Would You Really Rather?

Over this past weekend, one of the “Would you rather” questions asked if you would rather see a taping of a Duran Duran TV performance or go to a convention.  The point behind the question (and yes, it really was a pointed question) was to see how fans viewed their fandom.  Is it that they are here (in the fan community) simply for the band, or is it about making connections and friendships with other fans as well as the band.

Truth be told, I was pretty sure how the answers would play out.  Most would jump at the taping, and a select few might say the convention.  I wasn’t surprised to read that most people want to see the band at all costs, whether it’s for one song or twenty. That’s why they are fans, and naturally, the band brought me to this point as well.  I get it.  
I was fairly careful and measured with my words and response on our Facebook page, because the last thing I want to do is alienate people, and that goes without saying even here on Daily Duranie.  This should be a safe place to be a fan.  I’m happy to read that we all still want to see the band live. Otherwise Roger might need to go back to farming, John might reconsider that acting career, Nick might…well…I’m not really sure what Nick would do (or what he would NOT do), and Simon?  Well, Simon might actually take up writing, and I would spend countless hours attempting to decipher his words (incorrectly, I might add).  We really cannot have any of that.  I am sure the band thanks all of us for our seemingly endless devotion.  As soon as I read the responses on Facebook that day, I knew I’d be blogging about this same topic here.  I let the subject stew a bit over the weekend, hoping that I’d find words to articulate exactly how I feel without being judgmental.  I highly doubt I’m successful.  
There are two reasons I am here:  the band, and the fan community.  To begin with, I am a fan of Duran Duran.  I love the band as much as anyone else.  I go to what shows I can, and I enjoy myself when I’m there.  I hope the band knows that, but I highly doubt they recognize when I’m there or not.  Yes, I support the band.  Don’t we all in our own way?  So, I’m a fan of the band.  Then there is the fan community.  Certainly I could remain a fan of the band and never once consider myself a part of the community.  There are many, many folks out there that simply go to the shows, whether it is one show or ten shows, one appearance or fifty, and we might never know them.  Sure, you might recognize them from place to place, but unless they actually take part in the “community” side of things, you don’t know them.  There have been times when I’ve met people in line for general admission shows that have been fans for just as long as I have, but they just go to the shows.  They don’t get involved online or do the whole fan thing with other people.  They are still fans, but they don’t do the community.  Then there are people who are more like me, where they are fans, and because they are fans – they sought out other people.  They wanted to make friends with other people who love the band. This my friends, is where community comes in.  
I’m not going to sit here and argue the merits of being in the fan community, nor am I going to attempt to explain to someone they are incredibly shortsighted for choosing to see the band over going to a convention.  All I’d like to do is share why I would never bother to see a taping of the band if I could do a convention instead, and why there is a small part of me is almost sad for those of you that would.  
I’m sure everyone knows by now that I was involved planning a convention here in the US several years back.  It was probably fairly small since I think just over 100 people attended, but at the time it felt huge.  My life changed direction that weekend, and I know that my self, my psyche, was also changed.  It is very difficult to put into exact words how one silly weekend changed things forever – but I’ll share this much – the very reasons Amanda and I write this blog every single day came out of that weekend.  For me, being a fan and being in a real community came together that weekend.  I felt whole, and I know how weird that sounds.  I guess one way to look at it is that up until that time, I experienced being a fan as a single person.  Sure, I’d go to shows and have a great time, but other than my dear, ever tolerant husband, there was no one to share my excitement with – and somehow screaming “I love you Roger!!!” wasn’t really that much fun with Walt staring at me with wide, incredulous eyes.  So yeah, I didn’t do much of that.  I could take out my “inner Duranie” as though it were a costume, put it on, enjoy the show, and as soon as it was over I’d put it up in a box at the top of my closet.  I’d watch other people at the shows and see that they’d go over to people and hug as though they were old friends, and at the time I’d wonder how in the hell they knew so many people.  I got the sense that I was missing out on something.  
After the convention, I found what I was missing: friendship.  Now I’m one of those who goes to the shows and runs to hug people I haven’t seen. I chat with people online, I plan to go to shows where I’m going to be with friends – even if it means that I travel to see them and don’t do as many shows per tour because I’m spending money flying – because for me, that’s what makes being a fan fun.  At the end of all of this, I’m not going to be sitting around tallying up how many shows I did verses how many someone else did.  I’m going to be sitting down for drinks with the people I met along the way, reminiscing about the crazy things that went on, and talking about how much we miss those times.  The shows, the band, the conventions, my friends and the good times are completely interwoven together in a tight fabric now.  I can’t separate one thing from another without the threading coming apart, and I wouldn’t even want to try.  
Live TV appearances and tapings with the band can be great.  I hear you get to show up hours ahead, stand around for hours, then in a rush of adrenaline you run to find spots as close to the stage as possible, and then gloriously they come on stage to do a few songs, or even a few more if you’re lucky.  You might get from reading that I’ve not been to a taping, and you’d be right.  I can’t fault people for wanting to support the band by going – because gosh, if they didn’t go, who would?  Only the people who were already planning to be at the show for other guests, right?  There are priorities, and for the people who want to be at every show, every taping, every possible event – this is key.  Friends are fun, and there are times and places for all of that.  I can’t and won’t fault them even if I sound a bit judgy.  I just know that for me, that’s not even half of why I’m still here.  I would have gotten very, very bored by now if it were only about the band. (apologies to the band, but I suspect that they’ll get my point)
Interestingly enough, I think I’ve stumbled onto answers regarding this topic – for some fans, it’s not at all about the community, and that’s OK.  For me, it’s ALL about the community.  I’d still be a fan, but I wouldn’t be writing the blog or writing a book about fandom if I didn’t care about the community, and that’s where we all differ.
I try not to be disappointed when I read comments like “It’s all about the band”, or “TV taping because the guys are there”.   The people who write them typically mean nothing by them other than to say that they love the band, and you know – I can identify with that feeling!  That said, there is another very dark, very ugly part of being in our fan community where those comments really can tread dangerously into the waters where community is all fine and good until the band shows up.  In which case fans might slit throats to get to them first.   Yes, shocking as it is to read those words, this is exactly how it feels to see the cutthroat mentality that comes out like claws when the band is even rumored to be in the same place.  It is exactly that portion of  fandom that I despise most.  Make NO mistake, however; this isn’t about the people who commented that they’d rather be at the taping.  Some of those people who replied that way are in fact my friends, and I am in no way accusing any specific person who replied that way of the behavior.  There is a specific, yet almost invisible dividing line where seeing the band, interacting with the band, etc. somehow becomes so important that we’d do one another in before offering someone a hand up.  How does that factor in with being in a community? 


