Tag Archives: Duran Duran songs

Songs for Intellectuals

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, an intellectual is:  1.  of or relating to the intellect or its use rather than by emotion or experience or 2. given to study, reflection and speculation.  The other day, John Taylor mentioned this term in the band’s oral history of the Rio album.  In that oral history, he stated that The Chauffeur is that album’s song for intellectuals.  He also mentioned about how a friend of his said that every album needs a song for those thinking people.

Anyone who knows me is not surprised to find out that this got me thinking.  (How intellectual of me!)  I cannot deny that I like to think, study, reflect, analyze or however you want to say it.  My parents are to blame as I grew up in a household in which vacations meant museum visits, dinner discussions included current events and basic knowledge, and daily activities involved reading or looking up information.  Therefore, this thinking, speculating thing is part of my DNA.  Intellectual might be going a bit far but I do like to think.

So, what did I think John’s statement regarding The Chauffeur?  What did I think about this idea that every album needs a song for intellectuals?  First, if there is a song for intellectuals on Rio, I agree that it must be The Chauffeur.  While I think the lyrics on many of the songs on that album are fascinating and make me think, the lyrics for The Chauffeur are definitely more poetic than the rest.  Because of this, one might spend more time thinking about what Simon is trying to say and why.  Those lyrics are definitely less straight forward than say Save a Prayer.  Second, do I think that every album needs a song for intellectuals?  Need is obviously the key word there.  Would an album be less good, have less quality without a thinking person’s song?  I’m not sure about that.  Would Rio not be as good if say the song, “Like an Angel” was included instead of The Chauffeur?  The quality might decline a little but that is based on the quality of the song as opposed to intellectual vs. not.  That said, I do love, love, love the songs that make me think.  It is one thing that I really do appreciate about Duran.  While Duran is a lot of fun on the surface, there is a lot more going on than meets the eye.  They often make me think with almost every song, video, etc. they do.

If Duran really has followed this philosophy, can we pick out the intellectual song in each album?  When did they start this?  Are there some albums that might have more than one?

Does the first album have one?  If so, I might have to say that Friends of Mine might be more intellectual than the rest.  Yet, at the same time, it fits with the rest of the album.  It doesn’t stand out in the way The Chauffeur does on Rio.  Hmm…What about Seven and the Ragged Tiger?  Is there one on there?  A lot of the lyrics do make me think as they are not obvious about what they are about.  If that is the criteria, then, maybe The Reflex?  Union of the Snake?  Again, I’m not sure those really fit the idea that they are for intellectuals.  What about Notorious?  Winter Marches On?  Ugh.  I think I suck at trying to figure this out!!!

Maybe, I’ll have better luck in the late 80s/90s albums?  I think The Edge of America might fit in the criteria for intellectual song.  What does the edge mean?  Why is there is anger?  The lyrics are not that poetic or obscure.  Yet, the song makes me think.  Nothing pops out for me for Liberty.  The Wedding Album’s intellectual song could be Too Much Information as it might make people consider the role of media.  Breath After Breath is very much a different type of song.  Could that be it?  Could they both be??  Medazzaland might have a bunch since the entire album feels very different.  In fact, it might be easier to pick the songs that are more obvious than the opposite.  I’m not sure about Pop Trash.  Ugh.

Post reunion albums are not really any easier to determine the intellectual songs for.  For Astronaut, I might pick Finest Hour.  While the lyrics could be applied to many situations, it has a connection to Churchill and his speech during World War II.  It makes my historian brain think then.  Red Carpet Massacre is interesting.  There are definitely non-intellectual songs on that album, including the ones produced by Timbaland.  That said, there are songs, like Red Carpet Massacre, that seem to be about one thing but could be about something else.  I bet All You Need Is Now has two:  The Man Who Stole a Leopard and Before the Rain.  For Paper Gods, is it the title track?  Only in Dreams?  Both?

Clearly, the answers are not obvious AT ALL.  I made some guesses but I really have no idea if any of songs I considered are ones that the band would consider.  Maybe, all of you have different ideas about which songs are the ones for intellectuals.  Perhaps, what we should do is figure out actual criteria and then consider each album.  What do all of you think?!  Come on, intellectuals, let me hear from you!

-A

On a different note, I want to wish all mother’s a Happy Mother’s Day!

Look where we are: what three DD songs sum up their career?

Every once in a while, DDHQ will ask a question that gets me thinking. Today became one of those days when they asked fans what three songs best represents Duran Duran’s sound.

