Category Archives: Duran Duran Blog

Christmas Hangover

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m still recovering from yesterday.  I wish I could say I was recovering from a very long night of dancing and being out…but alas, I am recovering from two solid days of wrapping gifts, playing Santa, cooking food and being with family.  I feel a little on the hungover side, which is pretty pathetic when you consider that there was very little alcohol involved.

Perhaps that is where I went wrong.

Today involves the time-honored tradition (which is American for “we are too stupid to consider that perhaps today is NOT the day to go out into stores) of going back out to the mall, stores, etc. to return things that didn’t fit, or to get things that we didn’t get yesterday.  Because we want it all.  Yesterday.

For my family, we are venturing out to one of my least favorite stores in the entire world – Frye’s Electronics.  Why?  My son has had a dream of building some sort of super gaming system (yes, he is a video gamer), and while he received many of the components necessary to build such a system – the one thing none of us thought of was the shell, which he apparently needs.  (Actually, MOM thought of the shell, but was told that no – of course he doesn’t need that, the one he currently has will fit it all. I hesitated, but I figured that surely my techy husband would know best. Guess who was right??)  I’m going along purely to make sure that nothing else is bought.  Yes, it’s really come to that.  My husband is as excited about this super system as my son – and I can’t trust the two of them together. Besides, I need out of this house!

While I have no band news to share today, I can share with you that I wish I were instead shopping for an upcoming trip to see Duran Duran.  Now that would be worth fighting stir-crazy, credit-card wielding crowds.  Hmm.  Maybe next year!

-R

  

Merry Christmas from Daily Duranie!!

On a morning where a reasonable percentage of us are busily opening presents, preparing food and spending time with our families – Amanda and Rhonda want to take a moment to wish the rest of our family – the Duran Duran portion of our family (band, friends, fellow readers, and everyone else) a wonderful holiday should you celebrate, and if not – a wonderful Wednesday.

We are incredibly privileged to have such a wonderful group of people that inspire us on a daily basis to sit down and write.  We have spent time in various parts of the United States, the UK, and even online going to shows, sitting down and chatting, exchanging messages, posts and tweets with so many of you, and believe it or not – it is something we not only look forward to doing each day, it’s something that this point, we couldn’t live without.

Family is a huge word. It is composed of not only the people that you are related by blood, but also those who, by choice, we include in our lives on a daily basis. That includes not only John, Simon, Nick, Roger and Dom, but all of you. Thank you for being a part of our family, and we certainly hope that you are able to spend time with those you love today, whether in person, online, by phone, or otherwise. There are plenty of times throughout the year when we might not agree or see eye to eye, but that is how families really are.  At the heart of it all, we come together, support one another, and enjoy some of the finer things in life once in a while. We look forward to doing plenty of that in 2014!

Merry Christmas!

Amanda & Rhonda 

Dear Santa…

Since this seems to be the time of year to make out those letters to Santa, we took the opportunity to compose one of our own…in the off chance that Santa is reading!!  Merry Christmas!

Dear Santa,

How’s the album…*coughs*…errr… we mean, how are your reindeer? We certainly hope they are well-fed and ready to go…we’ve been waiting patiently all year. Ok…mostly patiently… some of the time…hey at least we tried!! ANYWAY


We have been very good this year and gotten a lot accomplished in your MARKED absence. During the first half of this year, we worked very hard to finish the first draft of our manuscript, which has now been completed. Amanda has been working her fingers to the bone to properly edit, footnote, cite sources and compile our bibliography; while Rhonda has been working to find appropriate publishers to send proposals. It has been quite a process, but we’re making progress and hopefully next year we’ll have even better news to report. We also began planning a convention for Duran Duran fans that we named Durandemonium. The convention was a lot of work to plan, and we had help getting it all finished. People came from all over (even as far as Canada and England!) for an October weekend of fun in Chicago, and as a result we saw friendships come together, and some fans said that we even helped to reignite their fandom for the band. Even though the convention was exhausting and it took us about a month to recover, we would gladly do it all again. Our blog has continued to grow this year, and we saw not only our 250,000 page visit, but also our 1200th post. That is a LOT of blogs to write, and yes, we still blog every single day even though the band has given us PRECIOUS LITTLE to talk about this year on their own. Heck, even when the blogs aren’t totally related to Duran Duran, we still talk about you..er..them everyday with our day in Duran history and our daily questions. We have a few friends and followers who see those daily Duran posts/tweets, too.  😉  We hope that you agree that we have been productive and very, very, very nice…because we put together a little wish list for you.

 A finished album: #DD14 in 2014 has a lovely ring to it, don’t you think? No no, St. NICK…it’s not at all contrived! Preferably, a finished album sometime in the first half of the year, too, as it would leave plenty of time for shows. Mostly, we are just ready to hear some new music and see our favorite band again.   