Yesterday, a teasing John Taylor tweeted the following, “now.. a jacuzzi with Roger or a sauna with Charlie?  Such highly-charged homo-erotic options.”  Of course, the responses to this tweet came fast and furious. Some people responded with which choice s/he thought was best.  Other responded with some sort of “can I join you” question/suggestion.  Of course, there was at least one comment about how the fanfic was writing itself.  I laughed and thought about how we have never even come close to discussing fanfic on the blog and yet, for some fans, it is a big part of their fandom.

For those people not in the know, fanfic stands for fan fiction.  They are fictional stories featuring one of more band members.  In some cases, the stories are completely heterosexual in nature and feature the band member of choice in some sort of romantic and/or sexual situation with one or more members of the opposite sex.  I have seen many stories in which the main character is a fan or someone who could be a fan.  In my opinion and I’m by no means an expert as I don’t read much fanfic, these stories can seem like people’s personal fantasy regarding the band member(s) of her choice.  Now, there are other stories, which are homoerotic in nature.  In some cases, this is done subtly and left more to the imagination and, in other times, is pretty explicit.  Most of those stories focused on John and Simon as a couple but there were other ones representing every combination of couple possible. 

Now, again, I’m not expert in fanfiction, Duran fanfic included.  I don’t read much and have never written anything myself.  Yet, it seems like fanfiction has been around a long time and probably has been around for almost as long as the band has been around.  It wouldn’t surprise me, for example, if there aren’t many Duranies who had written some sort of story featuring Duran at one point in their youth.  Anyway, fanfic seems to have been or is very popular within the community.  For a long time, there was a section on the DuranDuranMusic message board dedicated solely to fanfiction and it was a very popular place.  The moderators, for whatever reason, decided to remove it.  This, obviously, upset a lot of people.  Frankly, I don’t even know if a reason was ever given to explain this decision.  It seemed like a lot of those writers and readers left the board quickly after that.  Maybe they found a new place to play.  No matter if the reason was stated or not stated, I still wonder.  Was it removed because the band didn’t like reading fictional stories about themselves, no matter if they are written gay, straight or bisexual?  What is removed because there were complaints about the graphic nature of some of stories?  Was it an example of what could be called homophobia because people didn’t like gay relationships or gay sex? 

Now, I’m left wondering what the status is with fanfiction in our community.  Do people still write?  Do people still read?  Where is this exchange taking place?  Is it the same type of deal in terms of types of stories?  I also wonder what the fan community thinks of fanfic as a whole.  Why do people write the stories?  What do they get out of the experience?  Why do people read them or why do people not read them?  Do people prefer the straight ones or the gay ones?  Why?  Is there a place in our community for this kind of creativity?  What do you, personally, think of fanfic?  


The Quality of an Album

This week’s interactions with fans really inspired me.  More specifically, the responses to our “Would you rather” game got me thinking.  One of those thoughts is what I blogged about yesterday.  Today’s thought is somewhat related.  Many of our questions this week had to do with people’s preferences between albums.  What was interesting to me was not their answers, specifically, but what they used as their reasons.  Some of the reasons I saw for liking or not liking an album were the individual songs, the tour or the performance on tour, when they became fans and personal connections to the album.

I was not surprised when a majority of people commented about individual songs when answering which album they preferred.  In some cases, people said things like “I like 5 songs on that album” and “only 2 on the other”, which lead them to choose the former.  Okay.  That makes sense.  It should then be easy to identify which album you like in comparison to the other or even to put the albums in order of preference.  Other people commented about specific songs.  Perhaps, one’s favorite song is What Happens Tomorrow.  That person might have chosen Astronaut over Red Carpet Massacre.  In this case, it wasn’t about the number of songs but about the quality of specific songs.  This type of judging could make it much more challenging to determine a preference as it isn’t done necessarily mathematically.  Perhaps, some people just judge the album’s overall feel without thinking about individual songs.  For example, I’m not a fan of RCM, the album, but could name some decent tunes on it.  Yet, the feeling I have towards that album isn’t good.  Nonetheless, this focus on the songs on the albums or the music was what I had expected.  The rest of the reasons were not expected.

Some people mentioned specific tours or specific performances connected to an album.  These connections could be personal like “the tour that followed album x was the first time I toured well” or “that was the first time I saw them live” or “that was the best tour of my life” for whatever reason.  For those fans, their touring experiences absolutely affected their opinions of the albums connected to those experiences.  Interestingly enough, I also saw the opposite.  Some commented about how they cannot listen to an album without thinking of the band’s poor performance on tour x.  Of course, this is also logical.  If the songs were not performed live well, then fans are not going to be attracted to them.  The opposite could be true as well.  What this proved to me is that tours matter.  It matters how well Duran plays their shows.  They have to work really hard to perform at their best as any performance could hook fans or convince fans that the album isn’t any good.  On a personal level, I can understand this.  After the fan show in 2007, I was biased against RCM.  The band didn’t seem excited by the new album based on their body language and when they played Nite Runner, it was extremely awkward.  Simon, for example, had no idea what to do with his body during that song. 

Then, of course, people can have personal connections for or against an album.  I’m sure that one’s first Duran album might always rank high in that person’s world.  After all, it was that album or the songs on the album that made them fans to begin with.  Maybe the time that they reached out to other fans to become part of the fan community might also be one that is more meaningful.  Thus, the album, at that time, would be more important to them.  Of course, there might be other personal reasons for liking an album.  Perhaps, the fan was going through a hard time when album x came out.  It is possible that this album would always remind the fan of that time or, on the other hand, it could be that the album helped the person get through the trouble. 

