Category Archives: Duran Duran

May Katy Kafe with John Taylor

People will often ask me why I’m still a paying member over at DuranDuranMusic, the official fan club.  The first thing I will mention, of course, is the presales.  I might then mention the swag that one gets with membership as I’m a sucker for Duran merch.  That said, I do LOVE the Katy Kafes.  I always feel like I learn a lot about the band and the band member in the Kafe by listening to them.  I gain an insight that I wouldn’t gain from a regular interview.  First, I gain some insight by how the band member in question reacts to the topic at hand.  Sometimes, the tone and whatnot tells me more than the actual words.  Second, the fact that this is done with Katy, someone who really knows them, allows for a different level of interaction than a straight up interview with a random stranger.  My point being that I learn a lot from listening to them and enjoy them, too.  This month’s was no different.

This month’s Kafe was posted to the website on May 20th and found John Taylor in New York City before the band’s appearance in Cannes.  The topics were what you would imagine them to be and included information on the work in the studio, John’s autobiography, and the appearance in Cannes.  There was a brief discussion on coffee and caffeine as well.  While I figured there would be quite a bit of discussion on the new album and the work in the studio, I admit that I was surprised that his book was a topic as that seemed to be talked about a lot last year.  I was also surprised that there was no discussion surrounding his lack of twitter appearances for 2013.  This could have been a perfect venue for it to be discussed and John, certainly, could have explained himself well in this setting.  Yet, the fact that it wasn’t even brought up led me to wonder if it was something agreed not to be discussed, which probably just gets me thinking about it even more.

John did spend a long time discussing the progress of the new album.  He mentioned that they are in what is possibly his favorite part of the process as it seems like every song has the potential to all be fabulous!  It is only as the songs get finished that some are clearly not as strong as others, which I can imagine.  I relate to this as I feel that way as a writer.  Every blog is going to be the best blog ever until I actually write it.  Some blogs really do turn out wonderful and I’m really proud of them and others I feel like I miss the mark somewhere or didn’t explain myself as well as I could have.  He also said that it was nice to be with everyone again.  Katy asked a good question about whether or not people came with ideas despite typically not writing on the road.  He said that people did but that there really wasn’t pressure to come with some.  The most important thing was to get ideas that become or are group ideas.  The album shouldn’t be like a Nick Rhodes solo album with Simon singing or a John Taylor solo album with Simon’s vocals.  It should a great Duran album.  Everyone needs to feel a part of it and he specifically pointed out that “integrating Dom” is key.    One word that he used to describe a great Duran album is balance.  I definitely agree with him.  This is what the first couple of albums had and what AYNIN had.  There was a balance with all members.  They were all present and accounted for.  If they know this now and use this now, I’m totally reassured that the album will turn out well.

John was also asked about working with Mark again and the timeline of the album.  As far as Mark was concerned, he stated that they would be pleased for him to produce some of the album.  He specifically did not say the whole album.  I’m not sure what that means exactly.  Would they bring in other producers?  Produce themselves?  Yet, John did mention that they need a captain to the project and that Mark did that whereas having a band member be captain doesn’t always work, which made perfect sense to me.  The captain isn’t as tied emotionally to any of the ideas or to the band and band’s direction.  S/he could be more objective, at least that is what I thought.  As for the timeline, this part made me laugh.  John said that they were all interested in playing shows next summer but wanted the album out before that.  Hmm…did I just read somewhere about shows in the summer and how much easier it is for people like me?!  Great minds think alike, apparently.  Anyway, despite this desire, he said he is open-minded about the album’s timeline.

Beyond the discussion surrounding the band’s current activities, Katy did ask about the book.  At first, I really wished that she hadn’t simply because I didn’t know what more could be gained.  After a minute or two, I was so glad that she had as John discussed how he did give copies to family members and that they seemed shocked to find out about his struggle with addiction.  He made an incredibly important point, which is that no one really understands as the pain is not seen.  John also explained a little bit about grief towards his parents and how it is a strong force.  This resonated with me.  While I haven’t (thank goodness) lost my parents, I still think I have experienced grief surrounding my job, which might sound silly but that’s how I look at it.  In response to grief, John said that it must be processed in the right way or it can become destructive.  Again, I was led to wonder if I have dealt with my feelings regarding my career the way that I should.  This, of course, is where I really appreciate being able to listen to these.  Not only did I gain insight into John but it forced me to reflect on my own life and my own experiences.

Was the best, more interesting, Katy Kafe ever?  Probably not.  We didn’t get a lot of insider information regarding things like how many songs have lyrics or any other behind the scenes information.  We did get an insight into John and his ideas on how the band needs to function to produce great Duran songs.  We also learned about his ideas regarding grief and loss.  I, for one, am thankful that I had the opportunity to listen to the Kafe completely as my reaction, which isn’t even a summary, does not do it justice.  I recommend listening for yourself.

