Loose Women

I apologize for the lateness of the blog.  I have gotten far behind the Duran happenings due to losing my beloved kitty.  I admit that I haven’t been very focused and have had lots of interruptions with people contacting me to express their condolences, which I completely need and appreciate.  Nonetheless, I did have a chance to see the band on the UK’s Loose Women and enjoyed every minute of it.  I only watched it once and admit that I didn’t hear every statement made but I did have a few comments.  Go figure.

I think many Duranies were excited about this particular show because, I believe, it is the first one where we have seen Duran perform a new song, their current single, “All You Need Is Now.”  Now, I can only imagine that playing a song for the first time in front of an audience might be unnerving.  I know that I saw them perform “Night Runner” at the fan show in June of 2007, at what was probably their first performance of that song.  Based on that performance, I did not expect much as that early performance of “Night Runner” seemed to me to be awkward for the band.  They did not seem at all comfortable.  Simon, in particular, seemed to be having a hard time figuring out how or when to move.  To me, this indicated that the band wasn’t all that comfortable with the new album and the direction that they were taking.  Therefore, I thought that this performance might be equally as telling about how they are feeling with their new material.  Based on what I saw, they are COMPLETELY comfortable with it.  They feel good about it!  Simon seemed to know exactly what to do with himself during the song, physically.  John and Simon kept sneaking glances at each other in a “look at how cool this is” fashion.  The chorus was a particular high note with the vocals of Simon, John, Anna and Dom blending together nicely.  Overall, they seemed happy.  I can’t be more happy that they are happy with this new music.  This makes me truly looking forward to a tour and seeing this song, in particular, live.  Of course, there was a lot more to the show then just this performance.

The fun, having-a-good-time feel ran through the interviews, especially when all four of them were being interviewed at the same time.  I had a hard time following because so many people were talking and laughing at once!  I noticed that they were smiling the whole time.  I don’t think I have ever seen Nick smile so much at one time!  Of course, I had a good laugh, as well, when Simon struggled to come out after his introduction as it appears as if he might fall!  He handled it well but I know that I was entertained by the moment.  Besides the solid performance and the carefree spirit of the interviews, I did gleam a bit of information as well.

There were three comments that I took note of.  First, I noticed that the interviewers said that the official release in February was to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Planet Earth, their first single.  Fascinating.  This was a rumor a couple of months ago and now appears that it might really be true.  I even blogged about it at the time!  When I first blogged about it, I wasn’t too keen on the idea.  Now, I’m not sure.  I like the idea of having AYNIN have a separate release date to show its significance but I also like the idea of connecting the new with the old.  After all, isn’t this album about celebrating the classic spirit of Duran Duran?  Besides, AYNIN will have a separate date with the early downloadable release next Tuesday via iTunes.  It seems more like a win now.  Second, I noticed that when asked about Mark Ronson being a fan, John commented that it was a lot better than being with a non-fan.  Hmm…is that a comment about Timbaland, Timberlake, or even Nate Hills from RCM?!  I don’t know but it is keeping me thinking.  Lastly, there was a question about Andy.  The question came from a fan who had emailed in and basically asked them if they would take Andy back if he wanted to come back.  John didn’t answer that.  Instead, he said that Andy didn’t leave twice, technically, as the interviewer had said.  That really makes me think about what he means by that!!!

Overall, the show did what it was supposed to do.  I want to see more performances of the new material.  I want to see them enjoying themselves, each other and the music.  I also want more information in regards to those statements I mentioned above.  Dang that band for keeping my attention on them and what they are doing!  Luckily, more shows and interviews are supposed to follow!  I cannot wait!!!

-A

Celebration

Duran Duran has been doing a lot of promotion lately, so it seems.  These are fun times for Duranies with all of the TV and radio appearances.  Normally, I would be commenting on the latest and I might later in the weekend but not today.  Last night, I came home to find my beloved cat, Othello, unable to move his back legs and he was crying in pain.  After a quick call to the emergency vets, my mom (who was dropping off food at my house at the time) and I drove to the vet hospital to have him immediately checked out.  After a long, thorough examination, the vet working in the ER there came to explain that Othello had a blood clot in his heart.  I did not expect this.  Othello is an old kitty in that he is almost 16 years old and has many other health concerns, including diabetes, chronic kidney disease and possible cancer.  In fact, last winter, he was given only 2-3 months to live.  Therefore, I was prepared for many possibilities but not a heart condition.  Last night, he stayed at the hospital to receive pain medication, oxygen to help his labored breathing and to monitor him.  This morning, another test confirmed the original diagnosis.  Still another test showed that he is suffering from significant heart disease as well as another heart condition which causes blood clots to form.  In fact, there is another blood clot waiting to burst.  At this point, he is in heart failure and is oxygen dependent.  There really isn’t any option left so I chose to let him go and to say goodbye.