First of all, I didn’t ever answer the question. My intentions were good, but life got in the way, and I didn’t even think about it again until late in the afternoon.

Second, where do I even begin?! Not only is there a large catalog of music to consider, but the styles are as varied as their hairstyles. If I take the question seriously, I suppose the best place to begin is, well…the beginning.  🙂

I think the first album must display the humble beginnings of this band. That music is what led them, creatively speaking, in a forward direction from the Rum Runner. That said, I think one song has to come from there. The question is, which one?

My heart says Friends of Mine, but that’s more of a favorite than it is anything else. Next would be Planet Earth, but is that MY beginning (as a fan) or the band’s, I am not sure. So then I think about Girls on Film. It isn’t my favorite off of the album, but it does display their ingenuity (camera clicks), and I think of the bass line along with the keyboards and guitar…and it does add up to quintessential Duran Duran from that period. So, I’ll go with Girls on Film.

The next song is tougher for me, because when I listen to Rio, Seven and the Ragged Tiger,  Notorious, Big Thing, or Liberty…every single album changes enormously. Not enough to where I’d say “that’s not Duran Duran”, but I think you all know what I mean. Personnel changes, style changes…but it is all still Duran Duran at heart. So where do I go from here?

I think I have to go for the obvious, which is a little painful…but it’s honest: Ordinary World. I would have EASILY preferred Rio, or even Hungry Like the Wolf on some days (!!), but then I’m ignoring a very important part of their history. I believe Ordinary World is the turning point, the apex when the band collectively decided to keep going and give it their all, whether as the Fab Five,  Fantastic Four, or Terrific Three….not that I don’t think they did it before then, I just mean, it all came together beautifully, in that moment.

So that leaves one. Goodness. I could have easily done this in five songs. Four songs seems tough, but three? ACK!  One song. Ok. So again, I’m struggling with the changes in sound. Sure, Astronaut brings us back to the Fab Five and Sunrise would have been an easy pick, except that it’s now 2017. We’ve had a few remarkably different albums since then. What song defines their sound best?  Do I pick something off of Paper Gods because it’s most recent? Do I pick from All You Need is Now because it’s a fan favorite? What about Red Carpet Massacre, where does that album fit?

I’m going to work through this the only way I know how – train of thought writing. (which ought to be interesting…) Astronaut was the album, or so I thought, because it brought the band full circle. When I think of the song Sunrise, it brings me right back to all the promise of the Fab Five returning. The trouble is, that didn’t last, and I don’t think it’s a fair representation of their sound.  Then there’s Red Carpet Massacre. Out of all the Duran albums, this sounds the least like anything else they’ve done. That doesn’t make it bad, just not quite what I think represents DD.  That brings me to All You Need is now and Paper Gods. On one hand, All You Need is Now is like the first part of DD’s career revisited. It is comfortable (for me), but there weren’t a ton of surprises, and I didn’t feel like it was innovative…but I loved it right away and still do. Paper Gods has been a different journey. While it’s forward-thinking, it’s still very much the Duran Duran I know and love. In a lot of ways the album feels and sounds very much like the story of DD’s career. When I listen to only a song or two, I feel like I’ve only heard a single conversation. It is the one DD album I own that I listen to from start to finish without skipping around, which is different. I think that’s why it is hard for me to pick a single song and say “Yep, that is the ONE song that tells it all.”  Instead, I find myself thinking about the bonus material. Planet Roaring tells the story of how I feel to be a fan, and if there is any one song that is 100% complete Duran Duran on that album (although it’s only a bonus), it is this one.  My problem with picking it is simply no one knows about it but fans.

Earlier today I perused the replies from other fans on the original post. The one thing I noticed, overwhelmingly, was that fans mainly chose hits, or in other words…songs that can be found on many a set list.

I don’t think that’s an accident. In fact, I would imagine that when the band sits down to think about what they’re going to play on tour, they consider songs that appropriately culminate their career. After all, they are picking a handful of songs that walk (or dance) an audience through their entire career.  It’s kind of like Duran 101 when you go to a show! Duran Duran wants to pick songs that an audience knows.  That’s why choices like Secret Oktober, Fallen Angel or even Virus don’t get played. No one knows them, and as much as it pains me to say, I get it. I don’t love it, but I get it.

