Change Our Mind: Come Undone

This week’s challenge from Daily Duranie….

Come Undone Is More Than Ordinary

I was fairly surprised by this topic.  I know that many of the band’s songs are considered overrated in certain quarters – you can’t discuss ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ or ‘The Chauffeur’, generally beloved of casuals and fans respectively, for long without somebody popping up to opine that the song in question doesn’t deserve its popularity – but ‘Come Undone’?  Really?  For me, ‘Come Undone’ is a staggeringly beautiful song.  I could rave about it for far longer than the 250 words I have here, but suffice to say that I think, if anything, it’s actually underrated.

The main reason for this is that it’s overshadowed by its Wedding Album stablemate ‘Ordinary World’.  Now, there’s an overrated song.  ‘Ordinary World’ has some pretty melodies in it, but on the whole it’s fairly dreary, and in no way deserves the endless adulation heaped upon it.  It’s also overplayed to the point of boredom.

There are also numerous other Duran songs that are easily far more overrated than ‘Come Undone’.  ‘Hold Back The Rain’, ‘Wild Boys’, ‘Secret Oktober’, ‘(Reach Up For The) Sunrise’ – all fairly middling songs, some of them better than others, but none of them fully deserving of their plaudits.

If we’re talking about the most overrated Duran Duran song, though, it simply has to be ‘New Religion’.  Irritating melody, too much going on in the track, and the live versions sound absolutely terrible – yet everyone loves it!  Most definitely the biggest gulf between fan perception and actual song quality in my view. – Dee Cooke

Undone By All The Fish

While grateful for the success of “Ordinary World”, I’ve never connected with the song as a Duran Duran song. The guitar work by Warren makes up the heart of the track but the contributions from Nick and John are indistinct. Lyrically, the chorus is very uplifting and hopeful (i.e. boring). It also lacks any mystery. I could hear almost any band singing that chorus whereas “Come Undone” makes for a beautiful single and might be slightly underrated by fans.

The influential aesthetic of Japan and Roxy Music flows through “Come Undone”, making it one of Duran Duran’s most stylish tracks. At a time when the band was searching for their identity in a new decade, “Come Undone” falls back on the band’s ability to ignite a dalliance between pop and art. The phaser effect on the guitar gives a liquid texture to the moody lyrics while the rhythm track hypnotizes the listener. It is mature, sophisticated, and sexy. It is Simon LeBon channeling Bryan Ferry. 

Having argued that, I would also argue that the song falls flat in concert. Certain songs have a vibe that never translate in a live setting and “Come Undone” is one of those for me. I would also place “The Chauffeur” in that category though I still enjoy seeing it on a setlist merely for the nostalgia of any Rio track. Perhaps, hearing “Come Undone” live has diminished the overall appreciation of the single. Or maybe I just love videos with fish in them. – Jason Lent

CK = Chauffeur Killer?

Come Undone is a lot of things.  It’s the last mainstream Duran Duran radio hit.  It represents the only second single from any album outside the first three to have any significant chart success. It’s also, clearly, not one of the best songs on The Wedding Album.  It might be middle of the pack, or worse, depending on who’s doing the rating.  Having said all that, is Come Undone the most overrated Duran Duran song in the catalogue?  Not by a longshot.  

There are plenty of other songs receiving fan love that seemingly far outweighs their quality.  The most obvious example is The Chauffeur, which scores alarmingly high whenever polling is done (see @boysmakenoise, @cherrylipstick, and @dailyduranie polling data in recent years).   It’s not the best ballad (Save a Prayer) or love song (Last Chance on the Stairway) or dark experimental new wave track (New Religion) or rocking anthem (Rio, Hold Back the Rain) on that album.  It’s clearly overrated by the fans.  

Similarly, The Man Who Stole a Leopard gets far too much fan love for a song that, like its progenitor on Rio, is far inferior to so many other tracks on its own album (the title track, Being Followed, Blame the Machines, Leave a Light On, Too Bad You’re So Beautiful, Runway Runaway, at a minimum, are all superior to Leopard.)  It also has that silly spoken word coda which strips the song of any mystery.  

Is Come Undone overrated?  Sure.  But it doesn’t come anywhere close to being the most overrated song in the catalogue.  – CK Shortell

Passion Or Coincidence?

It’s tempting to agree. “Come Undone” is beautiful, though not one of my all-time favorites. But strictly going off chart topping Duran songs that I think are overrated, I have to go with Come Undone’s album mate, “Ordinary World”, as the most over-praised. Many of our fellow Duranies adore this song. It always pops up high on “name your favorites” lists. Compared to “Ordinary World”, “Come Undone” seems to be a consistent runner-up with the fans, and it didn’t place quite as highly on the charts. 

Is “Ordinary World” terrible? No – few Duran songs are. The melody is lovely, and it has the weight of Simon’s pain behind it – that first verse in particular is a spectacular emotional gut punch. It came along and impressed the mainstream critics at just the right time to keep them from dismissing Duran as forever trapped in the 80s. So bravo for that. 

To me it’s also…not very Duran-ish. It gets, a bit dull, on repeated play, to be honest. Appealing to the masses isn’t always a strength. And it heralded a decade of not-very-Duran-ish musical output. A decade of a sad, angry, barely-writing Simon. For a band that always says they are proudest about the way that they look to the future and celebrate the present, it’s got this morose nostalgia to it that doesn’t mesh well with their wider musical lexicon. And that’s coming from someone whose favorite music can be best described by the word melancholy. 

Awful? Hardly. Most overrated? Definitely. – Laura Skarka

2 thoughts on “Change Our Mind: Come Undone”

  1. It’s funny to hear fans dismissing the songs that other fans adore. I love the arrogance, really I do. Overrated? Not at all. Ordinary World is a beautiful song that really speaks to you when someone you treasured dies.For a few months that song helped me hold my sanity when my mother died. Simon really can speak to human emotion. Does it need to be in every concert? No. Come Undone is probably a stronger song, and deserves all the fanlove. Chauffeur and New Religion are total favorites of mine also.But to call any song overrated is such a waste of time, trying to imply popularity somehow mean that fans have no taste. Or that maybe we can all try to sound like intellectual music critics.I don’t need a music critic to tell me what music is good.All of the aforementioned songs are loved for the simple fact that they are good, and touched someones heart.

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