We have finally hit the last song on the Notorious album. This week, we take a look at the song, Proposition. This is one of those tracks that is often overlooked. Is that fair or should people pay more attention to it? Read to find out what we think!
There is no mistaking that this song is off of Notorious from the very first notes of Nick’s keyboards. Anytime I hear a horn section, I know that chances are – it’s from Notorious. I like that I can really hear John’s bass, and there is one small section where you can actually hear the guitar, imagine that! I find myself missing the days when the guitar actually mattered to this band and was used for more than just texture, which is one reason I tend to struggle with the entire Notorious album – it is not one of my favorite Duran moments. I know they were struggling to find a new identity without Roger and Andy, but I do miss a more audible and noticeable LEAD guitar. Musically the song is incredibly funky and jazzy…and when the guitar is allowed to be up in the mix, it provides a good deal of rock to balance the sound. The drums are good and I love the fill/pick up at the beginning of the song.
I must be in the minority, but I really do not love the moments when Simon is singing in a high register. He loses all depth and dimension to his voice, and it becomes falsetto…which really doesn’t work at all, and it weakens the entire song. I think it would have been far more effective to have Simon sing in a range that actually played to his talents rather than have him do falsetto. He has such a strong voice, why not use it?
This song is tougher for me to really understand, but for some reason I get the feeling it is about society forgetting about their children. We promise to take care of our children, and yet somehow – so many end up starving, dying, getting into trouble, left for the streets to raise as their own. The song makes me uncomfortable, which probably means the lyrics do their job – they make me think about subjects none of us may want to consider, but we really should. Whether that’s really what Simon was getting at or not, I’m unsure..but isn’t that part of the fun with Duran songs?
I struggle with the Notorious album. It is very funky, and I know that is as much a part of Duran’s history as is punk…but I struggle. The album really marks such a huge departure in sound, in personnel and even in the band themselves as they go from being the number one band in the world to something a little farther down on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts. The song itself has some good: the bass, a guitar part that doesn’t mind being in the background and adding texture, a cohesive rhythm section, but it’s never been a favorite. The chorus quite honestly ruins the song a bit for me with the falsetto and tough to hear words, and the lyrics, while potentially interesting, never seem to hold my attention. I fade away whenever the song is on, which is disappointing.
As soon as the song begins, Nick’s keyboards are right there, front and center. As soon as the rest of the instrumentation jumps in, you know that this is a song off of Notorious. The guitars have the same style, for one, and horns are present and drums to help with transitions. Even with all of the instruments present, Nick’s keyboards still seem to play a major role. They are funky, for sure, and remain even when other instruments like guitar take the spotlight. One thing that is interesting to me is how little change there seems, musically, between verse and chorus. The only time there seems to be a real change is during the bridge about two-thirds of the way through. Then, the guitar really takes the spotlight along with keyboards. The funk is on high for most of the song.
I really like Simon’s vocals during the verse. It is at a good range for him and love how he emphasizes the last word in most lines in a very subtle way. Unfortunately, he totally loses me during the chorus. Why must the word “Proposition” and other part of the chorus be sung at that higher range? It doesn’t make show off Simon’s talents much. Why make Simon sing in such a high range? I find the words in the higher range even hard to understand. It is such a shame, too, since the verse shows great vocals. I have to wonder if the range of this song is the reason that I have never seen it on a setlist. (If you have, please let me know! I would love to know when and where they played this one live.)
Before I take a look at the specific lyrics to this song, I refresh my memory about the specific meaning to this word. The meanings I found: a statement expressing a judgment or a suggested plan of action. Which definition matches the song? It seems to me that this song is about a crime. Is the baby dead? The baby’s head is cold, after all and this woman is to “pay for the crime of feeling”. Then, the next verse seems broader—more society and less individual. No matter who is to blame, the person is feeling guilty for something. I’ll be honest. I’m not sure what the song is really about. Could it be about a judgment? Maybe. I, generally, like lyrics that make me think, make me wonder, make me what to figure it out. Yet, these lyrics don’t intrigue me. I don’t know why. Maybe, it is the mentioning of the baby. Maybe the only interpretation I can come up with isn’t one I relate to or appreciate. Nonetheless, I find the lyrics disappointing.
I want to like this song. I’m not a huge fan of the funk found on this album. If I was, I would probably love the instrumentation as it is full of the funk. The lyrics seem intriguing but the intrigue doesn’t last long. They are unable to keep my attention for some reason. Perhaps, the instrumentation and the lyrics don’t keep me into the song because of the chorus, which I don’t like. I want Simon to stay in the range of the verse. Yet, the chorus is at a much higher range and such that I can’t follow or sing along. I think the song has potential but doesn’t fulfill that potential.