So what to do about that third song? The rebel in me says to just go for it and pick Planet Roaring because in my heart, it’s the one song that should be on the main album that isn’t. My head tells me that I should be more methodical. I hate that, so tonight I’m going with my head for two out of the three choices, and my heart for the third. (Two out of three isn’t bad!)

Girls on Film

Ordinary World

Planet Roaring

I’m curious though, what did you pick? My choices aren’t necessarily the best or even the right ones – they’re just what I picked tonight (I’m writing this on Monday night!), and I cannot guarantee I’d pick them again tomorrow.  I’m sure that not one of you would pick the same as me, so it’s your turn…what would you choose!

-R

Duran Song Title Themes

Are you someone who pays attention to our questions of the day?  If you are, you know that generally they are poll questions.  They are quick, easy opinion questions.  The goal is just to keep people thinking of Duran each and every day.  Plus, I find it fun to think about which songs or videos I like better and figure that others might, too.

Last weekend, we finished ranking the albums and I blogged about the results yesterday.  Then, I started asking about what might seem to be random songs.  Perhaps, some of you have figured out the connection between the songs I have asked about.  First, I asked about Astronaut or Big Bang Generation.  Then, Faster Than Light went up against Last Day on Earth.  I put these songs into the space, astronomy related Duran songs.  The complete list of those is as follows:

  • Astronaut
  • Big Bang Generation
  • Faster Than Light
  • Last Day on Earth
  • Mars Meets Venus
  • Midnight Sun
  • New Moon on Monday
  • Northern Lights
  • Planet Earth
  • Planet Roaring
  • The Sun Doesn’t Shine Forever
  • Sunrise
  • Too Close to the Sun
  • The Universe Alone

I grouped other Duran songs together in themes as well.  The other topics I found included violence, nature, weather, animals, places, religion, science and the calendar/time.  Could I have come up with more?  I’m certain that I could have.  Heck, many songs could be placed in multiple categories.  I am also concerned that I am forgetting songs.  Here is where I need your help.  I need you to send me titles of songs I missed.  First, let me share the lists I have so far.

Violence:

  • A View to a Kill
  • Of Crime and Passion
  • Red Carpet Massacre
  • Sin of the City
  • You Kill Me with Silence

Nature:

  • All Along the Water
  • Burning the Ground
  • Land
  • Night Boat
  • Skin Divers
  • The Valley
  • To the Shore

Weather:

  • Before the Rain
  • Hold Back the Rain
  • Salt in the Rainbow
  • Sound of Thunder

Animals:

  • Butterfly Girl
  • Hungry Like the Wolf
  • The Man Who Stole a Leopard
  • Palomino
  • Tiger Tiger
  • Union of the Snake

Places:

  • The Edge of America
  • Lake Shore Driving
  • Mediterranea
  • My Antarctica
  • Rio
  • Tel Aviv

Religion

  • Faith in This Colour
  • God
  • Like an Angel
  • New Religion
  • Paper Gods
  • Save a Prayer

Science

  • American Science
  • Blame the Machines
  • Breath After Breath
  • Lady Xanax
  • Networker Nation
  • Playing with Uraninum
  • Vertigo
  • Virus

Calendar/Time

  • Early Summer Nerves
  • Finest Hour
  • Secret Oktober
  • Taste the Summer
  • Valentine Stones
  • Violence of Summer
  • Winter Marches On

My questions now are simple.  What categories or themes did I leave out?  What did I miss?  Then, which songs did I miss or should I include that I didn’t?  I decided to stick with the titles of songs but should I include lyrics as well?  What do you think would be most fun?

-A

12 Reasons People LOVE Duran Duran in 2016

Sometimes, an article or online post will catch my attention and I will feel compelled to respond to it.  This morning, I ran across this article/post on dailyfeed out of the UK entitled 12 Reasons Most People LOVED Duran Duran in the 80s.  As soon as I saw the title, I knew that I had to take a look at it and I also figured that I might agree with most of it but there might be some reasons that I don’t relate to, even though I did love Duran Duran in the 1980s.  Here is their list:

  • They wrote their own music
  • They had great fashion sense
  • They married supermodels
  • They had “brilliant” lyrics
  • The Wild Boys video was “unbelievable”
  • They were Princess Diana’s favorite band
  • Nick Rhodes was the “coolest man on the planet”
  • Arena is a favorite album
  • They had great live shows
  • They inspired “modern” acts
  • They had “brilliant” videos
  • They are still together

Now, I would recommend actually going to the article to see the pictures that go with as well as the brief explanation for each of these choices.  So, what do I think of them?  Well, right away, I might comment that some of these reasons aren’t related to the 1980s.  For example, their influence on others wasn’t known in the 1980s.  We might have guessed that they would be an inspiration on others but we didn’t know that then.  No one did.  Nonetheless, this list made me think that I might create my own list of why people LOVE Duran Duran NOW.  Some of my list will match the original’s but, there will be some changes as well.

