Tag Archives: Duran Duran Ballet

Celebrating Pop Art and Artistic Influence

On today’s date in 1987, the world lost Andy Warhol. Many, if not most Duranies are at least familiar with the name – if not for his infamous soup can artwork, than definitely for his friendship with Nick Rhodes.

I remember hearing that he’d died, likely from television or perhaps the radio, and wondering how the band was taking it, and of course particularly Nick. Like most fans, I had seen photos with Nick and Andy, and some along with Julie Anne. I also remember feeling particularly sad that there would never come a day when Andy Warhol would do the cover of one of Duran Duran’s albums. In hindsight, the thought seems strange only because at the time, I was 16, fairly self-involved, and I don’t remember ever really paying much attention to their album covers. I hadn’t truly discovered art just yet, but apparently something led me to think that having Warhol do a Duran cover would have been amazing.

I still do.

Most people really only know Warhol for a few pop art paintings. Maybe it’s his soup can series, or perhaps it’s the Marilyns. I think what always attracted me to his work was likely his thought process. “Art is what you can get away with”, being one of many.  I still like that thinking, because later in life, as I took Modern Art and learned more, I realized that is exactly what art is. The difference between Warhol and many others, including myself, is that he dared to put it out there, to think differently, to challenge someone’s ideas of what art is, drawing from every day, simple things – like a soup can – or like celebrity in general.

It is not really a surprise to me, although I have to remind myself from time to time, that the band draws upon a similar spirit when writing and recording. They challenge themselves (and later, their fans) to think about music, about pop…and certainly about themselves as a band, differently with every single album. They are not content to re-record Rio over and over. I think at times, it is difficult to accept progress, as a fan. We somehow program ourselves to believe that Rio, or the first album for instance, is their “signature” sound. Albums should come packaged with a photo of themselves on the cover, and all meanings should be clearly stated, ambiguity need not apply.

When I think about Duran Duran as artists, given those parameters, I realize how unfair fans might be at times. Should they never grow or mature past the 1980s? What about us as listeners? Are we really  to never consider other options, or different sounds?  Over the past several months, I’ve thought about this a lot. I’ve come to the conclusion that if Duran Duran had never changed, I would have gotten very bored by now.  As much as I defiled RCM…and I really did… in a variety of online message boards, I have to give the band credit. They really stepped out of their box for that one. It doesn’t matter now whether or not I think it worked, because through that experience, as well as the one that followed, All You Need is Now, came Paper Gods. The evolutionary process of making music continues, and seeing every day things, even their own music, in different ways continues the pop art tradition.

So when Duran Duran mentions that they’re working to score a ballet out of one of the pieces of music that was left off of Paper Gods, or that they’re devising a musical, my first question isn’t, “Why aren’t you working on another album?”, but instead, “Where can I sign up to help make this happen?!?” I hope it’s incredibly outrageous and forces me to see in yet another different, but equally glorious light.

I would expect nothing less.

-R

 

Duran Duran Ballet? Duran Duran Musical?

Yes, that’s right.  I did say something about Duran Duran and ballet and Duran Duran and a musical.  This week, a couple of news articles popped up about exactly that.  The first article on billboard.com, which you can read here, focused on more than just ballet and musicals, but also mentioned American politics, interestingly enough.  The Contact Music article just summarized the Billboard article as did the NME article.  So, what is all this about and what do I think about it?  Let’s take one at a time.

Ballet

According to the Billboard article, the ballet is being developed from a song that was left off the album, Paper Gods.  I can totally see this as there are many tracks on that album that seem like long productions.  I’m thinking here of the opening and title track as well as songs like “Only in Dreams”.  Those seem to have many parts to them and a potential story line of sorts.  The original song, according to the quote from Nick Rhodes, was a “straightforward pop song.”  Apparently, the goal would be to expand it and to include another person in the piece, specifically a female.  This makes me think that the original song was about one person, a man.

Why are they doing this?  Nick mentioned how much they like the ballet, especially the one in London and the imagery that goes along with it.  I admit it.  This fascinates me.  While I know next to nothing about ballet and have never been to a professional one, I have seen college dance performances and many high school ones.  I think dance is a fascinating creative outlet and really do love the idea that one Duran Duran song could be expanded to become a full ballet performance in which a story is told solely through the music and the dance.  That’s pretty awesome!

The Musical

While the ballet news was brand new to me, the idea that Nick and John have been working on a musical isn’t a new one.  I have been hearing about this one for a while now.  The idea, from what I understand from the article, is that it will be set in the “art world”.  I assume then that the characters will be artists or people who work at art galleries or art buyers.  Nick said that they will be working on it in March and plan on finishing the first draft then.  He also commented about how different it is to work on versus working on a regular Duran Duran album.  That does not surprise me.  I would think it would be.  I compare it to the writing that Rhonda and I do.  We write here on the blog and that is very different than the writing that was done on our book or even the writing that we need to do on book proposals.  Each type of artistic project would require different skills, perspectives, creativity.

As for what I think about this one, like the ballet, I’m terribly fascinated.  I might be even more interested in this one simply because I love the idea that Nick and John would have to write the storyline, including plot, characterization, dialogue, stage directions, etc. as well as the music involved.  I like the focus on the art world as that is a world and culture that really interests me (having an artistic mother probably helps).  Plus, I love art and art galleries/museums.  Beyond the setting, I absolutely LOVE that they are pushing to expand themselves in this way.  They aren’t content to just sit back and rest during breaks but are still working, still being creative.  To me, doing extra projects like this can only help them get more creative when they work on Duran Duran.  It could bring them new life and new energy when they go back to work on Duran Duran material.  I know that there are fans out there who think that they should only be focused on Duran Duran music.  I disagree.  They should be able to do other projects.  They should be able to express themselves in different ways.  I know, from my own life, that if I just had to focus on teaching, I would suffocate.  Likewise, if I just focused on politics or on fandom, I would feel the same.  Like myself, John and Nick are complex people with a variety of interests and passions.  Let’s encourage them to embrace ALL of who they are and ALL of what they feel creative about.

What do the rest of you think?  Are you looking forward to their ballet and/or their musical?

-A