Category Archives: criticism

Must Read: Duran Duran Article

It is a quiet time in Duranland as it will be months before Duran Duran is set to play in Cancun and even longer before those festivals in South America.  No new music is on the horizon.  Fans often get anxious for any news or talking points on the band.  (Maybe, that’s just me since I want to have something to blog about!)  Luckily, an article about Duran Duran popped up that is worthy of a read and worthy of a response.  That article written by Duran Duran fan, Lyndsey Parker, and can be and should be read here.

As soon as I read it, I knew that I had to blog about it.  The premise of the article is that Duran Duran has always been a fabulous band even when the band was criticized, demeaned, and put down in the 80s.  Before I even started reading the article, I found myself nodding in agreement.  Of course, they were great!  Duh!  That said, I always appreciate anyone willing to take the time to prove that.

The article begins by stating how they had all of the ingredients of being a cool and well-respected band when the band formed.  After all, they had great influences and worked with amazing people.  Then, a John Taylor quote pops up stating that something went “wrong”.  I never heard or read that quote before and it definitely caught my attention.  Then, of course, the author explains what went wrong or why Duran didn’t get the credit they deserved.

The obvious answer has to do with the marketing to teens, especially to teen girls.  Once that happened, it seemed like every other  move the band made fed into this negative image that music journalists and critics had for the band.  Of course, this is something that Rhonda and I have discussed on here many, many times.  Be careful for what you wish for, I guess.  In this case, while looking good, having an attractive image, being willing to appear on teen magazines, etc. helped to sell a ton of albums and got the band thousands of female fans from around the world, it also meant that the band wouldn’t get the credit they deserve.  I appreciated the quote at the end of this section of the article, one in which Simon discussed how the music industry was run by men but how girls liked Duran.

I couldn’t agree more with Simon there.  The problem isn’t really that the band allowed themselves to be marketed to teen girls.  The problem is the disrespect and dismissal of females, especially young females as men assume that girls cannot determine quality music.  It seems to me to be an obvious case of sexism, which sounds weird to say when describing a male band’s career success.  Basically, I believe that if Duran had a male audience, they would have received critical acclaim.  Instead, they got treated like women and girls often are.  Thus, it isn’t that the band made a wrong career move but that society, in this case, sucks.

Then, Ms. Parker’s article explains how wrong the critics were for dismissing the band.  She didn’t dive into my sexism theory but instead proved how amazing Duran’s career has been from the very first album through the most recent.  For Duranies, her arguments weren’t new but always welcomed.  Not only does she describe the quality of their music, including the fabulous skills that each member brings to the table, but she also applauds their career moves that challenged their status quo.  She lists both side projects and even musical changes between albums.  The risks, many unnecessary, should be cheered rather than jeered, according to the article.  I have to agree.

Many long lasting bands find a formula that works for them and repeat it over and over.  Some bands that come to mind include U2 and Depeche Mode.  When a new album of theirs comes out, fans generally know what to expect.  That is not the case with Duran.  Sometimes, they hit and other times they make more of a miss and Ms. Parker isn’t afraid to point that out, either, which I appreciated.  I agree with all of that.  Duran’s risks should be praised.  They refuse to stay in a corner that is comfortable but instead choose to push themselves.  To me, that is the sign of a real artist.  Artists are willing to try something new and fail.

All in all, this article really explained a lot about why people dismissed Duran and why they shouldn’t have.  In my opinion, it is a must read article for any Duran fan but also one that non-Duran fans need to read.

-A

Looking for the Real World

My high school students are addicted to their cell phones.  Our school policy to have them “off and away.”  For many students, this policy is equal to having their arms cut off or their tongues removed.  It is torture.  Why are they so addicted?  Simple.  Social media.  They are constantly on Facebook or Snapchat, following their friends’ every move.  Of course, I recognize that I, too, am pretty addicted to my phone and to social media.  I think it is a pretty common problem to have in our modern times.  After all, social media provides many of us with a means to communicate with friends and to connect with others.  It can also be a news source and a means to engage in fan activities. Social media provides an easy way to discuss one’s interests and discover new ones.  It is certainly a big way that bands get information out to fans and to try and recruit new ones.  This certainly is different than how the music industry and its fans operated when I was a kid and I wonder if it is an improvement.

