Wow. If these are the opening remarks of this series, Amanda and I need to do our homework! Great job, everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and contemplating a reply. Originally I was going to just reply in a comment, and then I wrote a short novel and realized that wasn’t going to work.
I can’t say that my view has been completely changed, but I’ve certainly been given some food for thought. I’d like to keep my response to the same 250 word limit given to our esteemed interns. I was close…
Sexism is about power. Those who hold the power oppressing, defining, and weakening those who do not. With that in mind, none of the songs offered up as being possibly more sexist tend to hold up, at least lyrically. In these cases: ASWI, HLTW, GOF and The Chauffeur, the words clearly put the woman in a position of power. The man is ultimately chasing them. Even in GOF, arguably the most lyrically sexist song lyrically of those mentioned, the woman is clearly a model. There is no clear indication that she is there by force. Read My Lips, on the other hand, is overtly sexual – no argument there – but sexist? I read the lyrics as perhaps someone (maybe even a celeb) in a bar trying to convince a woman to go away with him for a one night stand. Falling Down has nothing to do with sexism, lyrically. It could be about anyone.
In Electric Barbarella, we can read that this female subject was found on a so-called “showroom floor”. At the onset, she has no power – whether robot, or arguably, even if human. She is powerless. He buys her. He takes her home, dresses her, “plugs her in” and trains her.
In videos, women still have the power. ASWI – the men are puppets. HTLW – the male is desperately pursuing the female. GOF – in every vignette, it is a woman in charge. She is the horse rider, the masseuse, even the hero. Sex objects, yes. Sexism? No. In Falling Down, the video definitely poses women as the rehab/psych patients and the men are doctors, treating the patients. Is that as overtly sexist? I don’t think so.
Duran Duran tend to release their albums in the fall. It isn’t always the case but happens a lot of the time. The month of October, in fact, has seen three album releases over Duran’s career. The first album they released in October was Big Thing in 1988, followed up by Medazzaland in 1997 and Astronaut in 2004. In celebration of these birthdays/anniversaries, I thought it might be fun to take a look at each of them starting with Big Thing.
Big Thing Facts:
Released on October 18, 1988
Produced by Jonathan Elias, Daniel AbrahamDuran Duran
Had 12 tracks included
5 different songs were released as singles:
I Don’t Want Your Love (everywhere)
All She Wants Is (everywhere)
Do You Believe in Shame (everywhere)
Big Thing (UK and Mexico)
Too Late Marlene (Brazil)
Peak chart position:
I Don’t Want Your Love–#14 in the UK and #4 in the US
All She Wants Is–#9 in the UK and #22 in the US
Do You Believe in Shame–#30 in the UK and #72 in the US
The band at that time was made up of John, Nick and Simon.
Warren played guitar on tracks 1, 4, 6, 9, 11 and 12 (half of the album)
Chester Kamen played guitar on tracks 2 and 3
Steve Ferrone played drums on tracks 1, 2, 4, 6 and 9
Sterling Campbell also played drums on the album
Three videos were made from this album:
I Don’t Want Your Love
All She Wants Is
Do You Believe in Shame?
Here is a long interview with the band, Warren, and the back-up singers from 1988.
The band began touring this album began with the Nine City Caravan Club Tour, in which they toured small venues starting in October 1988. It was followed by the Big Live Thing Tour in November 1988. Then, they added the Big Electric Theatre Tour starting in March of 1989 before ending with some festivals in August 1989.
Beyond all of the facts, Duranies have memories of this album. I would love to hear your Big Thing story. When did you buy the album? What did you think of it? What do you think of the single choices? The videos? Did you see the band play tour? If so, how many shows did you see? Tomorrow, I will share my Big Thing story.
Since the setlist has been a hotly debated topic in Duranland, we have been focusing which songs we want added or subtracted from the setlist for our question of the day. We first asked which song that most of us have never heard live would you want to hear. The answer was Like an Angel.
Then, we asked which song that we rarely hear live would we want to hear live. That answer was Hold Back the Rain.
Next, we asked which song should never appear on a setlist again and people chose Hallucinating Elvis.
Out of the current setlist, people preferred What Are the Chances to be removed from the setlist.
For the final question, we asked people on our social media sites which song they want added to a setlist now. From that list, we will pick one that should be added.
On that note, which song would you rather have ADDED to the setlist: All She Wants Is or Anyone Out There?
This review finds us examining the song, All She Wants Is. This song was the second single off of the Big Thing album and peaked at number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart (but spent a total of 13 weeks on the charts in some fashion). Should it have done better? Should it have even been a single? Read and find out what we think then share your thoughts!
