How Much My Eyes Have Darkened…

First, let me apologize for the absolute lateness of this blog.  I have been traveling home (about a 5 hour drive) and am under the weather.  Luckily, I knew exactly what I was going to write about after seeing a comment from a Duranie friend about Duran’s music.  The statement was basically how their music is “bright” and does not contain the negatives of other music.  This statement combined with some research I have been doing about how Duran was advertised as “escapist”, especially back in the 1980s, formed today’s blog.  So, let’s dive into the question of whether or not Duran’s music is upbeat, bright, positive. 

Obviously, in many ways, Duran’s music is bright and upbeat.  After all, this is the band designed to make you party as Simon LeBon still belts out at almost every show.  This is the band that wanted to reintroduce color into the music world after the drab black, white and grey world of punk and post-punk.  Goodness, I think about videos like My Own Way and how bright and cheerful that seemed with dancing and even a parrot!  What other videos come to mind when talking about the cheerfulness of Duran?  I guess most people would immediately think of Rio, Save a Prayer and even the Reflex.  Rio was pure fun mixed with humor and the Reflex focused on how the band’s performance makes fans happy.  Save a Prayer, though very different from the other two, seemed peaceful at the very least.  So, what about the lyrics to accompany those positive videos?  Did they give the same feeling?  My Own Way speaks of independence and a carefree attitude.  Rio definitely had that fun vibe, especially when the words, “You make me feel alive, alive, alive,” are sung.  Save a Prayer, on the other hand, deals with a one night stand.  While it is deemed a “paradise” on one moment, prayers are also needed the morning after.  Is that as positive a message?  While Duran isn’t advocating violence there or swearing up a storm, they are exactly encouraging monogamy, are they?  The Reflex, obviously, is very much left up to the imagination in terms of its meaning.  It does speak of a game…so maybe it is all about fun.  😉

How about the rest of the early videos and songs?  Were they as positive?  The first video that popped in my head was Girls on Film.  It is clear in both the video and the song that it is focusing on the exploitation of female models.  I don’t see a lot of bright there even when Simon sings, “I’m shooting a star”.  He might be shooting a star but an unhappy one at that.  Careless Memories is rather dark and deals with a breakup and a bad one at that.  Whenever gun violence is mentioned, it ceases to be bright and happy.  Nightboat was clearly supposed to be scary as the band, for the most part, gets overtaken by zombies or something like zombies.  Anyone Out There touches on loneliness and rejection.  Friends of Mine focuses on betrayal and even asks the question, “Why don’t they drop the bomb”.  Again, that does not scream happiness and light to me.  Maybe some people want to argue that the albums that followed were more upbeat.  While I can think of examples of songs on Rio that are happy and positive, I can also think of New Religion or The Chauffeur, which seems dark to me.

What about recent albums?  Yeah, songs like Sunrise are upbeat.  What Happens Tomorrow is absolutely positive.  Still Breathing seems less so.  What about Bedroom Toys?  Where is the positive message in that?  What about the songs off Red Carpet Massacre and All You Need is Now?  Red Carpet Massacre is anything but positive.  Skin Divers seems kinda naughty to me.  Dirty Great Monster deals with sexual abuse.  Even songs that are more upbeat have a twist to them.  Tempted may get people moving but it also refers to the devil tempting someone.  As far as AYNIN goes, yes, the title track is very positive and gives a really good message.  Does Leopard, though?  That seems to be about obsession.  What about songs like Other People’s Lives, which absolutely is a commentary on society and the joy people seem to experience by watching celebrities crash and burn.

I guess my point here is simple.  Duran is much more complex than simply being positive or negative.  I, for one, appreciate that they make me think and that there is often way more than what is on the surface of a song, a video, a product of theirs.  They seem to touch on humanity and everything that comes with being human.  Do I think that Duran advocates a very straight and narrow lifestyle?  Absolutely not.  Even the songs and videos that are fun seem to have something extra to it to make people think.  As for how they make us, the fans, feel, they can and do bring joy into our lives (most of the time).  I suggest, though, they do this through honesty and analysis of people and what makes them tick, which is way more complex than a simple good/bad, positive/negative dichotomy. 

-A

5 thoughts on “How Much My Eyes Have Darkened…”

  1. I agree. I think there is a lot of darkness right from the start. But then, as I said in the original thread this was asked in, I like a bit of darkness. Frankly, I HATE bands that are all “poppy” and upbeat all the time. That extreme saccharine sweetness makes me want to slap someone half the time. Prime example is the song Walking on Sunshine that came out in the 80s. I HATE that song!

    But I digress. My interpretations of GOF are actually a bit MORE explicit than what you describe. Simon spelled things out rather explicitly when he sang “And she wonders how she ever got here as she goes under again” while miming the motion of pushing “her” head back down to his crotch. Apparently, “going under” has the same meaning as “going down”. And since the mid-80s I always thought that “Give me shudders in a whisper take me up till I'm shooting a star” referred to his body shuddering in pleasure and the “shooting” had nothing to do with the camera. And they wonder why we all grew up with such dirty minds. As a fanbase, we all collectively hit puberty looking @ these gorgeous guys and hearing songs about sex. Let's NOT get into detail about the Reflex, lol!

  2. Yeah, I am with you. I like a little bit of darkness. To me, it shows intelligence as they are influenced and inspired by the world around them.

    As for Girls on Film, I didn't want the blog to be too much of song interpretations. Thanks for sharing yours, though!

    -A

  3. Amanda, you touch a point very interesting here. DD is a very complex and multiple band. I don't know another band that can do songs as different as Notorious, Save a Prayer, The Chauffeur and Wild boys or Girl Panic. But I always love is that even in sad songs there is some feeling of hope, like a love and confidence into life, very noticiable in Ordinary World, Come Undone, Do you believe in Shame, Still Breathing or Dirty Great Monster. And i am not talking only about lyrics but also the music, there is always an uplifting feeling in the sad music.

    Pat

  4. Yeah there are some songs which are sort of unrelentingly dark or sad, but many of the dark songs do seem to have some sort of idea of at least trying to overcome it. I mean I very rarely come away from a Duran Duran song feeling hopeless or unhappy. Even the dark songs tend to inspire some sort of excitement even if just in the creativity of the song itself.

    But otherwise I have to agree with MissNovemberTuesday – it's no wonder so many of us have such dirty minds. Those songs were not written for kids, they were all over the map and dealt with all kinds of things and certainly had unique imagery.

    Then again, maybe we already had dirty minds and it just took Duran Duran for us to realize it. LOL When we were 13 my Duranie friends and I were quite proud of our “dirty minds”. (Of course it's kind of laughable calling them that looking back on it, we were all such good little girls but were quite Beavis and Butthead-ish when it came to finding double entendres in EVERYTHING, especially Simon's lyrics :D))

  5. I think that, as with just about everything in the industry – it's all about the marketing. Duran Duran were (and still really are) marketed as an escape. It's why their videos with their exotic locales hit so well. But, as you say – when you listen to a lot of the lyrics, it's very clear that they are about far more than just yachts and champagne, which is why a lot of us love them so much. I also believe that regardless of the original intentions behind a lot of Simon's lyrics, we've each come to our own conclusions about what they mean for ourselves.

    Just ask me about Hungry Like the Wolf, for instance. 😀 -R

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