Category Archives: internet

We’ve Traveled So Far: The Eden Project

It has been a while since I was really able to blog with abandon. ¬†ūüôā

About ten days ago (feels like months now, which should give some indication as to my state of being at the moment), I decided to take a couple of hours and try to listen to the BBC 2 broadcast at the Eden Project. I really didn’t think I’d be able to hear it since I’m in the US, but I figured I wouldn’t know unless I tried. Imagine my surprise when it worked! ¬†Before I knew it, they were announcing Duran Duran taking the stage in Cornwall.

Rest assured, the show was fantastic. Two things really struck me that afternoon, though that made the experience so worth my time. ¬†As if I had to force myself to listen, right? ¬†The thing is, I really did that day. I still had major writing to do, and our self-imposed deadline was still looming (IS still looming, I might add). ¬†Even so, taking the time from writing might have been bad enough, but if I was going to do that, I probably could have spent the time catching up on cleaning or laundry, or 50,000 other things. I didn’t. I sat down, and for the first time in I-can’t-quite-remember-when, I listened.

Since I was not there in the audience and was sitting at home with nothing to distract me, I was able to pay so much closer attention to the smallest audible detail. I could hear notes and loops that I don’t think I’ve ever really noticed before, which really changed the entire show for me. ¬†Like any other fan out there, I’ve listened to their albums more times than I can count. I know every word in the same way that I’m sure those of you reading this do. ¬†But when was the last time I really¬†listened? ¬†Amanda and I haven’t done a review in a while (we will, I promise!), but even then – I am never really just sitting. I’m always taking notes or listening while reading something else – anything to multitask. ¬†And then, there are the times when I’m just listening for fun. I am not sure I can say I’m always paying rapt attention. My mind wanders, or something grabs my attention and the next thing I know the song (or album) is over. I heard it, but I may not necessarily have really listened 100%. So that afternoon was different for me in that respect. I had nothing in front of me, nothing to do, other than listen to the music, and I found myself hearing things I would never notice while in the front several rows of a venue. ¬†No distractions, no one to focus my attention on, and the experience was wild as a result.

As I listened and marveled over the sound quality‚ÄĒit was so crisp I couldn’t believe it‚ÄĒI also considered fandom. ¬†That shouldn’t be a surprise. For the last two and a half months, my days have been nearly entirely spent on considering fandom.¬†MY¬†fandom. What has really changed since I first became a fan in the 1980s? ¬†Well, plenty….and I’m not just meaning my age. ūüėČ ¬†I’m not giving away anything I’ve written about when I say that at least for me, the single biggest thing that has changed fandom for me has been the internet. Prior to the days of the reunion, basically, being a fan was something that really felt sort of isolating. Singular. ¬†It was something I did alone. Yes, when I was younger (and I mean much younger‚ÄĒlike middle school), I had friends that loved the band as much as I did. We’d sit on the grass (the “quad”) at school during our breaks and lunch and we’d talk about Duran Duran. We’d bring our latest issues of Bop! or Teen Beat‚ÄĒwhatever cover they happened to land on that month‚ÄĒand we’d read the articles. We took them all so seriously, too…but I digress. The point being that after those middle school years, as we moved on through high school, that happened less and less. By the time I got to college, I definitely wasn’t talking about Duran Duran with anyone. My sorority sisters, particularly the few I shared a room with on campus, didn’t even know I was a huge fan. ¬† That didn’t change after I got married or had Heather, and at that time, I was living in Illinois and knew no one. ¬†When Medazzaland came out, there was no one to talk about that album with. When the band showed up on the Rosie O’Donnell show to promote‚ÄĒI happened to catch that episode by pure luck. I was excited to see them (as I fed my then-newborn), but there was no one to marvel over their looks with, or talk about the songs (of which I knew very little). ¬†The internet changed that for me.

By the time the reunion was announced, I was dipping my toes into the message boards. I didn’t post, but I definitely lurked and read. And when I found a message board where I felt comfortable, I began posting. ¬†Little by little, what was once something that seemed isolating‚ÄĒ being a Duran Duran fan‚ÄĒwas something that united me with other people. The internet has allowed me to participate and share fandom with people all over the world. ¬†And, that’s what I did that Friday. While I was listening from California, I was able to see (on Twitter) that others were listening from parts of the UK, the east coast of the US, and even South America. And yet, our individual locations really didn’t matter, because we were all together. It made no difference where we were from, what our primary language might be, our ages….none of it mattered. We were all people, all gathering in love, sharing our joy for a British band.