I have received so many supportive messages in the last few hours that I’m tremendously grateful for.  One of the supporters included my sister who said a very wise thing to me.  She told me that my job now is to celebrate his life and the joy that he brought to me.  She is absolutely right.  Yes, today might be about grieving and loss but tomorrow it is about celebrating.  So, what does all of this personal drama have to do with Duran Duran?  Many things actually.

One of the random things I have thought about in my state of grief is the post that my blog partner and friend did a few months ago regarding a video that Nile Rodgers had put up on twitter that showed the last performance of Bernard Edwards before his death (see blog post here).  This led her to wonder if this is the last time for Duran Duran.  As the members of Duran Duran (and us!) have gotten older, I think we have all begun to wonder when the end will be.  In most cases, the end means the end of the band, but it can mean the end of their lives.  I know that we are lucky as a fanbase to have a band that continues to write and play music and that all of the members, past and present, are still with us.  I try to be grateful for that each day.  This leads me to think about the new album, All You Need Is Now.

This new album and single of the same name seems to be expressing an idea that this is the time to go for whatever and grab it.  It isn’t about waiting for the future but about cherishing the present and even cherishing what was good about the past, such as loving the music “like we did when we were younger”.  That is a message that is often difficult to truly understand unless faced with a loss like I am today.  Maybe this is the lesson that I need to pay attention to:  cherish what was good about the past and grab a hold of the present without concern about the future.  I hope that my Duranie friends will join me in this.  Now, isn’t the time to be cynical or overtly critical but to enjoy what you have.  In this case, “stay with the music, let it play a little longer.”  While I can’t stay with Othello, I can stay with the things that I truly enjoy.  I openly admit that I enjoy Duran Duran.  I enjoy their music and I’m entertained by their personalities.  While the fandom can drive me crazy, I also love being a part of it.  I will embrace the past with both Duran and with Othello.  I will also celebrate them as well.  It is the least I can do.

-A

I apologize for the very late blog today – it was performance night yesterday for my oldest, and my middle one had his holiday tea today, meanwhile *I* have had writers block!  Not a good combination for much of anything!

There has been quite a bit of press lately in the land of Duran!  I know they must have done quite a bit of promo work with Red Carpet Massacre, but either I wasn’t paying attention – or they have done much more this time around, with less than a week to go until All You Need is Now is released on iTunes.  Seems as though every time I log on, there’s another article to read or youtube video that’s been linked.  It’s great to see so much action from the band after such a long period of relative quiet.

There have been several ongoing themes in the interviews that have been given, as well as the promo video I just watched, one of which being that the band wanted to reconnect with their fans on the newest album, in the same spirit they captured with Rio.  I believed they called it a modern, synth, dance, experimental territory – and the key phrase that Simon used -I’m paraphrasing a bit here- was that they owned that space.

When I heard this, it did cause me to take a moment and think.  I suppose that I never really considered Duran’s music to be experimental.  At least, not when I was young.  I just knew I liked what I heard and went on from there, happily!  Ignorance is bliss when you’re young, isn’t it?  I guess the truth is, if you consider that each album was new in it’s own right – the band constantly experimented, both in the days before, and after Rio.  Some things worked, and some did not.  Oddly enough, what worked for some of us, clearly did not for others.   I know I never wanted to hear 45 albums that all sounded like Rio, even though by declaring my dislike for Red Carpet Massacre I was immediately labeled as someone who only wants Rio…as though there’s no middle ground to be had.

Which brings me to another ongoing theme from their promo work thus far:  Red Carpet Massacre.  As much as everyone, including myself, wants to move past that moment in Duran’s history – during each interview the subject is brought up, because obviously to anyone who has listened – the new album is completely different on many levels.  The band responds to the questions about Red Carpet Massacre very similarly each time – that it was a good album that the fans simply didn’t want.  The album didn’t hit with their core audience.  (I believe that’s a fair statement)  The fans wanted to hear John’s bass, Roger’s drums…they wanted real instrumentation.  

The fan base as a whole never really embraced Red Carpet Massacre the way that the band had hoped, that much I am sure of.  Sales were very weak, regardless of the reason, and the fans seemed to drift away.  Boards that were once hopping with activity, stilled.  Shows and concerts that were once filled to the rafters with fans may have still been filled, but in far smaller venues, and fan get togethers were far and few in between.  Fans that were mainstays within the community in 2005 simply seemed to disappear.  I remember going to see the band at The Pearl at the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas back in 2009.  I was shocked at just how few fan community people were there, and those that were there didn’t seem the least bit interested in getting together.  It sure seemed like a sad state of affairs that weekend.  For the first time since 2003, there was literally no one hanging out after the show. In VEGAS. Bizarre to say the least.  Again, I can’t say for certain why people left, and I’m sure there were a multitude of reasons, but I can’t ignore the coincidence.