All of these different reasons for liking or not liking a album reminds me that it has got to be so challenging for the band to actually write and release new albums.  They have to compete with their old catalog and they have to fight against whatever outside forces are out there for their fans and for the general public.  That said, they still have some control over a couple of elements.  First, they can write quality music that can and does stand the test of time.  For example, most fans still love the first album and Rio.  Then, they must tour the albums well.  They have to make sure that they don’t turn people off by a poor performance.  Instead, they can convince others to check out their latest album by performing their hearts out.  This discussion also reminds me that so many little details go into the making and sustaining of a fandom.  Each fan is different and likes the music for a variety of reasons.  That said, the fact that there was discussion about one’s preferred album shows that the fandom is healthy as there is still much to talk about!


The Real Fan

Have you ever taken one of those fan purity tests?  You can find one on John Taylor here.  The basic idea behind these type of tests is to prove how big of a fan you are.  This determination is made based on the answers to the questions.  Some of the questions on John’s include ones on owning all of his solo albums, knowing family information and following in his fashion footsteps.  Obviously, tests like this are made for fun.  I doubt if fans would really take something like this and use it to prove who is the biggest fan, the second biggest fan, etc.  Yet, I suppose that it could be since you get a score at the end and defines the amount of “Johnner” in you. 

Part of me wishes that fandom really is this easy. If a fandom test did existence, a person could take a test to determine whether or not s/he was a fan and how big of a fan.  Yet, I think that most of us agree that this is truly silly.  Who is to say if someone is a fan?  Who is to say if someone is a big fan?  The obvious, clear cut answer here is no one, except for the individual person.  I’m a fan because I say I am.  I’m a really big fan, I could admit.  Yet, it seems to me that people who identify themselves as fans, including me, constantly try to determine this for other people.   I saw this in a couple of ways this past week as part of our “Would you rather” game.  This week, we asked people which album they prefer between two choices.  Most people just gave their preference and moved on.  Some people engaged in healthy discussion with other people about their opinions and reasons.  It was cool.  Then, I noticed that some people made the comment that basically said that fans should like all of Duran’s albums.  I also spotted a number of responders who had not heard the albums listed, which also bothered people. 

Now, I understand these shocked like reactions as I, too, have had them.  I have this type of reaction or something similar when I hear or read about a fan who expresses his/her fandom in a very different way than I do or sees being a fan in a way opposite of what I see being a fan is.  Yet, if I think about these reactions, logically, they seem a bit…harsh.  Do Duranies have to like EVERYTHING that the band has done?  I don’t really think so.  I doubt that the band likes everything they have done.  Maybe they liked it at the time and change their minds.  Perhaps, they never really liked something but their record label or manager(s) did.  I don’t know.  It is possible that one member likes something and another member doesn’t.  To me, being a fan means that you love the band.  I don’t love every song or album they have ever made.  Yes, I have given everything a chance but while I love Planet Earth, I hate Zoom In.  That’s me.  Perhaps, some people wonder how I can be a Duranie or a big Duranie if I don’t love everything.  It is simple.  I love Duran as a whole, as a package.  I love them unconditionally like I do a family member.  That said, like a family member, I don’t love every little detail or aspect.  Now, this doesn’t mean that someone who does love everything the band does is wrong.  S/he is just different than I am.  That’s okay.  Both should be allowed to express their opinions.

It is also okay if a fan hasn’t heard every song.  This does not make him/her any less of a fan.  Nor does it make me a bigger fan because I think I have heard every released song.  It means that we express our fandom differently.  While I get obsessive and want to consume every single thing connected to the band, others are either content with what music they have or need to be more compelled to check some things out.  Neither fan is right or wrong, just different. 

To me, I guess, a fan is someone who says that s/he is a fan.  If someone declares him/herself as a Duranie, isn’t that good enough?  Then, does it matter who is the bigger fan?  Does it even matter if someone is a big fan?  I don’t mind too much, if someone says that I am a big fan.  In fact, I will even admit that I feel proud about that, especially if it is connected to our blog and comes from someone outside of the fandom.  Yet, I don’t really say it about other fans and don’t feel comfortable if that comes from other fans.  Why?  I don’t think I’m qualified to make that judgement and don’t really want people to feel pressured to make that statement about me.  Plus, I know that those words carry weight within a fan community and can lead to hurt feelings.  I don’t want that.  Can’t we all just agree that we are all fans, perhaps, even big fans?  Isn’t that enough?


Game Day Thursday!!

Tomorrow, Duran Duran plays their first show in 2012.  Am I the only fan that gets excited by this?  I’m not going to be at that show or any show that has been announced (so far).  Yet, I still get all giddy when I think about them playing shows!  I love that fans will get to see them (even if I’m not one of them!).  I can’t wait to hear about how the show was!  In fact, I’m sure that I’ll be checking their official website, facebook and twitter to see what the setlist was.  John had a bit of a tweetfest yesterday and he said that they were going to stick with the same setlist with some “variations”.  I want to know what that means!!!  Another place I will be searching will be youtube to see what, if any, clips get posted.  This way, I’ll feel like I’m part of the show, too, in a very small way.  All of this will increase my anticipation over other dates being announced!  After all, as part of John’s tweet-a-thon, he mentioned that they were for sure going to Madrid this summer.  I’m anxious to find out where else they plan to go!!  For me, shows mean that the band is still alive and well.  It shows that they are busy working and doing what they do best, playing live.  Thus, today’s game has the theme of Duran shows.  It is a crossword.  I hope you all enjoy it!!!


**Rhonda adds: Today marks our 500th post!!!!  That calls for serious celebration…so I’m gonna go have some coffee and try to stay awake!!!  Cheers, everyone!

