If you’re tired of searching, this is where it ends

I learned a little bit about our fandom this past weekend.  As I’m sure most of our readers know, Simon took the stage this weekend for an event called “Sound of Change”, a concert held in Twickenham stadium, presented by Chime for Change – which is “a community of people working to promote education, health and justice for every girl, every woman, everywhere”.

Not sure if you heard, but Simon appeared with Timbaland – and judging purely on what I saw myself on YouTube – they performed one song together.  (The Reflex)  The rest of the band was not present, and I will admit that when I heard of this unholy collaboration, I cringed. Why now?  Why must they work with that guy again?  Things were going really well, and I think most of the bitter taste left in the mouths of many fans from Red Carpet Massacre has long since subsided.  I think it’s fair to say that while it was only a one-off thing, the mere statement that they were going to perform together probably started some discussion (that Amanda and I may actually be responsible)….and maybe some of that (well, a lot of that) happened on our Facebook page on Saturday.

The fact is, it really doesn’t matter why Simon appeared with Timbaland, I suppose.  Even after watching the performance, I can’t quite figure out why Simon would have even bothered  because he obviously would have been just fine on his own, but perhaps they wanted Timbaland’s appearance to get them some TV time. I’m just guessing here.  From what I gathered, all Timbaland did was stand there…..far on the other side of the stage from Simon….and he might have yelled “Get your hands up” once or twice.  Other than that, it looked like Simon’s gig, and he did extremely well given that he was up there alone. Well, he seemed like he was alone.  Let’s face it, I didn’t really take much notice of Timbaland. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What did matter to me on Saturday was that many of our readers didn’t seem to really get the whole point of Amanda’s blog, and to be honest I’m not really sure what more she could have done to make her point clear. The blog was not meant as a rehash of Red Carpet Massacre. The blog was merely marking her concern for what the appearance might do to the fans, as well as what could possibly happen if it were announced the band would work with him again. I don’t even know that Amanda went as far to say how SHE might feel if he returned to produce again, (I’m more than happy to comment on that at any given time – just say the word and I’ll put out that blog pronto!) only that judging from what she saw during the days leading up to the release Red Carpet Massacre as well as beyond (I still say that is a perfectly named album…and some day Amanda and I are going to sit here and tear that album apart and explain some of the things we’ve come to accept the album to mean as a whole.), the fan community came apart at it’s seams. I expected to see discussion about Timbaland, and I expected that she and I would be working hard to make sure her points were understood. (while I did not write the blog, I was 100% behind her on this one!) What I did not expect was for the discussion to turn into a discussion about being a good fan. I should have seen that coming, but alas – I missed it.

I think it’s fair to say that Amanda and I have spent quite a bit of time studying fandom – I don’t just mean OUR fandom, I’m talking about Fandom Studies as a sociological topic. That doesn’t make us experts by any means, and we’re still learning nearly every day. There is truly a hierarchy within each fandom – a sort of “social status ladder” if you will. There is real importance assigned to whatever each community decides are the tipping points along the way. (what things make you a good fan or a bad fan…and how good and bad fans are defined)  Our fan community is no better, worse or different in that regard. What blows my mind is how easy it is for any of us (myself included!) to determine what makes someone better than someone else. Is it right for someone to say that if Timbaland produced another album for the band that they’d just quit being a fan? What about if it was only a couple songs? Is it right for someone who claims to be a huge fan to say that since Dom Brown isn’t a “real” band member they won’t bother supporting his solo projects?  What about TV Mania? Nick Rhodes is in the band, in fact he’s probably the Father of the entire deal…but “real” fans out there won’t listen to that either because Warren is involved, or because Simon isn’t involved…etc, etc. etc.  Who decides what is right or wrong here?  Definitely not me…and probably not you either. But yet we debate. We argue. We judge. We try our best to sell one another on the merits of our opinions.  

Amanda pointed out, rather aptly in my opinion, that there are hot button issues in our fandom – topics that seem to divide us like the Red Sea, in other words. One of those topics is the discussion of Andy Taylor, et. al. For a long time, you didn’t dare go onto a message board and openly throw out names such as Warren or Andy without a very heated discussion happening. There is sincere passion in our community, I’ll say that much. The point Amanda was making on Saturday was that this topic – the one of Timbaland specifically, is in fact a very polarizing topic within the community. Unfortunately, even that assertion was not well-received. Many feel that the community as a whole is just polarized – it’s not any one topic that does more damage, and it just is what it is.

I can’t say I completely agree. I think that a lot of what Amanda and I have tried to do in the years we’ve written Daily Duranie is bring people together, and to read that some don’t even think that what we do is worth the effort is certainly sobering. (and really kind of callous, in my opinion.) Although, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Sure, there have been things over the years that has created deep cracks in the foundation of this fandom, (Lo and behold what are some of those things? The Andy/Warren debate? The entire commentary on competition and greed? Oh…and Red Carpet Massacre/Timbaland??? See what I’m doing here at all?) but I think there have been plenty of things keeping fans together. We do have our differences, but we also have one very large, gleaming similarity: Our love for the band.  There is plenty of room to meet in the middle without being forced to compromise our individual ideals. That alone makes it worth trying to bridge the divide, and gives credence to someone like Amanda writing what was a heartfelt, relevant post on Saturday.