So that brings me to this album, and specifically All You Need Is Now, the song.  Have you listened to the lyrics lately?  Have you read them?  In that same promo video I watched earlier, Simon says that the song is very much a message out to their fans.  He uses the metaphor of their career being a mountain, and that when you stop to look down, it can feel like you’re a very long way from the base – in my eyes it’s a long ass way down to the bottom and I’m not at all thrilled about heights!  If you look ahead – it’s a straight uphill climb, again – in my eyes, I’m thinking it’s too much damn work to keep going.  So right here, right now – it’s good.  All you really need to worry about in this moment is now.  Enjoy it.  I also think, that for many of us – this song at the very least, and perhaps the album as a whole, is a bit of an olive branch.  I don’t mean to put words in the mouth of the band, but the fact is – they’ve done their fair share of connecting with us as of late.  Some might say it’s RE-connecting, but in all fairness, I don’t think the band ever really bothered to truly know us to call it that.  So now, yes, I can see them making the effort.  For some, it may be coming too late.  For others, I think it’s a great beginning.  It might be the time to stop looking back at some of the sheer cliffs we’ve climbed, stop worrying about what could be lying ahead, and just enjoy the moment.   I’m hoping that the band will see that through this collective olive branch, they’ll find a great connection with their fans.  We’ve been waiting a long time.

-R

Does It Matter?

Lately on the boards, there have been a run of reviews posted for everyone to see and comment on.  Along with these reviews (most have been relatively positive), have been varying discussions about the charts.  I’ve read everything from “this will never get airplay, much less see chart status”, to the very hopeful “I hope it goes straight to #1!”

My question:  does it really matter?

This is one of the few times when I would love to either have the chance to ask the band, or be a fly on the wall during one of their “band meetings”.  (What?  Don’t they have those?!? :D)  Is the band at the point where it no longer matters to them how it charts?  Can you ever really be at that point if you expect to earn a living in a band?

Realistically though, I throw the question out to you, the fans.  Does it really matter if the album does well?  Does it somehow validate your feelings about the band to see that it does well?  Why does it bother us so much when someone writes a poor review?

I think that at this point in my life, there is a very large part of me that doesn’t care at all.  I like what I like, and if the reviewers don’t like it – clearly they have no idea what good music really is.  I think that as far as the charts go, there is SO much crap out there that is amazingly high on the charts – stuff that I wouldn’t listen to even if it was the last piece of music on earth – that I don’t think the charts are even a good gauge of what’s out there.  That said, yeah, it’s always nice to know that I’m not the only human on the planet that thinks All You Need is Now is kick ass good music.  We humans need our validation, don’t we?

Sure, I’d love to see the band be on top – but the plain and simple fact is that with a lot of their fans, they already are.

Now if they’d just release some tour dates….I have plans to make, flights to book, plotting to do!

-R

Never say Never!

So, the past 24 hours have been crazy.  CRAZY.  Let me indulge you in a bit of the glamorous life of Rhonda… my husband (and if you’re reading this Walt, I’m ready for you to come home.  Now.  Thank you.) is in China.  Or Taiwan.  Or maybe somewhere else in Asia today.  I don’t even KNOW what the day is there.  Regardless, he’s not at home.  This is the week before my kids are out on holiday break, and as a result – every single teacher thinks it’s OK to pile on 40,000 projects that were all due this morning in the case of my son, and in the case of my daughter – she is a dancer at OCHSA (Orange County High School of the Arts) and this is performance week.  The school is about 20 miles from home and guess who is driving her back and forth to school, then to the theater which is another 20 miles in the other direction from home.  Today I was up at 6am, ready to begin driving at 6:45.  The youngest was not happy to be up an hour earlier than normal, but then, neither was mom.  😀  I figure I’ll finally be done with my own chauffeuring duties by about 10pm tonight, which means both mom and little one will be getting to bed way later than normal only to start over tomorrow bright and early at 6am again. We make due, right?  I rush the oldest, along with every bit of stage makeup and costuming she needs to school (I won’t see her again until after 9pm tonight), get back home by 8:10 to make sure the boy is up and gets off to school. That’s when I take a brief second to check facebook, only to see that my sister has sent me a note because she noticed that John Taylor, of all the people on the planet, is now my “friend”.   She has to give me a rough time about that because clearly my sister (5 years younger but who is really counting?), thinks it’s hilarious.  I think it’s a sign of the world coming to a swift end – because seriously who would have ever thought that John would have a facebook and actually chat up fans?!?  (kidding John. It’s your turn for some teasing here.)  So, as I’m typing a quick witted response back to my sister, my son pokes me and says “I hate to break into your little Duran interlude here Mom, since you’re clearly conquering the planet of Duranie now that you’re facebook buddies with John Taylor or whatever that bass player’s name is, but it’s time for me to go to school and you have to carry my adobe brick!”  With that, he thrusts a cookie sheet into my arms, upon which sits the most massive clay brick I’ve ever seen.  The damn thing must weigh 25 pounds.  (thanks for making that brick with him, Walt!)