1. Many like when Roger does what with his stick?
4. What do Duranies do when a member does something particularly pleasing?
6. What is the name of Duran's back-up singer?
7. What is our (Daily Duranie) favorite place to be?
8. What is the front section of the venue typically referred to?
9. What are seen behind the band on stage?
13. What song has Duran been starting shows with?
19. What phrase is chanted during John's intro?
21. What is the list of songs called for a show?
23. What song has been started lately by a fan and features Nick?
24. Who has been introducing Simon?
2. Who is Duran's current saxophone player?
3. What have been placed above the stage?
5. What is Nick often seen doing during a show?
10. What is yelled out after the Planet Earth line about the "tv sound"?
11. Who is playing guitar for Duran?
12. Which song do the fans tweet during?
14. What are audio recordings of shows?
15. Some fans like to laugh at Simon's what?
16. What is it called when John and Simon sing together in one microphone?
17. How many encores does Duran typically do?
18. What are Duranies reaching up for?
20. Which song has the video for it being played on the screens?
22. What song has Wild Boys morphed into during recent shows?

24 of 25 words were placed into the puzzle.

Created by Puzzlemaker at DiscoveryEducation.com

I Miss My MTV

I’ve just started reading another book – I Want My MTV by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum.  I’ve had it on my iPad to read for a while now, and I’m finally just getting to it.  It’s one of those books that I felt like I needed to be in the right frame of mind to read, primarily because MTV completely shaped my teenage years, and like a lot of the MTV generation – I’m completely PISSED that it’s gone to hell in a handbasket.  I’m not just nostalgic, I’m annoyed that it’s been watered down and ruined.

Not sure if anyone has noticed yet because it might be difficult to tell, (that’s sarcasm right there) but I’m pretty damn opinionated.  🙂  In particular, I have strong opinions on the music industry.  It’s frustrating to be a fan (and not just of Duran Duran, but of music in general) and see what has happened since the 1980’s. It’s not just about the labels failing, or about the fact that radio plays crappy music 24 hours a day, or even about the lack of record sales….it’s not just about any one specific thing.  It’s the whole lot!  The way I see it, all of those things, plus a plethora of others that I don’t dare even get into for fear I’ll end up writing an entire book in one blog post, fell down like dominoes. One on top of the other, and the real pisser being that each thing: sales, radio, labels, etc. all depend to some degree on one another to make it all work.  (work WELL, that is)  I could write volumes and volumes just from the fan perspective.

So, while reading this book, and I’m only up to about chapter 4 at this point, I find myself highlighting and making a LOT of notes that may or may not end up in my own book or my own blog some day.  I’d really love to write something about how MTV changed me as a person, and make no mistake, it did.  I used to be fairly obedient and boring before August 1, 1981 came along!  The one item I come back to, over and over again (aside from the chapter on Girls on Film, because it’s still funny to read about those guys falling all over themselves while making the video)…is that MTV woke up a sleepy recording industry.

I had to think about that for a long while yesterday.  In August of 1981 I was 10 years old…I didn’t turn 11 until November, but I was going into junior high school that year.  (we started junior high in 6th grade)  I have very few memories of music before MTV.  If that’s not dating myself, I just don’t know!  I can remember The Beach Boys being played in my house quite often (hence my name: Rhonda), Elvis was my parents favorite (thank god they went with Rhonda…), and as for me – I seem to recall Shaun Cassidy, a bunch of Disney records, and Rick Springfield before Duran Duran came along.  Oh, I also remember the year I received a clock radio alarm for Christmas.  It seemed like every single morning “My Sharona” by the Knack was being played as my alarm went off.  I still jump up in some sort of sick Pavlovian response when I hear the familiar chords.  My point being of course that I didn’t realize the music industry was really failing much at the time – but at 10, who pays that much attention?  All I do remember is that at some point on or around August 1st of that year, I found MTV.

According to the book, “MTV did a lot for record labels, helping to revive a slumping industry, but it was bands who benefitted most.” (page 17)  I wouldn’t dare argue against that, especially since as part of their audience, MTV introduced me to bands that I would have never heard of otherwise, particularly the more obscure British artists that I grew accustomed to love during the first few years of MTV’s existence.  In a lot of ways, I really feel that this is where the beginning of radio’s real failing.  While those radio guys were busily playing Top 40, MTV dared to break beyond those boundaries – whether by design or by fault – giving this not-yet-a-teenager much more to think about than Michael Jackson, The Police, or Madonna. My eyes became increasingly widened to just how much talent there was in the world, and I soaked it up like a water-starved sponge.

In turn, I bought records.  Oh boy did I buy records.  My garage plays constant witness to the buying that I did back in the 80’s, and that I’m still doing now as a blatant attempt to own “all the vinyl in the world”.  (Ok, it’s an exaggeration…but one entire wall from top to bottom in our garage is covered with shelves of vinyl….and not all the buying was done by me!)  So yes, I really do believe that MTV helped both label and band.

I stopped watching MTV with any kind of regularity the year I started college.  That was in Fall of 1988 for those of you counting. (I stopped.  It’s too depressing.)  I know we had cable in my dorm at Cal State Fullerton, but I was too busy….studying (in case my mom is reading)….or socializing (the reality) to watch much.  By that time, my favorites had started to fade, and by 1992, MTV had changed significantly.  No more was it videos 24/7…there was a new show in town called The Real World, which was trashy at best to begin with and sunk deeper into dumpsville as time wore on.  I gave up on MTV completely after that, and my own “golden era” had ended.

