Duran Duran 101

Outside of my career here as a professional Duranie (ha!), I actually get paid to teach.  While most of my days are spent thinking about the exciting subjects of Math or English, I do think about what it would be like to teach popular culture, specifically fandom.  I also think about what it would be like to teach about Duran Duran.  This thought, in conjunction with some conversations on twitter, led me here to today’s blog post.  Let’s pretend that I was going to teach about Duran Duran (how fun would that be!).  What should my lesson plan(s) look like?  Well, most lesson plans start with an ultimate goal.  What do you want the students to learn?  This is usually a big idea.  In this case, I think we want the students to learn that Duran Duran is one of the best bands to ever be in existence, right?  Then, we should start to think about how we show that.  In education, these are usually referred to as objectives.  On one hand, since Duran is a band, we could just talk about and play music.  We would then have to figure out which songs would best represent them.  These songs should reflect the spectrum of Duran’s sound from rockier numbers like Careless Memories to ballads like Ordinary World.  Of course, we would need to decide what types of songs should be included and the best representation of each type.  On the other hand, if I was teaching a class on Duran, I would want my students to know so much more than just the music.  For example, video has been an essential piece to Duran and I don’t think you could truly understand Duran’s greatness without talking about videos.  So, what should the objectives to knowing Duran Duran be then?

I have some ideas of essential elements or objectives that need to be taught.  One element is obviously video since video did play such an essential part to their commercial success and did grab so many fans’ attention.  It is a part of Duran that has existed from the first single to current times.  Another element that needs to talked about, I think, is their commitment to the complete package.  Duran isn’t just music or video.  They are a complete package from artwork to fashion.  The images they created from their album covers to their merchandise are long lasting and captured our attention.  I would, obviously, include all of those fabulous photographs of the band members, themselves.  Then, of course, we have the proof of their success.  This objective would include information about album sales, awards received, and media attention.  While the fans could be a part of this object, I think we deserve an objective all by ourselves.  While we had direct impact on their commercial success, especially “back in the day”, we are still an essential part of the story by continuing to follow them, buy their products, and more.  I also think there needs to be an objective on Duran’s philosophy.  While Duran has never clearly come out to state a “philosophy” or “mission”, I think that there is one.  After all, this is the band that declared that they wanted to be playing when the bomb dropped in their first interview.  It is also the band that states frequently at shows that they are the band “designed to make you party”.  Clearly, the band isn’t about politics! 

Now, that we have the goal of proving Duran is great and our objectives of their musical spectrum and quality, video, packaging, commercial success, fans, and philosophy, we have to decide how to present them.  In education, this could be called the procedure.  One way, we could present the material would be through the differing musical styles.  Thus, we would pick songs that both represent a certain style of music and represents one of the remaining objectives.  For example, Save a Prayer might be used to showcase their ability to write and play ballads while also showing the use of video.  Another way, we could present the objectives could be through the band’s story.  Their story now spans over thirty years and I’m willing to bet that each major piece to their history could be explained through their music.  Thus, lesson one might be on forming the band.  I could then explain how the different members came to join the band.  I could play the song, Late Bar, to showcase this time in their history and also lead the students to questions regarding their philosophy through analyzing the lyrics.  Hopefully, they would get that an all-night party means that they wanted for everyone to have a good time!  A later lesson could be how the critics did not appreciate them despite or because of their commercial success, which would be accompanied by the song Notorious. 

In case you are all wondering, I have put together a list of songs that best represent Duran’s history and those essential elements that make up who Duran is.  I could share it, if people are interested.  What I would like to know is how you would teach Duran Duran.  Would you just focus on the music?  If so, what songs would you include?  Would you focus on those other elements that I referred to as objectives?  Maybe you would talk about some of those elements but not all of them.  Perhaps, I forgot something essential to understanding Duran.  Would you then organize the lessons like I would, through Duran’s history and music?  If not, how would you do it?  Then, I would also love to know if anyone has tried to actually teach someone about Duran.  How did you do it and how did it go?

-A

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