I dare say that on that particular day, it didn’t matter that the set list seemed to be pretty much the same as I’d heard before, and that I was nowhere near the front of the stage and couldn’t even see the band. I experienced a show like I never had before in many ways, and it was just as thrilling (as being there) in a completely different way.

On days like yesterday, and even today as we absorb the aftermath of a horrific event, I¬†like to think about how much smaller the world really seems, and how lucky I am to have friends from all over the world. Fandom doesn’t have to be an isolating thing, anymore. ¬†At any given moment, whether in pain, joy, sadness or elation, I can go online‚ÄĒlikely to Twitter in my case‚ÄĒand share those feelings. ¬†Someone from half a world away is likely to answer, and the one thing I likely have in common with that person is a little band from Birmingham. ¬†We’re all incredibly different, but also the same.

Say what you will about Duran Duran. Pigeonhole them for being a teenybopper band (although I’d personally like to point out that I stopped being a teenager about 25 years ago now), and¬†never mind¬†all the critical claim that may be their just due after all this time. ¬†This crazy band brought us together and like the Energizer bunny – just keeps going and going. ¬†If that isn’t worth acclaim and respect, I just don’t know what is.

-R

Is John Taylor Really Sick of the Internet?

This is one of those days where I lay my head to rest on my kitchen table, enjoying the coolness of the wood, and hope that from somewhere – presumably out of thin air – a blog topic will pop into my head.

I’m desperately trying to get back into the habit of writing a real blog on a daily basis here. The band isn’t helping much (Thank you Simon for posting about the system being down while mixing your new album, your new motorcycle – nice Triumph, by the way – and whatever else, but nothing is spurring me yet.), although John Taylor did post something about being sick of the internet earlier today. I am going to assume this has absolutely nothing to do with my previous blogs this week, or the “spirited dialogue” on our Facebook page regarding Lindsay and Ali Lohan, and just figure this has everything to do with their “system” being down. Mainly because I’d hate to have pissed off John Taylor¬†over a rumor. I’ll gladly take John Taylor or the band to task over music I’ve actually heard and accept that I’ve made them angry as a result of my opinion…but a rumor?

Sure, I commented. I lamented their possible choices. I complained and was downright snarky when I felt like. I even sat here and began drafting my resignation letter from Duraniehood. But as the day wore on, and into the next day, and that afternoon…I realized a few things:

  1. Talking about Duran Duran’s career all day is a little tiring.

  2. Talking about Lindsay Lohan all day is REALLY exhausting.

  3. I lived through Timbaland. I can do just about anything, even if I really don’t want.

Truth be told, John Taylor hit a nerve when he said he was sick of the internet. Now, it’s not because I think John Taylor is being ridiculous because he’s never online (that we can see) these days, and it’s not because the internet is here to stay and I think he needs to just get over and get on with it – although both of those things are true. He hit a nerve because for a long time now, I’ve felt that way myself.

Back when we first started blogging and doing Facebook and Twitter, everything was sparkly new. It was fun communicating with people, and I especially enjoyed watching people communicate with the band. Over the past four years or so though, the internet is showing some wear. It’s a lot less sparkly and a lot more dingy and rusty. I’ve seen some of the things fans and others have said, posted and tweeted to John Taylor over the past few years. It’s not always nice, kind or even respectful. Fandom has a similar feel as well. It’s difficult to be “up” when everything is down or quiet. It’s hard to be excited for the next tour when the album is taking what feels like an incredibly long time to finish. I know the band is in the studio a lot right now, and I appreciate that – I’m talking about the past four years as a whole. It’s disheartening to talk about how much we want new music and especially live shows again only to get the smack down from fans who tell us they’re happy to wait for as long as it takes, or to hear from yes…John Taylor…that he doesn’t feel the need to do shows or tour “just yet”, and to read from many others that Amanda and I are somehow horrible for missing the band and wishing they were around and accessible once again. So yes, Amanda and I have been VERY sick of the internet, and even the fandom to an extent, for quite a while. The trouble is, I don’t think we’re alone. I get the sense that the fan community at large could really use a spiritual “recharge” of sorts – one that only comes with exciting news from the band. Yet, we all know that mixing and getting the album finished takes time. I saw the stink-eye John Taylor gave on his Instagram post this morning as proof. ¬†I suspect that when/if the band were to announce that the mixing is completely finished – we’d want to have a party. Shout it from the rooftops, celebrate however we can…because this means the drought may actually be coming to an end. Soon. For what I really think might be the¬†very first time – we all lived the writing and recording of this album on Facebook and Twitter.