When I was a kid (and I absolutely HATE phrasing any sentence that way!), I discovered new music through one of three ways.  I heard the song/artist on the radio, I saw the video on MTV or Friday Night Videos or I heard a song/artist/album through friends.  It seemed relatively simple then.  For me, I listened to a lot of Chicago Top 40 radio.  In 1984, for example, B96 was constantly on, as was MTV when I was the one to choose what was being watched in our TV room.  These sources, of course, introduced me to Duran Duran and I have never looked back since!  That said, during those years, I couldn’t JUST listen or watch Duran Duran.  I had to put up with a lot of music on the radio that wasn’t from my favorite band.  Many videos aired before the 24 hour video channel would air the latest Duran video again.  I had no choice but to be exposed to lots of other artists.  For me, then, in a way, it was good that I had to wait for songs/videos I wanted to hear/see.  I definitely found some songs and artists that way that I wouldn’t have with today’s structure.  No, in the day and age we live in now, I can go to YouTube or Spotify or Pandora or whatever to see and/or hear a song from someone instantly.  I’m the DJ and the VJ now.  I decide what gets played, when.  Heck, TV is such that I don’t have to wait out performances or interviews to get to ones I’m interested in as I can always record shows and watch them at my leisure later.  It seems like a great situation for consumers, right?  It is, for many reasons.  I don’t have to put up with anything I don’t like.  On the same token, I might be missing out on great songs and bands this way.  Then, I also wonder what it is like on the other side of the coin.  How is it for the bands and artists?
I suspect it is similar to consumers in that there are both positives and negatives.  On one hand, bands/artists don’t need to rely on radio or TV to get their music out there.  This has to be a positive for up and coming artists.  Plus, all bands/artists can connect with their fans, which really does help keep fans interested.  That said, there are SO many social networking sites to monitor, to post on, to respond on that I have to wonder if there are just too many choices for fans and artists.  Look at every email Duran Duran sends out in terms of their social networking information.  It always says this:
 Don’t forget to Bookmark:

Duranduran.com
The Duran Duran VIP Fan Community
Duran Duran on Facebook
Duran Duran on Twitter 
Duran Duran on Instagram
Duran Duran on Google Plus 
Duran Duran on YouTube
Duran Duran on SoundCloud

This is a LOT of places.  Someone has to update those.  Someone could take a lot of time to respond to fans on all those.  After all, we all know that each social networking site is different and has different types of audiences.  Look, for example, at the reaction to Duran Duran’s participation at the Al Gore Climate Change event.  The reaction was relative quiet on Twitter but Facebook had LOTS of passionate responses.  How do bands/artists really know what the fan base really thinks?  How do bands/artists really connect to fans on ALL of those sites?  It could be a full time job.  Social networking takes a lot time.  I know that Rhonda and I spend a lot of time on social networking.   After all, we post our blogs here on our website and link to it on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Tumblr, our message board, and more.  Some days, we spend a lot of time reading and responding to comments we get on all of those places and that is just what we get publicly!  Of course, all of the feedback that bands/artists get on social networking isn’t always positive.  Some of it can be pretty negative.  Again, when I think of my childhood, the criticism that bands like Duran got seemed to be centered around the press.  That wasn’t fun, I bet, but might be easier than dealing with criticism from the press AND the general public.  All this got me thinking about how overwhelming social networking is and can be makes me appreciate any and all times that DDHQ (the social networking people working for the band) does respond to people or does like some statement or retweet something.
Social networking, I guess, like everything else has its positives and negatives for bands/artists and fans.  It isn’t going to be going anywhere soon.  It is here to stay.  In fact, I suspect that there will be more and more social networking sites in the future.  While bands/artists might be able to their music out to more people, at times, it seems overwhelming.  At those times, I long for the easier day and age when I just had to watch MTV and listen to Top 40 radio.
-A

Clever Words

I’m sitting here writing as I listen to Brandon Flowers’ new album, The Desired Effect. Yes, I realize I’m writing for Daily Duranie, and so this choice in music while writing might seem off. Fair enough. The funny thing is that while listening, I was reading some of the reviews of his work, and that gave me the idea for this post.

Before I forget…so far, I really like the album…and if you’re a fan of The Killers, or Brandon himself…or you’re just dying for new music, I think you should check it out.

I don’t know if I’m really that unusual by reading a lot of music reviews when one of my favorite bands come out with a new album. I like reading what others think about the music. Granted, over the years reading those reviews has sometimes made me want to scream, but I still read. This morning, I read a particular review on Consequence of Sound that really set poorly with me. It really wasn’t that the reviewer gave The Desired Effect a “C+” because a review is merely an opinion, and not everyone is going to love everything that I might. The real problem was that the review had precious little to do with the album in question, and far too much about Brandon himself. I came away questioning whether she really reviewed the music or if she was reviewing Brandon’s personality, particularly his opinion of Kanye West. (Which I happen to share. Proudly.)

After reading the review, I read the comments. I knew there would be some scathing replies by fans, because let’s be honest, no one likes reading reviews that trash a favorite band or singer. Sure enough, there was more than one comment in favor of Brandon, but most, if not all of the comments were written by people who found the same issues with the review that I had. A few even agreed that she was entitled to her opinions, but that they wished she’d back up the grade she gave the album with reasons – and I had to agree, she certainly didn’t give any reasons for the grade.  Instead, she wrote about Brandon’s tendency to have diarrhea of the mouth (her words, not mine) and the fact that he’s Mormon, which seemed out of place to me in an album review.  I was genuinely surprised by the lack of venom, and there wasn’t a single calling for this woman’s head, which was refreshing.  She didn’t feel the need to come back and answer the comments, nor did she run to call the fans and others who found fault “crazy”.

As I typed out a well-worded comment that I am sure will never be read by the reviewer, it struck me that very soon, I’ll probably be getting just as disgusted by reviews of Duran Duran’s new album. I can remember many times in recent memory where a show or even an album was reviewed less-than-favorably, and the Duranies came out in droves in defense of the band.