Tour dates: We are thinking that summer would be a lovely time to tour (although not early summer – as in like June and early July here in the states, because Rhonda has a little “college visit” road trip planned).  Middle of July through middle of August would be about perfect.  (Listen, we just figured since it was a WISH list…we could throw in a few suggestions!!)


A Guitar: As in, we’d really like to hear that our favorite guitar player has been added to the official, permanent band line-up. With merch, lots of photo ops… and all. Remember, we’ve been very good fans…um…good girls. For that matter, Dom has been around since very late 2004 by our count – and that’s nine years of putting up with the rest of you…*coughs*…we mean the rest of the band. Surely that means he’s been good too!! 🙂

New pictures, videos, etc: All with the aforementioned guitar player. We’re not asking for much. Not really! This would increase every fan’s excitement and give us plenty to talk about on this little blog of ours!


Another trip to the UK, and possibly Europe: We figure we should just dream big here, especially since the only way we’re gonna get back over there is if Santa helps us out!  

While we are dreaming big, how about a proper meet and greet?: What do we mean by proper? The meet and greet should not feel rushed and we should leave feeling like we had our moment. A great example of what a meet and greet could like would be the one before the Unstaged screening at MoMA. Of course, photos would be included as well, right? That is a given. I’m sure you are already thinking that individual shots and a group shot would be reasonable and fitting. That isn’t too much to ask, is it? Perhaps, you would like to do this proper meet and greet in a setting in which not just us can benefit.  We are all for that.  We would love for all fans to have their chance!  Dear Santa, we’re certainly willing to do our part to make this happen, as we know you can’t be everywhere at one time.  Well, at least on any other night besides Christmas Eve.  So…we would be happy to help organize these meet and greets if you need help!  

So, Santa, as you prepare for your big journey, we hope that you consider our wish list.  We have been very good this year and very much promise to be even better next year!!!  


With Love, 

Rhonda and Amanda

Year End Katy Kafé with Nick Rhodes!

Thank goodness for Nick Rhodes!! Not only was I pleased to see Nick’s year end Katy Kafé this morning…but listening to it provided a near treasure trove of new album information to digest!

Let’s do what I love and begin with dessert, and in our case, that means going straight in for some inside info on the new album. To begin with, Katy asked Nick the question we’re all wondering – when will we hear new music? Nick’s answer? May. (That’s two for May!!) Now, in answering that, he clarified by saying that he thinks that’s when the first song(s?) will drop – but the album itself may come a bit later. I was delighted to hear that the music for several songs is pretty much ready – they are still tinkering a bit, but they’re basically ready. He’s pleased that they are farther along than he might have thought they would be at this point.  However, there are plenty of lyrics that need written.

Katy asked Nick if they would be touring for this next album (thank you Katy for asking that question!!), and he said that he thought they would, but that it would “not be nearly as long” of a tour, and that he was hoping to do something “more unusual” when they release the album.

How would Nick compare the sound from this album to previous albums in their catalog?  Not able to settle on just one album for an example of the sound from this one, Nick cites that elements sound like Big Thing. Just as I began to wonder what that could possibly mean, he continued on to say that there’s a groove like parts of Notorious, ballads reminiscent to the Wedding Album, along with harmonics of the 1st album. He says the sound has developed on from All You Need is Now, but it’s different. Different, but not a complete departure from Duran Duran as we might have heard in Red Carpet Massacre. It’s a Duran Duran album, but different.  Katy finished off by suggesting that perhaps just maybe we could get a listen to a tiny snippet in an early Kafé next year, and Nick said “Oh, you never know when those snippets will drop, Kathryn!” Cross your fingers, friends!

One thing that Nick brought up that I found rather interesting and worth mentioning was that he doesn’t want to keep going into the studio and churning out more of the “same old stuff”.  He likes discovering new sounds, and doing new things – which I believe any of us can certainly understand. He wants to have new things to say, which after 30 years, you would think they’d have trouble finding – but Nick says that that the studio environment is his favorite, and he loves creating. It shows.

That was some of the best intel we’ve gotten about the new album in months. Who needs Taylor Leaks when you’ve got Nick Rhodes in the mood to talk! (Sorry John, but facts are facts!) We’ve got our own St. Nicholas…leaving little stocking stuffers for all fans! (and we’ve all been very good, haven’t we?) It was great to hear Nick’s thoughts on the album, and I think I speak for everyone when I say it was really what we’ve been wanting to hear.

So what else has dear Nicholas been up to in 2013? Art shows! Nick visited several shows this year, naming Erwin Blumenfeld‘s (Surrealist photographer) show in Paris as one he really enjoyed. Additionally he went and saw a Frida Kahlo/Diego Rivera exhibition, the Magritte exhibits at MoMA, and is hoping to get to the Tate Modern in time to see the Paul Klee  exhibit, which ends on March 9th. Conversely, something Nick really has not done much of is listen to music! He commented that someone will put on music in the studio and inevitably he’ll say that something sounds good or has a good groove, but he won’t know who it is. I laughed at that, because it sounds vaguely familiar to what I experience here at home these days!