What’s the moral here?  Just when you think the day is going well – you end up with a huge weight thrown at ya. Trust me, nothing brings you back down to Planet Earth (pun is TOTALLY intended.  This is the Daily Duranie blog – of course it’s intended!!) faster than your kid shoving a brick into your arms.  😀    He’d better get an A on that damn thing, that’s all I have to say!

So, have any of you friended John Taylor on facebook or started following him on Twitter yet??   Pretty crazy cool stuff going on there.  I don’t mind mentioning that just a year ago, give or take a month or two – I sat and listened to him at the internet conference at UCLA (actually I was at home, but I still listened!).   He spoke very eloquently about how much things have changed in the music industry since the internet began.  This is true, and I don’t think there’s a fan out there that hasn’t noticed obvious differences.  The sheer amount of information that can be gained just from a mouse click is overwhelming.  There is very little that a celebrity can do that isn’t broadcast widely online, and I have to admit that there’s a certain amount of mystery that has been lost due to all of this fantastic social networking.  It’s much harder to keep an idol on that proverbial pedestal.  I find that my oldest doesn’t tend to follow one person or one band like I did (er…do?), and this is partially because of the fact that so much information is out there, she finds out things that she doesn’t like about whomever it is that is the favorite this week – and unceremoniously moves on to whomever she loves next.   For my generation, it wasn’t like that.  Hell, I remember the first time I heard that the band loved cocaine…I was shocked!  (yeah, I was pretty naive as a kid.  Sue me.)  Nowadays I would imagine I would have found that out far earlier than I did as a teenager.   John also spoke of how there is a loss of anticipation and desire when everything is so readily available through the internet.  He used the example of going to see a band (I think he used The Clash as the example, but if I’m wrong don’t send hate mail!), and feeling that connection that we’re all used to feeling at a show – and the only way he could recreate that connection was by going out the next day and buying an album.  Today, we don’t necessarily have to do that…and with twitter and facebook, it’s probably not necessary at all.  Does that translate to lower album sales though?  Hmm..    The point being that while the internet has opened huge doors and made our world a lot smaller today than it ever was when I was growing up, it has also permanently changed the entertainment industry, and not necessarily for the better.

Fast forward to yesterday when John finally caved and started a twitter account, or a week earlier (?) when he started his facebook page.  What changed?   Well, I can’t say – I’m not John Taylor, and I haven’t had the luck of sitting down for a chat over a cup of coffee with him, otherwise I’d ask. (I’m American.  Coffee is where it’s at!)  I do know from the experience I’ve had working with some other bands over the years – none having the stature or history of Duran Duran – that young fans insist on the connection that’s made through social networking.      Video doesn’t cut it anymore, and apparently neither does print and tv media.  I would venture to guess that in just the same way he realized that video was the way to connect to fans back in the mid-80’s, he’s realizing that spending a little (or a lot) of time on facebook and twitter is going to do the same today.  I don’t think it’s sticking my own neck out to say that facebook and twitter is only as intrusive as the account owner allows.  No one is forcing anyone else to tweet about every moment of their lives, or to put anything out there that they don’t want out.  I know this is difficult to imagine, but even little ole me – someone who is not a celebrity nor a “wanna be” celebrity keeps the private things private, so I would expect the same from John Taylor, Simon LeBon….or even Nick and Roger if we can ever get them tweeting.  😀

I’m happy to see the band getting involved with the fans after all of this time.  For the past few years, I have been openly suggesting that they are missing the boat with regard to social media.  I don’t know if the original intention of the band or their management, PR, etc. was to create a demand in the fans by making sure the band was always just out of reach – but the intimation was always present.  The one complaint I heard over and over during Astronaut and then especially after the epic fail of Red Carpet Massacre (sorry guys, I write it as I see it from the fans point of view as a whole),  was that the band still felt they were above all of us (the fans), even though clearly at that point – it’s not 1985 anymore and they aren’t on top of the world anymore, much less playing for stadium filled crowds of 50,000.  Of course I write that, then think back to stories I’d heard and witnessed during the tours of Astronaut…we might be a smaller fan base, but we still make the noise, don’t we? The bottom line here is that I think that by giving the indication that they aren’t too good to chat it up with the fans, they’re going to be doing themselves a world of good in the long run.  I don’t really know if the band realizes just how many fans they may have lost over the course of the last 10 years JUST because they gave the impression that they didn’t care about their fans, only their bank accounts.  That might not have been what they intended at all, but unfortunately – that’s what was communicated on many different levels, whether by the band themselves, or their management simply by NOT communicating.  Hello 2010.  