We fans are a loyal lot. We might really get down on the band for Durantime, and we might really be vocal about some of the things we don’t like from time to time (and I’m “speaking” collectively, not just about Daily Duranie!), but when push comes to shove – nobody had better screw with our band. (See that ownership?!?) The trouble is, Duran fans have been characterized as having a bit of a mob-mentality over the years. It’s not enough to simply disagree with someone’s opinion, we tend to want to tear them limb from limb for daring to cross Duran Duran. Instead of making our point(s) concise and clear, and sounding like intelligent people, sometimes Duranies come off sounding exactly as the world likes to characterize us, as “psycho fans”.  Yes, we’re loyal…to a fault, really.

With that loyalty and “ownership” comes great responsibility.  We must work to show the world that not only are we fans of the band, we’re also intelligent and understand music. We must illustrate that we not only know what we love(d) about the 80’s (Like it or not, reviewers and critics will ALWAYS be quick to remind us that the band were has-been pinups of the 80s, because that’s how they discount them), but we know what we like about current music…and before someone tells me there’s “nothing”  If we really want to support the band and respond appropriately to critics, we have to get past the “I love you’s”, not be completely stuck in the 80’s, and explain what it really is about their music that makes it worthy and relevant. Hopefully in a few short months, we’ll all hear the new album and know how to put the answers to those questions in words.  In other words, we might have to leave some of our more gushy fandom at the door.  We can’t seek “blood”…. we must seek to first understand, and then educate. This band has been around for  nearly 37 years at this point. Many of us have been fans for nearly all of that time, we aren’t wrong about our excitement and passion for this band. Their longevity proves that over and over again, before any of us even bothers to wield our fingers over our keyboards as possible weaponry.

-R

Duran Duran Fans: Skeptics?

Some may have noticed I was late with the date in history for yesterday. At this point, it might just be safer for mankind if they wrap my house in orange biohazard plastic and call it a day. I used to say that there is nothing worse than having two kids get the stomach flu at the same time. I was wrong. THREE kids with stomach flu is in fact worse. Most of us have moved on to sore throats, coughing and all of that fun now, so I’m back to blogging.

I try to comment and make sense of things I see being said around the Duran Duran fan community. I suspect the band doesn’t bother reading or cares much about what is being said these days, and perhaps the same goes for management. I just believe that our voices deserve the right to be seen and heard.

I used to see many shout-outs of 2015 being the band’s year (and prior to that – 2014!) Lately, I see a whole lot more of “Maybe mid 2015…or beginning 2016, but it could be a lot longer” than I do anything else. Not many Duran Duran fans believe that the band will tour this year, and still fewer believe that the album will actually come out during the summer. Yes, I know what the band has said. The band has done it’s job incredibly well over the past few years – letting Duran Duran fans know at each turn that they’re in no hurry to finish the album, that they aren’t necessarily ready to get back on the road, and that we fans should just get used to it.  Duran Duran fans have lived through the band’s comments of not knowing when the album would be completed to “maybe late-2014”, to “early 2015” and most recently, “June at the earliest” and “definitely sometime in 2015”. Ambiguity reigns. We’re almost through to Autumn 2015 and it’s not even the end of January yet.

The one thing I’ve always known about Duran Duran fans – the vast majority, anyway – they are an incredibly optimistic lot. One might say their fandom LIES in their optimism. After all, this is a fan community that rallied for the fab five to reunite many years before it actually happened. Once that reunion was announced, it was believed that just about anything could happen with this band. This wasn’t just optimism…we all believed it. We LIVED it. Duran Duran fans were mostly undeterred by Andy’s eventual second departure, believing that the band was still very far from finished. Duran fans are positive, uplifting people – likely because they took that cue directly from the band.

At this point it’s clear that the Great Duran Duran Fan Optimism Train has made it’s way over the Great Hill and is now powering downhill straight into the Valley of Darkness. Some of the most positive people I know (and I’m not counting myself in that crowd) in the Duraniverse are openly and publicly questioning the year(s) to come – and I can’t really blame them. After all, they listen to the band  – whether that is through interviews, tweets, notes or news. They fear that even as the band says the words of excitement for this album, the emotion doesn’t quite match their voice. Even the most optimistic amongst us takes notice after a while.

It is 100% possible that Duran Duran fans have misread the band. Perhaps it isn’t a lack of interest, but exhaustion. Maybe not boredom, but instead the effects of spending entirely too long in the studio. Isn’t that still a problem? After all, it is not just the voices heard in Katy Kafes that fans question – it is the collective retreat from social media, lack of engagement with fans, news or updates from the studio (as opposed to prior albums we have heard precious little about this one, other than that big names they’ve had in the studio) and the lack of interest in giving album info on Katy Kafe that has led many to this point of skepticism.

In order to make fans believe in this project and shout about it from rooftops, the band has to first sell Duran Duran fans. I cannot help but recall the days before Red Carpet Massacre was released, as more and more often I am seeing direct parallels. The sense of skepticism in the community was palatable. In hindsight, I really believe the band was completely unaware of just how unsure Duran Duran fans were of the project. Instead of taking our connection to them as real and powerful – fans were mostly ignored. We didn’t matter in the long run because to the band, we were really just some sort of vague entity instead of real, live people that walked hand-in-hand alongside them. They didn’t see us that way, and if the past few years are any firm example – they still don’t, which is unfortunate. The fan show at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City 2007 was some sort of partially tethered life-preserver thrown to the fan community. Some caught the life line and many others never did, forced to make their own way or drown. I dislike seeing similarities between the two projects, but they are out there.

