Category Archives: criticism

Fan Criticism

I love Duran Duran.  This isn’t a secret.  At this point in my life, my love for them is almost unconditional as I have loved them for decades.  I can’t imagine that I would stop loving them, stop being a Duranie for anything.  That said, I don’t love everything that they do and I am not afraid to say so.  I’ll post my opinions here, on message boards, on facebook, on twitter, wherever.  I’ll tell them when I think they have done a really great job and when they missed the mark.  To me, this is what being a fan means.  It means that I care about them and love them unconditionally while having opinions about everything they do.  I thought that this is how most fans are.  I started to wonder yesterday when reading the responses to yesterday’s question about most overrated Duran song or video. 

Rhonda explained the term, overrated, on here well, I thought.  Picking a song or video for most overrated isn’t about hating a Duran song or video.  You could even like or love what you deem most overrated.  The point is that the song/video is often stated as something grand, fabulous, magnificent and you just can’t get there.  In my head, this praise can come from the fans.  Perhaps, it is a song that everyone seems to love when the band plays it live or a video that people couldn’t get enough of and you just didn’t feel the same.  In response to this challenge, many people came up with good answers, I thought.  The results were very close.  The Reflex was the big winner followed extremely closely by Hungry Like the Wolf.  Behind the lead was Save a Prayer, Wild Boys, Girls on Film, the Chauffeur and Notorious.  I thought it was interesting that all of these songs were standards in their live performances and, yet, many people thought they weren’t all that.  While these results were interesting (and they always are!), what was more interesting was that some people (I’m not talking a few people here but MANY people) couldn’t or wouldn’t give answers.  Why?  By the way, by asking this question, I’m not criticizing them just wondering the reasons.

It seems to me that some people couldn’t or wouldn’t give answers for a few possible reasons.  One possible reason is that no song came to mind quickly and people didn’t want to search for an answer.  Another possible reason is that they really love every song.  A third reason could be that they had answers but didn’t want anyone to know what those answers are.  I had a number of thoughts based on these possibilities.  I guess I can’t really see someone loving every song even by a favorite band, especially a band like Duran.  They have been around for a long time and have an extensive catalog.  On top of that, their catalog is not uniform as there are some dramatic differences between songs like Notorious to Before the Rain to Box Full O Honey to Rio.  Thus, if this isn’t the case, what could the deal be?

Could it be that they didn’t want anyone to know their answers?  If so, why is this the case?  It could be that they didn’t want people to see them doing something that would seem like criticism of their favorite band.  I could get that.  When I’m in public or with non-Duranies, I would say that everything Duran does is great.  I would never let the outside world see their imperfections.  Never.  Yet, I have no problem giving criticism or questioning what they do among Duranies.  I know that we all love them, generally.  Therefore, any criticism is done with love.  It isn’t meant to harm but meant to improve the next thing they do, if possible.  It also shows that we are thinking beings even within fandom.  Could this be the case with yesterday’s question?  Could it be that these fans didn’t want non-Duranies to see criticism?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  Of course, it could be that they didn’t want fans to see it, either.

Why would fans not share with other fans their thoughts about the band’s songs or videos?  I don’t really know but could speculate that they might think that other fans would judge them.  What if I went on every Duran message board and on every social networking site and started criticizing the album, Rio?  How would that go down with other Duranies?  Probably not well.  Some people would be shocked.  Some might be angry.  Some might think less of me for thinking that.  Perhaps, they think that fans should love everything the band has ever done.  I don’t know.  Maybe they think that fans should “publicly” love everything the band has ever done.  Maybe they were thinking of music critics and the media which never gave Duran credit and didn’t want to seem like those negative people.  Again, I don’t know. 

No matter the reason for the non-responses, I was once again reminded of something I love about fandom.  I love that we aren’t all the same.  We approach questions and events about the band differently.  This is good.  It makes things interesting and it keeps discussion going.  It helps to keep fandom alive.  Now, of course, I’ll be watching for the results of today’s challenge:  Best Storyline in a Song or Video.  Have fun and keep playing, Duranies!  🙂

