now, that artistic merit doesn’t always equal commercial success…in fact it is rare when it does. On one hand, I’m thrilled to see Blackstar making its way into the playlists of so many (including my own), and on the other, there’s a niggling bit of sadness that it took so long and came so late. One might wonder if there would have been the same outcome had it not been for Bowie’s death two days after the album’s release. Another might say that we can’t think that way, because we will never really know. Truthfully, both thoughts run circles in my head today.  I suspect the real journey of Blackstar is only beginning, regardless of how that interest was originally fueled.

Then there’s Paper Gods and it’s chart success. Honestly. Sometimes, I just have to sit back and watch in wonder when it comes to this band. It’s no wonder I am rarely bored when it comes to Duran Duran. When this album first came out, I realized it would chart well, at least initially because of streaming and the sheer force of promotion. Katy’s hard work did not go unrecognized, and the album  was #10. It was a thrilling, welcome moment for the band, whether we fans want to admit that or not. When the album exited the top of the charts just as quickly, I tried not to notice or pay attention.

I know many fans will say chart success doesn’t matter, that they don’t care – they just love Duran Duran and the rest doesn’t matter. I get that. Fans are lucky in that respect. We can like what we like and not worry about the commercial aspect. I don’t personally believe it’s something that the band can or should try for when writing, but we’re all kidding ourselves if we think it doesn’t matter at least in some aspect. Sales matter. Money matters. The album needs to be able to pay for itself, otherwise we’ve all got problems. Let’s be honest: Duran Duran would like to know the album is getting out there to the people. I don’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of the music industry, but I do understand the basics. Gotta sell the music, whether by albums, by ticket sales, or something else… to make it all work. I don’t think Duran Duran sees the whole “music thing” as a hobby, and so there’s not much point in doing all of it for free. Hence…charts matter, at least to a limited extent to the band and their management. Let’s all take a moment to be thankful they don’t have to matter to the music lovers out there….

I don’t really know how “The Powers That Be” see the success of Paper Gods, at least not yet. I’d quietly wondered if they’d written it off when it left the charts, not knowing what they were planning next (keep reading). I knew we’d never really see (at least not until much later) if there was any disappointment, because it’s obviously not to the benefit of the band to mention worry when it exited the charts so quickly. In protection and promotion of the band, staying positive is key. Paper Gods hit #10. A Duran Duran album was in the top 10 for the first time in twenty years. Those are not bad notes to hang one’s fedora on, some thirty years into a career, and we cheer those things on. Even so, I had to wonder what the band  was feeling. Does it ever get a bit irritating to know you’ve worked your ass off, put out what you feel to be some of your best work ever, and have it drop off the radar so fast? Is that the way it happens with most bands? I don’t pay enough attention to really know….and we can’t all be Adele all of the time, can we? Nick has mentioned a few times that there’s just so much out there, it’s difficult to get the music heard. He’s right. For all the good that the internet does, I know that even personally, I feel like it’s a constant flood of information. I miss things. I don’t hear every single bit of new music that’s out there, and talk about being overwhelmed? Oh yes. Very. How can they possibly get their music heard? Land-based radio sure as hell hasn’t helped, so what can be done?

Enter in ticket sales. Remember those Ticketmaster or Land Nation purchases we all just made (and probably have now seen on our credit card statements)?? Each ticket came with a copy of Paper Gods. Obviously someone in marketing is fully committed to the success of Paper Gods. At the time, I wondered out loud to Amanda if those albums would in fact count towards album sales. To be completely fair, I am still not entirely sure…but from the reading I’ve done, it appears that yes, they would. I think. The “rules” seem sketchy at best, and they seem to vary based on chart. That said, the proof seems to be in the pudding, and Paper Gods re-entered the charts last week at #45…12,000+ units having been sold.  Was it the upcoming tour that really provoked the sudden buying spree, or was it that the tickets each came bundled with their own copy of the album that are counting towards those chart sales, and… is it artificially inflating the chart position if in fact that is how those CD’s that came bundled with the tickets are being counted?  Does it matter?