I would like to believe this next album to be different. After all, it is far easier to see the overall “state of the fan base” these days. Between Facebook and Twitter, not to mention this blog, it’s fairly simple to get an idea, if one cares to pay attention. That of course, is key: you’ve got to pay attention in order to see what is in-between the lines. Some Duran Duran fans will never be deterred because for them, the band IS their life preserver. Many others will simply move on, because life does not stop. Even personally, I have to force myself to make the time to stay present in this fandom. I make the time, because otherwise, it would be simple to fade away.

This is not 1984. Duran Duran fans don’t automatically believe and worship every thing they say…and if the current prevailing attitude and skepticism over what the band is really going to do in 2015 doesn’t prove that, nothing will.

-R

 

 

Loving Duran Duran Part 2

A couple of weeks, I posted a blog in which I encouraged Duranies to list 10 things that the band has done that they really loved.  We all became fans because we like their music and so much more.  I wanted people to articulate those things, to actually express what it is that the band has done that has continued to impress them, to keep them fans.  I received quite a few lists from fellow fans.  I have kept each and every one and plan on sharing the complete list on Duran Duran Appreciation Day in August.  I loved reading each and every one as it reminded me why I LOVE Duran Duran, why I am a fan.  I would go so far as to say that my love has become unconditional.  I can’t imagine not loving them, not being a part of this fandom.  That said, while I always love the band and always will, I don’t always love what they do.  I know that I’m not alone in this.  I see it all the time with other fans and I don’t think there is anything wrong with questioning choices.  Please note—when I say I question choices, I mean simply that.  I question a choice–the support is always there, even when I question.  I also understand that I do not see or know everything, but there are some moves that do make me wonder and make other people wonder.

What have I seen people question?  Lots.  I have seen many comments over the years questioning things like album covers, single choices, set lists, choices of producers, treatment of guitar players, touring locations, speed of which albums are released, fashion, and much, much more.  My question here is simple.  What are 5 things Duran Duran has done that you, personally, have questioned?  The reason I’m asking this isn’t because I want to start a chain of complaints or criticisms.  No one wants that.  Yet, I’m curious to see if there are patterns.  What bothers Duranies the most?  Is it decisions surrounding music and albums?  Videos?  Touring?  Something else?

I’m hoping that our fandom culture is such that people can express themselves about what they have questioned or have been disappointed with without fear of criticism or ridicule.  I am doing that myself here.  I am hoping that I DO NOT get criticism by simply asking the question.  I’m hoping that other fans know and understand that one can love Duran Duran but not love every single move that they have made.  Much like real life, I love a number of people.  I love my family, for example, unconditionally.  I can’t imagine anything that they would do that would result in me no longer loving them.  That said, I don’t always love everything they do.  For example, I love my brother.  I respect him immensely and truly do believe that he is both brilliant and compassionate.  I didn’t love, though, when I helped him move and he overpacked the moving truck by 5000 pounds, which resulted in having to move his stuff from one truck to another before even getting to his new place.  Did this  frustration make me love him less?  Absolutely not.  It means that I might suggest to him that he owes me when I move this summer.

So what has Duran done that I have questioned or didn’t like much?  Like my list of what I love, I’m going to list the first 5 things I think of, in no particular order without taking time to justify my list.

1.  Working with Timbaland

2.  Not making Dom a permanent member

3.  Not mixing up their set lists more than they do

4.  Durantime

5.  Not having more events like the VIP party for the MoMA screening of Unstaged.

So, what about the rest of you?  What is your list of 5 things that you have questioned?

-A

Buried in the Sand

Fandom is fun.  Fandom is an escape.  Fandom is supposed to include inside jokes among fellow fans and excitement over a new product.  Right?  Right.  It is.  A lot of times, that is exactly what is like in Duranland.  Sometimes, it isn’t, though.  Sometimes, it feels not fun.  It doesn’t feel like an escape.  It feels…tough.  There are a variety of reasons why some days, some weeks are challenging and anything but fun in this fandom.  One reason might be concern over the health and well-being of a band member.  I know we all felt that in recent years when shows were canceled due to ill health.  Another reason might be when fans go after each other in either very subtle ways or very overt ways.  The less fun days might happen when people are disappointed in a new song, video, or other product.  Then, some days, are a combination of two or more of these reasons.  This past week, it seemed to me that Duranland was less than fun as a new Katy Kafe came out with John Taylor.  As we all know this particular Kafe caused quite a few reactions within our little universe.  Then, fans reacted to other people’s reactions.  Heck, we even saw some of this on our blog here.  My reaction?  It was simple.  I avoided.