-A

Biographies, Memoirs and Life Lessons

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of biographies, autobiographies and memoirs. (I suppose those last two are really sort of the same…)  Normally, I’m a romance reader, but lately I’ve grown sick of them.  One can only live in fantasy for so long, I suppose.  So now I’m living vicariously through others!  So far, I’ve read things from George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Ron Paul, (you may think you see a theme, but it’s just that I haven’t finished reading all of my books yet…I have plenty from the left side of the aisle to get through!!!), Rick Springfield, Portia DeRossi, Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe and Tina Fey.  As I said, I still have quite a few more to either start or finish – and yes, I read more than one at a time.  I can only read so much about politics before my head starts hurting.  It’s been eye-opening on more than one occasion, and yes, it’s even changed the way I feel about some people.  That seems to be a sort of recurring theme in my life as of late.  It’s as though the assumptions I’d made regarding people have had to go a sort of re-tune now that I’m older. (I say that because most of the books I’ve read lately have been about people that I’d grown up admiring, or arguing with while they were on various TV talk shows and or news programs!)  Duran Duran should really be included in that list.

It’s no secret that their current situation has probably made any fan really think.  I must admit that writing a book about the fan base has given me plenty to consider, and in some respects I think it’s opened my eyes to a lot of things that I’d never given any thought.  For instance, once upon a time, I never really thought much about what went on behind the scenes.  All I cared about is what I saw onstage, or heard on a CD.  I never really considered the various walks of life their fans came from, I never really thought about how each of our cultures helps to “train” us to be different types of fans.  I thought that fans were fans.  We all want the same thing, we all react the same way (basically).  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The biggest example of how different we all react has to be the postponed UK and European shows.  I don’t have an interest in rehashing the reactions, I just want to acknowledge that they exist.  My writing partner wrote a blog over the weekend that created much buzz on Facebook.  Not all of it was positive.  Many reacted the way I would have expected, but some reacted with complete anger and frustration.  I don’t know that I would have anticipated that.  The motive behind the blog topic was simply to ask “What If”; while many had no trouble commenting on how they would feel – regardless of what those feelings were – still others were incensed that the question was even asked.  Initially, that upset me because, as I explained on Facebook – this is a BLOG.  It’s about opinions, it’s about presenting topics and allowing discussion.  Comment all you would like on whether you agree or disagree, but to comment on the topics chosen seemed to be counterproductive.  As the day wore on, however, I realized that the anger behind our topic has far more to do with not being willing to even discuss the possibility.  I need to respect that, and I do.  I may not necessarily agree, but the fact is – we’re all fans.  In as much as I know that Amanda meant no harm in expressing her feelings about the subject at hand; I also recognize that the comments weren’t meant to harm her, or her thoughts specifically.  Let’s be honest, none of us want to be talking about the demise of the band.  Real, imagined, or otherwise.  I think we all can agree on that.

For me personally, I’ve reached a point in my life where on one hand, I have to give people credit for putting themselves out there, doing the hard work, having an opinion, or just plain being good people – and for the most part – I do believe people are good.  On the other hand, I’ve gotten to a point where I refuse to put up with the, well, B.S. (for lack of a better way of describing!)  My friends take me as I am, and I take others as they are – and if I can’t, I won’t.  I think that I’ve stopped caring about trying to be what other people want.  I have the luxury of being a mostly private citizen – I don’t put myself up for public scrutiny in the same way that the band might.  I recognize that for Duran Duran and the plethora of other bands and celebrities out there, their livelyhoods depend very much on what we think, and what we want.  I don’t envy them for that.  There must be a very fine line on which they must balance, and while a good part of me says “Who the hell cares – they should put out the music they like!”, another part of me recognizes that business is business.  They employ a good many people who count on them, and they do have the right to make music that will sell, even if I don’t personally enjoy their work.

I don’t envy the band, celebrities or even my favorites from the 80’s Brat Pack years in much the same way I don’t envy any of our politicians, which is one thing I’ve learned from all of my reading.  I don’t have to like their choices, but I must give them credit – because I’m mighty comfortable being an armchair critic!

-R

 

The Beauty of JoSi

I cannot believe that next week Duran Duran will be here in the States playing shows!  It always seems SO long in between shows and tours!  Yet, for some lucky fans, the wait to see the band live in concert is almost over!  Personally, I cannot wait to see the band in a month in Chicago.  Cannot wait!  There are so many things that I look forward to when it comes to Duran shows!  I always enjoy seeing my Duranie friends and meeting new ones!  I love singing along to some of those classic hits!  This time around I’m so excited to hear the new tracks live!  I suspect that my love for some of them might increase!  One thing that I am always so excited for is the JoSi.  Am I the only one with this fascination?  JoSi, for those not in the know, is the combination of John and Simon.  In concert, JoSi means those moments when they not only sing together, sharing one microphone but also the little looks or smiles exchanges as well as subtle and not-so-subtle touches.  I admit it.  I find all of those moments…to be… hot.  I know that I’m not the only one, right?!