-A

Taste the Summer

Last Sunday’s blog and viewing of Depeche Mode’s 101 in combination over the idea that Duran played some songs yesterday in Cannes awoke the ever-lurking, ever-existing desire to tour.  Sometimes, I think I could tour everyday and I know that I’m not the only one.  Just last weekend, Rhonda talked about how she bought a Powerball ticket and if she won, she would be touring all the time.  Kindly, she offered to pay my way as well.  *sigh*  What a thought!  Now, in reality, I’m sure that I would grow tired with life on the road and I would eventually miss my bed and, more importantly, my cat, Biko.  That said, I’m finding myself wishing for a tour.  I bet Rhonda and I aren’t the only ones wishing for a tour.  Thank goodness that we have the convention to look forward to.  Otherwise, I think I would be really struggling.  Why is this?  Why is my desire so strong right now?  I think part of this could be because this is the longest I have gone without a tour in forever since I started “touring” officially.  I went to shows in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.  Yeah, the longest stretch was between 2009 and 2011.  The last shows I saw in 2009 were in July.  Then, I had shows in April 2011.  That was a little less than 2 years.  How did I survive that stretch?  We had an album in December of 2010, a mere 17 months after my last show.  17 months from my last show now would be January of 2014.  Okay, so I have gone longer in between shows.  What is my problem then?
I blame the seasons, the time of year.  My school year is rapidly coming to a close.  At the point of this blog, I have three more weeks of work or 13 days or 91 hours.  Not that I’m counting.  I always get anxious but this year it is particularly bad.  Why is that?  Last year, at this time, I already knew that there would be shows in the summer.  I was also busy with a campaign and was interviewing for a new teaching position.  I didn’t have the time to be that anxious, that impatient.  In 2011, I was either getting ready or returning from the UK in which I went over to see 4 shows and saw 0.  I was reeling.  Again, I couldn’t think about the end of the year.  What about 2010?  Again, I was getting ready to campaign.  In 2009, I had summer shows to look forward to, etc.  This year, I’m clearly not distracted by campaigning, despite still being involved politically.  I don’t have shows to look forward to.  I should appreciate the extra time, right?  I should use the time to take our first full draft of the book and revise it and I will.  I should use the time to work on the convention and I will.  I have to.  I want it to be the best experience ever.  Despite these very important tasks, there will be a small part, a very tiny part, of me wishing for shows or a tour.  The season makes this part more noticeable.  Summers are a pretty magical time for them to tour.
I have seen Duran in the summer a few times (2005, 2009 and 2012).  I love seeing them then even if I’m not a fan of the hot weather.  Why?  Isn’t it obvious?  As a teacher, summer is MY time.  It is when I don’t have to worry about schedules or my to do list in the same way as I do during the school year.  During the year, when I want to be absent, it is a big ordeal.  Yes, I get some personal days but I can’t use them whenever.  For example, I can’t be gone the last few weeks of the school year nor can I be gone the first few weeks of the year.  If I need to be gone more than a day or two in a row, I need special permission.  It is a pain and, frankly, it is a HUGE frustration for me.  It doesn’t feel like I’m being treated as a professional.  Obviously, I know that I get the summer off (if I don’t take classes or work on a project) but life doesn’t just happen in mid-June through August.  I also realize that there are teachers that have it much worse, in terms of time off.  Once I am able to take the time, I still have to get sub plans ready.  Typically, for me, this is a three page document explaining before I even get to the actual assignments that the kids need to do.  I’m not complaining, necessarily, just pointing out what needs to be done when I’m gone from work.  Obviously, then, when Duran tours in the summer, I don’t have these same concerns.  I don’t have to worry about when the dates fall.  It doesn’t matter if they are Tuesdays or Saturdays.  It doesn’t matter if the shows are near me or away from me.  I have the freedom to choose then.
Based on my hope that the album will be done by the spring of 2014 and my desire to tour in the summer, I’m just going to put it out there.  Duran should tour in the summer of 2014.  I am typically done with work by the middle of June until the last week in August.  Anytime in between works for me.  If they toured next summer, who would be with me???  Yep, I’m definitely liking this plan with the convention in the fall, album in the spring (dreams are free, right, people?!  I can always hope for this!) and tour in the summer.  What do you think??  Now, we just need Duran to make it happen!
-A

Leave me lost and stranded

My computer is dying a slow death…and so I’m semi-concerned as to whether or not today’s blog will actually make it through to publishing. It is going extra-slow today, and so I’ve had to shut down every single other program I typically have open in order to keep this thing running at a reasonable clip. Otherwise, every two or three characters I get the very cheerful and colorful spinning “thinking” circle (I am trying to be as upbeat about this as possible), telling me I need to wait. If I keep needing to wait for my computer to catch up…this blog will take 4 days to finish. I’ve done all of the things my super-special “Mac” guy (I swear I have his personal line now) has warned me and told me to do to prepare for my laptop’s ultimate and final demise, hoping to extend it’s life as much as possible, and now – not even MacKeeper is helping, so my Mac expert feels it could be any day now. I’m just short of bowing my head and giving it last rights. I’m extra attached to this laptop because I have typed almost every single blog on it, and it’s the one computer I’ve ever had that hasn’t failed me – until now of course, and after over 4 years of service, apparently it’s time for retirement.  I really need this to last until the weekend though (because I’m not making the trip to the Apple Store for my new one until then!), so let’s bow our heads and pray to whatever gods you might that it’ll last and that this blog will be published properly.

Until then, onward and upward, right? Today the band is at the amfAR gala in Cannes.  I’ve never been to Cannes (someday, oh yes…someday I will make it there), for me it’s another one of those far-off places that seems more like a fairy tale than it does an actual destination. I chalk it up with Monaco…I can’t imagine what they must be like. I did see a photo of their sound check, and I heard a rumor that we can even watch the show online. I’m somewhat wary of that really happening, both in part to that the website mentioned a fashion show, not a concert AND my computer seems to hate streaming (listen, if I can’t even get it to do simple word processing at this point, I’m thinking that streaming is a little “pie in the sky” of a dream, but I’m going to give it my best shot), if it happens – I’ll be sure to post about it on the @dailyduranie twitter. Regardless, I found myself with that familiar “butterflies in the tummy” feeling when I saw the photo of the sound check and the news that we would be able to see their performance. August was a very long time ago, wasn’t it? I miss the excitement of seeing them take the stage, watching the band and of course, having them play five or six feet in front of us. I do miss that rush!

Naturally, as my dear friend Faby reminds, she can’t “promise that HLTW will be off the 4 song set list” Anyone care to make a bet??? (I wouldn’t take that bet either!)

Today on Facebook I saw that Duran Duran had posted a link to an article from Gibson, compiling what they believe to be ten of the greatest alternative rock bands.  You can read the article here! Duran Duran is on that list, along with The Cure, Depeche Mode, REM, Violent Femmes, Dinosaur Jr., New Order, The Smiths, Sonic Youth and Hüsker Dü. The list seems to be a decent compilation – and of course the taste of the writer is reflected. What is curious though, is the comment made under Duran Duran’s notation, “…even though the bands popularity didn’t last long…”

Now, before we start gathering our pitchforks and shovels, I think it’s probably fair to point out that the writer of the article might have a different litmus test for popularity than say, we might.  In Anne Erikson’s defense, perhaps she was just considering chart popularity, or radio play.  I’m really not sure. All I do know is that the band is still hugely popular with us, and while they might not be playing in stadiums all across the world (although they DO play in arenas in many places), I think they still make a fair dime or two. More importantly, I wish that these writers would stop with the qualifiers every single time they post an article about Duran Duran. The band does well. They have proved their staying power far beyond what anyone (anyone besides their fans, obviously) ever thought. A little respect is not only warranted at this point, it should be required. I don’t know if I will live to see the day when this band is given their fair due, but I certainly hope so.

Lastly, I want to throw out another reminder (I’m begging here) that we are looking for guest blogs this summer. Do you have the urge to write for Daily Duranie? Here’s your chance!  We are doing a few themed series this summer, and are looking for blogs on the following topics:

  • Proudest moment as a fan
  • Something you might regret as a fan (a meet and greet gone awry, missing a show, etc.)
  • Favorite band member (we are looking for thoughtful blogs on this subject – why you feel more “in touch” with one band member than another, as opposed to a love note to this particular band member!)
If you have something else you’d like to blog about, let us know.  Send your completed blogs to dailyduranie@gmail.com, along with a short bio about yourself (check out our previous guest blogs for ideas) along with a thumbnail bio picture of yourself. 
Amanda will be taking over for my extended absence in the latter part of July through about the first week in August, and I will be taking over for her as well – so get us your blogs ASAP.  
Thanks – have a great weekend!
-R

All the things we’d like to say

Andy Taylor has said in the past that we should never meet our heroes because they’ll never quite live up to the expectation (I think I possibly destroyed his actual quote there – but I believe I at least have the intention correct). I know I’ve seen similar sentiments in many, many places from many different celebrities. I suppose that in some regard, I can understand the point. When I was younger, I believed the band could do no wrong. I was convinced they were perfect because, well, isn’t that what all the teen magazines wanted us to believe?  They certainly had me sold. As I matured of course, I realized that yes – these are all really just people. They have faults. They have bad days. They get dragged shopping with their spouses or significant others, they take out the trash, and they even get sick. So, when I read that quote from Andy and even interacted with him about it on Twitter at some point, in a lot of ways I agreed, but in others – I wondered what on earth fans were still thinking. Do we still have the band (or anyone for that matter) on that high of a pedestal?