I’ll be honest here.  I haven’t listened to it yet.  I could give a ton of excuses, including that grades were due, 2 papers and a presentation needed to be done for the last of my graduate class and parent-teacher conferences (Yay for having those all done!).  Those are all true.  They are good excuses.  Yet, as we all know, if you really want something, you do it.  You find a way, if there is any way possible.  How long is a typical Kafe?  20 minutes?  30 minutes?  I could certainly find 30 minutes in my schedule to listen to it and if I couldn’t, then I am sure that I could find 5 minutes at a time to listen to it.  Thus, my excuses are just that…excuses.  So, why haven’t I listened to it?

It is simple.  I wanted to bury my head in the sand.  I wanted fandom to be fun and an escape.  Clearly, this Kafe was anything but.  I am willing to bet that everyone thought that even those who didn’t think John sounded “off” or agreed with his thinking.  After all, it led a number of fans, including my partner-in-crime to have a critical reaction to, at least, some parts of it.  Thus, even those fans who liked the Kafe and agreed with John’s perspective had to see/hear/deal with people that didn’t.  Right then and there, the fun is gone.  Now, before I go any further, I have to be clear.  I don’t want Duranland to be filled with a bunch of people who just always agree.  I don’t want it to be a place where everyone just thinks that everything is great.  No way.  That would be boring.  I am just pointing out that…sometimes…a little more fun and a little more escape would be good.  For me.

Of course, there is another possible reason that I wanted to buy my head in the sand.  This reason is also rather simple.  I didn’t/don’t want to be disappointed.  After all, I’m a pretty big John Taylor fan, which I think is pretty clear by many/most of blog posts.  Lately, he seemed to be doing everything “right” meaning that I didn’t hear too many, if any, criticisms about him.  Yeah, yeah, I know that there is always some muttering on Twitter if he hasn’t tweeted in like 5 hours or something (yes, I’m exaggerating!).  Yet, those critical tweets can be easily dismissed by me.  The book, the book signings, and even the summer shows increased my positive thoughts about the guy, if that was possible.  I also saw others’ respect and admiration for him grow.  I couldn’t help but to think to myself, “Wow.  People are starting to get it.  They are seeing the John Taylor I have always seen,” (from my I really don’t know the guy but think I kinda do goofy fan perspective).  That John Taylor wasn’t based on his looks but based on the kind of person he appeared to be.  Thus, I didn’t want people’s opinion of him be diminished and I didn’t want mine either.  Yet, in the long run, this is probably a good reminder that he, like everyone, is human and is not perfect. 

Fandom is a funny deal.  I always compare fandom to a love affair.  In the beginning, there is only roses, only beauty, only joy.  Nothing imperfect can be seen.  Then, as the relationship settles in, it becomes clear that there are imperfections.  The person you have fallen for might have bad habits or might not handle certain situations in the best way possible.  At times, you try to ignore those not-so-good aspects or moments.  At other times, you confront them.  Yet, if the relationship is to endure, acceptance of the other person needs to happen.  Acceptance of all the great qualities and acceptance of the not-so-great ones.  We, as fans, need to do the same.  We need to remember that the members of Duran Duran are just like us.  They are going to do or say things we love a lot of the time.  They might do or say things that we don’t.  They are human and so are we.  Our reactions, actions or statements might not always be what they should be either.  That said, while we accept them, we can and should be critical.  We are fans.  We are not unthinking robots who just blindly accept all statements and behaviors.  While we have emotions regarding our fandom, we still are rational, thinking people.  

It feels to me that I’m ready to go ahead and listen to it.  Will I be disappointed in him?  Maybe.  Will I say so?  Sure.  I’ll be honest.  Will I decide to go ahead and accept him as a human who isn’t always perfect?  Almost 3 decades of fandom says that I probably will.  This is the reality of life in Duranland.  It isn’t always perfect.  Some days that are great are so great that they leave you on such a life that can last hours, days, weeks and even months.  Other days are hard to get through, but we do in order to have those great days, right?

-A

Duran Duran Roundtable Part 1: The Music

I had planned to discuss all of Duran Duran’s Roundtable, which was posted yesterday, which you can find here but I have simply run out of time.  Besides, there is plenty of material with which to work from with just the first part when the band answered questions related to music.  To catch people up, Duran had fans submit questions then Katy read them and compiled some to ask the entire band at one time.  In this case, the roundtable took place at the end of the tour and Nick was not present, which one might assume was due to his illness.  I noted that this took place at the end of a very long tour, which may have an impact on what was said and how they sounded.

In the music section, they were asked 9 questions regarding the following topics:  All You Need is Now, box set of all material, redoing songs, releasing singles, Reportage, fans, critical acclaim and the next album.  I won’t transcribe the questions and their answers as you can listen for yourself, but I will comment about what I found interesting or what struck me.  Rhonda also sent me comments as well so I will include those, too. 

The first question regarded All You Need is Now.  The band, in response, discussed both Mark Ronson and Red Carpet Massacre, their previous album.  John talked about how RCM was the “farthest” out from the Duran sound they had gone.  This, of course, is reassuring to those of us who felt like the album didn’t feel like Duran.  Clearly, there was a reason, which as John pointed out, included that there was few live bass, drums and guitar.  He’s right about that not being typical and many of us missed that.  John also said that they were happy with the results.  I wished there could have been a follow-up to that since those ideas don’t seem to go together.  What about the results made them happy?  Did he think they were quality songs?  Did the songwriting work?  As for AYNIN, they acknowledged that they don’t look back at their own history but were ready to after RCM.  For that, I will be grateful that RCM happened as it sounds like they wouldn’t have been ready to recapture their sound without that experience.