For what my own opinion may be worth, I think any time Duran Duran is able to get themselves onto the charts, it is ultimately good.  I have no issue with “artificially” inflating the charts because the bottom line is that if a copy of the album was purchased – then it was purchased, whether with a concert ticket or without; whether due to an upcoming tour or not.  The method makes little difference. After all, what is really the difference between buying an album with a concert ticket as a bundle or going up to the merchandise booth after a show, or going to iTunes, and buying a copy?  All DD has really done is speed up that buying process, and given someone the opportunity to listen. Truthfully, this is indeed the playing field the band has been set on in the year 2015 and 2016 – they have got to get their album heard by as many people as possible. Never mind that I personally have approximately seven extra copies of this album that I really do not need. The idea, of course, is visibility. The band cannot possibly hope to get the album noticed unless they do something to force that exposure. Putting the album in the hands of people who cared enough to buy a tour ticket but maybe didn’t care enough about the new music to make the purchase seems reasonable. Will it convince a casual fan to put the CD in their music player and tell others?  Those chapters have yet to be written in the tale of the Paper Gods, but I look forward to seeing where it all goes.

-R

Duran Duran History – The Snake Returns

Duran Duran History for today, December 24 – as an early Christmas “gift” to the band and their fans, The Union of the Snake re-enters the UK charts and peaked at number 66 on this day in 1983.

I’m sure none of us have heard that song enough, so I’m including the video here. By now everyone must be sick of Christmas songs anyway, so give it a listen. Play it loud and proud while you’re playing Santa tonight! (maybe not TOO loud…)

-R

Duran Duran History – Arena

The Arena album makes Duran Duran history today by climbing all the way to #4 on US charts on this day in 1984. 1984 wasn’t a bad time to be a Duranie: from MTV to radio, magazines to board games, it seemed like the band was everywhere, and in many ways fans were spoiled into believing it would always be that way. There was little (if any) down time for the band during this period and it seemed that nothing but good times lay ahead. Little did fans realize that with the end of 1984 also came the veritable end of the band’s initial heyday…at least as far as chart success, and the general public was able to gauge.

-R

 

Today in Duran History – Serious

On today’s date in 1990, Serious peaked at number 48 on the charts in the UK.

I don’t care what Nick Rhodes says, Serious is yet another example of an underrated Duran Duran song.  I still love that opening groove. In fact, we’re gonna watch the video right now and celebrate right along with the Gum Chewing Controller.  (You’re welcome, Nicholas. Anytime!!)

Happy Monday!

-R

The Ranking of the Singles: UK Charts vs. Fans

Last week, I compared Duran Duran’s singles success in the UK and in the US.  In general, Duran has done much better in the UK than in the US.  I could speculate the reasons why but they would just be guesses on my part based on what I know about the US vs. the UK.  One fact that might have made a big difference, at least, initially, was that Duran is from the UK and got a lot more attention and press there when they first started whereas it took years for the majority of people to really pay attention here in the US.  All of that said, I wonder how their chart success compares to how their FANS would rank their singles.  A couple of months I asked Duranies to rank the singles in order of preference.  I then compared those rankings to Duran’s success in the US, which you can read here.  Now, it is time to compare the fans vs. the UK.

Single                               UK Chart Peak                             How Fans Ranked

All She Wants Is                9                                                        28th

All You Need Is Now       Unknown                                     3rd

A View to a Kill                  2                                                        14th

Burning the Ground      31                                                      30th

Careless Memories       37                                                       8th

Come Undone                  13                                                      13th

Do You Believe in Shame   30                                              15th

Electric Barbarella          23                                                      32nd

Falling Down                     52                                                      27th

Girls on Film                       5                                                         6th

Girl Panic                           Unknown                                       16th

Hungry Like the Wolf    5                                                        17th

I Don’t Want Your Love   14                                                      22nd

Is There Something…       1                                                       11th

Meet el Presidente           24                                                     35th

My Own Way                       14                                                    25th

New Moon on Monday    9                                                     12th

Notorious                                 7                                                     18th

Ordinary World                   6                                                      5th

Out of my Mind                  21                                                    29th

Perfect Day                          28                                                    24th

Planet Earth                         12                                                    1st

The Reflex                              1                                                       7th

Rio                                              9                                                       4th

Save a Prayer                        2                                                    2nd

Serious                                     48                                                 25th

Skin Trade                               22                                                  30th

Someone Else Not Me    54                                                 34th

Sunrise                                       5                                                  9th

Too Much Information      35                                                 20th

Union of the Snake             3                                                     19th

Violence of Summer         20                                                    33rd

What Happens Tomorrow  11                                             23rd

White Lines                          17                                                   21st

Wild Boys                               2                                                      9th

What songs reached the top spot in the UK?  The Reflex and Is There Something I Should Know?  Were those high on the fans’ list?  They weren’t terrible but they weren’t great.  The Reflex did better at the 7th favorite versus ITSISK that ranked 11th.