Two other very exciting things that Nick has been working on this past year that I think will thrill most fans: he is working on putting together a book based on the photography in Bei Incubi – the exhibition that accompanied the release of the TV Mania album, which he really loved working on with Warren. Nick didn’t mention when we could expect to see this book released, but I am sure that for the next Kafé with Nick in February 2014 – we’ll find out more info!  Looking forward to hearing details about that project!  Secondly, the rumors are true: John and Nick really ARE working on a musical!! Nick didn’t say much about this project, only to say that things were “quietly coming along”. In fact they were in the studio working on that project since the Duran Duran album project was finished until the new year. So, stay tuned for more details on those projects in the new year!

Seems to me as though we fans have a very busy 2014 ahead…so rest up while you can, and keep those savings accounts well-stocked with funds!

As always, I need to say that while I went over some fantastic highlights, it’s just impossible to cover the entire Kafé, so if you’re interested in hearing the whole thing, you’ll need to join DDM to have access to the exclusives!

-R

You Require a Little Bit More: Convention Activities

Recently, I began to explore the world of conventions, fan conventions, more specifically.  A couple of weeks ago, I looked at why and how they came into being.  Obviously, for the most part, it was the desire for fans to get together and be around other fans.  Yet, there is something about a convention that goes beyond a regular meet up or get together.  First, conventions typically are much longer than a regular meet up or get together.  For example, many get togethers last only a few hours or part of a day.  Conventions commonly last days.  Some can last an entire weekend and beyond.  So, length of time makes a convention special.  The other thing that makes a convention more than a meet up is the activities, or what people can do there, which is the focus of today’s blog.  What are the typical activities at a convention?  Which ones are the most important?  Which ones would get you to go to a convention?  Do the activities matter more or as much as getting together with fellow fans?

I have done a fair amount of research on conventions, have attended some, and planned one.  I have seen some common activities at all of them and some unique ones at specific conventions.  The specific ones relate only to that individual fandom.  For example, at ours, we went to Late Bar to enjoy 80s music or other music conventions have had tribute bands play.  At conventions related to TV or movies, they might show a new episode or behind the scenes footage.  Beyond those unique activities, here is a list of the most common.  I’m sure that the list is not complete.

Common Convention Activities:

*Registration—All conventions require attendees to register.  For some conventions, this is a simple check-in, get materials and move to other activities.  For other conventions, it is more of an event with attendees mingling and enjoying drinks and/or food.

*Games—Many conventions feature trivia about one’s fandom.  Other games related to that specific fandom(s) are common as well.

*Vendors—Many conventions have an area in which attendees can buy products.  In most cases, those products are related to the fandom(s) represented at the convention, but, sometimes, there are general products as well.

*Panels—These panels can vary in topic and scope.  At large conventions like Comic Con, these panels could include an entire cast of a TV show or movie or a combination between the actors, producers, directors, etc.  Sometimes, panels are people who do a similar job related to that fandom.  For example, our convention had an author’s panel of writers who have written material related in some way to Duran.  At times, a panel might be made of one particular celebrity.  Panels typically run with a moderator who allows each of the panelists to give a statement, then asks questions of the panelists and fields questions from the audience.

*Banquets—Smaller conventions often have banquets associated with them in which food is served and the attendees dine together.  Often, at the banquets, other activities take place, including contests, raffles, games, etc.

*Raffles or Auctions—Attendees have a chance to pay for raffles or to bid on items related to the fandom.  Typically, these items are donated and are a means of fundraising for the convention itself.  For our convention, we had items like rare vinyl records, t-shirts, signed products, and more.  Conventions associated with TV shows or movies might have items like props from episodes, costumes, signed pictures of actors and more.

*Costume Contests—Many conventions have attendees who will dress like specific characters from movies, comics, video games and TV shows.  Then, frequently, there is a contest to see who has the best one.

*Photo and autograph opportunities—Many large conventions are able to get celebrities to come to the conventions.  Then, fans have the opportunity to buy a photograph and/or an autograph with the celebrity of choice.  These are usually additional cost beyond the ticket to get into the convention.  The cost of these opportunities often depend on how popular or in demand a specific celebrity is.  For example, a big time actor would cost more than an actor who hasn’t been on a popular show for a number of years.

*A chance to showcase one’s work—Often, people will attend conventions to show off their work or to have their work be seen.  For example, it is common for conventions to have an area where artists can show or play their work.  These artists are not famous like the celebrities or panelists but do want to show their work and to get more work, more recognition, etc.  They can also sell their products.  Likewise, at large conventions, companies involved with the popular arts would come and see people’s work like a job fair.