The next question that caught my attention was the one about whether or not they would redo any of their songs.  Roger said that he wouldn’t, which is the standard answer for them.  Simon, on the other hand, would want to rerecord Someone Else Not Me as he felt it would be too slow.  John said that he would be up for it.  Fascinating.  They also mentioned a song called, “Don’t Look Back” that was done around the time of Wild Boys.  I’m sure that all Duranies would love to hear that one along with the Reportage album that they hope will be released one day, according to this roundtable!!!!  Then, John also mentioned adding a choir and strings to Finest Hour, which thrills both Rhonda and I.  Of course, I doubt any of those will see the light of day but dreams are free.  It was interesting to me that Simon and John did say they would redo songs as I have always heard them with their philosophy of no regrets and how they love all their songs equally.  I wonder what changed, especially since later in the roundtable John says that he wouldn’t have done anything differently as he likes where they are at now so little decisions don’t matter that much. 

Then, of course, they talked about singles.  To John, they truly don’t seem relevant anymore.  Hmm…he did say that radio play doesn’t matter as they can still have good shows and get the music out there.  I wonder if he would think differently if they were an upcoming band trying to make it.  Yet, they did say that they chose AYNIN as the “focus” track as it had many of the album’s ideas in it.  I have to agree with this.  I know that there was much discussion when it first came out, especially with that jarring beginning.  Yet, that song does, at least, for me, capture the spirit of the album.  As for wishing some songs made it as singles, Roger mentioned Beautiful Colours that didn’t even make it on the album and John mentioned using a Timbaland track for RCM.  My thoughts on those songs are this.  Beautiful Colours should have, at least, been on the album.  They had many quality tracks from that era that wasn’t used and should have been, including Salt in the Rainbow and Virus.  As for Timbaland, I may remind him that they had Night Runner up on some site before the album for people to listen to and it was not well-received.  Maybe that had something to do with the decision to release Falling Down instead.  For me, it would have been tough to take a Timbaland song as the single since I really pretty much hated them.  I, at least, liked Falling Down. I wonder what the fan community would have been like if they had released Night Runner as the single.  That said, I suppose one of those tracks would have better represented the album, which could be important, if that is the main purpose of “singles” now. 

The last two questions that caused me to react were the ones about critical acclaim and AYNIN influencing the next album.  As far as critical acclaim goes, they acknowledge that it did hurt to have some particular magazines that they read and believed as kids be critical.  Yet, they knew that what they were doing was right and that outweighed any of the negative statements.  They wondered if the critics didn’t like them because they weren’t needed for their success unlike other artists.  My response to this is simple.  There are many reasons why the critics slammed them from what I have been reading, which I have been writing about in the chapter I’m working on for the book. 

As far as AYNIN influencing the next album, Simon’s response, especially caught my attention as well as Rhonda’s.  Simon said that the main objective to AYNIN was to connect to the fans and that he doesn’t think they would have made another album if that didn’t happen.  We think he is absolutely right both about having another album and about having their focus be on connecting with fans.  We were around during the RCM days.  The fan community was dejected and divided.  It seemed like all the positive feelings that came with the reunion and Astronaut were gone, even for the fans that liked RCM.  It wasn’t that fun to be a Duranie then and many (most?) of us felt that the wall between the band and the fans was so tall that there would never be a connection made.  I think a lot of us were wondering if the end was near.  Thus, like John, I, too, think it is good that they are working with Mark Ronson again.  I’m sure it makes things easier for them and it helps all of us, fans, look forward to what is next.  We have hope that the connection will remain moving forward.

Tomorrow, I will discuss the rest of the roundtable!  Until then, let us know what you thought of their answers.  What caught your attention and why?

-A

A Change of Perspective and Attitude

Duran Duran’s last leg of their All You Need is Now Tour has begun.  They have played two dates at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, California.  Tonight, they play at the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa, California.  In one week, the Daily Duranie will be enjoying the first show since December of 2011.  Thus, this time is all about DuranLive.  Many fans are going to shows, reacting to how the shows went, waiting for setlists then commenting about them, getting ready for shows and/or commenting about how they will make sure that they hit a show next time.  This isn’t new.  This is how life is in Duranland during a tour.  I’m used to it.  Yet, I find myself also tired of it.

I’m not tired of touring.  I can’t imagine ever being tired of touring.  Friday cannot come fast enough as I’m terribly anxious to see Rhonda and to get to our first show in Biloxi.  No, I’m tired of how Duranland responds to Duran shows.  I feel like my perspective on Duranland or on Duran tours/shows has changed.  As you all know, Rhonda and I flew to the UK twice last year to see them perform in their home country.  A year ago, Simon was unable to sing and Duran’s future was in question.  Then, he got his voice back and the band returned, better and stronger than ever.  I felt this.  Yet, I did not feel it when I went to the show in Chicago in October.  No, I felt it when I went to the shows in the UK.  Why?  What was the difference?  Was it the setlists?  Was it me?  Was it the crowd?  Was it all of the above?