This is the dawn of a new beginning where I hope that by making the effort to reach out to the community, we can make the same effort towards the band by not acting like complete idiots when we see them.  ……  Before you rush John, Roger, Nick or Simon after the next show, take a deep breath, remember that we’re not 12 anymore and that if you act like an ass, THAT is what is going to be remembered.  Not the fact that you own 12 drumsticks or have pictures with every single band member.  Hell, I still don’t have pictures with ANY band member!  😀

Hey, dreams are free, right?  😉   And anytime one of those band members wants to sit down over a beer, glass of wine or a cup of coffee and chat….let me know, I’m here!

-R

Thanking Ronson

Last night, I was battling insomnia so I was online rather late, trying to catch up on the news of the week (and by news, I admit I’m talking purely about Duran Duran news!).  I came across two articles that mention Roger Taylor’s thoughts on working with Ronson, and his thought process on the new album.  (All You Need is Now, available on iTunes as of 12/21!)  Links to the two interviews are here (this one is less “kind” and maybe not worth the plug I’m freely giving…)  and a better one here .

What I find the most interesting is the quote directly from Roger where he admits there was a certain amount of pressure coming into the writing of this newest album.

He said: “We all knew it was a very important album for us, it was do or die actually.

“After our last record didn’t perform that well, we thought: ‘The next one better be good, because it could be our last.”  


I think that as a fan who was deeply disappointed by Red Carpet Massacre in many ways – I know that *I* felt that way.  I’ll even go as far as to say that there was a time where I wondered if there really would be a new album.  When I saw them two years ago (two years ago yesterday I saw their show at MGM Foxwoods in Connecticut, today would have been the Atlantic City show, and tomorrow would be Montclair, New Jersey) – I remember walking away from the show thinking that although the performance was solid, there was something very clearly lacking.  It wasn’t so much that I thought the band looked defeated…maybe they were just a bit tired?  Maybe it was that they seemed as though they were getting bored by the process?  I’m really not sure.  I just know that they weren’t the same band I was used to seeing.  I also know that my own attitude was pretty nasty coming into the show.  I dreaded hearing some of the songs off of RCM, (although I still say, and will go to my grave saying that Red Carpet Massacre, the song that is, is one of the few outstanding moments on the album!) and I wondered if *I* was getting tired of the same old, same old at the shows.  I forced myself to have a change in attitude for the following night, and as a result, I enjoyed the show much more…although I swore after that night that I’d never wear heels to a show again!  Fashion be damned!  I digress….

So while I was a little surprised by Roger’s comment because I wasn’t expecting to ever really read how close to calling it over and done they might have been, I have to wonder why so many other fans seem to be reading the comments and reacting in anger, shock, surprise and even awe.   There are moments in my own fandom where I sit back and wonder what the hell the rest of the fans are thinking, and this is one of those cases.  I went to those same shows in support of RCM.  I saw them at the fan show back at Hammerstein – the performance that night was NOT of a band that was at all sure of themselves. I don’t care what Simon says, they may have made what he calls “a cracking album” – but they had no idea how to sell it to their fans, and make no mistake – that’s EXACTLY what a band does when they take to the stage.  I think that was the first real sign of problems. (never mind Andy’s departure, because although I’m sure RCM would not have been Andy’s first choice in albums to complete – much less the process with which it was completed, I firmly believe that the seed for his leaving the band had already been planted.  Can’t blame that album for everything, can we?)  Shoot ahead two years (give or take) to the shows on the east coast in 2008 and while it was obvious they were more confident with the material, they still looked very lackluster, very tired, very….well, NOT Duran Duran.  Not only that, the band didn’t even react to the fans the way I’d been used to.  There was very little “after the show” hanging out in a nearby club or bar – it was as though they played the show and got out of town as quickly as they could to go back to the relative safety of New York City.  Yes, that could have been as much about circumstance as it was anything else, but I say that when enough signs are pointing to problems – best not to ignore them, even if 90% of the fan base doesn’t see them.

So here we are, close to dawn on the new album…and Roger thanks Mark.  I think that’s a fair statement.  No, Mark didn’t write the songs (to my knowledge), he didn’t play every instrument, he didn’t write and perform the lyric.  However, he DID give the band back some confidence…and for that, why shouldn’t he be thanked?  It makes zero difference….read the words and believe them, dear fellow-fans…it makes zero difference whether the album sells one copy or 1,000,000 copies…if Mark gave the band back some of the confidence that I truly believe they lost after the last album, even if it was only by standing in a corner and being their head cheerleader, then yes he should be thanked.  Don’t we as fans WISH for the day when the band comes out and thanks us for sticking by them for 30 years?  It’s the same thing.  No, I don’t think they’re giving Mark all of the credit, although rest assured if the album does anything at all the press will certainly make Mark out to be the only reason why.  It’s just very clear to me that the band recognizes a certain amount of debt and gratitude that they owe Mark.  