I’ve always thought it was interesting and unique how the song begins solely with tracks of Simon’s voice, slightly out of sync. The instrumentation grows from there, with drums and background percussion, then a distorted guitar, some bass and keyboards following. Oddly, for this song, the instrumentation is rather simple by Duran Duran standards. I like the roughness of the guitar – because here you’ve got a sound that is very much “club-like”, almost like house music, and yet Duran Duran adds a soaring rock guitar “solo” (so to speak) right over the top. Risky? Maybe, but it works brilliantly for a song that could otherwise be boring.
I like the way Simon opens up the song with the monotone “chant” of “all she wants is”. I agree with Amanda when she says the song reminds her of Big Thing – I think it’s because of the chanting. Out of all of the songs on Big Thing, this one reminds me most of House or Industrial club music that was popular in the 1990’s. (am I dating myself?? Goodness…) Vocally for Simon, I don’t think the the song is particularly difficult – it’s within his range, and really the song is far more a testament to the band’s willingness to take risks and try new styles than it is about vocal ability for Simon.
I think the song is fairly obvious in that it’s about women who have to use whatever means possible to get ahead in the world. Rather than focusing on the task at hand, they’re thinking about the goal farther down the line. This is a song that I can sing word for word, but I never really THINK about the words at hand. The band has always been very good at that – giving rather benign words to even the most controversial of subjects so that the listener can find whatever they need to find (or not find) in the lyrics.
This is one of those songs that is easy to use as a club mix because it can blend well with other songs. That said, it is also easy to tune it out because of the fact it is incredibly repetitive throughout, but it has also earned its way as a crowd pleaser with the DD catalog for many fans. It does grab your attention, and is by far the best representation of industrial or house music within their catalog. Who knew Duran Duran could pull that off?!? Lyrically, it is easy to forget what the song is really about, which is unfortunate. I think the lyrics tend to get lost within all of the “All she wants is” chanting. My favorite part of the entire song though is the guitar – that saves it all for me because it is so different and really very unexpected within this genre. Overall however, this song has never been a favorite of mine, although I give high props to the band for going this route and trying something so different. Duran Duran is nothing if not versatile and willing to take risks.
Like the first track on this album, it is difficult to even think about the music/instrumentation, especially in the beginning because the vocals are SO front and center. It is really interesting, though, when you do focus on it to realize how minimized the instrumentation is for the first 15 seconds or so. Then, of course, there is more instrumentation and then a few seconds after that even more. The music builds and it creates a level of intensity, musically. Once the song gets going, a couple of elements stick out to me. First, there is the clapping sound that showcases the song’s rhythm. Then, the instrumentation, especially guitars, sounds distorted in a way, creating almost an industrial feel. Yet, the top layer of drums remind me of drums that would be found on Notorious. The effects create a very danceable sound, even if a bit darker than the usual Duran sound.
Immediately, this song reminds me of the song, Big Thing. You can instantly tell that they are from the same album/era. Before the music totally kicks in, there is the chanting of “All She Wants Is” done with quite a bit of vocal effect. Then, of course, there is the female moaning done mostly in the beginning but some towards the end, which definitely implies this something is sexual in nature. This is a much more in your face sexuality than the Duran in the past. Yet, Simon’s vocals during the verses remain smooth, easy. The song ends with the chanting chorus, moaning and more creating a bookend to the beginning of the song, showing that the chorus really does dominate.
This is one of those songs that I sing every word when I hear but never really thought about what the lyrics might mean. When I stop and really look at them, it seems to me that it is about a woman who is trying to figure out a way to make it in the world. Perhaps, this person is all alone and looking for that special job or that break. Until that happens, though, she is left to do what she must do. Could she be a prostitute or something similar? I suppose it is possible with lines like, “You’ve been pulling ‘em by the hand inside”. Yet, clearly, she wants so much more than she has. What I find interesting is how easily the chorus and the repeating of the phrase “all she wants is” really works for Duranies and for fandom, in general. It seems to me that the goal could have been to lure people, fans to the song by getting them to think it is about the band and about how Duranies want them. Yet, of course, when you actually look at the lyrics, it has nothing to do with that. They did the same thing with Big Thing. Clever.
This song definitely matches the other tracks on side A of the Big Thing album. It has in-your-face vocals and lyrics that catch your attention. Is it the most intellectual song? Probably not. Is it the most fun song in the Duran catalog? Probably not. Nonetheless, it is one that catches your attention and one that you can sing along with. That said, it has also easily pass beyond the fun to the annoying. I tend to appreciate the song more after not hearing it for awhile.
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!