Number 1:  Duran Duran has written some of the best songs that have ever been recorded all  from their first single, Planet Earth, to their most recent single, What Are the Chances.  Many of these songs have stood the test of time and I suspect the most recent ones as well.

John fashionNumber 2:  While we admire Duran Duran’s great fashion sense, wSimon fashione also can laugh at some of their fashion choices now.  We can appreciate that they don’t always have to be “cool”.  They can be just
themselves and be comfortable with who they are!

 

Number 3:  Duran Duran makes us think.  Yes, they absolutely do make us think, whether it is by those brilliant lyrics mentioned by the original post or by their videos that seem to be more than what they seem on the surface.

Number 4:  While Duran Duran can make us think, they can also provide a serious escape from reality and remind us that fun is necessary in life!  Perhaps, they is why so many of us choose to go on tour to see them as much as we can!

Number 5:  Duran Duran will always be cool but, sometimes, they can be pretty dorky, which we love, too!  John Taylor’s dance in Danceophobia, anyone?

Number 6:  Speaking of “dorky” and dancing, Simon’s dancing is ALWAYS entertaining and never fails to make me laugh!!

Number 7:  Duran Duran IS a great live band!  No matter how many shows I go to, they never cease to amaze me by how fabulous they truly are live.

Number 8:  On top of making us think and making us laugh, they can also really make us feel.  Ordinary World might bring out the tears while Rio reminds us that they make us feel “alive, alive, alive”.

Number 9:  Duran Duran has recorded 14 amazing studio albums, including one, Paper Gods, released last year.  While I may not love each album equally, ALL of them have gems on them and songs that have made my life brighter for simply existing.

Number 10:  Beyond the fabulous music, Duran Duran also takes their time to consider the visual, whether that visual is in video form, an album cover or in the font that is used for merchandise.  The details matter to them.

duran-duran-paper-gods-cover

Number 11:  Duran Duran has fabulously dedicated fans.  Each of you reading this should now look in a mirror!  Yes, I am talking to you.  Go.  Do it.  You are a fabulous fan!  Often these wonderful fans meet and become the best of friends!  (Some of those friends are crazy enough to write a blog every day!)

Amanda & Rhonda Ace Rooftop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number 12:  Duran Duran is STILL around and have had such an amazing career that has spans decades!  We all hope that they will continue to be around for a very, very, very long time to come!

-A

Picking Duran Duran Favorites!

Today’s poll question about people’s favorite song off of Duran Duran’s latest, Paper Gods, is getting quite a lot of attention.  I love how many people have voted and I love when people comment on one form of social networking or another about why their favorite song is their favorite.  It got me thinking.  (Always dangerous, I know!) What makes a favorite song, a favorite?  Then, I started to think about songs that I really bonded with as a kid vs. the songs I bonded with as an adult.  They have definitely changed.  Is it because my criteria for a favorite song has changed?  I think so!

When I was a kid, I remember getting certain songs in my head.  In fact, they were so in my head that I couldn’t get them out and I drove everyone around me crazy with them!  Let me give a couple of examples.  First, I remember having the chorus to Save a Prayer stuck in my head one afternoon when I was hanging out with my best friend, at the time.  It was summer and we were hanging out in my backyard.  I kept singing the chorus out loud over and over again. (Much like what my students do to me now!)  My childhood best friend was also a Duranie so you would think that she would appreciate this.  She did, too…for like the first two and a half hours.  Then, she had enough!  A similar situation happened when the Reflex came out.  Luckily, this time, both of us were completely addicted!  We were so addicted, in fact, that whenever and I mean whenever it was on MTV or the radio we would call each other up!!  We spent a lot of time on the phone in the spring of 1984!  Thus, as a kid, what made a favorite song was that it got stuck in my head!  It had to be catchy!  I didn’t think of the lyrics or dive deep into the instrumentation.  Now, though…