I got into a discussion with a friend of mine recently about the idea of celebrity. Eventually our conversation came around to her asking at what point I think the band would start to recognize a fan and how I would feel about being recognized myself. To begin with, I should say – I don’t expect the band to recognize me and as far as I’m aware at this point, they do not. I’ve “met” them in that I’ve had an album signed, but I don’t think that’s the same thing as being introduced and having a conversation in the same way that you might meet someone from work, or a fellow fan, or anyone for that matter. I’m one face in a sea of thousands, or at least hundreds, at any given time. So, I answer the question from the hypothetical. I would imagine that if I’d been around for a reasonable length of time that sure, I might start to at least seem a little familiar to them. Is that important to me personally though? I don’t know.  There seem to be a lot of fans out there that have particular fantasies with regard to the band recognizing them. Some fans may even assert that “of course, that’s what everyone wants!” Is it really though?

Let’s be honest, I’m thrilled if I make eye contact with any one of them when they’re on stage. While I am the first to say they are people…they are people that, for the most part, have graced the walls of my bedroom (which looks so naughty in print, but I promise we’re only talking pin-ups and posters!) at some point in my life. Maybe I still have a few posters up in my tiny closet at home too….but you get the point. However, to actually have a real conversation with them is another story. I haven’t really had that opportunity, but at some point I think we need to be realistic about the whole “build-up”. What on earth would any one of us say that hasn’t already been said? I would imagine that, at least for me, for the conversation to have any interest at all – there’s got to be more going on there than just the whole “I am your biggest fan” sort of deal. Besides, I hear there are already people out there that claim that sort of title – so I’m screwed on that front. *sigh* I need to come up with a better tag line, I guess. I think many of us out there have fantasized about what we’d say if we met them – I spent MANY an hour in my seventh grade math class refining my conversation with Roger Taylor, for instance.  My trouble is, I’m no longer IN seventh grade. (In fact that was a few decades back now…) Is it realistic to still hope for such an opportunity? I’m really not sure, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say “Probably not.”

On one hand, the band is an escape, and therefore the fantasy that lies within is still alive and present – otherwise I probably wouldn’t scream with the same sort of abandon when I’m at a show, and truthfully I don’t know that it would be the same. On the other hand, and for me this is key – I live in reality. I’m over the fantasy of Roger on a white horse coming to save me, for instance. *deep, heavy sigh*  I also realize that while seeing them live is of great importance to me, the same is probably not true in reverse. I mean, yes – playing live is important for them, but seeing my particular face in the audience isn’t going to mean much to them – no matter HOW many times I post on Dom’s Facebook page that I’m going to be at a specific show and sitting right in front of him. (forgive me, even I have silly fangirl moments and slide into the “delusional zone”)  If I were to have the chance to say hi to them, this would be extremely exciting for me – but to them, I’m just another really excited crazy fan, and I would venture to guess they’ve met more than a few like me in their career.

I think most of us have ran into someone at one point or another that has a sad, deflated story about how they met the band one time and had a wonderful interaction, only to meet them again and see no sign or flicker of recognition. She/he was “so sure” they would remember  because the interaction stood out, and yet when they met them a second time, there was nothing. Not only can I say I’ve heard stories like that – I can really relate to how they must have felt. This hasn’t happened to me, but I can certainly imagine the disappointment.

So what to take away from all of this? Expectations and reality. Our expectations of the band really should be no different than they are for anyone else, rock star, celebrity, neighbor down the block or person you meet on the street. I wouldn’t expect my kids to be in a good mood every single day. I wouldn’t expect the cashier at the grocery store to know my name just because I handed her my credit card to make a purchase the day prior. I would expect for someone to at least try to be pleasant when we’re introduced, and good old common decency shouldn’t just be a memory from back in the good old days.  AND…it should be a two-way street. I don’t think that John, Simon, Nick, Roger or Dom should be nice because they are rock stars or because they are in Duran Duran. I just think they should be nice because I am sure they are decent humans. Sometimes bad things happen though – and just as I am likely to be pissy if I’m in a bad mood, I should expect that happens to other people.  It sucks if it’s on the one day of the century I happen to be in front of them, but it is what it is.  We’re all human. Well, everyone except that Nick – I still think he’s alien.  🙂

-R

Turn on the tube, hits you with a groove

It is difficult to blog on days like today.  I am trying to sit down and focus on the task at hand, but my mind continues to wander back towards the search and rescue (I refuse to think of it as anything else) efforts in Oklahoma. I really have nothing tying me to Oklahoma other than an old friend from high school – no family or very close friends – except that I too am a parent, and I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to wonder what happened to your children. I am sure I’m not the only one who hugged mine just a little tighter than usual in the past 24 hours.

I lived for two short years in Illinois and went through one single tornado warning – where the sirens go off and you quickly retreat to the basement – and that was enough for this born and bred Californian. It scared me in a way that no earthquake ever could, likely because let’s face it – with an earthquake you have no time to do anything but react. The preparation should have already happened. This was so different – I don’t think I’ve ever felt adrenaline quite like that and the (small) tornado didn’t even touch down closer than 5 miles from my house at the time. My heart goes out to all of the people in Oklahoma, and if you’re so inclined and have the resources to do so – please donate to the Red Cross, who will be out there taking care of those folks long after the media packs up, leaves, and our attentions go elsewhere to whatever newsworthy event comes next.

So forgive me if my attention isn’t solely on Duran Duran.

The music world also took a bit of a beating yesterday when it was announced that Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist (and genius) of The Doors died yesterday at the age of 74. He had been battling cancer of the bile-ducts (not something any of us want to die from). So many people assume Ray’s career was solely contained within the albums that The Doors completed.  Hardly.  He not only produced for Echo and the Bunnymen as well as X, he was an accomplished writer (he penned his memoir, Light my Fire: My Life with The Doors in 1998, along with two novels, one of which named The Poet in Exile explored the myth that Jim Morrison faked his death), and he wrote, performed and collaborated with many other notable jazz, rock, blues and spoken poetry artists in the years before his death. Far be it from me to suggest that he was better after The Doors than during…. but he lived a very full life and music has lost yet another tremendous talent.

