Stay with the music

Are you stuck in the 80s?

I suppose that to some people, by the very virtue that you are a Duran Duran fan, you might be one of those holding onto your day-glo clothing with a death grip, or you’re white knuckling your canister of Aqua Net. The truth is, I see very, very few Duran fans who are truly “stuck” in the 80s, even if that is the era of music they enjoy most. That said, I have read a couple of things this morning that I think might be worthy for discussion or debate.

Has anyone given a listen to Lorde’s cover of Everybody Wants to Rule the World? (if you don’t know that this was originally done by Tears for Fears…you’re not stuck in the 80s.  You’re just stuck! We can work on fixing this!!) I listened yesterday. I must admit, I prefer the original overall – of course I do – BUT, I think what she did with the song is a stroke of genius and it’s very fitting for the soundtrack to the next movie in the Hunger Games franchise (Catching Fire). Lorde takes the song and makes it dark and haunting, some suggesting that she sounds a lot more like Marilyn Manson than TFF. It’s not really a song that you’ll find yourself tapping your foot along with, instead – it makes you reconsider the lyrics and hear the song in a completely different fashion. That should be applauded. I wish more covers did just that! Yet, I’ve seen very little in the way of cheers from Tears for Fears fans. To be fair, I can’t blame them on one hand – it’s very, very different. That said, I would argue that’s precisely the point. I’m glad it’s completely different. She paid homage by not redoing the song “karaoke” style. I mean, if she ended up sounding just like Curt Smith but female – what is the point in that? My feeling is that if you’re going to cover something, at least find your own message in there. Find your own voice. Do it differently.

Over the years, we’ve all heard Duran covers. Some are fantastic. Some are, well, head-scratchers to say the least. I think it’s a hard-sell for any die hard fan to embrace something that their favorite band did perfectly and hear it completely changed. More often than not I find myself saying that they should have just left it the way it was, but that’s not really fair. If the bands who created the originals are willing to give the covers a chance – I kind of believe that we need to do the same. No, we’re not always going to love the outcome, that’s a given, but we should at least listen with open hearts, ears and minds.

I can remember growing up with my parents and having them turn on Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, The Beach Boys, Elton John…and a few others, with regularity. I was convinced that they had no idea of current music, and for the most part, I was right. It was only after I started really requesting music of my own or begging my dad to turn the station in the car that my parents (my mom mostly) started listening to music dated later than say, 1965ish. I was born in 1970…so I think you get the point.  There was a point in my life, prior to turning maybe ten years old, where I believed that the only music in the world was the aforementioned bands/artists and Disney records!! That next year though…well, that’s when I discovered Duran Duran!  My parents life changed dramatically after that, as I started asking for specific radio stations to played at home and in the car! There was a lot of it that my parents despised, and they’d complain endlessly about how music today (well, back then!) was horrible.  As any normal teenager might, I thought they were nuts.  It got to the point though, where they (mostly) enjoyed our music. At times. My dad was a big fan of Tears for Fears, oddly enough. His favorite song? Everybody Wants to Rule the World. In fact, he loved the song so much that we played it at his memorial service…at his request. I cried the entire time and have difficulty listening to the song even now…so for me, Lorde’s version is a welcome respite. For me, remembering back to how my parents handled my musical “upbringing” shaped the way I listen to music today. While it is true that I do listen to *my* music most of the time in the car, I do take the time to listen to what my kids enjoy as well.  (Hey, can I really help it that my youngest ADORES All You Need is Now?) There is a lot of music out there, and I love that my oldest takes the time to tell me all about who I should listen to next.

One thing that I want to touch briefly on though, to silence those “you’re stuck in the 80s music” critics out there…is that Duran Duran, among many other bands from that period of time out there, ARE STILL MAKING NEW MUSIC.  I think it is just as small-minded to characterize Duran Duran and many of their peers as just “80s Music” because they’re just not…and their longevity continues to inspire musicians some thirty years later.

That brings me to Making Patterns Rhyme, which is a Duran Duran tribute album on Manimal, due out next year (February). You can read the press release on dd.com regarding this album here. There are a number of current artists contributing songs to the project, and I’m curious to hear how it turns out. That said, I am well-aware that the songs are not going to be carbon-copy remakes of what has already been done. What would be the point? This is about this group of bands/artists taking this music and making their own statement. It’s not a regurgitation, it’s another view entirely. How will this go over with Duran fans? Somehow, I suspect that it really doesn’t matter. The music is likely to be made with the ears of younger listeners in mind – as we’ve already HAD our moments with songs like Late Bar or Friends of Mine. I think it will likely to be very difficult for Duran fans to open their ears and minds wide enough to accept new sounds, but I encourage everyone to try. This isn’t about eschewing the old for the new…it’s about widening the embrace for inclusion. After all, the one point we can agree on is the pride we have in a band that has inspired multiple generations.

-R

2 thoughts on “Stay with the music”

  1. I use Wikipedia's list of 2013 albums to keep up with what's new in rock. Just this year, albums were released by Adam Ant, Black Sabbath, David Bowie, Bon Jovi, Deep Purple, Eric Clapton (a couple of new songs but mostly covers), Anthrax, Depeche Mode, Jimmy Buffett, The Stooges, Rod Stewart, Visage (their first in 29 years), Elton John, and Rush (a remix of a previous album due to fan demand). Last year featured new albums by Van Halen, Ian Anderson (frontman for Jethro Tull), ZZ Top, Joe Walsh, and Donald Fagen (who with Walter Becker form Steely Dan). Plans for 2014 releases supposedly include new stuff from AC/DC, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest.

    Some of those bands and artists have been around for over 40 years. Much of their newest music, like Duran Duran's, is just as good or better today. And you're right, Rhonda, today's rock bands are very much inspired and also influenced by those who came before. I find many of the same styles in the music of The Ting Tings, Skillet, Dropkick Murphys, and Capital Cities, among others. Everything didn't stop in the 1980s–there's lots of good rock music out there!

    –Randy

  2. I'm really looking forward to the AC/DC release. That band satisfies my inner-rocker and I'm hoping for great things there. You seem to have a lot of the same taste I do outside of Duran, because many you mention are among those I watch and listen for.

    What I really like about your post though is that you mention a way (wikipedia) of keeping up – because that's my biggest problem. I don't have a ton of extra time to go searching for new music these days, our radio stations here (to be blunt) really suck these days, and I can see how easy it is to get into a rut if you're not careful. Even I find myself listening to the same 6 CD's I've got in my car stereo changer – just because I know I won't hear anything I love on the radio and it's just “easiest”. Easy is great, but making the effort to find new music has some great rewards too. This is why I really like it when I see John doing a playlist and posting it…and I even follow Dom on Spotify (although he doesn't use it that often), just hoping they listen to something I find that I like. -R

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