As I look back, I know that it wasn’t the setlists.  In fact, there wasn’t much of a difference between the Chicago show in October and the shows in the UK.  Yes, we heard Secret Oktober, which truly was a dream come true!  Sometimes, I have to remind myself that it was real.  By the third show, though, the setlist was generally locked in place.  We knew what to expect and, frankly, we didn’t care.  I didn’t care.  Why?  The shows were so amazing that I wasn’t annoyed by seeing the exact same songs night after night.  A good show isn’t about that, to me.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I would absolutely ADORE a few changes to the setlists.  Who wouldn’t?  I know that Rhonda was terribly excited about seeing Mediterranea in the setlist.  I would love if they wanted to play Too Bad You’re So Beautiful.  Both of us might faint, cry, scream at the same time if we ever heard the notes to Late Bar.  Yet, I find myself so tired of the complaining.  Duran could play a setlist of b-sides and album tracks and if they played without energy, without focus, the show would still suck.  Likewise, they could play only hits and the show could be great, depending on the band, the crowd, etc.  I understand fans’ desire to see new and different tracks.  I feel that way, too, but I think I’m letting it go.  I learned that it is so much more important to have them performing and performing well than what songs are played.

Maybe, then, the change is me.  My focus, my attitude is different.  I know that this can all be gone in an instant.  Something can happen to them.  Something can happen to me.  Why complain about setlists?  I see so many people saying that they have tickets to show X but aren’t sure if they should go because the setlist is so boring.  Other people would love to be able to go to a show.  I get to go to shows and I’m still excited!  I just don’t want to spend my time getting ready to go on tour or being on tour and hearing negative or not fun things about the shows, the band, etc.  It makes my attitude bad and that almost always guarantees that I will not enjoy myself as I should.  Let me give you an example.  Rhonda and I did three shows at the end of 2008.  We weren’t thrilled with RCM and went into the shows knowing this.  We were excited, we thought.  Yet, when we got to the first show, we weren’t.  Our seats sucked and we complained about the setlist.  Somewhere between that show and the show a couple of days later, we decided to let the rest of the crap go and just enjoy the show.  We got a decent spot at the show (it was GA) and liked listening to other people around us anxiously awaiting the first notes.  Guess what happened?  We didn’t like that first show much but really liked the last one.  Is that a coincidence?  I don’t think so.

My point is this.  Expectations and attitudes matter.  Worrying about the setlist leads to a bad time.  Thinking that the show isn’t going to be that good will make it so.  Interestingly enough, I haven’t seen many comments saying that these first two shows weren’t good.  It has been the exact opposite.  People seem to have had a great time!  Maybe, the lesson really is for me.  Perhaps, I need to avoid those people who would bring me down.  I have a show in a week and I want nothing, nothing, nothing but that excitement that I had during the UK tour.  After all, who knows when the next one will be.

-A

The Notorious Press…Again

Duran Duran has been doing a ton of press lately.  It seems like a day doesn’t go by without me reading a new article or seeing a new video of an interview.  While I adore seeing the band get attention, get press, I continue to find myself frustrated by how they are covered as well.  Yes, yes, I realize that I’m taking it too personally and/or that this type of situation is not unique to Duran Duran as it has been happening with everything lately.  First, let me give you a couple of examples then ask the questions.  Is it important to respond?  If so, how? 

The first piece of news that caught my attention for this lately is an article that was featured in a variety of news sources.  The link here was in MSN Music.  The part of the article that bothered me was this,
“In interviews recorded to accompany the band’s concert DVD “A Diamond in the Mind,” bassist John Taylor admits his friend’s frustrating health crisis almost led to the band’s breakup.  Taylor says, “I did consider that this could be the end of the band. … There’s no way you can avoid those thoughts. Obviously one felt for him — he was living it — but we were all looking at, ‘Wow, what does this mean if it doesn’t come back?'”  Maybe it is me but the term “breakup” creates a pretty strong image.  A breakup, to me, can imply that there was conflict, that there were some members going one way and others going a different way.  This, again, is how I’m interpreting the term which is very different than the band calling it quits, saying that they were done together as a united group.  Now, perhaps, I’m sensitive to the idea of the band stopping.  Maybe, I am being a little too protective of the band.  I just don’t like the idea of anyone thinking that the rest of the band was so upset with Simon or his situation that they would call it quits as we all know that this wasn’t the case.

Then, the second piece of press was today’s video from People.com.  The headline ran like this–Duran Duran:  Our Old Songs Are Our Best Songs.  Then, the video clip didn’t show them making that statement.  Yes, clearly, they talked about their old songs and how those are songs that people want to hear live.  Okay.  Later in the video, which you can see here, John and Simon talked about how they are still creative and enjoy making new music.  They also talked about how their career has shifted from making an album and touring to support that album to making an album to support touring.  Yet, instead of having something about that as the headline…no, People decided to say that their “old music” is their best music.  Well, why the heck would anyone want to check out their latest album then?  This is so unbelievably not helpful.  On top of that, why imply that was the quote and not show the quote.  Is that what they said?  I don’t really know.  The video clip seems out of context to me. 