While I’m thinking of horrible diseases, I am reminded that while yes it’s true Duran Duran is going to be in the playground of the rich and apparently famous this week (Cannes) they are performing in support of a truly wonderful cause. I am not one to tout much that celebrities have crowned as important – many times I find these charitable causes to be nothing more than another reason to have one’s name in the media with no real substance, but in this case – I think it’s incredibly worthy. amfAR is an AIDS research foundation, in existence since 1985. I am sure most Duranies remember when AIDS was basically a death sentence.  No one really knew much about it other than it plagued the gay community. So much has been learned since then, and yet there is still plenty to be done globally. amfAR is committed to the goal of an AIDS-free generation, and with galas such as the one in Cannes where Duran Duran will be performing, funding proper research can happen. I’ve seen many fans comment that the tickets are incredibly high (they are) and that it’s a shame we “regular people” cannot attend (it is)…but I must say that I’m pleased to see the band give their time to such a worthy cause.

Lastly, is it just me…or does anyone else smell a bit of desperation in the air? It’s the aroma of stale perfume, mixed with just the right tinge of anxiety, along with a wafting of Duranies being roasted over an open fire. I do believe my friends, that the natives are getting restless.  It’s the “dead zone”…the time between albums. The time when I start feeling as though I should really learn how to tap dance and begin to entertain everyone (with laughter of course, because me in tap shoes?? Uh, no.) before bad things happen.

How do I sense that sort of “energy” in the air? Well to begin with – anytime @thisistherealJT starts tweeting about Lady Antebellum and Duranies say NOTHING  about the song choice and start right in with the “OMG John, THANK YOU for coming back to Twitter…please RT me. PLEASE!”…. that’s a sign of desperation. When the very next day another mysterious tweet happens, like “Hogdzrxyf” and people are trying to figure out the code… well…that’s another sign. I won’t mention what my friend and I suggested to Mr. or Ms. Hacker – I mean, if you’re gonna hack, maybe send out something better than just gibberish, you know?? Lastly, after these tweets appear, there seems to be a significant uptick in the speed of the @dailyduranie twitter feed due to the speed with which Duranies are typing “Where is John? Oh man, did I miss him already?” Never mind that it was pretty clear the man was not REALLY tweeting (oh wait, we’re still thinking that last message was code, right??) 

Don’t even get me started on what happens when LeBon decides to get online. I’ve gotta say, at least he’s entertaining – and you never know what he’s going to tweet. Simon doesn’t need to do a sales job on anyone, he’s happy to say whatever he feels like (I love that!), and he doesn’t even need you to respond. That said, from what I can tell – he gets thousands of responses anyway. Thank goodness for Simon, because otherwise I am certain that Duranies would be feasting on one another, and no first-borns would be safe.

That my friends, is Duranie Desperation. Thank goodness we don’t really have much of a message board these days, otherwise the carnage could be supreme.

It’s OK. Admitting the problem is the first step. You’re desperate. Say it with me: “I am desperate”. We can do this. Granted, this may take time (I think we’ve got some time…it’s not even summer yet people!) Embrace the desperation, I say. Feel it wash over you. Know that you are not alone. You’re not. I just said it with you.

Let’s just refrain a bit from roasting one another in obvious sacrifice with the hopes of getting the next album quicker…at least…just yet. 😉

I just hope that band gets us some news somehow…otherwise this stench could be bad come mid-summer! 😉 Might need a CONVENTION to get through it….

-R

(one thing is certain – I need new songs to steal lyrics from for my titles!)

How does it happen, does it fly through the air?

Sometimes it becomes very, very clear just how little I understand of my peers (that is all of you out there), and how this community really works.

I was just about to lay my head down on my kitchen table and wave the white flag of “I have no idea what to blog about today”, when I glanced at Facebook. Several things caught my attention. There was an ultrasound photo with the caption that Andy Taylor is going to be a grandfather. According to what I read from a fan, his daughter Georgie is expecting.

First of all – I have no idea how this information got out there. I don’t know Georgie personally, nor do I know if it’s really even true. I think we all are well-aware of just how often  things get posted online that aren’t factual. I don’t know if Daily Duranie actually follows Georgie either on Twitter (if she’s there) or on Facebook because I don’t pay attention to that sort of thing. If we do, I completely missed the news if it was made public. I know we do follow Andy but he’s been pretty darn silent for quite a while now.  I’m fascinated that I read about such news through a fan before I saw it being made “news” through any sort of actual media or management.  I guess I hesitate a little longer than most to post things like that even if I know it’s true, and that’s on me. Daily Duranie is usually late to break news like this, and to be completely honest – that’s fine with me. I’d rather not post about their personal lives unless I know for sure it’s out there for the world to read. I’m sure that whomever began this posting knew it was fine – I’m not finding fault with anyone on that.

So as I was pondering the idea of the band becoming grandfathers… I glanced a little farther down my newsfeed to see that someone has apparently gotten direct information from Nick Rhodes that they want to share with the rest of the Duranie world on the progress of the album. They say that Nick said they’ve got 9 songs, 2 have lyrics. Good news, certainly.

Once again, I have no idea how this information is out and about. I miss news items sometimes, mainly because I don’t go searching for them. I’m probably one of the very few Duranies out there that does not have a Google alert set up for Duran Duran. I don’t know if Nick made a public statement, contacted a fan directly because they’re buddies, or maybe spoke to someone outside of the studio. Is it even factual and was it even said?? I don’t know, but I have to assume that this fan has her facts straight. All of those things are plausible, and I’m not too shy or embarrassed to admit that we don’t have contacts like that.  It’s true, we don’t. Maybe we should by now, I really don’t know – but we don’t.

My point with this blog isn’t to find fault with those who have gotten these types of information. Please read that carefully – in fact the newsbytes I saw today on Facebook only spurred me to consider how news unfolds in the community, not really so much about whether it all should be posted, because as I mentioned – I don’t know how this information gets out and it’s not really for me to decide what is right or wrong anyway. So the following is more about how I see what Daily Duranie does and where our comfort level lies – it is not a commentary on what I think the rest of the world should be doing, just so we are clear.

What confounds me many, many times in this fandom is how some people seem to know everything that is going on. True – I don’t live in the UK, I’m not friendly with any of the band to just send them an email to find out how their lives are going, and even if that were the case, I guess I figure if they want me (or anyone) to know about the album, they’ll post something themselves?? That’s probably very naive of me. Let’s be honest, investigative journalism is obviously not my career of choice. The whole thing feels very uncomfortable to me, and maybe it’s because I’m not understanding the process.

I don’t become friends with someone simply so that they’ll supply me with information about the band, and I’m the last person that will ask someone direct, pointed questions. When I say to someone that I won’t ask them questions about something, I genuinely mean it. If I am friends with someone “on the inside”, I’m friends with them because for whatever reason – we get along, we have something in common, and it’s genuine. It’s not because I want band information, and it’s not because I want something for “free”. If I started using those contacts as sources for secret insider information, I’d lose friends rather quickly, and that’s just not my grand plan. I guess that for me personally it’s more important for my friends and people that I’ve met along the way that I am friendly with to know that I am a person of my word. I have much respect for them, and I would appreciate the same in return. Daily Duranie will never be the best source for “inside info” from the band, but you know what? That doesn’t really matter to me as much as some might assume.

