Definitively Duran Duran

Yesterday, as I was (supposed to be) working on paperwork, I noticed that Duran Duran threw a question out to the masses on social media. I like the idea of asking fans questions in order to stay engaged – we’ve done that on a regular basis now for the past few years (if not longer), and I really like seeing what kinds of discussions might be sparked, and sometimes – such as yesterday – the answers still surprise me!

The question yesterday was ” If you had to pick one track as THE definitive Duran Duran song, what would you choose?”

First of all, what does “definitive” mean?

Definitivemost reliable or complete, as of a text, author, criticism, study, or the like:

Definitive doesn’t necessarily mean your personal favorite song, although it could be one in the same.  Naturally, naming a definitive song tends to be purely based on opinion, even if widely accepted as “fact”.

Not so surprisingly,  fans have as many opinions of what songs meet the criteria of “definitive Duran Duran” as there might be actual Duran Duran songs recorded. Anything from “Planet Earth” to “Only in Dreams” was mentioned. At first, I tried to keep track – seeing if there was any sort of consensus to be had. Then I noticed there were 2600 responses on Facebook, not counting replies, and realized that my paperwork was actually more important (although not nearly as entertaining). So this morning I took another quick trip through the comments to see if I could pick out any major “themes” to share.

  • Many were frustrated that DDHQ only asked for “one” song. I chuckled when I saw the question first posted, full-well knowing what some of the comments would be. “One definitive song? Are you crazy?” Ah yes, they are actually asking you, dear Duran Duran fan, to make a choice. Choose wisely. (Do you ever get the feeling that Amanda and I take great joy in watching fans make a choice???? It is the little things that keep me going from day-to-day.)
  •  I saw several other people say that because Duran Duran redefines themselves with each album, there really isn’t just one song to define them. Fair answer?
  • Many…and I mean MANY…fans prefaced their answer by saying their choice was their favorite song. The one thing I know for sure is that each of the songs Duran has ever done has their own place secured in the collective history of this band. Does that make each of their songs definitive in their own right? Sure. But is that one particular favorite of yours, dear reader, equal to being the MOST definitive? Only you know for sure.
  • One of the most curious things I saw were several posts written by what appeared to be different Facebook profiles – that were worded exactly the same. Down to the same misspellings and chosen song. Odd.
  • Several people chose a song off Paper Gods as the most definitive. A few songs from the album were mentioned by many different people, so I guess my point is that if there was question about whether or not Paper Gods has hit home with fans, I would say the answer is definitively yes!
  • Another fan chides the fan base and DDHQ in one fell swoop by saying that we’re all missing the point. A definitive and/or quintessential” song cannot be chosen in hindsight, therefore the most current release would be the answer.  A thought worth pondering, for sure.

My own answer for the question became clear when I really thought over what the word “definitive” meant. In my opinion (yes, this is purely my own opinion here), I would think that the word “definitive”, in this case really means that the song defines the band. It is what most people – not necessarily fans  – but average, ordinary, every day people who have heard of Duran Duran, think of when they’re asked what song comes to mind. My own personal favorite song doesn’t necessarily define Duran Duran to anyone, and probably not even to me – at least not entirely. So it becomes pretty clear to me that what I might find to be definitive Duran Duran is not likely to be what the rest of the world would first mention.

In many ways, the answer for this question is likely more difficult for Duran Duran fans than it is the general public – and that’s because fans tend to concern themselves with a bit more of the minutia of Duran Duran than say, John Q. Public might. Many fans mentioned that the band couldn’t be defined by any one point in their career, insinuated that it was nearly a crime to ask such a question. I hardly think that if I asked my neighbor (assuming they in fact know who Duran Duran is) what song defines the band that they’d have difficulty answering in the same way that a hard-core fan might.