What I do wonder, sometimes aloud when I’m busily talking to myself (no one else really listens and my youngest doesn’t know much music beyond Duran Duran….she’s a huge fan at 3 and a half!), is just how much different the industry would be today if MTV had stayed their course.  It wasn’t just The Real World that changed things though.  I think the real changes came almost immediately with MTV, as they do with nearly anything.  Lets be honest, the goal of MTV was always to make money.  It’s a business, it’s what is done, and we should recognize that up front.  MTV desperately needed to sell advertising to keep going – by some accounts MTV lost almost 50 million dollars before it ever made a dime, and my assertion is that MTV was only pure during that period where they were losing money.  Funny how making money will do that.  Prior to that point, they only had to answer to themselves, and it didn’t matter how much the on-air talent screwed up or rubbed their noses on air.  They could play the videos they wished (actually, they could ONLY play the videos they were able to obtain, which were precious few for quite some time!), and during that time I saw plenty of fantastic, tasty obscurities I’d have never seen otherwise.  So for me, that time was golden and pure.  After they started selling that ad space, that’s when they started having to answer for themselves, and to labels…and to corporations, and once again we’re back to the men in suits being able to tell the rest of us what music is good, and what music is awful…and that music doesn’t need to have a place on MTV at all.  “MTV created the video music industry, then abandoned it, leaving behind a trail of tears -disgruntled music-video fans have stamped the phrase ‘MTV sucks’ and ‘Bring back music videos’ all over the comments pages of YouTube.” (page 20)

Here’s the funny thing: a lot of those statements are probably mine.  If video did so well to SELL records, to make bands famous, to change the industry – why on earth aren’t we still using it??  YouTube is great because I can go on there at any time of day and find the videos I want to watch….but the reality is, I would much rather watch Reach up for the Sunrise, or The Reflex….or even the video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller on my big TV.  I miss my MTV.  I liked being surprised by the little gems they’d pull out, I enjoyed watching Alan Hunter, Mark Goodman and little Martha Quinn.  I liked yelling “I’ve seen this stupid video 50,000 times – play something else for a damn change!!!”  when they’d play “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, or better yet “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!  (I love both bands so spare me the hate mail…I’m sick of Hungry Like the Wolf, as well.  Did I mention that?)  Those things are what made MTV.

I don’t know for sure what really changed MTV into the watered down kool-aide it is today.  As I’ve said numerous times, I’m just a fan who happened to grow up during the 80’s. Maybe my generation just grew up, and they didn’t know what to show us anymore.  Maybe rap really did become king and the only viable videos were those showing mostly unclad women, baggy jeans, baseball caps and cars.  I’ve read that every great idea for video has already been done so it got boring.  I call BS on that one.  I think it’s more to do with the fact that no one wants to work hard anymore.  No one wants to be unique or creative when you can just dress up any wanna-be-Britney, Kanye, Justin or Beyonce and put them in front of a camera and microphone and get a hit, thanks to autotune, smoke and some mirrors.  That isn’t to say that those people don’t have talent, but their uniqueness certainly gets lost in the shuffle.  That’s MUCH easier than taking the time to properly market a band that already has their own sound, actually plays their instruments, knows how to entertain, yet can’t be categorized in any one specific “box” on some sort of marketing tally sheet for the execs to see.  Fast food music rules the airwaves.  Every time I hear a new artist that actually has talent, or a band that actually plays their own instruments and doesn’t rely on production and autotune, I hold on to a little hope.

Once again, the very people who run the industry just don’t get it.  It’s not just about any one thing, although I really do believe that MTV (or the loss of the “music video” portion of MTV) has quite a bit to do with why the industry continues to flounder and fail.   One definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over expecting different results each time….

maybe that’s the real problem.  The industry is insane.


Be careful with that double edged sword!

I’m deep in the dark chasms of social media, at the moment.  The current chapter I’m working on has to do with the places we live: MySpace (Our starter homes), Facebook (what I would consider to be the single family home neighborhoods of social networking), and Twitter. (I think of these as the high rise apartment living in the city)  Funny thing: I thought writing this chapter would be easy, since I am online every day and deeply enjoying the sanctities that come along with social networking.  Well, as it turns out – its neither easy to write, nor is it easy to understand.  Perhaps that’s the real problem: I am trying to make what is/are truly a very complicated relationship(s) very simple.

To begin with, Facebook, Twitter…all of it really, IS very simple.  The UI (User Interface…and oh my god I’m starting to sound like my husband…*shivers uncontrollably*) is not difficult to follow, which is why all of us are here. (isn’t it?)  Anything that requires a manual, perhaps a tutorial, or god forbid a video series to explain…is far too much.  So, I think it’s safe to assume we’re all here because Facebook and Twitter (I’m sticking to those forms of media just because it’s what we all tend to use with regularity these days) is EASY.  The trouble comes when one starts actually using the media for which it was intended, and that is to make connections between people.  For our purposes here, I’m specifically talking about celebrities and other fans of those celebrities…and more specifically, the band members (past, present, future, backup band, etc) and us.  The Fans.  

On one hand, we’ve got the band.  People like John Taylor for instance.  I don’t think there’s any argument from anyone that he started using Twitter simply as an avenue to get the album promoted and sold.  In fact, I know he’s done interviews saying as much.  Simon was on Twitter well before John ever joined, but I don’t think he really used it much.  As we’ve heard since then, John is downright addicted to Twitter in a lot of ways, and it sounds to me as though he gets a certain amount of enjoyment (much to his surprise?) out of using Twitter.  He’s indicated that perhaps he’s getting more than just promotion out of Twitter, that maybe he’s even having fun communicating with fans to some extent.  I would imagine that this is far more than he would have expected.  Simon seems to enjoy Twitter to some extent as well.  Fans in turn probably read this to mean that the band loves talking to their fans…and thus we travel down the slippery slope to whatever fantasies we’ve got going on in our own heads, which we’ll come back to later.

In the other firm grip of the other hand, there are the fans.  You and I.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was on Twitter before the band. I had my own account way before Amanda and I started Daily Duranie, but I didn’t get it.  I wondered why anyone would care what I was doing during any part of my day.  It felt very voyeuristic to begin with, and so my Twitter visits were kept to a minimum.  I stuck to following the few friends I already had…which was truly bizarre since I already knew what those people were up to, and didn’t bother with much else. I just didn’t see the purpose.  I don’t read the gossip rags, I don’t watch those types of shows on TV, and to be blunt I don’t give a shit what Lindsay Lohan or Donald Trump is thinking in any given moment.  Unless one of the news stations was going to tweet that the world was ending…I just didn’t think Twitter had value.  I’d still check with Twitter from time to time when I thought of it though. (you can read this as: I would check Twitter when I’d remember – which meant every 3 months or so, and then pray I still remembered my password.)  Once we started blogging and I got the @DailyDuranie account started though, I checked it every day and started actually communicating – it was a great way to tell people when the next edition of the blog was up each day.  I liked that Twitter worked in real time, and after a while I noticed you could really have a conversation with people.  It wasn’t about just saying what I was up to – it was like a giant chat room, and that part was fun.  I would imagine that other fans had similar experiences.