-R

10 thoughts on “If you’re tired of searching, this is where it ends”

  1. I did enjoy the short appearance of our lovely Simon for the Chime for a Change event.
    I appreciated that he joined.
    Part of the fans in my country are complaining about the short duration of his and Timbaland's performance: well, keep in mind that was a gig for women, i.e. a sort of Live Aid for women you must thank God those few men who were there to support the cause.

  2. Well, I have to say that Amanda's post captured exactly the feeling I had when I saw the announcement on DD.com: It filled me with “dread” too! And this is not to bash RCM or its fans or anyone else. It just felt like a completely bizarre appearance for Simon. Sure, he may have loved the cause and wanted to support it…but to break away from the Ronson sessions for this–when JT had to cancel an appearance in July–just seemed very, very odd and out of place. I also thought the timing was odd (a day before?) and the reference in the press release–that RCM was “highly successful” –felt like a big fat middle finger to the fans.

    As for the divided fandom…I saw it too on the message boards circa 2007. I was one of those who took the position of, “Give RCM a chance.” That was driven in part by my belief that Astronaut was overrated (which I also think has come to be validated over time, given comments from the band themselves…but that's another topic altogether). Then, I heard the live bootleg of RCM and I thought it was okay. But as time passed, I realized…it just wasn't that great. It had its moments–The Valley, RCM, Falling Down, Box full o' Honey, She's Too Much…Cry Baby Cry…so there is an EP in there that I could stand behind. But the rest of it…not so much.

    The whole “people walking away” concept troubles me given the history of this band…if you follow Duran you have to know that no two albums sound alike…they always switch directions…that's part of what makes it fun. I could never walk away…I just don't get that.

  3. I agree with you about Astronaut – but the very thought that it was the first album with the original five after SATRT, well – of course it was going to be overrated. I also think I can see that much better in hindsight than I could at the time. It happens. 🙂

    As for walking away, I think I would explain it this way: I think that for a lot of people, seeing the original five together again was kind of like getting closure. They went to the shows, maybe they even did the whole Astronaut tour and enjoyed it, but they were ready to put the lid on the that section of their life. Not everyone stays a diehard fan into their 30s and 40s – I mean, a lot of people, we can call them “adults” (so boring), just stop listening to the music. Instead of listening to music on the radio, maybe they listen to the news, maybe they were just coming to a natural conclusion and RCM pushed them over that edge. On the other hand, I think others might still be fans of the back catalog, but that particular album did nothing for them, and so they didn't bother going to that tour, and life kind of just took over from there. I mean – I can't speak for those people but I know that being a fan takes some time. I make it one of my priorities, I guess. I think others maybe got into a habit of not paying attention, and in that respect it made it easier to kind of just let it all fall away. And likely still others were completely pissed by the direction they took with RCM and made a conscious decision to stop supporting the band. Those things really do happen. While we don't have to agree with all of it or like all of it, I think it's OK to at least say that yeah, it does happen.

    As for no two albums sounding alike – I take issue there. It's true, each album they've done has sounded slightly different. I've been told several times that there is no true “Duran Duran sound”, and I think that argument is ridiculous. Of COURSE there is, and it's not just comprised of Simon's voice. What do I mean? Listen to that bass line. Yes, it has changed over the course of the albums slightly – but the way John plays is still very unique. What about the way the guitar plays riffs or the way that Nick's synthesizer loops play over the top? What about the layers of sound? Yes…Simon's harmonies are also significant. Those elements of their sound have carried over to each album – so while they might be exploring slightly different directions (which I applaud), their sound is still fairly constant UNTIL you get to a few of the songs on RCM. Those songs, which may or may not have been produced by Timbaland, don't sound a lot like Duran Duran, and if Simon hadn't been singing – I would not ever know that they were the same band. Even The Valley SOUNDS like Duran Duran, even though it's a significantly different musical direction than say, Ordinary World or Is There Something I Should Know (or even Late Bar!). Night Runner? Nope. If Simon weren't singing I wouldn't know who in the hell it was – it sounds like every single other song (and poorly produced at that) on top 40 radio back in the early 2000s.

    I think I said something on Saturday that I think it's possible to be a fan of the earlier music and let the rest go. Now whether that's the same thing as walking away, I couldn't tell you because I am obviously still here. 😀 I have to use Ministry as my example. I LOVE early Ministry, but I refuse to listen to much of anything after With Sympathy because I think it's horrible.

    Maybe the real question is whether or not the people who kind of gave up on the fan community were really diehard fans. I have no idea and I wouldn't begin to judge them – but I wonder if they themselves would have categorized their feelings that way. Interesting thought. -R

  4. They played one song, right? I won't ever really know why they only did one song or why they chose The Reflex…or why Simon performed with Timbaland (or Timbaland with Simon)….but they got some worldwide TV time (however short it may have been here in this US – I think it was less than a minute actually and the commentators spoke OVER Simon's performance much of that time) and they received some publicity. It probably did it's job and was definitely a good cause at that. -R

  5. Yes, good point, I see what you're saying about the constants in the Duran sound despite the changes in musical style from album to album. Also agree about the closure aspect to Astronaut and the novelty of the original 5 etc.