JoSi is an interesting element to Duran fandom.  It does not seem to be completely unique, though, as many other bands have moments when the lead singer sings with another member of the band.  Like Duran, those moments seem to get many of the female fans to start screaming.  Why is that?  What does that say about fandom?  What does that say about females?  Is this just a taste of guy-on-guy action?  Does this mean that we think or wish them to be gay and together?  I obviously can’t know why these moments get some people all…uh…er…excited, but I can acknowledge what I see in the Duran fan community.

First, every female fan that appreciates the JoSi knows that they are both married to women.  Do fans think that they are secretly gay and are in a relationship together?  Do fans want that?  Good questions.  I doubt that most fans think that they are gay.  Some might think that they are bisexual or have had experiences with members of the same sex, I don’t know.  It is possible that some fans want them to be in a relationship together.  I don’t know.  What would this mean, if that was the case?  Would it mean that they wouldn’t be into women at all?  Is that what female fans want?  I doubt that.  Many female fans want to keep a little bit of that fantasy that they could be into them.  Do they want them to be bisexual?  Maybe.  What does this mean to them?  Maybe that means that they would have stereotypically gay male characteristics while maintaining a possible interest in women.  I don’t know.  Could it just be that they think that two hot guys together are super duper hot?  I think this is definitely the case with a lot of them, including myself! 

Interestingly enough, I also see some fans like to see the JoSi but really hate the idea of them actually being together in that way.  I have to admit that I find this very strange.  Do they just like John and Simon together like this as a means of showing how good of friends they are?  Is it just because they are their two favorite band members?  I don’t know.  Maybe they don’t like the idea of them being together, romantically, because they are married and want to honor that marriage.  I can definitely respect that.  I hope that is all it is because, otherwise, I worry about homophobia.  I would hope that there would not be any disgust over the idea of any two men together as I truly do believe that everyone should be able to love and be with anyone they want.  Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that Duran Duran has had homophobia connected with them.  In fact, I would argue that part of the reason Duran hasn’t had the critical acclaim that other bands have had is because they were deemed to be too “girly”, “gay”, “non-manly” because of their fashion sense, their use of makeup and their female dominated fanbase.  So, I would hope that their fans aren’t contributing to that and can just appreciate the beauty of the JoSi instead!

Personally, I cannot wait to enjoy it myself!  I have to warn the people I’m going to the Chicago show with that they better not get in the way of me seeing any and all JoSi moments.  I’m sure that Rhonda can help with that as I have threatened her safety and well-being more than a few times after she has blocked my view!  I should probably also give them a heads up that I might *squee* a little at those little moments, which may or may not ruin people’s hearing.  Just sayin’. 

-A 

Pride

I’m feeling pretty raw tonight.  The last few weeks have been very tough and are finally getting to me.  Tonight, on top of everything else, my computer seems to have caught a virus.  Obviously, this is the last thing I wanted or needed to deal with.  Ugh.  I’m going to have to take it in and I hope that it not only doesn’t cost much but that everything that I have on that computer can be saved.  Like most of you, I have a lot of Duran Duran related materials on my computer.  One really significant folder that can be found on my computer has everything we have for the book.  Yes, I do have a hard copy of a lot of it and, yes, I have saved the work in other spots.  Nonetheless, I worry.  We have a significant part of the book done and, frankly, I’m proud of what we have written.  I really want to finish it as soon as we can in order for us to be able to share it with all of you and more.  Of course, I am also proud of what I have accomplished as a teacher and as a community organizer.  Yet, sometimes, I have received negative feedback for these things.  I certainly have heard TONS of negative statements about teachers and have definitely heard negative statements about my political beliefs and activities.  In the case of this blog and our upcoming book, I suspect that we will experience something similar.  Many people have offered praise about the blog and I am hopeful that people will like the book.  Yet, I know that some do not and will not like what we have done.  It seems to me that in all of these situations, I have put myself out there.  I’m vulnerable.  This has opened me up in a way that can and has resulted in painful moments.  Of course, I am sure that the band has felt this way many times as well.