Based on this list, which activities would appeal to you the most?  More specifically, which ones would make you want to get to a convention?  For me, there are activities that I think are super cool and would get me to pay for the ticket and then there are others that I would enjoy if I am there but wouldn’t push me to go.  I’m curious about which activities would make you more likely to pay to attend?  What about ones that would get you to travel?  Perhaps, for you, it isn’t about one or two specific events but there needs to many of them that are cool that would get you to pay and/or travel to go to a convention.  I want to know.  What matters in your decision to go, in terms of activities?  Do the activities matter more than being around other fans?  Maybe, for some people, they have the chance to be around other fans all the time so they don’t need to go to a convention for that.  Online activity might more than enough, in terms of interacting with fans.  For those of you like that, would any of these activities get you in the door?  Why or why not?  

-A

Year End Katy Kafe with Simon!

It seems like just yesterday when I was writing about John’s year end Katy Kafe!  Oh wait…it was yesterday!  On one hand, I’m glad that the next one came out so quickly as I definitely want to compare answers, especially the ones that revolve around the next album, tour, etc.  I was left very dissatisfied by John’s statement about new music being in August.  That is SO far away!  Frankly, it is too far away for many reasons, but that is a topic for another blog.  So, will Simon match John’s response?  Will it be even more discouraging to the dedicated fans?  Let me take a listen and respond to some of the highlights.  Of course, as always, I would recommend listening to the real thing yourself on DDM.

Like John, the topic of the year spent in the studio was at the top of the list of things to discuss.  Simon said that they have had a great year there.  One one hand, I love hearing that because it might mean that the music will be fabulous, but there is another part of me that wonders if they would say if it wasn’t?!  I’m feeling generous, though, so I’ll assume the former.  He did mention that there were moments when they felt out of ideas but then another good one would pop up, which does sound good to me as Simon points out it is good to have new, fresh ideas.  I get that.  You don’t want to just do the same thing over and over again.  That isn’t very creative.  I did appreciate Katy trying to get some piece of information from Simon, like a song title, but he said he couldn’t do that.  Bummer.  That would have been a nice little gift in the season of giving.

The second topic of 2013 favorites followed closely behind the studio work discussion.  Simon mentioned how he doesn’t listen to a lot of other music when he is so focused on his own.  I find that interesting.  I could see how you wouldn’t want to listen to others when you are so into what you are doing, but I could also see how others might create a new idea in your own work.  Again, here is where every creative person is different.  Some might like those other influences and others not so much.  Of course, Simon, like John, did mention Daft Punk for music in 2013, which I’m not surprised about.  Movies, TV shows and books were also asked about.  Simon discussed the movies, Gravity and Rush, quite a bit.  He talked about a couple of plays as well.  As far as books goes, Simon did acknowledge that he should do a Simon’s Reader since he has read a lot of books but that he has been busy in the studio.  I bet the fans would love for him to try and squeeze in one soon, though, and think he is capable of doing a little multi-tasking.  Again, like movies and plays, he did mention a few books in detail.  One book that might interest fans is The Goldfinch as Simon feels like he can relate to the main character!  Perhaps, that would be a good book for the reader, then!

Simon did talk about his holiday plans, including travel plans and decorating the tree and his animals.  Thankfully, before Katy let Simon go, she asked him the same question as she did John about the new music.  Simon’s response, thankfully, was more optimistic than John’s as he said, “May.”  May still seems like a VERY FAR away time but much better than August.  It makes me wonder why the answers from John and Simon were so different.  Perspective?  Hopefulness?  Desire to get it done?  *shrugs*  I will say this much.  Simon’s reaction to hearing John’s answer was worth listening to the Kafe, in my opinion.

Of course, now, I’m even more curious to hear what Roger and Nick have to say next week on theirs.  Perhaps, they will be a compromise between the May and the August answers or they will back one or the other.  We shall see (hear) soon enough!

-A

Year End Kafe with John Taylor!

I have been anxiously awaiting the year end Katy Kafes with the members of Duran Duran!  First, I have been dying for something to write about in terms of Duran news.  Obviously, I have lots to say about lots of other topics but I do enjoy writing about what is new, what is the latest in Duranland.  Second, as with any kafe, I always hope that there is something really exciting revealed or something that gets me thinking.  The last kafe was in November and got Rhonda and I thinking so much that an immediate phone call had to take place!  I love those moments!  In the case of last month’s, things John said definitely got me thinking and got me more determined than ever.  It was very good!  So, I listened to this one, the first of the year end kafes, with a high level of excitement.  It should be noted that this blog, like any of the rest of our blog posts about Katy Kafes, does not cover each and every part of the kafe.  If you want the complete picture (and I know you do), be a member of DuranDuranMusic and check the whole thing out there!