I don’t think Amanda and I ever considered that we’d be the place people would come for band information or “leaks”. That wasn’t the reason we began the blog, even though we both know that sort of thing is highly respected within the community. We see it. We know that we don’t rate highly in that area. The trouble is, those leaks are not very highly respected from the band or from their management, and to us – that matters just as much as being respected by our people (fellow fans). This blog is not going to be the place fans are going to want to come in order to hear leaked snippets from albums unless the band has already made them public, or to get a file of the new album a few days ahead of everyone else. Why? That’s simple: RESPECT.

We respect the band. We also respect their management, even when we might not agree with their methods. I think that’s a very rare thing in this fan community which is unfortunate.  Let me be honest – it’s easy to be on this side of the fence and find fault. Amanda and I know that, and we recognize that neither of us have built careers in the music business. No thank you. So sure, I can sit on my high horse and call foul, but all the while I’m thinking that it’s a good thing I’m not in charge. I couldn’t do what they do. We built this blog to be a place where things can be discussed, where fans can come and say whatever they want with some decorum of mutual respect for one another, and for the most part, we continue to achieve that. News-wise? Hell no. I still don’t get the system or the rules. Maybe there really aren’t rules for engagement. Anything goes – you find the information however you find it, you post it, the fans praise you for it, and the band ignores the whole thing….except I don’t think they really ignore it. I know it ticks management off when things get out before they’re ready, and you know – I can’t blame them. Bottom line: I don’t know why or how some people seem to know everything, but I think we’ve got some incredibly talented sleuths in our midst.

Amanda and I don’t have “spies” in every corner of the world and many, many times we’re reading something online and scratching our heads trying to figure out how the system of disseminating information really works. Is it really acceptable to ask around? Is it really OK for someone to use the contacts they have within the band’s organization to find out what they know and then immediately share it with the world? I’ve even interviewed someone from the band before – and I wouldn’t dream of bothering that person to find out information. That’s rude! It isn’t cool, and it’s not what I’m about. Respect matters. My word matters – I want people to know when I say something, I mean it and I won’t go back. I realize that’s a very overrated thing in the music industry, but it’s how I operate. No, I probably won’t ever be a CEO of much. Those are the breaks, my friends.

Somebody said something to me just last week that has stuck with me. They said, “Rhonda, you’re too honest.” I kind of chuckled and they continued, “When you don’t know something, you say so. Rather than give the image that you know people and that you’ve got an ‘in’…whether or not you really have one, you are honest about it and say it just like it is, or just like you see it. That’s why you don’t have over a million hits on the blog, and that’s why you feel as though the blog has very little respect. It’s too honest and too real. You could pretend to know far more than you do, and yet you choose to not go that route.”

I suppose that’s true. I understand all about how PR works, and how image is important. Believe it or not, I have done PR in my past. I know the importance of smoke and mirrors. Perhaps the image we’re going for with Daily Duranie is that of accepted honesty. I don’t think I need to make the blog appear as though we know everything that is going on, or that we get things that very few others in the community really get. We are fans, just like you. We love the band, just like you. We give and expect honesty, and we’ll accept that we won’t always agree. It’s pretty much what I expect out of my own friends and family in real life.  A little truth without ego goes a long, long way with me. Maybe it doesn’t make me popular or very professional (which is really kind of screwed up), but like I said – I can look myself in the mirror and know I’m exactly who I say I am. I’m not busy or working hard trying to keep up a facade.

It’s very easy in this fandom to start feeling bad about myself because I don’t have friends on the inside or because I don’t have information before it breaks, or because the people I *am* buddies with don’t supply me with a constant stream of information…and trust me…I’ve had more than my fair share of moments lately where I’ve felt completely out of my element and I’ve wondered what I did wrong. The truth is that I’ve done nothing. Amanda and I have all sorts of euphemisms for the sort of game playing that takes place in this fan community – and by game playing I mean the sort of scramble that goes on so that one person feels like they are on the very top of the anthill. While the blog might not be at the top of the anthill, we are absolutely a part of the foundation that keeps this community running. For me personally, that is more than enough.

-R

Media Representations of Fandom: Depeche Mode 101

The other day I was searching through some cabinets in my living room in order to gather all Duran viewing material I could find.  In my search, I ran across an old video tape, Depeche Mode 101.  For those not familiar with this video, it is a documentary of their 1988 US tour which ended in a large show at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.  This documentary not only features a lot of footage from their various shows but also has back stage footage, interviews with the band and more.  On top of the footage of the band, it also contains a focus on a group of fans.  These fans won a contest to go on the road in a tour bus following the band for the last 2 weeks of the tour.  These fans were a mix of females and males and ranged in age from late teens to mid-twenties.  The footage with the fans included some shots from their auditions, to getting on the bus, to getting ready for shows and to attending shows.  It showed these fans on the bus as they traveled and it showed their interactions together.

Before I dive into how this documentary shows fans, I have to ask.  Why hasn’t Duran done this?  I know.  I know.  I already hear the very logical responses to my query.  Would that really work?  Could fans really ride on a bus for two weeks together?  Why would Duran want to do it?  Now, obviously, I don’t really think something like this would ever happen and I am not really sure that it really is a good idea, in reality, but it still intrigues me.  In fact, we jokingly talked about this last summer during the shows.  Could you imagine?  It would make a heck of a reality TV show.  Our discussion came about after driving a ridiculous amount of miles and hours in order to get from show to show.  We longed to have transportation that would allow us a few extra hours of relaxation or sleep.  On top of that ease, riding on a bus together for two weeks would be quite fun or we could make it so.  I’m willing to bet that the fans who participate would develop strong relationships, assuming that they didn’t want to kill each other.  An adventure like that would foster connections that would/could be long lasting.  These connections could ensure that people would want to keep participating in the fandom for years to come.  Certainly, assuming it was an amazing experience, I can’t imagine that those participants wouldn’t want to see more shows.  I bet the fans on the bus bought more tickets to more concerts than if they would have if they were traveling independently.  It would mean that for me, most definitely.  Based on this, I have to give Depeche credit for doing something like this.