Then one day, John and Simon actually started tweeting.  And answering FANS.  Suddenly Twitter wasn’t about just chatting with friends.  It was about seeing what the band was up to.  It was a lifeline while we were waiting for the new album.  John openly teased us with tour and album tidbits. (I still haven’t forgiven him for ruthlessly dropping Coachella hints before the announcement…then telling everyone that no, it wasn’t going to happen…and then disappearing right before the announcement was made.  If there was ever a good moment for spanking….Oh. Boy.)  Simon posted…well….Simon-types of tweets.  I scratched my head a lot.  It was good.

Are you wondering about that double edged sword yet?

Social Networking is complicated.  Why?  Here is the newsflash: no matter how much we want to believe otherwise – it is part of a celebrity’s JOB.   While yes, John and Simon (and Dom, although he really needs a bit of a tutorial. :D) probably enjoy tweeting and reading funny or nice things back from the fans, they are not our friends.  They have no idea who we are.  Sure, they might recognize our screen names.  They might even follow us.  (not a chance in hell when it comes to Daily Duranie and that’s OK.)  However difficult it is to understand, Twitter is not a pure unadulterated two way street of friendship between band member (celebrity) and fan.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern that interactions with fans probably equals sales of tickets, albums, etc.  Duran Duran would not be a band…or at least not a very lucrative one…without sales of some sort.   This one tiny kernel of truth – that it is at least a small part of the band’s JOB to interact, even if they enjoy it – is what makes social networking a double edged sword for both the band and the fans.

Yes, it’s very good to connect; it is also very good to establish boundaries.  It’s also very good for the fans to in turn respect those boundaries, however slippery, vague or hazy they may seem.  The trouble there is that some fans have a difficult time navigating the boundaries without crossing the line.  It’s not all that difficult for any of us (or at least it shouldn’t be) to understand how it happens.  We’ve all been there in that exciting moment when Simon is online.  He’s tweeting…you’re typing as fast as your little fingers can type so that you can hit “send”, hoping he sees your tweet and responds back, and bingo – that precious moment arrives.  You might have sent something so incredibly interesting that has absolutely nothing to do with Duran Duran (my guess is that this in turn is a very precious moment for them: when they can actually talk about something other than that blasted band of theirs…), and you get more than one reply….or even *gasp* a Direct Message.  *more gasping*  Let’s be honest here, we’ve been fans for 30 years.  We think we know these guys.  I get that.  My gosh, I KNOW that feeling.  It’s OK to admit that, you’re not anymore of a freak than I am, and so therefore we’re all in good company here.  The trouble is that connecting through Twitter and Facebook can be so much of a seduction that we forget where that line between fan and friend really lies, and it happens to everyone.  Even me.  Even you.

Saying the words that create the boundary for our relationship(s) with the band is simple.  Typing them makes it all even easier until we start getting real.  Interacting with the band online is very similar to being at a concert and being in about the 10th row.  You think you’ve caught an eye from one of them, they wink or smile and you are positive it must have been intended for you.  The reality is that that they could have smiled at your (*MY*) general direction and you’d have still thought it was for you, right?!?  Based on that, you’re sure that when you go to the show the following night, you’ll get another smile because my gosh – they’ll recognize you!  And that my friends…is my own personal story here.  I’m that girl that is insistent that the band (or a member thereof) has smiled or winked at her during a show. As if I was the only person IN the audience.  How incredibly narcissistic?!?!  Yes, I know.  It’s OK to admit it here.  Call it therapy, I do.

So as I go back to trying to write this social networking chapter, I need to admit that this is never going to be simple. I can’t completely untangle the complicated relationship we have with the band, no matter how one-sided it might actually be…

or is it?  Ah.  Another blog for another day.


Back to the Beginning…Girls on Film – the Daily Duranie Review!

A few weeks back, we asked what else we could be doing here on the blog for all of you.  While we did not get many responses beyond “Love it, keep up the good work!”, we did get requests for more reviews.   We must admit, this was not something we were expecting to read.  We enjoyed doing our review of All You Need is Now, and while we’re certainly willing to spout our fountain of opinion(s), it was with surprise and just a little apprehension that we considered the prospect of reviewing ALL of their work.  Naturally, thirty years (or a bit more) have passed since the days of hearing Planet Earth for the first time on American radio.  We both agree that we’re listening to each song with a much different (and hopefully better tuned) ears than we might have when we first heard the albums for the first time – and perhaps this will be to the bands benefit. (in MOST cases)

So, approximately twice a month we will take a song, starting with the first self-titled album, and review it using the same methodology we used for All You Need is Now.  Since there are several different versions of albums out there – we will announce what version we are using for the review.  B-sides will also be included once we’ve completed the albums.  In the case of the first self-titled album, we agreed to use the Capitol Records version including Is There Something I Should Know, because it in fact is the album that the US was first exposed to the band – and it’s the first album that either of us had.  In the interest of full disclosure, neither one of us knew To The Shore until we either stumbled upon it on the internet, found it on a vinyl we didn’t already own, or otherwise.  Take a step back to 1981 and enjoy!

Girls on Film – Rhonda’s take

Musicality/Instrumentation:  When I listen to Girls on Film, one word comes to mind: Balance.  This was before the time it became vogue to allow bass and guitar to drift into the background behind Nick’s synths.  Who can forget John’s bass line – which provides the perfect answer to Andy’s driving riff…and Roger pulls it all together with a basic beat and tom action.  To be fair to Nick – his synths at times are often almost indistinguishable, yet when you really listen, you realize that his synths are creating the atmosphere, almost a filmy curtain, for the scene.  The song truly has perfect balance between all members.

Vocals: I’ve said it before and I am sure I’ll say it again – this was when Simon was at his best.  There is a depth to his voice and an ease with which he sings here that just hasn’t ever been replicated.  You can’t ever mistake Simon’s voice, and the way he is able to layer the harmonization is something that really marks Duran Duran’s music from anyone else.  There isn’t a single sign of whine here, and while we all know that this was from a time when the band had nothing but youth in front of them, his voice comes off with all of the maturity one would expect from a professional musician.