Today, I heard a couple of snippets from some of the new songs featured on the physical release of AYNIN.  Of course, as I listened to them, I was judging them.  Obviously, this is usually how it works.  Bands release music and people decide if they like it or not.  Yet, because of how I’m feeling, I started to think about how scary it must be to be them.  Like me, they receive praise but they also get a lot of criticism.  The good seems to out weigh the bad for them as they keep going.  I wonder if the negatives get to them, at times, though.  I have to think that it does.  While they put on a strong, positive face, do they struggle behind closed doors?  How do they deal with the negative reactions?  The negative statements?  What kind of suggestions would they have to offer for someone in my shoes?  What would they say to us when we release the book? 

I would like to think that they would tell us to remain confident in our work and know that we did well.  They should us that we should be proud of ourselves like they are proud of themselves. 

-A

The Trouble with Hindsight

Every morning after I get my children off to school and clean up from breakfast, my first line of duty is to write the blog.  It’s a daily thing, if you hadn’t yet noticed.  Truth be told, at first I thought this was going to be easy.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Sometimes yes, the topics come very easy, and then other days I feel as though I’m having to dissect my own brain in order to find the words (and topics).  My brain at 40 isn’t an easy thing to dissect;  there’s cobwebs, endless to-do lists, and sometimes I have the attention span of a tse-tse fly….wait, what I was going on about??   Regardless, I read the boards, check out Twitter, do whatever I need to do in order to find something of interest.  As you all well know by now, there isn’t always Duran Duran news to comment about.  Today is one of those days, so far.  Invariably though, I will write a blog for the day, and an hour or two later something exciting will come up and I’ll have to simply walk away from the computer, otherwise I’ll feel tempted to scrap the already posted blog and write something completely different, which kind of ruins the whole point of the blog.  It’s supposed to be the thoughts within that moment of writing.  This isn’t a newspaper, and we don’t really do breaking news….although sometimes I think we should!  So, the act of writing daily blog about Duran Duran has presented far more of a  challenge than I thought.  

In my morning board perusal, there was a thread of interest on Mark UK’s board (here…but if you’re not a member, you’ll need to become one in order to read the board.  I HIGHLY recommend doing that – and I’ll see you there at some point!).  It was titled Lost Opportunities, and naturally it was specifically about Duran Duran.  Whenever there is downtime in Duranland, it seems to be the natural thing for fans to examine the past and debate where the band has gone wrong.  Hindsight being 20/20, of course.   A few years ago, I would have written volumes on where I thought the band went wrong, and done so with bravado.  Sometimes I’ll comment on things that I felt could have gone better here in the blog, but the fact of the matter is, the subject has gone stale with me lately.  I’m not sure why – but I think part of it is that at some point I sat back and realized that I couldn’t have done any better myself.  I’m no more of an music industry expert than anyone else, and even if I were – being the musician is a far cry from being the manager, or being the promoter.  I don’t always like the choices the band has made, but for whatever reason – I don’t get to make the decisions for the band.  Go figure.  For instance, if *I* were in the band, I’d have already announced the tour dates – because I know that the fans, are DYING FOR THEM.   (yes, that’s my personal plea.  It’s my blog, I get to make a plea.  Wanna plea for something?  Write your own blog!)   I suppose that a large part of me has decided that I’m in this for the enjoyment, and if I’m constantly second guessing the band AFTER THE FACT, what good is that really doing anyone?  Sure, it’s a conversation topic, and I’m really not trying to take that away from anyone – least of all the people who have posted in that thread, I just don’t know that it does any good in hindsight.   We’re simply the fans.  Our “contract” with the band is simple:  they produce the music.  We choose to buy it and support them, or we choose not to.  Very easy.  I don’t know how interested the band really is as to why the fan base feels that Liberty was a horrible album, that Thank You shouldn’t have ever been done, or that Red Carpet Massacre completely divided the fan base.  Maybe they care, maybe not.  Maybe it’s too late for them to worry about it, because just as this blog is my writing during one specific moment in time – so is their music, and the choices they make.  What I wrote yesterday may not even be relevant today, but that doesn’t make it any less important or relevant to me during the time I wrote it.  (which by the way – still totally relevant, in case you’re wondering.  I still need that milk…and those tour dates, John.)  Perhaps we have overstated our importance to ourselves and one another.  I too, might possibly have been guilty of that a time or two…or three or four.  *wink, wink*  I know that as a long time fan, it’s hard to get past our own individual notion or belief that they’re writing and playing just for us.  It’s hard to believe that while I really don’t care for Red Carpet Massacre (the album as a whole), there are many fans out there that love that album and think I’m just as crazy as I know they must be!   It’s even tougher to believe that there are actually fans out there that think this new album stinks.  (the aforementioned “I think they must be crazy” belief still holds true here)   The one thing fans are never short of: opinions.