The fact that Depeche Mode offered a contest such as this shows an understanding of the importance of fans.  The story of the fans on the bus was just as important as the story of the band on tour.  I appreciate that.  Were the two groups (fans and band) given the same amount of time on the video?  I didn’t take the time to measure that but it seemed to me that the band was shown about 2/3 of the time.  I suppose this is what most Depeche fans would want.  So, then, out of the footage shown of the fans, how were they represented?  Did they show them to be the typical stereotypes of fans, which can include stalkers, groupies, crazy/irrational people, immature people, or people who have no lives?  No, they didn’t.  The footage of the fans included discussions on art and fashion, trying on clothes and doing hair, dancing in the bus, stopping at restaurants and rest stops and more.  There was nothing to indicate that these fans were stalkers or groupies.  They seemed perfectly content to go to the shows and to have whatever perks that came with this contest.  For example, they were calm, cool and collected during a sound check that they witnessed.  Likewise, they were equally calm when the band toured their bus.  Yet, at the same time, they were excited to hear their music or to meet them.  Beyond that, these fans clearly developed friendships among themselves or maintained the relationships they had with each other beforehand.  My point being that they were fans, obviously, but they were also more concerned with themselves and the people actually around them than they were of the band.  I suppose the logical question here is would Duranies react in the same way or would they be more focused on the band?  Food for thought.

While this documentary doesn’t fixate on stereotypes of fans or extreme behavior, I also wished that it showed more about what it means to be a fan.  I would have loved to see these fans discuss Depeche Mode’s music as they did about art and fashion.  Why didn’t they talk more about the shows and the quality of those shows?  Maybe they did but that footage wasn’t included, which wouldn’t make sense to me since a documentary like this is made with fans in mind.  Fandom is all about discussion, conversation.  I am surprised that they didn’t talk about how they became fans or what drew them to the band in the beginning.  Why weren’t there discussions surrounding past experiences at shows?  I think the key with any representation of fandom is balance.  I am glad that this didn’t emphasize behavior that might be interesting but an exaggeration of typical fan behavior.  The stereotypes of fans were not shown at all.  Yet, it lacked some common elements of fandom that I wanted to see.  We knew that they were fans.  Then, they should have shown them to be fans more.

-A

Falling Into Space

Yesterday, I went to go see the new Star Trek film.  It was technically the opening night of the movie in the US, even though there were some sneak peeks earlier in the week.  When I heard about this movie, I knew that I would actually take the time out of my schedule to go see it.  I also had no problem paying for this movie, unlike a lot/most movies out there.  Why is this?  Am I a Trekkie/Trekker?  What a loaded question!  I will answer by saying that I’m a definite fan of Star Trek.  Really, I had no choice as I grew up with Star Trek.  Ah, yes, I grew up around fandom.  It’s true.  I have already mentioned that my family are die-hard White Sox fans.  We also like Star Trek with some of us liking it more than others.  In my family, my brother was the serious Trek fan.  While growing up, we often watched the reruns of the original series.  My memories of these viewings and there were definitely more than one for each episode included a Star Trek book that my brother kept, in which he wrote down details from the episodes, including all of the stardates mentioned.  I suppose it is no wonder, then, that when my family got a dog that my brother pushed for the name, Mr. Spock, and won.  So, yep, I did, indeed, have a dog named Spock.  The name fit as the doggy had pointed ears!  It is also no wonder that my brother would grow up to write books on comic books and superheroes and teach popular culture classes.  He also met his wife at a social event in which Star Trek was a topic of discussion.  Is she a Trek fan, too?  Sure is.  Did they go see the movie as well?  Not only did they see it but they called me late last night to discuss it.  Yes, fandom runs deep in my family.

I love going to see Star Trek on opening night.  Tickets were purchased ahead of time, in fact, to ensure  that I would be able to go to this particular night.  I wanted to be there with other Trek fans.  Serious Trek fans.  Will the movie theaters be filled in a couple of weeks with people who like Star Trek but aren’t serious fans?  Sure.  Is that the same as the fans who have seen every episode and every movie?  Is that the same as being with fans who have spent serious money on merchandise or other items?  I don’t think so.  As my sister-in-law put it on the phone last night, she wanted to be with “her people”.  I got it.  I did, too.  This is no different than wanting to be with real, serious Duranies when I listen to a song for the very first time or watch a brand new video.  I want to be with my people.  Certainly, when I go to a concert, I definitely want to be with FANS.  My parents and I got to the theater early last night as I wanted to ensure a prime viewing spot.  I loved watching the people shuffle in groups or in families.  The families, in particular, made me smile as I knew that the parents were passing on their fandom to the next generation or were, at least, attempting to do so.  The energy in the room was great. Everyone was excited.  I was excited.

How was the movie?  It was awesome.  Beyond awesome.  I’m already pondering about when to go again.  That says a lot since I saw like two movies in the theater all of last year.  I wonder if it would be the same experience as I had last night.  Because the crowd was clearly filled with Trek fans, everyone knew and understood little things.  We all knew when there was a funny line given in the movie because we understood the franchise, the history, the reference.  This isn’t that different than when the crowd at a Duran show yells, “Switch it off,” during Planet Earth.  Likewise, the film was filled with references, both small and large, to other Trek material.  Characters were mentioned from the original show.  Organizations were talked about that had only been talked about one of the TV series.  For Trek fans, I would like to believe, that these references felt good.  They did for me.  I loved being able to make those connections and loved having the knowledge to be able to do so.  It enhanced the experience for me.  Again, this can and does connect to Duran.  Many Duranies were thrilled with hearing AYNIN because so much of it felt connected to past Duran greatness.  Just this week, Rhonda and I reviewed Rio and talked about how the lyrics could seem to be about a woman and in other ways that she could be a metaphor for something else.  The same is true with a current song like Leopard.  There is a connection.  Fans love those.  Now, of course, with this Star Trek movie like AYNIN, you wouldn’t need to know all of those references or connections in order to enjoy it.  Beyond the references and humor, people openly showed emotion during the film.  I saw fists pumped in the air when certain characters showed up.  I heard sobbing at emotional moments.  I definitely heard clapping at the end, which I adore.  This movie meant something more to the fans than just two plus hours of their lives.  They have a passion, a feeling for the cultural institution that is Star Trek.

This experience made me think about fandom, for sure, and this went beyond watching the audience and other fans.  The storyline also made me think.  While there are parallels as normal to political and societal issues, there were also elements that made me ponder how people act or react to other each other within our fandom.  Are we always straightforward with each other?  Are we willing to use each other to gain something?  Do people often feel betrayed by each other?  Do we do these things because we have to?  I won’t say too much here so as to not discuss significant elements of the film but I would recommend watching it and pondering what it says about human behavior and how it can be applied to fandom and our fan community, in particular.