Thinking back at the band’s career, and remembering what gets mentioned most often when they’re being introduced at awards shows, or what songs are listed in articles or on television programs when the band is being announced. Invariably, Duran Duran seems to be equated with songs from the 80s, even though we all know they’ve done much more! The public knows Duran Duran as that band who did exotic videos for their songs, and the singles mentioned most often tend to be Hungry Like the Wolf and Rio, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that Hungry Like the Wolf was their breakthrough song here in the US. Do those songs define them? I’m sure many fans say no, with good and fair reason. However, for the public at large – those songs ARE Duran Duran. They are the songs people think of first, they are what will continue to be played on the radio long after I stop listening, and I really believe they are the songs that define Duran Duran to the rest of the world (or at least the part of the world that I occupy). To whittle down from those two songs to a single, firm answer – all I can say is that whenever Duran Duran is played on the radio here – nine times out of ten, it is Hungry Like the Wolf being played. Whenever they are introduced on a television program, or at an awards show, or hosts are talking about the band themselves, I notice that Hungry Like the Wolf is the song being mentioned. Does this make Hungry Like the Wolf the most definitive Duran Duran? Maybe so.

This is humorous to me only because of how much I enjoy the song. I’m still working arduously on not rolling my eyes as the opening chords are played when I’m at a show, and by the time John and Dom saunter over to center stage together, I’ve nearly forgotten how tired I am of hearing it. Alas…

The real irony here?

Hungry Like the Wolf is likely to be the song that out lives us all.



5 thoughts on “Definitively Duran Duran”

  1. I totally agree with you that the definitive DD song would NOT be one that is my personal favorite. And yes, I was one of those rebellious people who refused to name one . I’m sorry, but DD has a nearly four decade career with multiple lineups and 3 guitarists. Even though some eras have been more commercially successful than others, it doesn’t take away the fact that we have 14 albums to choose from. Thus…I tweeted that I would pick 5 songs, and my 5 were: Rio (for the reasons you mentioned in the blog), Notorious, Ordinary World, Electric Barbarella, Sunrise, and Paper Gods. (Yes, as I am writing this comment, I realized that’s six songs, not five. I suck at math..sue me!). Notorious is one of the most important songs of the band’s career–it not only shows their funky side (which they will revisit time and again in various forms on later albums) but it’s a song that proved they could still score a hit without the Fab Five. Ordinary World showed they could have a hit in the 90s and it was a crossover into a more adult contemporary sound–it gave them critical acclaim they never had before. Electric Barbarella is not one of my favorites off Medazzaland and i know I will get pushback on this, but…I believe it defines their late 90s sound. It’s also got a very retro vibe that connects it to the early albums (I have played it for non-Durannie friends of mine who were convinced the song came from the early 80s). Sunrise is the reunion song, the reunited band’s hit that if nothing else has become a fan anthem at shows and has stood the test of time (over a decade now?!?!). It embodies the “we’re the band to dance to when the bomb drops” mentality and is as catchy as the old hits. And yes, the song Paper Gods…it all its weirdness is to me not only a favorite song but a defining one for the band…lyrically and musically it’s evocative of New Religion and represents (to me) the best blend of their current sound with the past.

    If you forced me to pick just one, obviously I would have to pick Rio or yes, HLTW, as you noted… but I truly believe the others are as defining and representative of the stages of the band’s career.

    1. When I wrote this blog, I didn’t realize that you were one of the people who couldn’t/wouldn’t pick just one song. I saw quite a few comments like that – but I didn’t notice you’d taken that position as well, so I hope you don’t think I was picking on you.

      At least not this time… -R

  2. When I saw this question on Twitter yesterday my immediate thought was “You’ve got to be joking, how can you pick a definitive song from so many songs” and decided not to give it another thought as it seemed like an impossible task. But after reading your blog and giving it some objective thought, I guess the definitive song would have to be Rio. It’s the title track from their most iconic album, also people who are not that familiar with the band seem to recognise it from ‘the video on the boat’ or as I read in one review from their performance at Bestival last year, it was the song that got everyone in the field dancing (whether they were fans of Duran or not). Plus it’s the show closer when they do play to their own fans. Also Rio is the album that really introduced them to a mass audience (myself included).

  3. “Definitive”… the key to it all.
    One can use for help 1,000 English/Italian – Italian/English dictionaries, but only DDHQ knew what they meant by that !! Lol!
    My pick is New Religion because …. it can match all the over 1,000 meanings I found on the dictionaries above. Lol!
    Kidding… but I have my load of reasons why I picked that song up.

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