I have to admit that I was amused by the discussion surrounding snow.  John sounded a lot like I do when it comes to snow.  It is welcome to snow as long as no one needs to get anywhere or travel.  I find that particularly funny as we are due for an ice storm tonight and a major snow storm over the weekend.  Of course, snow, at the right time, can truly make it perfect.  For example, right after my youngest niece was born, my entire family got together for Christmas, which is rare.  The last of the family arrived on Christmas Eve.  Then, it snowed overnight, which created a beautiful holiday scene.  Plus, it was fun to see my oldest niece enjoy the snow for probably the first time in her life as she lives down south.  I digress, though.  Weather is distracting!  Anyway, John talked to Katy from the studio, which he described as having a “positive vibe” and that they feel good about what they have worked on.  He, in fact, described the project as “on track”.  I’m not sure if that means time wise or style wise or what.  Obviously, the year has been, basically, about them in the studio as he points out.  
Katy then asks John about popular entertainment, including books, albums, etc.  John mentions a series of  musical favorites from this year including Daft Punk, Kanye, Arcade Fire and more.  He also gives a list of other individual songs that caught his attention as well as films and TV shows.  What I enjoy about this part of the kafe is how John describes each album or artist or whatever.  He isn’t just giving a list but is giving reasons and how he reacted to the music or whatever.  It reminds me of those great school librarians who are able to turn kids into books solely by giving a really good introduction into a book or series.  His enthusiasm is clear and I’m willing to bet that he has convinced many people to give some artist, show, or movie a try just by how excited he is.  Another thing that I thought was interesting is how John claimed that he didn’t go and see much since he wasn’t traveling.  It was interesting because that is how I feel every year!  
2014 came up as a topic, specifically related to the next album and tour.  Again, he stated that they weren’t feeling the need to do a big tour (!) but that he felt good about the music, which is what he stated on twitter the other day as well.  He did say that once the album is done, they will think about the best way to present it to everyone.  This leads me to wonder if they are thinking about doing something different than regular promo appearances and a tour.  One specific month was mentioned for new Duran–August.  I have to admit to cringing at that a bit.  August???  That seems like a lifetime from now!  I don’t know that I will survive until August.  What the hell are we going to write about on here?!  That said, I’m surprised he gave such a firm time frame even though we don’t really know what was meant by new music.  The whole album?  A first song?  Snippets?  Tour?  I’m almost left with more questions than answers.  Perhaps, once we hear the rest of the year end kafes, we will have a more complete picture.  
-A

Of Crime and Passion – The Daily Duranie Review

We are waist-deep in the throws of Seven and the Ragged Tiger, and this week we bring you our thoughts on Of Crime and Passion.  A song that the band has never played too incredibly often live, how does the song hold up some thirty years later?

Rhonda:

Musicality/Instrumentation: I must admit I have always loved the first seven seconds of this song best – a quickening heartbeat to draw you in and listen closer, and then…two jarring chords that knock you right off of your feet…which are my least favorite two notes the band has probably ever recorded. My mother always threatened to put this song on as my alarm in the morning. Thankfully I’m still here, so clearly she never followed through. Those two notes never fail to scare the hell out of me, so the shock value? Yep, still there. Thanks!  Those notes are continued to be used throughout the song, and I think their main purpose is to really to jar the listener. Mission accomplished. This is one of the darker, slightly grimy “rock” songs on the album, with plenty of guitar, to which I’ll admit – I’m slightly partial. I think that as opposed to the other more synthesizer/keyboard-centric songs on the album, this song is where Andy is allowed to shine, and that he does. The guitar is the perfect way to play out the anger felt in this song – it speaks beautifully through the music, and there’s no way to miss the emotion that is being conveyed. I never lose him in the mix, and John is close behind, providing a steady bass, although I do feel that we feel him more than we hear him during much of the song. It’s funny because I feel the same way about Roger’s drums – I can hear him on the snare and maybe some toms from time to time, but bass drum? Not as much. I can feel it, but I can’t always hear it. On this song, Nick seems to be much more in the background, creating atmosphere in much the same way he did on the first album. Summing up the instrumentation, I would say that it is as though this is a throwback to their earlier style of songwriting, but done with current (well, “current” to the year this album was recorded!) production/recording.

Vocals: One thing that Simon does incredibly well, is create mood. Simon doesn’t just show up and sing – you can hear the emotion in his voice, and it changes throughout the song, throughout the set, and even throughout whatever album you’re listening.  Many singers today do not know how to do that, and I give Simon credit – he does it superbly.  This song is no different – he starts off lower in his range here, and you can feel the anxiety, the irritation, and even the rage increase with each set of verses, and then in the chorus he explodes with this amazing amount of energy.  The listener can feel exactly what he’s singing. I have always loved Simon’s lower vocal range, and this song shows off his abilities beautifully, showcasing everything from his emotion, to range, to harmonization.

