Today, we continue our reviews of the songs off of the album, Notorious. This time, we look at Meet el Presidente, the 8th song off the album and the third single. This one did not do as well as hoped as it only made it to 70 in the U.S. single charts. Should it have done better? Read on to see what we think.
Rhonda on Meet El Presidente
The song begins pretty brightly with an upbeat jazz, which is pretty atypical for Duran Duran. The bass is turned up in the mix, which is good because it tones down the brass section a bit and adds a little funk. The song strikes me because of how far down in the tracks you have to go to really hear much of Nick – it’s as though they took the traditional Duran instruments and put them off to play in a corner while the brass section was brought out front to shine. While that’s an interesting change of pace, this is Duran Duran, isn’t it?? The music is pretty syncopated, which again – is very unusual for Duran Duran, making the song unique. Overall, the music doesn’t feel like it was written by the band…it feels very unnatural and out-of-place in their catalog. I commend them for being willing, but there’s something to be said for sounding like a Duran Duran song (aside from Simon’s voice of course).
The song opens with a lot of ad-lib from Simon, it reminds me of someone who is trying to find the key before jumping into vocals, and for this type of song – it is appropriate, even if it truly doesn’t hold much in common with any of his other work with Duran Duran. That said, it continues throughout the song, and it’s annoying – it fills far more like “filler” than creating a casual, laid back way of delivering jazz vocals. Additionally, once again I find that the female voices are way, way, WAY too overdone here. Too loud, too overpowering, and way too much. That said, thank goodness Simon actually sang the song, otherwise you’d never know this was Duran Duran.
The one bright spot for me with this song is the lyrics. In some ways, they remind me of being a stay-at-home (I always laugh at that “home” part…more than half my day is spent in the darn car!!) with the way Simon says “She’s on demand at dinnertime”….but when you really listen, I think it’s about being a woman in general (from an enlightened man’s point of view, of course). Simon sings about a variety of different “typical” female societal roles, and I just have to smile at some of the lines. “She blew your money on taking a cruise” (um, yes. Yes I did.) “Hell hath no fury like a young girl’s ego” (and if you think the young girls are bad, you should probably be really afraid of the adult women…) I do laugh because the real deal is that yes, we women let the men think they are in charge, let them believe they’re making the big decisions, all the while we’re running off to concerts with our friends…and Simon gets it. (Wait, maybe that’s just me??) No matter, the lyrics are smart and I love them. I do admit to playing this every once in a while when my husband is in the car, just to see if he even gets it (nope)…I do appreciate a good lyric! As an aside, this entire song reminds me of an interview with Yasmin. She explains that if a fan gets too friendly with Simon, she’ll walk up behind him and grab his crotch, proclaiming it to be hers. Good for you, Yasmin!!
So I’m not a huge fan of the music on this one, but I openly admit that the lyrics save it for me every single time…otherwise I’d probably pass this song right by every time it comes up. I really detest the back-up vocals because they definitely overshadow Simon’s vocals, and I really feel as though the Duran Duran “typical” instrumentation has been put in a virtual corner here – which is unfortunate. This one song that I wish they’d rework and bring up to date, if for no other reason so that we can all sing it loud and proud live.
Cocktail Rating: 3 cocktails!
Amanda on Meet El Presidente
In general, the instrumentation of this song does not get the majority of my attention/focus except when the horns come in and they do frequently. I’m typically not a fan of horns like this. They are there too much and garner too much of the attention, musically. They should be much more of a back up instrument or during a bridge, not the one in the spotlight, at least in Duran songs. That said, I do like what is going, musically, at the beginning of the song. There is John’s funky bass and Nick’s keyboards that go with and compliment. This part doesn’t last too long, though, as the horns dive in quickly. Guitar is there, too, but definitely takes a back seat. I think that is unfortunate. The funkiness continues through the rest of the song but vocals come in and dominant along with the horns. The instrumentation of the band members is WAY overshadowed. The band just feels lost to me.
Right away, I’m annoyed at the vocals as Simon starts out with the “yeah” and the “hmm”. Are those needed? Do they add to the song? Of course, the additional female backing vocals repeating Simon doesn’t help. Now, the vocals during the verse are decent as Simon sounds strong and solid there. Yet, as the song moves from verse to chorus, more backing vocals come in. I find them distracting; they almost take away from Simon’s vocals. Perhaps, the problem is that there are simply too many backing vocals throughout the whole song. The chorus, as opposed to the verse, is a problem. I dislike how Simon hits a real high note to alert the listener’s that the chorus is coming. I much prefer Simon had the lower end of his vocal range. Then the “oohs” during the chorus do nothing for the song at all. It sounds more like filler than an enhancement.
Interestingly enough, the lyrics to this song fascinates me and not just because Simon acknowledges teachers, but because the lyrics make me think. Is this “Presidente” a leader of a country? I don’t get the feeling that she is. Then, what do we know about her? She definitely seems like someone who seems to be objectified by men with lines like “she’s on the factory wall” which gives the impression that she is a centerfold of some sort and “She’s in demand at dinner time” which could imply an unequal division of household labor. Yet, she is really the one “who’s in control” by these exact same behaviors with lines like “You’ve never refused with she lies back” and that if the men “step out of line”, they will “be abused”. All of that would be interesting enough to me but then the line about “But hell has no fury like a young girl’s ego” almost reminds me a young fan, perhaps, a groupie. The implication then is that the rock star shouldn’t “step out of line” and that she, in fact, has a weapon at her disposal, which could be the rock star’s fame, reputation, etc. Then, I wonder if the song isn’t about a groupie breaking those stereotypes of how women should be. Of course, I could be totally off base by my interpretation but, overall, I really like that the lyrics make me think.
While I find the lyrics interesting and enjoy John’s bass along with a lot of the other instrumentation on this song, there are far too many things that don’t work. I dislike all of the backing vocals and I think that the vocals, in general, were overwhelming. I have to wonder if this song wasn’t an intentional attempt to seek out a different audience. After all, when this song was released as a single, the band went to a lot of “Latin” radio stations to try and convince them to air the single. I think the overall problem is that this song doesn’t feel like natural Duran to me. It feels force and contrived (no pun intended).
Cocktail Rating: 2 cocktails!