Some fans may say that Mark owes the band, that they are in fact giving him his own shot.  Some feel that Mark took the band back to simply re-do what they’ve already done once.  I think that’s unfair, but there are some fans that will never be happy.  I don’t know what they’re looking for, I don’t know what they’re expecting, and it doesn’t really matter.  At the end of the day it comes down to our own musical tastes.  On our own blog we’ve seen very different opinions on the album, and we could spend an awful lot of time and energy getting angry, defending our opinions and getting nowhere in the process.  I encourage everyone to listen to the single, to buy the album when it becomes available and enjoy having the opportunity to form your own opinion!  

-R

The Album Has Leaked

The album has leaked.  This blog post isn’t going to be about the music but about the discussions taking place throughout the fandom about downloading the album ahead of time.  Obviously, there are many fans who think it is perfectly acceptable to get a copy of the album ahead of time for various reasons.  There are other fans who disagree with those reasons.   

The basic reasons that the fans who have downloaded the album, illegally, have given are either that they will buy it anyway or that the album won’t be available any other way.  Most fans who have a copy of the album claim that it is not a big deal to have it because they will actually buy a copy when it is released.  One thing I have noticed with this argument is that some of these fans aren’t saying WHEN they will be buying it.  Will they be buying it on the 21st when it is available via iTunes?  Maybe, they will wait until the physical release in February.  Does it matter?  If they are buying it on the 21st, does that make it okay as they really will be buying it as soon as possible?  Does that make it okay?  That doesn’t seem that horrible to me. In that case, it is like having a preview.  What if they are waiting for the physical release?  My question here would be:  If they didn’t have the album ahead of time, would they have waited or would they have felt forced to buy it through iTunes?  If they would have been forced to buy it and now they won’t, that seems more problematic to me.  In this situation, it does seem more unethical as they are taking money from the band, at least for a few months.  Maybe they are planning on buying both the cd and the vinyl.  If they are going to buy it twice, does that make up for it or equal it out?  Obviously, each fan has to decide that for him or herself.  Now, what if the fans do NOT like what they hear?  Will they still buy it at least once to make up for the illegal download?  If they don’t, then the band has lost sales.  Now, obviously, I can understand not wanting to buy a copy of something you don’t like but that doesn’t seem fair.  After all, it isn’t like the band hasn’t given opportunities to hear what the new music is going to sound like so the fans have had adequate previews.  After all, Mark Ronson has played some snippets on his radio show and they have put up snippets on their official website.  My point is this:  There can’t be an assumption that all people who have heard it ahead of it will actually buy it.  Some won’t. 

Another argument I have heard is that iTunes isn’t available so that the illegal download is the only way to get the new music.  From my understanding, if iTunes isn’t available in one’s country, then another source will make it available.  If my understanding is correct, then this sounds like a big excuse.  If it isn’t, I still wonder if there wouldn’t be another choice.  Obviously, I understand not wanting to wait.  What fan does??  Yet, there has to be a different solution. 

Of course, there are fans who are expressing some of what I expressed above.  Some fans seem to go further and say or imply that fans who can’t wait aren’t good fans.  For them, they might be using the lack of downloading as a means of elevating their status within the community.  My point here, though, is to acknowledge that things seem to have shifted in a week.  Last week, it seemed like the fans who had the single ahead of time were of higher status than those who didn’t because there were so few of them.  Now, the reverse seems to be true as it is like those who have remained with patience are in the minority.  Perhaps, they do deserve praise for waiting.  Some think so.  Some think it has shown a strength of character. 

Beyond these two basic groups of fans (those who download and those who don’t), there are the people who share.  I can definitely understand people’s desire to share with their friends.  After all, it is possible that they are so excited that they want someone else to share their excitement.  Maybe they want to be able to talk about the music with their friends.  I can understand all of that.  Obviously, though, people have shared WAY beyond just their friends.  According to what I have read, the album is available on some of those torrent sites where lots of people can download it.  The people who put it up on something like that have no desire to keep to a small group of people.  They want it available to everyone who is interested.  I have a hard time with that.  Yes, I do realize that, for some people, that might be the only way to hear it ahead of time in full as some people don’t have friends who have access to songs or albums ahead of time.  I understand and know that feeling.  It is just how it is, sometimes.  It is not like those people can’t ever hear it.  They just have to wait longer. 