Each time John Taylor, Simon or Roger (or even Nick…by video or some other way!) would come online and give a short, vague update, I’d get excited. When they wouldn’t say anything on Katy Kafe or when we wouldn’t hear anything for months at a time, I’d grow weary and concerned. When I kept hearing name after name, I was confused and sometimes fearful of what was really going on in that studio. We fans feed directly off of the tone set by the band, and that can’t be said strongly enough. ¬†That doesn’t mean the band should pretend to always be positive, and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s all gone belly up due to negativity. It just means that fans are tuned in. They’ve got our attention. We take what they say, do, and create, to heart and soul. Double-edged sword at times? Yes. (Just see my blogs over the past few days for evidence!)

Amanda and I tend to pay a lot of attention to what is or is not being said, primarily because of the blog, and for me – the past four years has felt like I’ve¬†been chasing a carrot to no avail. In many ways I’m weary and tired…but I feel like I might be catching a second wind some days. Others, I’m back to square one. So yes, John Taylor, I’m sick of the internet. Sometimes. Other times, the internet really is looking up.

I don’t need to wait for comments to tell me that much of this is because Amanda and I write this blog, or because we need other hobbies, or because we over think things. ¬†All of those things might be true on any given day. ¬†Those things though, are what make up The Daily Duranie, and if I changed any one thing – our blog would be incredibly different and not what we’ve worked very hard to create over the past four years.

Today, the internet is looking up.

-R

 

Daily Duranie Guest Blog – Just Very

Today we’re very lucky to have a guest blog from none other than Fabiana Torras, who along with her cohorts from Argentina, were the winners of the TV Mania Franchise contest with their song “Just Very”. ¬†Fabiana explains all about the franchise, and how they created such a brilliant entry!

By Fabiana Torras

The idea of the TV Mania franchise was to open things up for people to become TV Mania elsewhere, as explained on the TV Mania website. We figured people could be TV Mania by actually following our Manifesto and for fun, and actually adhering to certain principles that TV Mania has, like using samples of people talking along with rhythm boxes and sampled analog synthesizers, and then putting it all together.¬† So you just simply apply for a license to be TV Mania. So, If you¬īre in‚ĶBuenos Aires, and you wanna be TV Mania Buenos Aires, you have a look and then you apply and we give you an official TV Mania license. And then you can perform, send us music and video material, remixes, anything you like, and we put them up on the site. So we¬īre hoping that there¬īll be a lot of TV Manias around the world‚ÄĚ. – Nick Rhodes (answering my¬†question at a TV Mania event in Second Life)

TV Mania for Daily Duranie 4 Manifesto
In case you ever wondered what that TV Mania Manifesto was really all about…

That might just be the best answer I ever received to a question ¬†I asked. As an extra bonus, it was Nick Rhodes who answered it. On that exact day, March 2nd 2013, not only did I receive an answer to what I wanted to know on the first of the Second Life TV Mania events; I also got the name of the future franchise Gerardo, Pablo and I would apply for: TV Mania Buenos Aires. ¬†This was not an instant thing, though. We had to wait for six months for the franchise to be up and running, but at this point we all know Durantime affects side projects as well, don¬īt we?

Last September, as soon as the franchise was up, we applied and got the confirmation email with our name¬īs approval and the download links for the ‚ÄúFranchise Pack‚ÄĚ, which included samples and music of the songs Euphoria, Beautiful Clothes, Paramount and I Wanna Make Films. We were in! All we needed now was an idea and time to make it happen.

Our first meeting was set on a Friday night after we all got off work, mostly to discuss what direction our project would take. To be honest, we didn¬īt actually meet face to face until there was a deadline; as much as we loved the idea of ‚Äúbeing the band‚ÄĚ and enter a contest with absolutely fantastic prizes for any Duranie, everyday life makes you so tired that sometimes if someone doesn¬īt push you, you just do not move (See? Limits are good!).¬†We had to make a song or a remix and shoot some video for it, since every song you sent was going to be uploaded to TV Mania¬īs official Youtube playlist. And from the first moment we started thinking about our franchise project, we all agreed it had to be something related to our local TV and the video had to show our city to the world, but in a “TV Mania” sort of way.