I believe that for the most part, fans are genuinely good people.  We tend to be a little opinionated, perhaps a bit obsessive, and maybe just a little bit over-the-top at times, but for the most part, we’re good people.  Posting about what have been the downfalls of the bands career seems to be at the edge of where we stop being constructive and have started to deconstruct the bands history.  The funny, or not-so-funny crumb of this topic is that by looking back the way we have been, we’re completely ignoring the very message that Duran Duran set out to share with us in this new album.  We don’t need to look back, we really don’t need to look forward, because the only thing that really matters is this little bit of road we’re on right here and now.  Sometimes, I think the fans forget that.  I know I have.  At some point, when all of this is said and done, we’re going to have a lot of extra time on our hands to completely dissect the bands career.  It’ll be over before we know it, sadly enough.  At that point, we’ll have the full story in front of us; beginning, middle and end.  We’ll know the answers, and most of us will be able to say we watched the entire story unfold. At that point, it will be more about reliving the past and having the good memories of our lifetimes matched with an awesome soundtrack of music.  For now, it seems to me that the important thing to do is enjoy the moment we’re in, because it certainly doesn’t last for long.

-R

Duranie Smackdown

The Duranie Smackdown began a couple of days ago on Facebook.  It started innocently enough with a friend of mine saying that she had been “rockin'” out to AYNIN on her status.  My plan was to comment with a simple statement of support but before I could even do that, I noticed that another person had made a comment wondering if the band could “sing on key” or “play their instruments”.  How could I let that go?  I couldn’t and responded with a positive comment to my friend who was enjoying the album and another comment about how Duran had written and performed their own songs very well for over 30 years.  Now, the other person could have just left it at that, especially if she didn’t want a debate, a battle, a lively discussion.  She didn’t.  She followed up her first comment with another one about how Robert Palmer could sing on key but that Simon “always had a pitch problem”.  As for the rest of the band, she said that when she saw them live in 1984, they were definitely still learning their instruments and that she had more musical skills than them!  Insert lots of eye-rolling here.

So, I took on the job of educating her.  I explained to her that Robert Palmer was the lead singer of Power Station only.  I gave her some facts about how Duran have sold a ton of albums and have received lifetime achievement awards.  Her response was that the Reflex was off key and that I shouldn’t use their album sales as a means to show their talent because, according to her, Vanilla Ice had sold a lot, too.  Oh boy.  More eye-rolling.  She ended that comment with a statement about how she isn’t the only person to think this way.  Great, is she trying to say that she is a critic now?  Whatever.  I, of course, informed her of what I think the issue was with the critics in that they never gave any respect to Duran because GIRLS liked them.  She returned to make more comments, including that anyone who doesn’t hear that Simon is off key should go to the ear doctor and that I had provided her with lots of laughs.  That did it.  I calmly explained to her that it is fine to have a difference of opinion about music since like all art, it is subjective but that there was NO reason for her to be insulting.  Here’s where my friend and fellow Duranie (not the person rockin’ out to AYNIN) enters the picture.

My friend came in to be supportive and because she, too, thought that this person had gone too far.  She pointed out to the hater that there are things that she likes that her friends would think are horrible, too, but that they probably wouldn’t insult her about it on Facebook.  Of course, this person turned the situation around to where she was the victim as she said that my friend “baited” her and that we took it to a low level.  She claimed that she was just trying to have some witty banter but that we probably aren’t capable of that.  (My eyes were rolling around so much that I’m surprised they didn’t fall out!)  I couldn’t let that slide, either, and commented that she would have been more mature to have just said that she apologized for insulting us. 

So, what is the point of me sharing this story?  First, it reminds me so much of what elementary school felt like.  I will never forget sitting at lunch and debating who was better:  Duran Duran or Michael Jackson.  I was always on the losing side of that battle as there were a ton more Michael Jackson fans than Duranies where I grew up.  I can recall trying to explain to my classmates that Band-Aid came out first and was better than USA for Africa who just copied Band-Aid on the cause.  These classmates of mine didn’t want to hear any of the facts.  They couldn’t just accept that we had different taste when it came to music as it almost always went to the fact that Duran were “sissy like”.  (I usually argued at lunch with boys, by the way.)  This conversation felt just like I had gone back in time.  Of course, the really sad part is that this person is a grown woman.  My classmates had an excuse–they were just kids. 

Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t criticize Duran Duran as a whole or Simon, specifically.  The world knows that I love to give Simon a hard time as much as possible.  That said, I always do it from a place of love.  I know that they are capable for greatness so when they fail to reach that, I’m disappointed and I say so.  Now, this person doesn’t get that right.  She isn’t a Duranie.  She isn’t saying those things to give Simon a hard time.  Nope.  She is saying them to be mean—to the band and to their fans.  What does this say about me as a Duranie?  It says that I will ALWAYS defend them to the non-Duranie even if it is about things I disagree with.  I would argue that RCM was a fabulous album with a non-Duranie, for example.  I think that part of being a serious fan is about being passionate about something.  I’m passionate about Duran.  This passion can form into loving criticism with other Duranies or into fierce protection with non-Duranies.  That’s how it always has been and always will be.  

-A

Fickle Fans

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a definite uptick in the amount of posts and activity on virtually every DD dedicated board I visit.  Even on facebook and twitter, there is evidence of rebirth and renewal.  Naturally, much, if not all, is due to the new album – and one can’t help but applaud.  That said, I’ve seen quite a few screen names belonging to people I haven’t seen say or post a kind word towards any one member of the band (much less the group as a whole) in many, many months.  In some cases, it’s been years.  Suddenly it seems as though it’s back “en vogue” to love the band once again and show your inner Duranie.

Fans are a fickle sort, and I add myself into that category just as I would anyone else.  We tend to come and go with the breeze, so to speak.  Some fans stick out the tough times, and while they might not necessarily love an album, they stay with it for the long haul.  Other fans tend to leave the fold and come back during fairer weather.  In the past, there has been much discussion over what makes a “real” or “true” fan.  Truly an unfair and/or loaded question, if you ask me.  At the time, discussion centered around whether or not we followed the band during the “leaner” years – basically the period after about 1993 to about the year the reunion was announced (not just rumored) in about 2002 or so.  Many said they stuck valiantly by the band – posting on the boards, going to shows, buying their albums, so on and so forth.  Many others said that they still watched out for them, but that no, they weren’t really involved and still others admitted that they actually had lives that didn’t center around the band during that time.  Naturally there were as many opinions about what made a real fan as there were answers on the board, and I would suspect the same would hold true today.

From my own observations, I’ve seen even the most ardent of fans fall away from the group, or the community during the last 5 years since the Astronaut tour.  These fans encompass the breadth between those that gradually fell away from the fold quietly to those who stuck around and hurled nothing but insults at every turn….and obviously everything in between.  I myself went through periods of insult (towards the band) during this past 5 years, and slowly I came back around, hoping for the best with this new album.  Obviously I am not the perfect fan, nor am I going to win that “big prize for best fan” at the end of this road.  *wink, wink*  Now that the album has been released and we’re waiting for tour dates, I’m seeing more and more of these screen names return, apparently evolving from hypercriticism, to tentative embrace, to full blown adoration once again.  I’m here to admit that in my mind – it’s very difficult not to call foul at times.   That’s how imperfect of a fan, and a person, I am.

I suppose that at the end of the day, it’s not up to me or anyone else to decide who gets to stay and who should leave the “kingdom of Duran”.  I mean let’s face it – if there were such a judgement  made, I might have been exiled years ago.   *gasp*

-R

Release Plan Reactions

In just two little days, Duran Duran is releasing their 13th studio album, “All You Need Is Now,” exclusively on iTunes.  This release will be followed by a physical release in February with some extra tracks.  I discovered a discussion about this plan taking place on the Duran Duran Message Board.  The discussion began from a poll about whether or not this plan is genius or stupid or something in between.  In this thread, some posters complain that the band isn’t being fair to the fans and others think the plan is fine. 