When I think of my favorite songs now, they tend to be ones in which the instrumentation really sticks out!  My favorite is Planet Earth, which has the fabulous call and answer between guitar and keyboard, not to mention that fabulous bass line!  I also love how the lyrics capture this spirit that Duran has with popular culture, science fiction, humanity.  Therefore, the lyrics tend to be super important to me as well now.  I might go so far as to say that, for the last couple of albums, what has really hooked me is the lyrics.  Let me give some examples.  All You Need Is Now, the song, took me a few listens to grasp the instrumentation with that jarring and unusual beginning.  What kept me listening, though, was the lyrics.  “Stay with the music.  Let it play a little longer” is a sentiment that most Duranies have felt or feel even now about the band.  Many of us loved that the song seemed to be about them and US and our history together.  Then, another one of my absolute favorite Duran songs of all time grabbed me, lyrically, from this album, too, which is Before the Rain.  In this case, I loved the feel of the song, musically, but didn’t have a connection to the lyrics until my beloved cat and grandma died ten days apart.  All of a sudden lines like, “On the bomb ticks that is my heartbeat.  In every life flash, in every car crash.  I hear the silence waiting to fall” took on new meaning as I watched two lives come to an end, leaving my broken heart beating and silence.

Lyrics have become so important to me that I do think they played a huge role in me really grasping and embracing Paper Gods.  I had been listening to the album for a week or so and had begun to really enjoy it but I wasn’t hooked yet.  All of a sudden, I was listening to it with earbuds on to really focus on the songs when I noticed the lyrics to Last Night in the City, a song that I had initially dismissed.  Lines like, “Hearts’ spinning all around on me (together).  Now they’re surrounding me.  This is how we get connected.  Running out the shadows into light!”  This is how I feel on tour!  Let me listen again!  More lines that feel like touring like, “I’m not gonna sleep tonight.  Till the morning fills the sky,” and “This is our time!”  Holy crap!  At that very minute, I got a text message from Rhonda who had realized the exact same thing!  For literally the next two hours, Rhonda and I went back through each song, listening to the lyrics, analyzing them, connecting to them.

Fast forward to a Sunday in October as I sat on a plane heading back home from tour and once again, I found myself listening to the album.  I had a piece of paper in front of me that held my flight info.  Throughout my flight, it became more than that.  It became a paper filled with more lyrics, more lines that now held new significance to me.  I still have that paper as it represents an even deeper connection to the album than I had before.  Each time I listen to Duran or really dive into the lyrics, I’m reminded of how SMART the lyrics really are.  They make me think.  They make me feel.  They also often feel like they are directly speaking to and/or about me.  Perhaps, this is why how I choose my favorite Duran songs have shifted.  Lyrics matter a lot more now.

What about the rest of you?  How do you choose your favorites?  Has the process changed?

-A

Paper Gods, Caveman Edition

Editorial note: C.K. didn’t title this blog and submitted it, probably assuming I’d come up with some catchy title for it. Well, he made the mistake of characterizing his own descriptions of Duran Duran’s music as being “caveman level”. So did what must be done and ran with it. You’re welcome, C.K!!!  – R

 

I had a two-hour drive recently to visit friends in Boston, and it was the perfect opportunity to play Paper Gods! On drive up, I played it in its official running order, because it’s been a while since I’ve heard it that way. Then, I began to skip around, looking for specific songs. It’s about that time in Paper Gods’ five week existence that we start looking for certain songs, right? What I found interesting, though, is that most of the songs I’m gravitating toward now were not ones I liked much a few weeks ago. Specifically:

  1. Face for Today: Some songs grab you strictly with the music, while others may hook you with the lyrics. This one really merges the two for me. I love the idea of Duran giving advice to this generation of pop stars. And yet it also feels like it can apply to our lives too. The “hold on to your time” message is a nice continuation of the similarly themed “All You Need is Now”.   It’s also reminiscent of R.E.M.’s “All the Best,” from what would be their final album, 2011’s Collapse into Now. In each case, the band is clearly speaking from a place of accomplishment and looking back, fondly, to those who are following in their steps.   I loved this song upon first listen, and continue to love it today.
  1. Change the Skyline: Admittedly, I didn’t like this song at first, but it has grown on me. Lyrically, it talks about “moving on” and while that doesn’t necessarily resonate (I don’t want the band to “move on” and I certainly am focused on the “now” in my own life!), I do relate to the notion that you can change the skyline: with your actions, words, accomplishments, with your life…so for me, when I do get to the point where I am passing the torch to someone, I want to feel this way—that I have made a difference. Musically, I really love the percussion, even though it has that club sound (disclaimer: As you all know from my past guest blogs, I am not a musician, so my descriptions of Duran’s music are going to be at the caveman level. No “syncopated bass” references from me!). I also like the rhythm guitar and the keyboard line. And Jonas Bjerre is great, in my opinion. I am sure this puts me in the minority of the fans out there, as this song seems to take a beating on some message boards, and that is fine…I’m used to it (says the guy with the Medazzaland poster in the background).
  1. Sunset Garage: If you asked me in mid-September what my least favorite song was on Paper Gods, I would have easily pointed to “Sunset Garage.” It sounded too different for me, too 60’s/70’s faux Beach Boys-ish.   It also seemed like the descendant of “Taste the Summer” and “Meet El Presidente,” two songs from the catalogue that don’t rank as my favorites. And yet…it grew on me. It’s so damn upbeat and catchy. You can just picture yourself driving on a coastal highway into the sunset with the top down. “Whatever happens, we’re okay…hey we’re still alive!” is one of my favorite lines on this album.   This song has the trademark Duran optimism that drew us to this band in the first place.
  1. Only in Dreams: This one was a fan favorite from day one. It took a little time for me to get into it, but I certainly love it now. I love the orchestral beginning that gives way to the funk about a minute in (very similar to “The Universe Alone”).   Again, lyrically, it’s about celebrating the now (“don’t want to wake up”), but is a little more playful than some of the other similarly themed songs. The Nile Rodgers influence is all over this one. And, yes, the (wait for it…) syncopated bass is also a cool effect. (Well done, my friend. – R) 
  1. Valentine Stones: My favorite of the bonus tracks. When the band talks about this album being heavily influenced by both Notorious and the first album, I think of this song. It’s got the funky rhythm guitar and a haunting, early era Duran chorus that sounds straight out of 1981. Lyrically, the song seems to be about someone getting over a relationship and being leery of a suitor’s promises (as if the protagonist in “You Kill Me With Silence” finally was able to “let go” and move on, but was leery of the “rebound” relationship that awaited him…or her. Yes, I really overanalyze these lyrics!).   I think all of the bonus tracks are amazing, but this one really stands out to me.

You realize that I could have written 13 more paragraphs, right? I love every song on this album. Even Danceophobia. But these are the ones I found myself gravitating toward on my recent trip. I think it speaks to the depth of this new music that these songs were not among my favorites a month ago. Who knows what will happen tomorrow? Whatever happens, we’re okay, though…hey we’re still alive! With new Duran Duran music!

-C.K.

Paper Gods – Daily Duranie Reviews

As a treat, Amanda and I decided that we’d do the review of Paper Gods as another video, the link is below.  We tried to be succinct with the actual review; but this is a warning to get yourself a snack and a beverage, and don’t blame us for being willing to dig a little deeper into the meaning of Paper Gods!

-A & R

 

Daily Duranie Review – Hold Me

It has been a long time since our last review.  We apologize and hope to get back into a routine.  For those of you who have been paying attention, we are in the middle of reviewing the songs off of the album, Notorious.  This review finds us looking at the song, Hold Me, the fifth song on the album.  This isn’t one that is mentioned often by critics, fans or the band.  Should it be talked about more or is it one of those lost album tracks?  Read and find out what we think.

Amanda’s Review

Musicality/Instrumentation for Hold Me:

It is hard to hear the first few notes and not recognize it as being off of Notorious.  It has the same feel, the same style as the rest of the album.  People might not recognize the exact SONG title but it is obvious that it is part of Notorious with the noticeable drums and guitars.  This is, obviously, very different from songs of Seven and the Ragged Tiger, for instance.  Bass is definitely there as well forming a solid framework which helps to enhance the horns that come through, periodically, and makes the verse feel very tight.  One unique element to Hold Me is how different the verse is in comparison to the chorus.  They almost feel like two different songs as the chorus is much softer and open and allows for Simon’s voice to take center stage.  I do like the transition from the chorus to the next verse, though.  The transition is very clear.  Hold Me also has a significant bridge about two-thirds of the way through.  The tempo is slower than the verse but still very tight feeling like no other sound could get in.