Lyrics: All I really understood about this song when I was young was anger and rage. It was easy enough to glean the anger just from the way Simon sang the words. When I listen now, I’m struck by just how accurately the words describe the receiving end of deceit. “Why did you let me run when you knew I’d fall for the gaping hole where your heart should be.”  It’s almost as though he’s having a conversation with the person, assuming he hears a reply and answers back “Liar! Couldn’t cut me deeper with a knife if you tried. Take a look before you run off and hide at your victim, arise.”  I love that he commands the person to look at the damage they’ve caused. Brilliant. “How quiet they gather when the storm’s about the blow”  I’ve thought of that line many, many times over the years. It’s so true. He captures the feeling – the anger, the confusion, the hurt and yes, the passion and rage one feels when they realize they’ve been lied to. Lyrically, it’s fantastic.

Production: There is something about the production on this entire album that is difficult to describe. It is similar (but not exact) to the “Wall of Sound” technique that Phil Spector first used back in the 1960’s. Basically, it’s a way of layering tracks so that the sound is very dense with a ton of reverberation. When everything comes together in the chorus, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of sound coming at you. I notice on this album, the production is very heavy as opposed to the previous two albums – with a ton of layering, reverb and background ambience. I think that it’s effectiveness depends on the song, and just how heavy-handed it is.  On this particular song, I think that the chorus is completely overdone, with maybe much more being done post-production than we tend to mention normally here on the blog. I believe much of this is due to the fact that in the 1980s, recording technology was really beginning to take off – with a ton of innovation happening – and so it was very easy to want to try everything and overdo it.  I feel that in select parts of this song, the sound falls victim to the technology.

Overall: I can hear the elements of early Duran Duran in the songwriting here. The dark edge, the gripping guitar, the ambient keyboards, the emotional lyrics. The production, however, brought the song to 1983. I like the instrumentation with Andy taking more of a lead than in other songs on this same album, and I feel that Duran Duran works best when there is both strong guitar AND strong keyboards. Simon’s lyrics are as good as they get here for me, and I can feel myself wanting to stand up and sing this song loud and proud right along with him.  The emotion is there.  However, like other songs on this album, the production is where I feel the songs, or parts thereof, seem to fall short.  The chorus is incredibly overwhelming musically as it is – without the reverb effect, and I think that pushes it over the edge at times. I just wish they would have backed off just a little and allowed the music to tell the story and speak for itself as it is – the song is plenty strong enough on it’s own.

Cocktail Rating:    3 Cocktails!

 Amanda:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  I love, love, love how they start this song with the heartbeat that increases in tempo until the rest of instrumentation kicks in and really kicks in.  It is definitely fitting with the lyrics of the songs.  The increase in heart rate with the passion until “bang,”the crime happens or the instrumentation kicks in.  Then, for the most part, the song feels like it is all about emotion, driving emotion from there on out.  At times, the overdrive of instrumentation slows down a bit but it is a very tiny bit before it kicks up again.  One cannot escape the emotion or slow down the adrenaline.  This is particularly felt during the chorus in which there is so much instrumentation, music and sound going on that one could probably listen to the song thousands of time and not catch everything there.  It is complex, that’s for sure.  The instrumentation seems to include all of the band well with Roger a bit more in the background.  It is interesting to note that even guitar seems to be present and accounted for more on this song than others on this album.  Like earlier Duran, there seems to be more of a balance between the guitar and keyboards than on previous tracks.  Similarly, John’s bass seems to provide that steady layer of sound forming the foundation.  One thing I do love about this track is that bridge with about a minute to go.  The guitar there is fabulous.  One thing I am surprised by is the end.  I wouldn’t have expected it to just fade to end.  I would have it expected to end in a much more abrupt way based on the topic of the song and how it begins.

Vocals:  Yesterday afternoon, I was driving home, listening to music when a song popped up and caught my attention.  How come it caught my attention?  Simple.  I loved the music of the song and cringed as soon as the vocals began.  Why?  Simple.  They didn’t fit the music, the song.  It was like the vocals were for a different song and placed in this one by accident.  Why am I sharing this here?  It is the exact opposite here on this song.  Simon’s vocals seem so deliberate.  It isn’t just about singing the notes and getting the job done.  It is about being the 6th instrument on the song.  It is about working with the instrumentation.  As a reading teacher, I discuss fluency a lot with my students and we discuss how good reading isn’t just about reading the words correctly but reading them with the expression they are intended.  Simon shows how it is done on this song.  You can feel the level of passion and the level of worry.  In the beginning of the song, it seems like he is trying to control those emotions until he just can’t and has to let them out.  Then, as the instrumentation doesn’t let up, neither really does Simon, even during the verses that start out more controlled.  A good example of this is about 30 seconds in when the word “liar” is sung full of that barely contained fury.  The chorus is also just full of emotion that cannot be denied, which really adds to the song.