Last night was a total blast for me.  I got to see a great Trek film.  I also got to see, up close, about how all fandoms have similar behaviors and react in much the same way to something new related to their fandom.  We all feel passionate for whatever we are a fan of.  We all react strongly.  We all develop knowledge about the subject of our fandom and use that to increase our enjoyment of it.  We seek out others to discuss it.  Also, for some of us, we use our fandom to make us think as well as feel.  As a fan, I’m forever grateful for that.  Now, who wants to go see it with me again???  😀

-A

The Channel Is Open…

Duran Duran has been around for a long time.  They have worked with many, many different people, at this point, from other musicians to producers to directors to fashion designers.  Their influences both past and present make up a long list as well.  It would take me a long time to list everyone that has some connection to Duran Duran (the band as a whole) or the individual people who have been or are in Duran Duran.  It seems that a week doesn’t go by without news that the band or a former member is working with person X to do project Y.  Just a week or so ago, there was news that Andy Taylor produced the new album by the Ting Tings.  While this news didn’t get that much attention in the community, I did notice the usual general reaction.  Some fans were thrilled.  They were excited to hear that Andy had been working on something.  Others were excited to support Andy and buy the album.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, other fans pondered if fans were really excited about this or were just into it because Andy was involved.  This, of course, leads me to ask the question.  Should we, as fans, support everything the band does?  Should we support every connection the band has?  Is everything they are connected to worthy of our attention and support?

First, it seems clear to me that the fan base does not support everything that the band does.  In fact, for whatever reason, the whole is much bigger than the sum of its parts.  Just this week, we were asking questions about Power Station songs.  We got very few people voting when it came to songs off their second album.  Yes, I realize that this means that there are a lot of fans that don’t know about it or don’t have it.  Even still, we had people who were familiar with it but didn’t want to vote.  Clearly, Power Station isn’t as popular as Duran.  It is not even close.  I would say that the same thing is true for whenever one band member appears versus the whole band.  While John Taylor’s book reading and signing in Chicago sold out, the venue only held like 150 people.  Would he have been able to fill up a venue that held 1000?  500?  What if it was late at night or during the usual work day?  I think about Roger’s DJ set in Chicago, too.  That wasn’t sold out.  I don’t know how many people that club held but I’m willing to bet the fact that it was during the week and late deterred many fans from coming.  Yet, if Duran was playing a concert then, I bet those fans who are a part of the community would have come without thinking twice.  Why is this?  Are we really fans of the whole band and only the whole band?  Do the individual members not matter?  

I don’t have definitive answers about why the whole band seems to matter more than the individual members for the fan community as a whole.  Yet, while I think this is the general case, there still are fans who seem to love everything connected with the band, no matter what.  I remember as a very young kid learning about the influences of the band.  I first heard/read the names of Chic and Sex Pistols from reading/watching Duran interviews.  As someone who wanted(wants) to know all there is to know, I checked out these bands.  I recall checking out Chic’s record from the library and asking an older brother of a friend for a copy of the Sex Pistols.  My reactions to those bands when I first heard them were as you can imagine.  I was shocked.  I didn’t hear anything like Duran in either of those albums.  They seemed SO different to Duran!  I hate them.  HATED them.  Then again, I was a kid.  I didn’t  know much about music in 1984.  Yet, as I got older, I remember hearing those bands and grew to first appreciate them then to like them.  Now, I’m thankful that I was exposed to both punk and disco as a young kid.  My mind was expanded.  I would have never checked those bands out if it wasn’t for Duran.  Now, does that mean that I like every band/artist connected to Duran?  Of course, I do not.  I’m not a fan of Timbaland and nothing in the world could make me one.  Did I try?  Yes, I did.  I think my position is in the middle between the two positions that I see within our fandom.  I’m not those who say that everything touching the band is great but I’m also curious and open-minded that I want to check out as much as I can.

I think my last line is the key one.  I don’t love everything but I welcome the possibilities.  My life and tastes would be less if I didn’t try new things.  Yes, sometimes, I need to look at a project or connection differently than I do Duran, in order to appreciate it.  The two most obvious examples are TV Mania and Neurotic Outsiders.  If I tried to make either one of those side projects fit into the Duran box, I would HATE them.  Yet, if I look at them outside of that, I can appreciate the art and scope of TV Mania and the hard-rocking nature of Neurotic Outsiders.  Do I like them the same or to the same degree as Duran?  Of course not.  My point here is simple.  Not everything connected or related to Duran is good.  I don’t think Timbaland is, for instance.  Would I expect people to like everything Duran does or is connected to?  No.  To me, that would seem equal to those who won’t try anything unless it is the whole band.  Try things that the band is connected to with an open mind.  You may find something that you really like and wouldn’t even know if you hadn’t tried it.  That said, I don’t think you should expect to like everything either.  Go with an open-mind.  Be prepared to like or to dislike.  
-A  

Rio — The Daily Duranie Review

Yes, you read that title right. We are not only doing another review but we are finally moving on to the second album and to the title track of Rio. Let’s applaud the fact that we’re finally onto Rio! Obviously, this song is an interesting one to review as it has become so commonplace, so iconic both for the band and their fans. Nonetheless, we attempted to take a step back to really think about the quality of this song.

Rhonda:

Musicality/Instrumentation: What song is really more iconic of the 80s than this one? Even non-fans know this song, if not from the moment they hear the wave of sound that begins the song, then most certainly from the moment you hear Roger’s drums at about 18 seconds in. I know I’m not the only person to recognize how fantastic John’s bass line is in this song – I love the fact that it wasn’t enough just to play a simplistic bass line, he went for interest, and it’s adds just the right touch of drama. To me, Rio is a well-layered song, and if you listen to each layer as I’ve just done, you realize that each layer, from Nick’s synth loops and chords to John’s bass, Andy’s guitar, Roger’s drums and finally Simon’s voice nearly plays as a melody on their own. Yet we’ve got this complicated, layered song and when it comes together – it’s simple, light and fun – and extraordinarily written. I liken the musicality to the personality of the band itself. Upon first glance, the song seems simple and fun. When you get past that, you can hear the differences, the give and take, and the complications contained within.Then this saxophone cuts through all the red tape, and gives this fantastic solo that brings it all back to basics….it’s a fantastic juxtaposition to the rest of the song and does exactly what a solo should. When you take this song and position it side by side with the songs on the first album; however, it is clear that the band took a big departure from the dark, slightly punk-like sounds on the first album, creating a much more complex style of music.

Voice: Simon’s vocals on this song are spot on. I appreciate that his voice is clear, harmonious and in-tune (it’s the little things!) There is a difference between his voice on this album and on the first – it’s not something I can really put my finger on, but I will say that I think it’s on this album that we get that first listen of what becomes Duran’s iconic vocal sound. Simon’s voice doesn’t have that same dark vocal quality it did on the first, but to be fair I wouldn’t expect it here and in fact it would not work with Rio. This is the voice we’ve grown to know and expect over the years, and even today it’s comforting to hear him. It’s funny that I can hear the band live many, many times, but it’s when I sit down and truly just listen – I appreciate Simon’s beautiful voice. Amanda and I have always been careful to say that it takes all five members to make up the band, and we feel that not one should be more or less important than anyone else – but Simon’s voice is incredibly unique and I’m glad he’s the lead singer – I can’t imagine it any other way.