Lyrics: It’s very clear what the band intended to come across for this song, and Simon’s lyrics are spot on.  “Fuses pumping live heat twisting out on a wire”, “Wider baby smiling you just made a million”….these are the lyrics we’ve come to know and love.  In all fairness, I know that in the years since this song was first written Simon has come up with much more poetic lyrics, and in a lot of ways the lyrics here are almost juvenile in retrospect, but at the time – they were perfect, and I must give credit where credit is due.  There’s no mistaking what this song is about in any way.  I have to wonder what images would have come to mind if I hadn’t ever seen the video(s) for this song!

Production: When I think of what production is like today verses early 1980, I want to cry.  This song is a perfect example where everything was done right.  I can’t even imagine what would have happened to it if it were reproduced with every bit of technology that is available today.  This song IS balance, and it’s no surprise it’s as well-loved as it is.

Overall: There is something to be said for innocence and a lack of ego.  The song almost reminds me of what it’s like when a young band gets their first crack at recording and they’re all so excited to finally BE there that no one argues over how much of their part should be heard, therefore you’ve got a perfect balance because EVERYONE is heard.  (Oh wait.  This WAS the first album!) I have to admit that I miss these moments at times.  There is a sense of need, drive, sweat and tears in this music, and rather than coming off as sounding desperate, it really shows just how much this band wanted their moment.  Who knew it’d be 30 years???  The iconic camera click at the beginning is still sampled and used today…and every time I hear it I think of (and thank) Duran Duran.  The sound is iconic, and the song is the epitome of what we know to be Duran Duran. Girls, music and excess…and it stands the test of time.

Rating: 4.5 cocktails!

Amanda’s Turn:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  I am always struck by the clear instrumentation of Duran’s early work and this song is no exception.  You can clearly hear drums, bass, and guitar and I love, love, love how at different moments of the songs different instruments take center stage.  This I think is the genius of Duran-solid instrumentation with changes within a song to emphasis this quality.  It also showed how equal each member’s contribution was.  Speaking of contribution, who doesn’t love when Roger’s drums become the focus?  Who also can’t help but to see that man stick twirling at the same time?

Vocals:  The thing I love about Simon’s voice here is how raw he sounds without sounding strained or inexperienced.  He sounds pure, not made into some perfect vocalist by some machine.  His voice is clear and uniquely Simon.  He is able to hit that high note at the end of “shooting a star” in the way that we all know and love him for while still maintaining a solid performance through both the verses and chorus.

Lyrics:  In many ways, the lyrics to this song are the most interesting element yet despite the fact that rarely are they the focus for this song.  On one level, they seem simple with a chorus of repeating, “Girls on film.”  Yet, the topic of exploitation of models is woven throughout the verses.  Lines like, “Cause the crowd all love pulling dolly by the hair, by the hair and she wonders how she ever got here as she goes under again,” shows this well.  Yet, the lyrics also show the conflict with making money at the same time.  The lyrics aren’t preachy and yet have substance.  Of course, on the other hand, there are lines that really capture the essence of Duran’s sound and spirit:  “I sense the rhythms humming in a frenzy all the way down her spine”, “Fuses pumping live heat twisting out on a wire”, and “Give me shudders with a whisper take me high till I’m shooting a star”.  These lyrics are particularly fascinating considering that I have heard the Andy Wickett demo, which focuses on how they keep getting rejected by girls.  Can you just imagine how those would have gone over!?!

Production:  This is a category that I always find difficult to analyze but these early records will be even tougher as it seems to me that this is how it was supposed to be done.  Every element seems right.  I don’t hear one part over the other and the song is definitely able to be played loud without any distortion!  I suppose it would be interesting to compare the remastered version of this and see if anything was changed as I listened to the song today to review it on vinyl.  

Overall:  It is difficult to truly evaluate this song because it is so essentially Duran.  It is one of those songs that everyone (fans and non-fans, alike) can and do name when thinking about Duran.  To many of us, it is so very Duran like with the strong instrumentation, catchy chorus, and the topic of girls and models.  It simply is Duran, in many ways.  It always seemed to me that they tried to capture this spirit at other times in their career with some results more successful than others.  Yet, I do think that part of the reason this one worked SO well is because of their age.  Here they were, around the age of 20, talking about models and their experiences.  What did they know about models in 1980?  Not so much, which makes it all the more interesting.  I doubt that they started this song with the idea of making a song that would capture the Duran spirit, but they did.  It feels very natural whereas, at other times in their career, it feels much more forced.

Rating: 4.5 cocktails!

Planning Ahead

For the last couple of days, I have noticed that Duran Duran’s Facebook and Twitter have been posting a countdown to Friday, the next show.  (For those not in the know, Duran Duran is playing at the Altitude Festival in Klosters, Switzerland.)  This begins a little run through that area of Europe, including Austria, Germany, Belgium and even Slovakia.  I’m obviously thrilled for those fans who will get to see these shows!!  That said, I’m also hearing some comments about other Europeans shows, many of which haven’t been rescheduled since last summer.  People are starting to assume that they won’t get shows in their neck of the woods.  Obviously, I don’t know their schedule but I sure would like to!

If I knew their schedule for the upcoming year, I could provide information or, at least, reassurances to those fans who are waiting for news of a show in their country or city.  I, obviously, understand why don’t give us this information in advance.  Plans can change and I’m sure that people would be upset if they found out, for example, that they were trying to get a gig in country X only to have it fall through.  I’m sure they also like building up fans anticipation.  Maybe the idea here is that it increases excitement, which positively impacts ticket sales?  I don’t know.  That said, not knowing a general plan makes it tough for us fans.  Heck, even knowing a general plan is tough!