What are other songs that hit the top 5?  Number twos were:  Wild Boys (Ranked 9th), Save a Prayer (Ranked 2nd), and A View to a Kill (Ranked 14th).  The number three was:  Union of the Snake (Ranked 19th).  Number fives were:  Sunrise (Ranked 9th), Hungry Like the Wolf (17th), and Girls on Film (Ranked 6th).  Obviously, the fans were close to the chart positions on a couple of songs:  Save a Prayer and Girls on Film.  Others showed a big difference from chart success to being loved by fans, especially Union of the Snake and Hungry Like the Wolf.

What about the opposite?  How did the fans’ favorites do on the charts?  Planet Earth (peaked at 12), Save a Prayer (peaked at 2), All You Need Is Now (Unknown–it sounds like this song wasn’t released as a single there), Rio (peaked at 9), and Ordinary World (peaked at 6).  In general, though, fan favorites did pretty well on the charts.

What does this show?  I think it shows that fan favorites match more to the UK charts than the US charts.  Why is this?  I don’t know.  One thing could be that fans take the entire catalog into consideration and the US charts didn’t.  They really only focused on a few albums.  The UK charts, on the other hand, show that Duran had success there throughout the band’s career as opposed to just a few years.  What do you think?  Why do the fans match the UK charts better?

-A

Duran Singles: US vs. UK

About a month ago, I wrote a blog here where I compared and analyzed the fans’ ranking of Duran Duran singles to their actual chart position (in the US).  While people were interested in the results, they were also interested in how the fans’ ranking compared to the UK charts.  After all, Duran Duran is from the UK and we know that their chart success there was different.  While I absolutely plan on comparing the fans’ result to the UK charts, I also want to take the time to really compare the UK charts to the US charts.

Single                               Chart Peak in US                        Chart Peak in UK

All She Wants Is                22                                                    9

All You Need Is Now       Did not chart                            Unknown

A View to a Kill                  1                                                        2

Burning the Ground      Did not chart                               31

Careless Memories        Did not chart                               37

Come Undone                   7                                                         13

Do You Believe in Shame   72                                               30

Electric Barbarella          52                                                      23

Falling Down                     Did not chart                               52

Girls on Film                       Did not chart                               5

Girl Panic                             Did not chart                               Unknown

Hungry Like the Wolf    3                                                         5

I Don’t Want Your Love   4                                                      14

Is There Something…       4                                                       1

Meet el Presidente           70                                                     24

My Own Way                       Did not chart                             14

New Moon on Monday    10                                                   9

Notorious                                 2                                                      7

Ordinary World                   3                                                       6

Out of my Mind                  Did not chart                             21

Perfect Day                           Did not chart                             28

Planet Earth                          Did not chart                             12

The Reflex                              1                                                       1

Rio                                              14                                                     9

Save a Prayer                        16                                                    2

Serious                                     Did not chart                            48

Skin Trade                                39                                                  22

Someone Else Not Me    Did not chart                            54

Sunrise                                       89                                                  5

Too Much Information      45                                                 35

Union of the Snake             3                                                     3

Violence of Summer         64                                                    20

What Happens Tomorrow  Did not chart                      11

White Lines                           Did not chart                             17

Wild Boys                               2                                                      2

While I knew that Duran had a lot more success in the UK for the singles accompanying their first album, I didn’t realize how successful those reunion singles were in the UK.  Here in the US, Duran Duran couldn’t get played on a radio station no matter what in 2004.  I distinctly remember how much The Killers were getting played during the Astronaut era but Duran couldn’t get played.  I didn’t get it.  I still don’t.  Musically, there isn’t much difference between the two bands.  Why play one and not the other?  Is it the age thing?  What does this say about America versus the UK?

Across the board, the UK has been MUCH, MUCH kinder to Duran Duran.  For example, there are a number of songs that charted in the UK that didn’t here.  Likewise, the ones that charted in both places tended to do better there than here.  In fact, the only songs that Duran did better in the US were:  Ordinary World (3 vs. 6–still very close results), Notorious (2 vs. 7–still close), I Don’t Want Your Love (4 vs. 14—Hmmm…), Hungry Like the Wolf (3 vs. 5–super close), Come Undone (7 vs. 13–close), and A View to a Kill (1 vs. 2).  Thus, the only times that Duran did better in the US was when they had a super successful hit on BOTH sides of the Atlantic.  There has never been a song that has been successful in the US that hasn’t been successful in the UK.  The only song that really surprised me, in terms of its success was I Don’t Want Your Love.  I’m surprised that it did that well since it followed Meet el Presidente, which went no where.  That said, I do remember it getting played quite a bit on MTV.  I wish I also had the number of times the video was played on MTV to  compare.  That would be super fascinating.