A list of famous phrases from Argentine TV was made and we recorded about 50 at Pablo¬īs home (he has a little studio of his own there), but ended up using only 9 of those. You can hear the three of us on our track, along with Pablo¬īs wife, Cecilia, who was very happy to help. We also wanted to include samples of Nick and Warren in our song, so we asked permission to use the audios of the Second Life events to sample the guys and we were very happy to get a green light from TV Mania. There was a precious bit of Nick we were dying to use where he said ‚ÄúTV Mania Buenos Aires‚ÄĚ; I mean, we just had to have that, right?

Once we chose the bits of Nick and Warren that were going to be used, we wrote and recorded the samples in English (it is my voice you hear, by the way), and afterwards we began to write the music, which was completely new. We decided not to use anything from the downloaded franchise pack and try to come up with something fresh and original, respecting the TV Mania essence. For the video, the plan was to film different Buenos Aires landmarks and ourselves in what we thought could be TV Mania-esque outfits and colours.¬† That was how ‚ÄúJust Very‚ÄĚ was born.

Here’s the video link to watch for yourselves! ¬†http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WLnDzsAlDE

Now, as I write and tell you all of this, I get the feeling it doesn¬īt seem to be that hard, does it? But there are lots of things you need to know how to do in order to make all of this happen. It¬īs not that easy to make and mix music, operate a camera and film proper video, edit both music and video, and I am not counting the ‚Äústanding in front of a camera‚ÄĚ process which many people may find uncomfortable (with zero budget, little time and no volunteers, it¬īs you and you alone doing that!). There were many things we had to use to accomplish our goal and I am glad we were such a great team, because I know that I alone could never have done what we did as a group.

Nevertheless, being more than one person doing something together means you have to find a common ground to stand on when you make decisions, and you can trust me when I say that isn¬īt always a simple task.¬† For example, when the time of sending the final song to TV Mania came some of us did not want to include the samples in Spanish and some of us did. It took us a LONG TIME to agree on that. In the end, we put it to a vote and decided to send an ‚ÄúAmbient Mix‚ÄĚ of our song that didn¬īt have samples in Spanish. For the video of that one, we simply added some colour effects to the original one and sent both ‚ÄúJust Very‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúJust Very (Ambient Mix)‚ÄĚ for approval.

A few hours later we got the news of our videos being up on the official TV Mania Franchise Playlist on Youtube, and a couple of deadlines later (the contest deadline was pushed twice extending it for 2 and a half months) we found out via TV Mania¬īs Twitter account that we were the TV Mania Franchise Grand Prize winners for ‚ÄúJust Very‚ÄĚ.

To this day, we still think it¬īs a dream….which is why I’ve included this photo (a memento from the Skype session we won with Nick and Warren as result of the contest!)

IMG_0029

Just as Duran Duran likes to do for their liner notes…we’re including a list of what we used:

  • Ableton Live 8
  • Synths: Albino Vst synth/Atmosphere Vst synth/Korg M1¬† Vst Synth/ Korg wavestation synth/Orange vocoder
  • Electronic drums: 707 sounds/808 sounds/Ez Drummer
  • Guitar: Fx Boss GT8 / digitech rp7 valve/ Steinberger Spirit guitar
  • Adobe Premiere (video)

yo

Fabiana is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She¬īs been a Duranie since 1988 when she was 10 and loves the band, side projects (well, duh!) and mostly all the fan-tastic people she¬īs met because of them. She has a major in Journalism and Communications and at the moment is finishing her¬†Community¬†Manager¬†& Social Media graduate¬†studies.¬†She works for a private university where she manages an academic department (not as fun as seeing #Duranlive!) and is looking forward for the next Duran Duran album and tour. No need to convince an angry boyfriend to let her go see them live: he is a huge Duranie!

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 Beyonc√© 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

Do you believe in shame?

Internet trickery.

I must be incredibly naive. When I go online, whether it’s a message board, Facebook or Twitter…or even on this blog…I tend to take people at face value. I don’t really see the point in lying, setting up false personas, or hiding. That doesn’t mean I have a lack of understanding, or realize that others somehow gain a sense of great personal joy from duping others, it’s just that I don’t operate in quite that way. Sometimes, I get burned.

I know plenty of people who have screen names, whether it’s due to wanting to keep personal and public lives separate, or wanting fans to guess, or not guess, who is doing the ¬†tweeting. (Yes, @TVManiaMusic I am looking at you.) I have friends who have told me that they want to communicate with Duranies on one Facebook page, and have family and real-life friends on another. These are completely different situations from trickery.