As I have read and even participated in some of these discussions, my conclusion is this.  As a fan and as a person, each individual must decide what she or he can live with.  I know that, as a fan, I couldn’t live with having something that can be purchased, legally, from a band I care about.  I would feel compelled to buy it even if it turned out to be something I didn’t like, as soon as possible.  If I was one of the lucky few who got a copy of a song or video or album ahead of time, I would never share with the public.  In fact, I might not share with my friends or many of my friends.  I would feel enough respect for the band to keep it to myself.

-A    

New Music Discussions

Apparently, a number of Duranies have heard or are in possession of the new album.  While I could write about what I think about this in regards to the legal issue or future record sales or morality, etc., I am not going to.  What I find interesting is reading all of the reactions to the new album.  There are countless discussions about how good or bad it is throughout the Duran fandom.  While discussions like this are not new, my reaction to them is different.

Like many Duranies, I joined the online community during the band’s reunion.  I was aware of how the web was creating a place for fans to be in order to be excited together, to discuss, to meet other fans and more.  I, personally, decided to jump in with the reunion because my excitement over the return of the Fab Five was too much for me!  I needed to find others who were just as thrilled as I was!  I knew that I wanted other fans to go to shows with me and to discuss the new album, Astronaut, with me.  At that time, I remember reading some negative reactions about the album, how the band was promoting it, how the label was promoting it, etc.  In my mind, those negative statements were small in number and were by fans who couldn’t or wouldn’t join in the party I was having.  I learned very quickly who seemed to embrace the positive and who didn’t.  Those who didn’t could be ignored by me.  Then, Red Carpet Massacre came and I joined in on a lot of the criticisms.  I absolutely hated that the album was causing so many of us to be upset, but I understood the need to express one’s feelings. 

It seems to me that being a fan means that you are passionate about something and this something has made you feel so good or so happy at some point.  Therefore, it is understandable for people to feel the need to vent or to offer praise about something that creates such intense feelings for them.  Obviously, these intense feelings can be positive about something, like my feelings were during Astronaut, and negative about others like they were about RCM.  During both of those times, I was in the majority group.  Now, I am seeing a ton of people who are in love with the new album, but I am also seeing others who are not.  I would have to put myself in the first camp in that I have loved what I have heard and have loved reading people’s reviews who are positive.  Negative reviews are upsetting to me.  Why?  I understand people’s desire to say what they think.  I also completely believe in the freedom of speech.  So, why are these views causing me distress? 

I have given this a great deal of thought.  Perhaps, it is because the criticism was grouped together differently during the Astronaut era that I could ignore it easier.  Maybe I only found the negative views on a certain message board, for example.  (I honestly can’t remember.  Maybe Rhonda does or maybe our readers do.)  It is possible that there was such a small minority of voices going against the album that they could easily overlooked.  Those are definitely possible reasons.  Another reason could be that I also went through the era of RCM where a lot of people disliked what they heard, including me.  Is it possible that I’m struggling to understand how people could group RCM with the new material?  After all, if they are saying that they didn’t like RCM and that they don’t like “All You Need Is Now”, aren’t they saying that they are both bad?  Maybe not equally as bad but bad still.  That I can’t understand.  I wonder what those fans are looking for, then.  If it wasn’t RCM and it isn’t AYNIN, then what?  What kind of Duran material would remind them of why they loved Duran in the first place? 

The last possible reason for my personal difficulty with the criticism is that I am more invested now.  Yes, I was a long-term, die-hard fan for both Astronaut and RCM like I am now.  This time, I am writing a blog.  It has been become even more personal to me.  Being a fan is personal enough.  Being part of a fan community is even more so.  Then, writing or being creative in a way that connects you is way more personal, at least to me.  The reality is that it is all of these things, I suspect, that has frustrated me with the negative reviews.  Of course, time will tell whether or not, I will continue to feel this way.  I may decide that the negative views are more like my view than I originally thought.  I know that I will continue to read the reviews and even welcome the less-than-excited opinions of others even if I disagree or even if they upset me.  After all, everyone has the right to their opinions just like I do.  I can appreciate the discussion because I do know that it is these types of discussions which keep the fandom alive.

-A

Duran’s History

The first reviews of Duran’s new album are coming out.  Some of the reviews are professional ones done by actual music critics and many are like our review of the single in that they are done by fans.  Besides the reviews, the fans are discussing the new music to death, including the whole album, which some have apparently gotten a hold of (which is a topic for another blog entirely).  Part of every review, every comment about the new music is constant references to Duran’s history.  Many of these statements are directly comparing one song to another in Duran’s extensive collection and usually go something like this, “The Man Who Stole a Leopard reminds me of the Chauffeur”.  Other statements bring up former band members, especially Andy and Warren with questions about what they think of the new material or what would the new material sound like if they were playing guitar for it.  Obviously, Duran cannot escape their history, musically and otherwise.  No band who has been around for 30 years can.  Yet, this history must be such a blessing, at times, and a curse, at others.