Am I the only one annoyed by this?  Maybe, I am.  Maybe, it’s me.  If that’s the case, I’ll enjoy a couple of drinks tonight with friends at a comedy club.  Clearly, it is what is needed.  If that’s not the case, how should Duranies react?  Should we just know the truth ourselves?  Is that enough?  If it isn’t, how should we deal with it?  Would we and the band benefit from having a truth team of sorts that would respond via comments or email to whatever news source?  Food for thought on a Friday.

-A

Be My Icon – Is the band purely our 80’s band?

If you follow the blog, our Facebook page or Twitter, you probably know that last week there was quite the discussion over why it is that the press tends to keep Duran Duran tucked into the nostalgia box.  I think it’s fair to say that by and large most fans have at least a certain amount of distain for the statement “That band you were all fond of in the 80’s – Duran Duran – is BACK.”

One comment that was infrequently made, but still very well read/heard amongst the calls for slaughter(ing the press), was that it’s not just the press who tends to keep Duran Duran in that memory box from 1984. Many fans believe that other fans are just as responsible for this characterization. My knee jerk reaction is of course to deny, but when I sit down and really consider the truth, perhaps fans including myself in that group are at least partially responsible. How can this be?!?

Let’s go back a bit before you all decide to call for my beheading. (Besides, as you read this – I am definitely sitting under an umbrella, reading a great book and enjoying the heat of the day while on a very peaceful vacation sans children. I don’t return home until later in the week, so calling for the guillotine is a bit premature. You’ve got time.) I’m sure most of you remember Duran from the mid-80’s. They were difficult to forget, am I right? Then Notorious came along, Big Thing, Liberty, Thank You….and none of these were blockbusters. We lost some Taylors, gained a Cuccurullo and a couple drummers…you know the drill. Then around about 2001 or so, we heard murmurs of a reunion of the “Fab Five”. How many of you did NOT immediately think back to the times of Planet Earth, Friends of Mine, Rio or even Hungry Like the Wolf (I won’t hold it against you)? My point of course is that at least initially as a gut reaction we tend to associate the original band members with a certain period of time. Then Astronaut was released, and while I can’t be sure of how many people absolutely hated the album – I know I heard more than a few comments that attempted to compare the music to what had come previously. On Rio. On the first album. That continued through the years after and including the release of Red Carpet Massacre. What comment did I hear (and make) most during that period of time? “It sounds nothing like the Duran Duran I know and love.” I stand by that statement, but I also recognize the idiocy behind feeling that way as well.

So that brings us to All You Need is Now, naturally. I distinctly recall panning the band (and Mark Ronson) for making comments about how that album was intended to be the follow up to Rio. (How dare I say such things after being so critical of Red Carpet Massacre? I know.  My worry wasn’t that they were dating themselves, but rather that they’d never be able to live up to such a statement. I was wrong. You can read that blog here.) Of course now in retrospect I can see that it wasn’t necessarily about making the album sound like it was Rio’s child – it was the spirit with which it was recorded. Even so, if we continue to laud the band for attempting to spread their wings, evolve and grow their sound beyond what we knew the 80’s to be – how are we helping them to feel confident in their abilities to remain relevant?  I’m not sure.

On one hand, I really do believe that All You Need is Now is fresh, relevant and living in the moment. The very theme of the album speaks to the concept and I feel the album is extremely solid, even if it didn’t perform well on the charts. Some say it flopped. While I hate using that word, I don’t know how the band feels about it. I really hope they don’t look at the album on those terms. I love this album on a personal level as much if not more than Rio – I just can’t look at it as a failure because for me, it’s anything but. On the other hand, I can’t be the only one to recognize that the chords from Leopard or the tom-toms from Girl Panic sound vaguely familiar. It’s not that I don’t welcome the music (Hardly!), but I think we have to be honest with ourselves as well. Duran Duran has never been the band to “play it safe”, and I’d hate for them to stop taking chances at this point in their career simply because the fan base (including myself) through a monster sized tantrum over Red Carpet Massacre.  Was All You Need is Now purely an album to placate the fans? I really hope not. The album is worth so much more than that.

At least one fan out there mentioned that she felt the characterization of Duran Duran as an 80’s band was spot on. Her comments were that when she goes to the shows, they transport her back to her childhood, and she welcomes that. Duran Duran isn’t known for songs like Undergoing Treatment, Chains, Sunrise, Falling Down, Nite Runner or even All You Need is Now. They’re known for songs like Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf. She feels that the band tries much too hard (I would probably at times agree). While she still loves the band, her opinion is that they’re an 80’s band and should accept that rather than fight it. I’m not pointing out her difference in opinion as a way to flog her, but rather to prove that while many of us want to continue to insist on their relevance, many are happy to accept them for what they once meant. Neither way is wrong.

I fall back to the statements I meant last week. This album and this band has fostered a relationship between their fans and themselves that cannot be denied. We stand here in this moment, and we all want the music to last a little longer. For many, this band was iconic of the 80’s. For others, it was the quintessential band of the 90’s. Still plenty more see this band as the music of a lifetime…with more to come.

-R