I’m, personally, struggling in trying to figure out my game plan for 2012.  I would like to have a general idea of when and where I will be going, if anyplace.  I also like to know what I’m saving for and how much money I’m going to need.  I’m sure that I’m not the only fan out there that can’t just do whatever I want, tour wise, at the drop of a hat.  For me, it takes saving money.  Now, I’m a pretty decent saver and refuse to go into debt for anything beyond those big ticket items (moving, car, education).  I use my credit cards and I pay them off immediately.  I do well with my monthly budget as well.  An example of this skills is buying Christmas presents.  I have money for presents because I save up all year long.  I do the same for touring.  There is never a month that goes by when I don’t put money aside for going on tour.  Tours are my vacation and I save for them like other people do their vacations to wherever.  In fact, I justify going on tour because it IS my vacation and because I save for it.  I never have and never will go into debt for Duran, which brings me to the present.  So far, in 2012, I know of rumors of Duran touring the States again.  I also know that I’m planning on going to the UK Convention in November.  Beyond that, I am seriously considering moving because I cannot stand the manager of my apartment complex.  While I might be thinking of only moving from one apartment to another, it will still cost money.  I will have to pay for the security deposit and for movers.  I’m sure that there are other large expenses waiting to happen, too.

Thus, I would really LOVE to know what the plan is for Duran for this year like many of you do!  I would like to know if they really are coming back here.  I know that they won’t be back until April, at the earliest, based on the dates already scheduled.  If they come in May, for example, I should probably save more money now than I usually do in order to tour.  If they aren’t coming back until August, for example, I have a longer time to save tour money, which makes for less money per month in that area of savings.  Then, of course, I have to factor in some cash for the UK trip.  At least, I know when it is and about how much money I will need.  I can plan, accordingly.  Now, if Duran isn’t touring here, then, perhaps, I should channel that money that I would be saving towards a trip.  It is hard to imagine, for instance, not seeing Rhonda until November! 

Thus, while I understand Duran’s need for limited public information regarding their plans, I know that it would make my life easier and I’m sure it would make lots of other people’s lives easier, too.  Some people might be like me and want to know what the general agenda is for financial purposes.  For others, they need the information to ease their emotions or their concerns about them coming or not coming.  While it might be unrealistic to give specifics, a general outline can’t hurt, can it?  This general outline can go from April on, too.  Thus, it might say, “Tour Place X from mid-April to blah, Tour Place Z from whenever to whenever, etc. just to give us an idea.  It would help us out a lot and give us peace of mind.


The Perfect Meet and Greet

This week my students were given an assignment to write a paper on their perfect winter break.  We asked the students to give many, many details to really bring their experience to life!  This combined with today’s “Would You Rather” question has led me to this blog topic.  (By the way, the question was, “Would you rather win a meet and greet or go to a cd signing?”) 

A commonly heard compliant in Duranland is about the poor meet and greets.  I’m ignoring the topic of having meet and greets, period.  Now, I personally have not had a meet and greet, despite buying VIP tickets a number of times.  Yet, over the course of being a part of this fandom, I have heard many people’s stories of theirs.  While excitement seems to be part of most, if not all, there always seems to be something that wasn’t quite right.  Some examples I have heard include that not every member was there, one or more band members wasn’t smiling or chatting, individual pictures weren’t allowed, group pictures weren’t allowed, and more.  Almost all of the experiences I have heard mentioned something about how quick it was, often being done within a few minutes.  It seems that many people feel like they didn’t have the time for a real interaction.  In fact, in response to today’s question, a number of people used the phrase “cattle call”, indicating that the fans were just in some line, treated less than stellar.

Before I criticize the members of the band or their management for setting up what sounds like less-than-great experiences, I do want to acknowledge the strangeness of them to begin with.  First, I believe that most of them take place before a show.  This can’t be a time when the band has a lot of free time and aren’t preoccupied.  They have to get ready, which includes dress, hair, etc.  It also includes physically warming up and emotionally getting ready to face the crowd and whatever else is taking place at that show.  I know that I wouldn’t be my best before a performance.  Heck, I’m not super friendly before leading a big meeting at work, no matter how usual they are or how many I have done.  Second, I can’t imagine that meet and greets feel all that natural to them (or to us!).  They are forced to go and be friendly with strangers.  There, they are expected to sign autographs, take pictures and talk to people they have never met before or don’t know well.  Yes, I already know what you all are saying in your heads.  Didn’t they sign up to do this when they became rock stars/celebrities?  Maybe so.  That said, one really doesn’t know all of the little details of a job before you actually experience it, do you?  The usual focus of being a rock star is to make music and perform on stage.  Everything else is just to maintain that, right? 

Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I do think that if they are going to do them, they should do them well.  Clearly, there are fans who want them so the band and their management should want to make sure fans are pleased with their experiences!  So, what would it take to make the perfect meet and greet?  Let’s break it down.  The setting should not be in a hallway!  That must feel so, so cold to all involved!  How about having them in a lovely room?  Obviously not all venues have great, warm, welcoming rooms, but there has to be a better place than a hallway.  An empty dressing room, perhaps?  A warm-up room?  Then, all band members should be there, physically, mentally and emotionally.  Perhaps, they need to take place AFTER the show, then.  It seems to me that John is a bit tense before a show, for example.  Wouldn’t it help him to meet fans after the show, then?  If this is going to be my perfect meet and greet, I honestly wouldn’t want a ton of other people there.  I would want to feel special and not like one of many.  Yes, I realize that this makes it more challenging to find spaces for fans to wait.  What about having a space for fans to hang out, mingle, enjoy some food and drinks while they wait?  Then two or three people at a time could go and meet the band?  The fans could go to the band.  Then, obviously, I would want the meet and greet to be long enough to be quality.  I would want a chance to exchange more than a few words with them.  I would want a chance to have a normal conversation with them.  Then, the autographs and pictures would feel more natural because then there was, at least, a basic rapport. 

Now, I would love, love, love, love to hear what you all think would make a perfect meet and greet experience.  Maybe some of you have had great ones already.  What was great about them?  What would you keep for future ones?  What would you improve?  Maybe you are like me in that you have never been fortunate it enough to have one.  What would you ideal one include?  What would it be like, assuming that it is still realistic, meaning that it can’t last for hours?  What would your perfect meet and greet be?!