Lyrics: I love the lyrics on this song. No, they might not be incredibly poetic, but I don’t think they are lyrics that make you feel good, and to be honest I think it’s one reason the band had such a huge hit with this one. When people listen to this, I don’t think many stop to consider what Simon is going on about. Most people I know think it’s really about a woman. Others say it’s clearly about the United States. I really don’t care one way or another – to me, this song encapsulates my middle-school years in the 1980’s. It is a song that has grown beyond it’s own boundaries at this point. But really, what *does* Simon mean when he says “You know you’re something special and you look like you’re the best”?? What about “When she shines, she shows you all she can”?? I guess for me personally, I think about being a fan here in the states…(but to be fair it’s because every time I hear this song I can’t help but think about all of us standing up and clapping along with Simon – it feels like SUCH a triumphant song at the end of a show) I know I should be going for the hard-hitting poetic meanings here, but the fact is, this song is about so much more than JUST the original meanings at this point, I wouldn’t be doing it justice to attempt to pick it apart.

Production: When I think of good production, this is really the song I consider. There is a little more splash and finery put into this one than the last album – I can definitely hear the evidence of a larger recording budget here – and it’s not nearly as simplistic, but there is still balance. I can hear every instrument, and I think, at least for this song, there’s not much in the way of ego showing. Yet. That said, there is a marked change from the incredibly simple production on the first album. You can’t help but notice the difference, and yet when I ask people who are not fans to name a Duran Duran song, this is easily the first or second song mentioned. It’s what people know, and it’s the sound and production quality that people expect. While I still adore the rawness of the first album – I completely appreciate the polish that comes with this song. The elements of Simon’s harmonization, the more complicated synth loops and the layering – I think these are all things that I can attribute to Colin Thurston’s production, and they are elements that the band has since tried to keep in one fashion or another, and we can thank Colin for that. These elements, along with many others contribute to what we know to be the Duran “sound” no matter whether the music is funky, in a groove, disco or old-school Duran.

Overall: I mistakenly thought that reviewing Rio would be a cake-walk. Ha! It’s not easy to review something you’ve heard literally thousands of times at this point, and listen with new ears.  There is so much in this song that I have heard so often I take for granted. I have much learning to do with regard to reviewing, but it is good exercise, both for my writing as well as my listening. The fact is, Rio is iconic, like it or not. When we go to a Duran show, we expect to hear it.  When we are listening to a flashback 80s weekend, it’s blasphemous not to hear it played, and for many people out there – Duran Duran IS Rio. Or vice-versa. The song has come to mean more than it was originally intended, and if the band was hoping to shake this song from themselves and get away from the nostalgia….I’m sorry, but it’s not going to happen.  Better to embrace the space they clearly own, and be happy. For me, this song feels like pure joy. Pop. Triumph. Fandom…in every sense. I think this is the song that gets everyone, fan and not-quite-big-fan alike up and dancing, and with good reason. There are not many songs that reach the status that Rio has somehow achieved – it’s the song that marks a decade, and I think it will be the song that my grandchildren will hear and think of their long-since-gone grandma and her crazy concert-going days. (because by then I am sure my children will make the stories out to be that of family legend…)  How can that be bad??

Cocktail Rating:  4.5 cocktails!!

Amanda:
Musicality/Instrumentation:  As the introduction to this review stated, this song is a tough one to really review. As I started my part, I did what I always do, which is to listen and re-listen to the song to refresh my memory, pay attention to the nuances and really get a feel for all aspects of the song. For this song, it was hard for me to do as I kept thinking about how WELL I know the song and how I didn’t need to listen to the song again. Yet, I’m glad that I did.  Of course, the song opens with that slow building up wave of sound that has Nick Rhodes all over it that we ALL recognize in an instant. It truly is a great way to begin a song and an album. Then, of course, the well-known instruments show up in full force with John’s bass and Roger’s drums forming the foundation with that Andy Taylor guitar on top. Of course, one of the things that makes the song special, musically, is all of the musical changes that transpire, including the noticeable transition from verses to chorus. The most important transition is that part of the song that features a sax solo with that underlying but important bass line. I can’t think of many songs that feature a sax solo like this, especially in pop songs from 1982. It seemed and still seems very brave of the band to include instrumentation such as that. This shows that the band had really shifted away from the basic instruments of punk rock to a much more sophisticated style.

Voice:  Simon’s vocals are definitely different in this song than the first album. On one hand, they seem more polished, smoother. The chorus, in particular, really shows off Simon’s skills. Perhaps, there was more focus spent of Simon’s vocals in the studio for this album over the first album. These vocals are the vocals that we are the most used to. They are not the deep, raw vocals of songs like Friends of Mine or Sound of Thunder. It feels to me that the first album’s vocals represented more of that post punk vibe that was definitely around in 1980/1981 whereas these vocals are more much pop friendly and represent more of the expected sound of what is thought of when people say and describe the 1980s.

Lyrics:  While I wouldn’t say that the lyrics to Rio are Simon’s most poetic lyrics, by any stretch of the imagination, there is something special about the lyrics. On the surface, they appear to be feel good lyrics about a woman named Rio and how she makes Simon feel “alive”. Yet, this “woman” could represent something completely different, especially as the pronoun “she” is used to describe everything from cars to countries. In this way, of course, I can’t help but to think of a recent song like, The Man Who Stole a Leopard, which does the exact same thing. There are many within the fandom that believe this song is exactly what it appears to be, about a woman, and there are others who believe it to be about America, especially with references to North American geography like the Rio Grande river, which forms the natural boundary between the state of Texas and the country of Mexico. In the end, the meaning doesn’t matter as the mood the lyrics work to create is the same. The listener feels just like Simon does. The listener feels like it (whatever it is) means as much as a “birthday or a pretty view” and that it looks like it’s the best because it does make you feel “alive, alive, alive”. Here is where the beauty of the lyrics lie. It works so well to create this mood that it completely overtakes the listener, which is also why it is such a great song to end a concert with! (On a side note, I always feel like giving Simon an A grade for his wonderful use of alliteration!)

Production:  What amazes me as I listen to Rio is how clear it is from the first 30 seconds of this song that this album is very different from the first. This fascinates me since it is the same band, same producer and not that much time had passed between the two releases. On one hand, the production still shows instrumentation that is essential Duran Duran. For example, Andy’s guitars are clear to pick out. Yet, the song has a much more polished feel. Is that due to production? I think there were things that were done in the studio to create this. For example, Simon’s vocals were different. I can only think this is how Colin directed them and how the songs were mixed to emphasize elements like Simon’s ability to harmonize.

Overall:  Rio, the song, is well-put together. Do I think it is the best Duran song? No, but I do think it represents a time period well and shows Duran’s ability to create that fun, feel good mood. The lyrics combined with the upbeat instrumentation has the ability to make everyone get up and dance. It is definitely catchy and stays with you long after listening. Again, these elements make it an ideal song to end a concert with! It leaves you with a smile on your face while still clapping along in excitement.

Cocktail Rating: 4 cocktails!