Apparently, Take That is a pretty popular band in the UK when it comes to commercial success and tour sell outs. Okay. According to many, they are also your standard manufactured boy band (I’m guessing that they are similar to Backstreet Boys here). Anyway, the debate is about whether or not Duran should have supported this band when asked or not. The people who think that they should have believe that Duran would have had a great deal of exposure to a new audience because Take That has large, sell out crowds, most of who have never heard of Duran. It would mean a great deal of exposure and a chance at new fans and more copies of All You Need Is Now sold. Okay. The other side says that Duran deserves to be the headliner. They have been around for 30 years and have proven their worth. They should not be working for anyone. They also feel strongly that Take That isn’t worthy of Duran because they are a commercial, manufactured band. The idea here, I guess, is that Take That isn’t really in it for art but to make a profit and Duran, while enjoys making a profit, also believes that they are in for art sake. John, by the way, in the interview said that they turned them down. He did not elaborate as to the reason they did.
I’m completely fascinated by this debate. It really shows, in my opinion, the two camps in Duranland between those who need/want Duran to be a commercial success no matter what and those who need/want Duran to be more of an art form. For the first group, it seems to be about quantity and the other group seems to focus on quality, to simplify it. Of course, the first group might say that the commercial part is needed for the art part to exist, which is fair enough. The other side, of course, would argue that having integrity and dignity is worth more than any paycheck. I wonder if other fanbases struggle with this issue. Do bands like the Cure face this debate? While the Cure sold albums and had big tours, they were never the commercial success that Duran Duran was. Likewise, do Madonna fans have this need for her to demonstrate a level of integrity or are they fine with her always pursuing the largest sum of money possible? Does this happen in Duranland more because they were SO huge at one point and are not anymore? Is it so unacceptable to some fans because this drop from the top of the charts seems to mean that the band is a failure? Others seems to believe that Duran’s commercial success was more of luck and that Duran must not have “sold their souls” to be commercially successful in the 1980s. Another possibility is that they were concerned about it at first but as they have gotten older, they are more concerned with the art.
I think that the reality is somewhere in between. Yes, I do believe that Duran actually considers what they do an art form. Yet, I also believe that they want to be commercially successful. I think this is similar to artists like Andy Warhol who definitely created works of art but ones that were meant to be popular. That said, does Duran have a limit to what they would do to be successful in this arena? That seems to be the case now. Debates like this have me thinking back to the days before and after Red Carpet Massacre came out. Some fans loved it and loved that they took a risk working with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake in order to reach the charts again. Others were completely horrified by this. Many thought that they had sold their souls a little bit, especially when reading statements about how Timbaland didn’t know what a bass was. To many, it felt disrespectful to John, in particular, to the band as a whole and, frankly, to a fanbase that liked the formula of strong instrumentation.
So, how do I feel about this controversy? I would probably be more passionate about it if I knew more about Take That and their music. Based on what I have read, I’m glad that they made this decision. To me, it does seem like Duran aren’t willing to do anything to sell their music, which I do believe is a good thing. I have a lot more respect for them if they demonstrate their need for self-respect. I don’t think that Duran should be supporting anyone after their long career unless it was someone at the same level. This band clearly isn’t at their same level, both longevity or quality music wise. Yes, this might mean that they won’t pick up new fans and won’t sell as many albums. I think that is okay. I don’t know that these people would have been willing to give Duran a fair chance, anyway. If they did, would they stick around? Probably not if they aren’t played on the radio 50,000 times a day. These new fans would not be worth the loss of dignity. They also wouldn’t worth the loss of diehard fans as I believe that many Duranies would be so ashamed of this decision that they might walk away. It happened with RCM, after all. More money, more album sales and different fans are not worth being a support act for Take That.