Lyrics:  Earlier this year, I took a long look at this song’s lyrics, which you can read here.  The basic idea of that blog is that I really have no idea behind what exactly this song is about.  To me, the lyrics play like a movie.  Perhaps, then, Simon’s emotions is much like any other actor taking on a role.  That is sort of how it feels to me, too.  It about someone else.  It doesn’t feel personal at all.  Maybe, I feel this way because I haven’t been able to find a real connection to it.  I’m not sure.  It isn’t that there is something wrong with the lyrics.  There isn’t.  They are fine but, for whatever reason, I want something different even with some very cool lines.  I like the idea of crime and passion and think they are interesting ideas.  Yes, I also understand that Simon probably hasn’t really been involved in some sort of crime but couldn’t that “crime” be something more metaphorical, more symbolic?  I don’t sense that here.  Despite the fact that I love Simon’s vocals, I don’t feel like he has a real connection to the lyrics.

Production:  Like many of the other songs on this album, I really think the parts are there for a really fantastic song.  The instrumentation is there.  The vocals are definitely there.  The lyrics have great lines.  Yet, like with so many other songs, I feel overwhelmed while listening to the song.  The overpowering, can’t escape feeling is there.  I get why this kind of production was used.  It’s a great song and everyone needs to be surrounded by it when listening so that this greatness can be heard and felt.  Yet, it feels like they are trying too hard to show how cool it is.  Yes, it is clear that recording and production methods and tools were changing and shifting and I admire Duran and their people wanting to embrace what is new and innovative.  I just wish that they could have figured out a way to use what was cool about the new with what really worked with the old.  This song didn’t need to be so overwhelming in order to be thought of as cool.  It has enough really positive features on its own to warrant letting it just be.

Overall:  There are so many elements of this song that I really love.  The instrumentation is there as are the vocals.  The lyrics are cool but they could hit it out of the ball park if they felt more personal to me.  Yet, as with so many other songs, I feel that those positives aren’t allowed to shine in the way they should be.  The production and/or the mix is too much, too overpowering.  It feels like the assumption is that we wouldn’t get it if we weren’t beaten over the head with the song.  That said, it still has enough potential to be one that I would truly enjoy seeing performed live.  In fact, I would really love to see it live.  Perhaps, in that setting, the true coolness of the song would be clear.

Cocktail Rating:  3 cocktails!

Bangin’ on the radio

Do you think Twitter has changed radio much?

In my endless search for new topics for the blog, particularly because Duran Duran – the band that inspired this blog, has not been much help in the news department as of late, I stumbled upon this infographic created by the good people at Mediabistro:

This infographic centers around the UK, likely because the #1 radio station on Twitter is BBC1. Stations do not really interact much with tweeters…as the infographic shows, 79% of tweets were aimed at celebrities, and just 21% at listeners, yet these tweets were still retweeted by their audience. What is most interesting though, is what this little infographic doesn’t say. For instance, it doesn’t tell us whether or not those tweets of song requests translate into more plays for specific (requested) artists. It doesn’t tell us whether or not tweeting has affected the Arbitron Rating for the station. And of course we can’t tell the affects any of this has or has not had on sales.  
From my point of view as “Rhonda, the above-average radio listener”,(above-average because I’m slightly out of the target demographic!!)  I don’t even follow my local radio stations on Twitter. I couldn’t care any less about what they tweet. I spend a fair amount of time in my car, and I do listen to the radio, but at home I listen to Spotify or my own music library as opposed to radio unless there’s something specific on that I want to catch. I don’t see the direct effects Twitter has had on radio per se. What I do see though, is that Twitter has had a major affect on marketing in general – across the board. Even my husband’s company has a Twitter handle, and they’re just a silicon chip company. It also has had a huge affect on customer service as well. Who needs a phone when you’ve got Twitter??  The other day I was having difficulty with our domain – and I’d mentioned that I didn’t know how to fix it on Twitter, never once thinking that someone from our domain host would reply with the answer for me. It was nice to see such a helpful (and friendly!) reply to something that I was really just musing about “out loud”.  
Once again, I think it all comes down to learning the new business model and how to make IT work, as opposed to companies learning how to work for IT. We live in a world where information and effect is meant to be instantaneous, and that’s a tough adjustment for those of us who grew up during a time when the media solely controlled the flow of information. The old ways of marketing and promotion just do not apply – they just aren’t enough for a public that wants everything yesterday. It’s fascinating to me that, like other areas of the music industry, land-based radio is slow to embrace social media correctly and use it to their benefit. It appears that they’re only understanding half the reasoning behind Twitter.  It’s not enough to just tweet outwardly – in order to truly be effective, there has to be that give and take.  The conversation. In today’s world, marketing and promotion is most effective on a relationship-level, so those little retweets, those acknowledgments, and those shout-outs matter. They spark that connection, even if only on a transactional basis. I might even suggest these relations matter more than a print ad, and possibly even more than a commercial these days. The celebrities, musicians, and entertainment franchises of all types who learn how to harness the energy available through direct-to-fan contact as well as social media will be (and are) among those leading the way for those still stuck in the learning curve cycle. Resistance, at this point, is futile. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.  
-R