The idea of creating an account purely to trick people is so incredibly deceitful, and it brings on memories of high school or even junior high when anonymous notes would be mysteriously found in one’s locker or backpack at school. However, I recognize the urge to use the internet as some sick way to reinvent. Why tell people what you really think and show them who you really are when you can become virtually anyone else and still tell them what you think with a lot less thoughtfulness? The cloak of anonymity that the net provides is protective, safe and provides a very addictive sense of bravado.

What bothers me most is that Amanda and I have worked very hard to try and bring the community together. We want fans to reach out, to connect online – whether it’s with us, with one another, or even with the band or other celebrities. Amanda and I still very much believe that there are real relationships to be gained from such experience. That’s why we’ve tried to plan fan events, encouraged discussion, chatted as much as possible online, and opened ourselves up to scrutiny on an ongoing, never-ending basis. The online environment requires a certain sense of trust, and each¬†of us, and not just Amanda and I – but all of you as well, have worked hard to trust, at least partially. When someone decides to use that trust in order to deceive, I really have to wonder what has become of the world.

I suppose that along with virtually every other facet of life, the bad walks right alongside good, and it is our job as people to be able to navigate between the two. Sometimes we succeed, and other times, we do not. As I mentioned to friends today, I get very tired keeping my guard up. I would much rather put myself out there and expect the best, rather than the worst. Someone once said that when people put themselves out there, they should expect ridicule. That is unfortunate, but truthful. I accept that part of being a writer. That said, what about fans? Should fans never follow someone on Twitter that interests them because they can never quite be sure of who is truly handling the account or who might use their words or play a trick on them next? It certainly takes the fun nature of communicating right out of the picture, doesn’t it? ¬†Sure, Twitter has the whole “verified account” thing, but as I’ve learned – it takes time. Should we never follow anyone or believe anything we read or hear otherwise? Another friend of mine mentioned that this very situation is exactly why she never believes anything unless it slaps her in the face. Also unfortunate, and it pains me to see that this is what we’ve become.

I recognize that the topic of this blog might seem vague to most. I don’t see the point in rehashing events that led me to this topic in excruciating detail, but I think the main ideas can lead to some discussion for all. We as a community, a fan community if you will, have come a long way since 1981. What once was a sort of enigmatic entity out “there” in space somewhere (other Duran Duran fans) has become a sort of something that all of us, you, me, everyone, can tangibly experience on a daily basis at our choosing. What was once pretty well-fractured has become much more whole, and some might even say – healthier.

There will always be those who wish to exploit the enthusiasm of others. I’m proud of being a fan. I’m excited about having the ability to chat with people whom I have adored and/or idolized for years. I like the idea that should they so choose to hit the “reply” button, they can communicate with me and share ideas, or even a laugh or two. It is disgusting that there are people out there who think it’s somehow funny to exploit the curiosity, excitement and idolization of others in order to make a joke or prove a point. ¬†I only hope that it doesn’t stop us from reaching out and communicating with one another. That my friends, would be the true injustice.

-R

Pop Trash

Fandom in the days of the internet never fails to fascinate. ¬†There were just certain things taken for granted, even if they weren’t necessarily discussed in detail amongst my friends back in the early 80’s. ¬†It was easy to sit amongst a group of friends and know with reasonable certainty what was “agreed upon”. ¬†It never occurred to me to question basic things…like which songs were the favorites of my group of friends and therefore obviously “the best” (Who really needs music critics when you are amongst a group of twelve and thirteen year old girls?), or which band members were the most fashionable (again, don’t preteens really know fashion?!?), or which band member was indeed the most popular.

My world was very small back when I was eleven, twelve and even thirteen. I read magazines like Tiger Beat, Bop or Teen Beat. ¬†I watched Video One, MV3, Friday Night Videos and later, MTV. ¬†I had a group of no less than four and no more than about eight friends with me at school…and although the cast of characters changed depending upon whom was angry with whom at any given time…these were the people I counted on outside of my family. ¬†It was these girls I trusted to know just as much about the band as I, and it was with these girls that I first learned to share and coexist.