The arguments against this plan usually go something like this:  Why should I pay for the album twice?  Why is the band trying to get as much money from us as possible?  They should treat the fans better.  There are complaints about iTunes.  The quality of downloads is not the same as a cd or vinyl.  Why make it exclusively iTunes?  Why not make it available to other online music stores?  The other side of the debate points out that this is a way to get most of the album early because, otherwise, we would have to wait until February to get it.  They also point out that people can just wait until February to get the physical album, if they so choose.  As far as the band wanting as much money as possible, don’t these fans release that it is also a business for them?  Yes, making music is an art form but it is also their means of making money.  Why shouldn’t they try to get as much money as possible?  Does that make them less honorable people?  Do these same fans look at people who work for corporations to make as much money as they can as less than honorable people?  I doubt it.  Like other businesses, it is up to the consumer to make a choice.  S/he can decide to buy the product or not.  The same can be said for iTunes and downloading lesser quality music.  iTunes and Duran Duran came to some sort of deal in order to better themselves, from a business standpoint.  Would it be nice to be available in other locations?  Absolutely but what good is it going to do to complain about it?  Again, the consumer has the choice to buy or not to buy.  Simple enough. 

Obviously, this debate may continue on for months until we are actually able to buy the physical cd or vinyl.  There were many people on that thread that began to question whether or not anything Duran Duran does is good enough for some people.  I have to agree.  It seems to me that if the band was releasing the album just on iTunes, people would complain.  If they were just releasing it, physically, people would complain.  If they had to wait a couple more months, there would be moans and groans about Durantime.  It seems like they tried to compromise by releasing the album in this way.  We don’t have to wait as long.  We have choices about when and how to buy the album (for the most part-I understand that some places don’t have iTunes).  Therefore, it does feel to me that some Duranies won’t ever be pleased.  This discussion on the release plan just seems to be one of many in recent times that showcases this never-be-happy attitude.  Other conversations included the album cover, the new music itself, the use of Mark Ronson and other guest musicians and more.  I’m sure that Tuesday will see even more with release of both the album and video.

I find myself struggling to understand this.  I can relate to saying what you think, even if it isn’t positive towards the band.  I can’t relate if EVERYTHING you say regarding the band is negative.  I don’t understand that.  Why waste time on them then?  Why waste other people’s time?  Of course, I’m sure that these posters don’t see themselves doing that.  They just are voicing their opinions and nothing more, right?  One thing I would like to ask them is this:  What could the band do to make you happy?  Is this something realistic and logical?  I’ll give an example.  Would I like them to do hour long meet and greets for all fans who VIP?  Sure.  It isn’t possible with schedules, time, etc.  I think everyone needs to remember a few things:  First, people should remember why they became fans in the first place.  Second, what good does it do to be negative about everything?  Once people stop being so negative, maybe they will enjoy it more.  I know that I will enjoy it and them more!

-A

New Music Discussions

Apparently, a number of Duranies have heard or are in possession of the new album.  While I could write about what I think about this in regards to the legal issue or future record sales or morality, etc., I am not going to.  What I find interesting is reading all of the reactions to the new album.  There are countless discussions about how good or bad it is throughout the Duran fandom.  While discussions like this are not new, my reaction to them is different.

Like many Duranies, I joined the online community during the band’s reunion.  I was aware of how the web was creating a place for fans to be in order to be excited together, to discuss, to meet other fans and more.  I, personally, decided to jump in with the reunion because my excitement over the return of the Fab Five was too much for me!  I needed to find others who were just as thrilled as I was!  I knew that I wanted other fans to go to shows with me and to discuss the new album, Astronaut, with me.  At that time, I remember reading some negative reactions about the album, how the band was promoting it, how the label was promoting it, etc.  In my mind, those negative statements were small in number and were by fans who couldn’t or wouldn’t join in the party I was having.  I learned very quickly who seemed to embrace the positive and who didn’t.  Those who didn’t could be ignored by me.  Then, Red Carpet Massacre came and I joined in on a lot of the criticisms.  I absolutely hated that the album was causing so many of us to be upset, but I understood the need to express one’s feelings. 

It seems to me that being a fan means that you are passionate about something and this something has made you feel so good or so happy at some point.  Therefore, it is understandable for people to feel the need to vent or to offer praise about something that creates such intense feelings for them.  Obviously, these intense feelings can be positive about something, like my feelings were during Astronaut, and negative about others like they were about RCM.  During both of those times, I was in the majority group.  Now, I am seeing a ton of people who are in love with the new album, but I am also seeing others who are not.  I would have to put myself in the first camp in that I have loved what I have heard and have loved reading people’s reviews who are positive.  Negative reviews are upsetting to me.  Why?  I understand people’s desire to say what they think.  I also completely believe in the freedom of speech.  So, why are these views causing me distress? 