  6. As far as people leaving, I think it is important to remember that fandom is supposed to be FUN. People leave when the joy and the fun is far LESS than the frustration involved. There are many negatives to being a fan, to being a Duranie. Many of us stay because we still get more positive than negative.

    -A

  7. Even though RCM is not my favorite album, I have a feeling that people are going to start thinking it is, especially since I keep feeling the need to defend it. Yes, I enjoy, and like RCM quite a bit actually, and I hear nothing wrong with it, it sounds just as that album should. Listening to the lyrics I hear maturity in how they wrote, and what they chose to write about, AYNIN is similar in that regard it is more mature, and not just another party album. Think about it people they're not 20 something anymore, and not only are they maturing, but so is their music, and they, and their music have every right to do so. I like the more serious subject matter of When We Were Strait, and Last Man Standing which is one of my favorite Duran Duran songs, because I really like the strong visuals that song engenders within me every time I hear it. Yes, we all love the music, and we adore the band, but do we adore them as they are, or do we still see them as the same people they were when we first became fans? I see them for who they are now, and for who they were 30yrs ago, as well as all points in between, people grow they mature they change, and we as fans need to realize this, and except the fact that they may grow in directions that we may not like, but that's the beauty of freedom of choice, because it is our freedom as fans to grow as well, and to decide to listen to their music, or not.

  8. I think it's very easy to judge other fans based on what they like or do not like, and we really try not to do that here…so I will say this and be done for now – I think it's OK that we do not agree, and I'm glad that there are those out there that like RCM. -R

  9. I actually really like RCM as well. I listen to it quite a bit. TBH I'd say it's in my top 4 Duran Duran albums. It's not my favorite but I do like it. And I mean really Timbaland only worked on 3 songs or something like that. I'm not sure I see how a song like Box Full of Honey or some of the other songs aren't “Duran Duran” songs. There are a few songs which are different, but I think most of them it's pretty easy to see how they fit in with what came before, especially with the album before it, Astronaut. I think Dirty Great Monster or She's Too Much or Last Man Standing could easily have been on Astronaut. And Falling Down, imo, doesn't really sound out of place for Duran Duran imo. Maybe for some it's not a great song, but I don't think it sounds out of place amongst their ballads. It has a pretty melody and I love the beginning with the guitar.

    And yes I agree Astronaut might have been overrated, I only really listen to a few songs on it with any frequency(I love “Chains”, sue me, there's something about the imagery like “put my hand into the flame, burning but I feel no pain” and I like the harmonies), but you rarely hear anyone saying “But it doesn't sound like Duran Duran” as a complaint against it. I'd say at least half the songs on RCM at least sound “related” to the songs on Astronaut so to me, overall that would mean it sounds like a Duran Duran album maybe with some experimentation on it.

    RCM was just an album, it's over and done with, just like all their other albums. The first album and Rio are very different from each other. Even lookswise it was a huge change, they went from pretty pirates in frills and leather to smartly dressed jet plays boys in suits. They have their “RCM period” or their AYNIN period or their Notorious period or whatever and then the next album is different. Why would anyone think they'd start repeating themselves now and go back to RCM? 😀 To me, it was kind of obvious playing with Timbaland was simply a way for Simon to be involved in a charity performance for something he feels is important.

    It was in London, it's not like he had leave making the album to do it. TBH, my initial thought would be to feel more proud to see a member of Duran Duran wanting to be involved in something like that, for women's rights(and lots of us fans are women after all:), than worrying about it somehow having any relation to a 6 year old album or affecting a new album.

  10. Well, naturally we all see things very different, but I have absolutely no problem with anyone liking Red Carpet Massacre. There are songs on there that I actually really do like, believe it or not. Red Carpet Massacre the song being one of them. I love that one and would love to have them play it on tour again. It rocks live. No matter, I'm glad there are fans out there who like the album – I mean, it's not my intention to have the entire fan base hate ANYTHING the band does – that wouldn't make any sense. We all have different tastes, and it's that reason why the band has been so successful. There is something for everyone. That was never up for debate here, though, and I would hate for this particular post to be read or understood inaccurately – because we really aren't finding fault with fans who like the album. Sometimes our criticism of the album can be divisive and I apologize if you're finding that to be the case.

    I think it's sad that Simon had to play with Timbaland (is that really the case) in order to take part in a charity performance – seems to me that his career should allow him to stand on his own, and he would have done just as well – but what do I really know about the entertainment world? Not much, and I admit that. One thing I'd like to make completely clear if I may: I was proud that he was appearing for such a worthy cause, and in fact – my original plan was to talk about THAT on the blog on Monday. Instead, the post became something quite different, and while I am still pleased with what I wrote, I really should learn from my mistakes and next time take the opportunity to write about the bigger picture. Point taken, and thank you for bringing that to my attention. I will think about that next time. -R

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!

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