You see, as John Taylor touched upon in his book, it was not enough to say you liked the band – at least not in my experience at Sunflower Junior High in Glendora, California. ¬†Oh no, because the very next question after “Who is your favorite band?” and one answered “Duran Duran” was “Who is your favorite?” The funny thing is that even today – this is EASILY one of the first questions I hear being asked when people meet for the first time. ¬†It’s even become a way of introducing oneself on a message board. ¬†“Hi, my name is Rhonda, I live in Southern California, I’ve been a fan for over 30 years now (who is counting???) and my favorite band member is Roger.” ¬†(Or Dom, as the case might be.) ¬†Back when I was in my formative years, this question of naming a favorite band member signified plenty. ¬†As John mentioned, it was simply not done to have more one person in a group of friends like the same band member. ¬†It had the potential to get very messy when we’d be sitting in a circle at lunchtime out on the quad, discussing the merits of the latest Tiger Beat article. ¬†(Yes, even then we would complain about the interview questions!) ¬†I mean, if someone just openly announced that they were expecting John Taylor to swoop in on his white horse and proclaim his love for them…what would be done if yet another John Taylor girl was sitting in the group? ¬†No no, this just would not do. ¬†So oddly, we found ways to work it out. ¬†We simply chose another band member as our favorite.

In my case, it always seemed that the trouble was with John. ¬†As in, there was only one of him, and at any given time in my circle of friends – there were at least two girls, and very likely three or even four, who were insistent that he was indeed, taken.¬† As in, “He’s mine. You’ll need to choose another favorite to follow.” ¬†Never did I see this happen with other band members. ¬†There always seemed to be just one Simon girl, one Nick girl, and one Roger girl (that’d be me). ¬†I never had to fight off other girls for Roger – they would say “Oh, he’s just far too quiet, Rhonda.” ¬†I’d smile shyly and say “That’s fine. ¬†I am too.” ¬†And I was. Back then. ¬†Never really had a lot of friends that were Andy girls, but I do remember my friend Terri from junior high being exceptionally fond of Andy – saying he was the only “real man” in the group. ¬†She was twelve.

I came to believe that John Taylor was the prime real estate of the group. It was easy to figure why – those cheekbones should have been illegal and don’t even get me started on his bleached bangs (in the US we call them bangs – I think elsewhere they refer to them as “fringe”, which sounds so much better…). ¬†Alas, I was not a fighter – I was very much a peacekeeper at the time, so I simply found the guy that no one really knew much about because he was so quiet. ¬†Other friends found their favorite, and for the most part we coexisted as our own band of five. ¬†Or eight…which was sticky at times, but we made it work. From what I could tell, even the teen mags sided with John here on the US soil. Naturally much of this might have been my teenage perception at work, but the way I saw it was that John was the “face”, Simon (while certainly no slouch in the looks department) was the outgoing one, Nick was well – king of eyeliner and fashion – the artsy one, Roger was the dark and quiet one, and Andy was the rocker. ¬†Made perfect sense to me and I never once questioned whether or not it was the case everywhere else in the world. ¬†“Everywhere” for me consisted of my relatively small junior high school (I think there might have been 300 kids at the school in total over 3 grades (sixth through eighth grade) and maybe it branched out to my city of Glendora/Covina. ¬†Then again, maybe not. ¬†Like I said, my world was very, very small in the years of 1981-1984.

Oddly, it wasn’t until yesterday afternoon that I ever started questioning whether or not what I believed to be case law when it came to Duran Duran was really and truly the case worldwide…and it was because of a simple comment that was made on our blog. ¬†The commenter simply mentioned that she had always thought Simon was the most popular. ¬†When I first read the comment, I sat back bewildered and pondered the situation. No, I was certain that it was always John. Although, what she mentioned about Simon’s twitter is in fact true – he does have more followers. ¬†Then in a flash I realized that wait, I’m 42 years old now!! ¬†Do we really care who is the most popular these days?? ¬†Should we??

I can’t answer that question. ¬†For me personally as someone who is claiming that their “favorite” band member these days is someone who wasn’t even in the original group – I think I have to let a lot of that just go. ¬†I mean, here I am at 42 and I’m still even claiming I have a favorite! ¬†Obviously some part of me never quite grew up, and I’m just going to own and embrace that. ¬†But, I do wonder if things were the same for every other fan across the continents. ¬†As I traded replies yesterday, the subject of where each of us lived came up. ¬†She is from the UK, and I am from the US. ¬†Maybe that really made the difference. Who was the band member that girls seemed to “fight over” the most where you lived?

The internet has both exponentially expanded my world, and made it infinitely smaller at the same time. ¬†When I was twelve, I would have never dreamed of making friends with people on the other side of the world. I certainly wouldn’t have thought I’d ever have the ability to debate serious issues such as the popularity of band members, much less blog about such things to a worldwide audience and getting responses that make me think and even challenge my preconceived notions. ¬†I love that and I hope it makes all of you reconsider some things you once thought to be “law” as well!

-R