One thing that I always hear when I go on tour by non-fans is the question about why I have to go to so many shows as the assumption is that all of the shows are the same.  I try to explain to these not-mean-spirited but clueless people is that no show is the same, if for no other reason but the setlists can change.  Yes, yes, we all know that Duran tends to play a LOT of the same songs on tour but there is always a chance to hear a song that isn’t played often.  For example, I loved hearing Election Day live in the summer of 2009.  Duran’s amazingly full catalog always allows them to be able to pick and choose, at any point, to change the setlist.  Their long-lasting career has given them many chances for success, both commercially and critically, and they have experienced a lot of both.  Of course, they have also experienced a lot of negatives as well.  This has given them the chance to grow as people and as a band.  While I’m sure that they never like going through management or personnel changes, for example, I’m sure that they have learned something each time, which has given them an opportunity to be stronger for it. 

Of course, their long history also must create a tremendous burden for them.  At one point in their careers, they were the biggest band in the world by having number one hits, selling out stadiums, having platinum records and gaining a very large and intense fanbase.  Every new song, every new album gets compared with their past work and it is very common for them to be compared to what is deemed as their most popular and/or most successful work.  Is it ever possible to really met those expectations?  Most Duranies and most of the media agree that Duran’s best work was the first two or three albums with a few standout moments later on in their careers.  Was it easier to create gems then?  After all, they didn’t have all of those expectations put upon them?  They didn’t have anything to prove except that they could be a success.  Now, they are forced to prove that they are still good, still worthy.  It must be easier to have that one big hit rather than have the 25th hit, for example.  When they first started at, they didn’t have as many fans who had to like what they did as they were still working on gaining fans.  Now, there is a chance to disappoint a ton of people. 

I plan on keeping this awesome responsibility that they have in my head as I continue to read reviews and reactions of the new music.  I know that I, too, have expectations for them.  Yet, I want to always remain understanding in how difficult it must be to measure up to past successes.  Now, that doesn’t mean that I won’t say that something isn’t good if I think that something isn’t good but I hope to do it from an understanding perspective.

-A

Can I Become a Professional Duranie?

This blog post is obviously a bit late tonight.  While this time of year is always a busy one, right now, it is especially busy, if you are a Duran fan.  As you all know, Duran Duran released a new single and is on the verge of releasing their 13th studio album on December 21st.  This would be exciting in and of itself.  The new song would provide plenty of discussion among the fans on various message boards and social networking sites.  Of course, the discussion might also include speculation about the other new songs, possible touring and more.  All of that reading and posting would take up time.  Lots of time.  Yet, it seems to me that Duran is finding other ways to keep us busy as Duranies on a daily basis now. 

Today was a good example of this.  I know that I saw and heard a new snippet of a song, “The Man Who Stole a Leopard” on the band’s official website.  Roger posted pictures from the video shoot on facebook.  There were more tweets, including one from John talking about how almost all of the reactions to the song were very positive.  Then, there was a live twitter chat with Simon and Katy where the fans could ask questions of Simon live and he would respond to them.  This isn’t all, I bet.  I suspect that I probably missed a thing or two.  Now, I’m not sure how the rest of the Duran world is feeling but I’m struggling to keep up.  I’m having a hard time finding a balance between keeping up with Duran news and real life.  I admit that I had gotten used to nothing much happening after the RCM era past and I am having a hard time realizing that in this is a new era of Duran Duran.  This era appears to be an extremely busy one.

Do not get me wrong here.  I am not unhappy with all of the Duran happenings.  On the contrary, I love reading about something new and discussing it with other fans.  Love it.  Since the single came out, I have spent more time on the phone and on the computer than I have in weeks in order to discuss the new material!  I have even found myself up late way.  Now, somehow, this lack of sleep hasn’t impacted my working performance yet.  The key word there is “yet”.  I suspect that all of my excitement about the new material is helping with the tiredness I should be feeling.  Anyway, despite all of the time spent on the latest Duran information, I don’t feel like I know everything.  Up until recently, I would have said that I was able to hear or read about every little detail about Duran Duran.  I never feel caught up!  Now, I feel lucky if I caught between 50 and 75% of what is new.  Today, I heard about so many things that I couldn’t even figure out what to blog about!

Where does that leave me now?  Well, I could wish for Duran to settle back down and just give us a piece of information once every week or month, but I don’t.  I LOVE all of the action taking place and cannot wait for more action with both the album release and tour dates (hopefully and soon!).  What is another choice then?  I know.  The band could just hire me to be a professional Duranie.  The job would allow me all the time in the world to see what is happening in Duranland and to respond to it.  Alas, I doubt this will happen so I’ll be left with trying my best to keep up while making another pot of coffee!

-A 

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!