So, what  jumps out at you?  What did you learn?

-A

Today in Duran History – Carnival

On today’s date in 1982, Carnival broke the Top 100 (#98) in the US, being the first Duran album to do so. Once I was older and realized that the Kershenbaum mixes on Carnival were slightly different than the original, I sat down and really listened to both. I was surprised at how subtle the changes were, and yet that somehow made all the difference when it came to radio play in the US.  Anyone else??

Just recently, duranduran.com featured a Collectors Corner regarding Carnival. You can check that out here.

-R

Analysis of the Ranking of the Singles

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a blog, which listed the results of how the fans (at least those who participated!) rank Duran Duran’s singles with one being the favorite and 35 being the least favorite of their singles.  To read that entire blog, go here.  On that post, I promised that I would take some time to analyze the results.  What did the results say about the preferences of the fans?  How did those results compare with how the singles actually did in the US charts, according to Billboard?  Let’s start there.

Single                               Chart Peak                             How Fans Ranked

All She Wants Is                22                                                    28th

All You Need Is Now       Did not chart                             3rd

A View to a Kill                  1                                                        14th

Burning the Ground      Did not chart                               30th

Careless Memories        Did not chart                               8th

Come Undone                   7                                                         13th

Do You Believe in Shame   72                                               15th

Electric Barbarella          52                                                      32nd

Falling Down                     Did not chart                               27th

Girls on Film                       Did not chart                               6th

Girl Panic                             Did not chart                               16th

Hungry Like the Wolf    3                                                         17th

I Don’t Want Your Love   4                                                      22nd

Is There Something…       4                                                       11th

Meet el Presidente           70                                                     35th

My Own Way                       Did not chart                             25th

New Moon on Monday    10                                                   12th

Notorious                                 2                                                      18th

Ordinary World                   3                                                       5th

Out of my Mind                  Did not chart                             29th

Perfect Day                           Did not chart                             24th

Planet Earth                          Did not chart                              1st

The Reflex                              1                                                       7th

Rio                                              14                                                     4th

Save a Prayer                        16                                                    2nd

Serious                                     Did not chart                            25th

Skin Trade                                39                                                  30th

Someone Else Not Me    Did not chart                            34th

Sunrise                                       89                                                  9th

Too Much Information      45                                                 20th

Union of the Snake             3                                                     19th

Violence of Summer         64                                                    33rd

What Happens Tomorrow  Did not chart                      23rd

White Lines                           Did not chart                             21st

Wild Boys                               2                                                      9th

So, how did we compare?  Were the numbers ones our favorites?   Duran’s two number hits here were A View to a Kill and the Reflex.  AVTAK was only in the top 40th percentile for us, the FANS.  When I say percentile, it means that it is higher than 40% of the rest of the singles.  Clearly, that single isn’t a big fan favorite.  What about the Reflex?  That did much better.  It was in the 20th percentile.  Still, there were others that the fans seemed to think should have been big hits.  What about the rest of those songs who made it to the top 5 on Billboard charts:  Wild Boys (26%tile), Union of the Snake (54%tile), Ordinary World (14%tile), Notorious (51%tile), ITSISK (31%tile), IDWYL (63%tile), and HLTW (49%tile).  Based on that, the only singles that we feel deserve their fabulous chart success are the Reflex and Ordinary World.  (Obviously, we would love for all Duran singles to be hits, right?  I know that.  My point here is that the singles that were loved by everyone weren’t necessarily our favorites!)

Instead, the fans think that Planet Earth, Save a Prayer, All You Need Is Now, Rio and Girls on Film should have also done extremely well in the charts.  Some of those didn’t even chart at all, including Planet Earth, All You Need Is Now and Girls on Film.  In the case of those two off the first album, they were released before Duran Duran got real airplay or video play here in the States.  All You Need Is Now, unfortunately, was released in an era in which Duran can’t seem to get chart success for anything!

What does this all show?  Simple.  Chart success does not equal what fans love.  At times, fans have loved the songs that have done well.  At other times, the preferences go for songs that have never fared well or did not even make it onto the charts at all!  Obviously, if Duranies made these decisions, their chart success history would look very, very different.

-A