Marc Geiger – Chicago Ideas Week discussion

Is the music industry climbing out of it’s slump? Is it stagnating? Getting worse?? The answers to these questions seem to vary widely, depending upon who is answering. Nearly every day I read blogs from industry writers, fans, other professionals and periphery figures who believe the best days are simply behind us. To these people, platforms such as iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube…and literally hundreds of others are doing nothing to sell records, and many are just ripping the profit from the hands of the artist. Or label, again…depending upon with whom you’re speaking. I continue to still read how pirating has completely destroyed the industry, and continues to ruin everyone within from artist to producer to label to distribution to sales channel(s). The view is incredibly grey and bleak, which is why when someone comes along with a sunnier outlook – you tend to stop and take note.

During the very same time that Durandemonium took place in Chicago…there was an event called Chicago Ideas Week. It covered a wide variety of topics, and one such topic was the state of the music industry, to which Marc Geiger, a founder of a little event called “Lollapalooza”, spoke.  You can watch it here. Mr. Geiger is an industry veteran, having done everything from DJ at 91X (a radio station in Southern California) to booking, to A&R, and then on an executive level at ARTISTdirect (CEO and Vice Chairman). Currently he is the head of the music division at William Morris Agency. He is seen as something of a visionary in the industry, due to his work at ARTISTdirect – which was the first internet company designed to create a direct connection between the artist and the fan.

The main purpose or thesis of Marc Geiger’s discussion that day was to explain that the industry is not dead, and it’s best days are yet to come. He believes that the power of platforms like Pandora and YouTube, among others, has yet to be realized, but that the business is finally “getting to a decent model” and that it’s going to be bigger than ever.  Prior to the “crash” in 2000, the overall business was at 40 million a year (the “record business”, as he put it, currently it sits at 27 million a year, and he believes that it will go to 200 million a year. I was honestly astonished to hear such figures, because if the blogs and industry articles I read are any indication – you’d think the only way to make real money these days is the live show. The “tour”. Not six months ago I read an article about how even Justin Timberlake’s latest album was slumping in sales as opposed to previous efforts – but that the expectation for sales was being met, simply due to the fact that the business model for the industry had changed so much. Then of course, we slide forward to Beyoncé and her latest album, which dropped “by surprise” last week – and it’s already sitting at nearly 900,000 copies sold, in the first week. I don’t think I need to mention to anyone that I don’t think the last two albums that DD has done have reached that sales figure, combined. I know we shouldn’t be focused on sales because it is most definitely not 1985 and the band’s target demographic is well, older now… but even so, it’s pretty staggering, and is really the first sign that maybe, just maybe, the record industry will live. So, Mr. Geiger needs to forgive me if I don’t quite see that we’re on the incline out of the Valley of Death just yet. Sure, maybe for the distinct few – but for everyone? I need more convincing.

One item that I do agree with though is globalization. He gave the example of a band like Fitz and the Tantrums here in the states. They are fairly well-known here, but you move that band to a place like Chile, where perhaps their music hasn’t been released and they’re definitely not getting radio play – and yet their shows are selling out. How does that happen?  YouTube. The internet. One cannot ignore that power, and one shouldn’t ignore the power of social media. I would also add that the very most powerful item in the tool chest of the band/artist is their existing fan base. We talk. We speak to others. We write blogs. We connect with fans on a global level, and we have the ability to work much harder to spread that word than the band themselves are able. There are thousands of us, and we can reach farther corners within a shorter period of time. This is key. This very blog gets read in not only the US, Canada and the UK, but we also have a sizable audience reading in various places in South America? Asia? Russia? (the stats here don’t include bots) Globalization is a big deal, and it’s the fans that will get you there. Social media and connecting with fans matter – and if it’s only the social media person in your entourage that is bothering (and maybe not doing the best job connecting), you’re missing the boat. Literally.

Bottom line from me: as I said a year ago – there is a way to navigate out of the confusion of harnessing the power of the internet for good. It remains shortsighted to blame the industry woes on pirating (illegal downloads are on the decline), and it does appear that at least some have learned how to create a new business model utilizing the power of the fan(s) that works. That doesn’t mean that it all has been figured out. Clearly there is still disconnect with streaming platforms, listening platforms like Pandora and Spotify, artist royalty from other platforms like Shazam, labels, and so forth. Labels do not like having less control over what you and I see and hear. They really don’t like having less control over stats and royalty statements. Bands and artists aren’t necessarily comfortable dealing with fans directly, especially if they came of age in a time prior to the internet.  I see that the future is at least beginning to form in the distance, and the convergence culture of the media will continue to grow. Better hang on as this boat gets moving, or you’re liable to be left in the distance.

-R