I have given this a great deal of thought.  Perhaps, it is because the criticism was grouped together differently during the Astronaut era that I could ignore it easier.  Maybe I only found the negative views on a certain message board, for example.  (I honestly can’t remember.  Maybe Rhonda does or maybe our readers do.)  It is possible that there was such a small minority of voices going against the album that they could easily overlooked.  Those are definitely possible reasons.  Another reason could be that I also went through the era of RCM where a lot of people disliked what they heard, including me.  Is it possible that I’m struggling to understand how people could group RCM with the new material?  After all, if they are saying that they didn’t like RCM and that they don’t like “All You Need Is Now”, aren’t they saying that they are both bad?  Maybe not equally as bad but bad still.  That I can’t understand.  I wonder what those fans are looking for, then.  If it wasn’t RCM and it isn’t AYNIN, then what?  What kind of Duran material would remind them of why they loved Duran in the first place? 

The last possible reason for my personal difficulty with the criticism is that I am more invested now.  Yes, I was a long-term, die-hard fan for both Astronaut and RCM like I am now.  This time, I am writing a blog.  It has been become even more personal to me.  Being a fan is personal enough.  Being part of a fan community is even more so.  Then, writing or being creative in a way that connects you is way more personal, at least to me.  The reality is that it is all of these things, I suspect, that has frustrated me with the negative reviews.  Of course, time will tell whether or not, I will continue to feel this way.  I may decide that the negative views are more like my view than I originally thought.  I know that I will continue to read the reviews and even welcome the less-than-excited opinions of others even if I disagree or even if they upset me.  After all, everyone has the right to their opinions just like I do.  I can appreciate the discussion because I do know that it is these types of discussions which keep the fandom alive.

-A

Duran’s History

The first reviews of Duran’s new album are coming out.  Some of the reviews are professional ones done by actual music critics and many are like our review of the single in that they are done by fans.  Besides the reviews, the fans are discussing the new music to death, including the whole album, which some have apparently gotten a hold of (which is a topic for another blog entirely).  Part of every review, every comment about the new music is constant references to Duran’s history.  Many of these statements are directly comparing one song to another in Duran’s extensive collection and usually go something like this, “The Man Who Stole a Leopard reminds me of the Chauffeur”.  Other statements bring up former band members, especially Andy and Warren with questions about what they think of the new material or what would the new material sound like if they were playing guitar for it.  Obviously, Duran cannot escape their history, musically and otherwise.  No band who has been around for 30 years can.  Yet, this history must be such a blessing, at times, and a curse, at others.

One thing that I always hear when I go on tour by non-fans is the question about why I have to go to so many shows as the assumption is that all of the shows are the same.  I try to explain to these not-mean-spirited but clueless people is that no show is the same, if for no other reason but the setlists can change.  Yes, yes, we all know that Duran tends to play a LOT of the same songs on tour but there is always a chance to hear a song that isn’t played often.  For example, I loved hearing Election Day live in the summer of 2009.  Duran’s amazingly full catalog always allows them to be able to pick and choose, at any point, to change the setlist.  Their long-lasting career has given them many chances for success, both commercially and critically, and they have experienced a lot of both.  Of course, they have also experienced a lot of negatives as well.  This has given them the chance to grow as people and as a band.  While I’m sure that they never like going through management or personnel changes, for example, I’m sure that they have learned something each time, which has given them an opportunity to be stronger for it. 

Of course, their long history also must create a tremendous burden for them.  At one point in their careers, they were the biggest band in the world by having number one hits, selling out stadiums, having platinum records and gaining a very large and intense fanbase.  Every new song, every new album gets compared with their past work and it is very common for them to be compared to what is deemed as their most popular and/or most successful work.  Is it ever possible to really met those expectations?  Most Duranies and most of the media agree that Duran’s best work was the first two or three albums with a few standout moments later on in their careers.  Was it easier to create gems then?  After all, they didn’t have all of those expectations put upon them?  They didn’t have anything to prove except that they could be a success.  Now, they are forced to prove that they are still good, still worthy.  It must be easier to have that one big hit rather than have the 25th hit, for example.  When they first started at, they didn’t have as many fans who had to like what they did as they were still working on gaining fans.  Now, there is a chance to disappoint a ton of people. 

I plan on keeping this awesome responsibility that they have in my head as I continue to read reviews and reactions of the new music.  I know that I, too, have expectations for them.  Yet, I want to always remain understanding in how difficult it must be to measure up to past successes.  Now, that doesn’t mean that I won’t say that something isn’t good if I think that something isn’t good but I hope to do it from an understanding perspective.

-A