Vocals for Hold Me:

To me, Simon’s vocals don’t gather that much attention until the chorus, which is a shame since they sound very smooth here.  Perhaps, this is more of a problem with the mix in that the instrumentation during the verse is so dominant.  Maybe, it is because there are clearly layers of Simon’s vocals, harmonizing so well leading up and during the chorus.  This is a song that showcases Simon’s range well.  There are only one or two lines that I think push Simon too high.  In general, though, it shows that Simon is capable of hitting higher notes without straining.  I wonder if Simon would be able to sing this one now.  Then again, I don’t never remember seeing this one on any set list, even then. One other thing worth noting is that towards the end of the song, there is the repeating “Hold me” with a bit of “la-la-la” in the background.  I don’t mind the repeating of the song title but the “la-la-las” don’t feel necessary to me.

Lyrics for Hold Me:

These lyrics are interesting to me.  They don’t necessarily make me feel a lot, personally, but I suspect that if this was about a real life situation for someone than they would be very emotional.  It seems to me that is about someone who needed to be held, to be loved but then felt guilty afterwards.  Perhaps, it even led that person to hide, to deny.  Could this be based on a real life situation?  It could be.  It definitely makes me wonder.  Of course, while the lyrics seem more obvious than many of Simon’s lyrics, I realize that I could be interpreting the lyrics completely wrong.  While it may not be the poetry of some of his other lyrics, I’m  at least that they make me think, at least a little bit.

Overall Notes for Hold Me:

Hold Me is one of those songs that has some elements that I like.  In general, I like Simon’s vocals during the chorus.  I like the contrasting open feel of the chorus versus the tight feel of the verse.  The lyrics are, at least, somewhat interesting.  Then, there are other parts that I wonder couldn’t have been different.  For example, I wish that Simon’s vocals weren’t hidden so much until the chorus.  The “la-la-la”s at the end aren’t necessary.  Yet, none of the parts that are good seem great and none of the parts that are less likable to me are that bad.  To that end, it feels like a classic album track to me.  It won’t be loved but it also won’t be hated.

Cocktail Rating for Hold Me:

3 cocktails!  ff2be-threeglasses

Rhonda’s review:

Musicality/Instrumentation for Hold Me:

I think it is apparent from the first drum beat that this is not the same Duran Duran from the first album. This is a band that has grown, evolved, matured, and changed. It is clear that Hold Me belongs on the Notorious album with its very clear (and well-miked) drums, and it the bass funk.  Gone is the obvious sort of call and answer between keyboards and guitar – and instead guitar takes on a more muted role as a rhythm player (as opposed to lead).  Even in the mid-section where one might assume there would be a full guitar solo, there is only a subtle riff or two that would count as a lead guitar somewhere in the mix. Another obvious difference in this album from earlier records are the inclusions of horns throughout the song, which wasn’t necessarily found everywhere in rock during this period of time – but then I might argue that Notorious wasn’t your typical pop or rock album, either.  One thing that makes Hold Me a standout on the album for me personally is/are the changes in timing (tempo) as well as the clear and well-executed transitions throughout the song, including those between verse and chorus.  These give the song some texture that I enjoy and make Hold Me different from the rest of the Notorious album.

Vocals for Hold Me:

I really love Simon’s vocals on this song during the verses. They are so smooth and clear, he sings with ease. The chorus has the slightest of strain on the highest notes (HOLD me, SHOW me…etc.), but I suspect that is more for effect than actual strain. (in fact I can’t decide if he’s doing a slight glottal stop on those notes for effect or if it’s really just strain – Simon tends to do glottal stops often as a type of vocal effect, which many believe causes vocal issues down the line.) But, overall I really like the tone of his voice – it has a warmth to it that works really well with the music and lyrics. I also really like the background singing “why can’t you see” that is an undertone during the lines just prior to the chorus. They almost sound ghost-like, or like the voices in the back of one’s head speaking to them. I love it.

Lyrics for Hold Me:

Truthfully, I never once thought about these lyrics until today. Then I read them. I would love to know who Hold Me is about, because whomever it is, there’s guilt, ignored passion, and a whole lot of hiding going on. I actually feel sorry for whomever Simon is writing about is basically pretending they are someone who they most clearly are not, and I would imagine that person was really struggling at the time. Personally, I like that the lyrics are clear if you’re actually reading them and thinking – one can only handle so much of something like The Reflex! Let’s face it though, even what might seem to be the most obvious lyrics Duran has written are up to interpretation and chances are, they never mean what we think they do. That said, I like lines such as,  “Ashes, violations, who would they burn for? In your isolation what can’t you see?” or “When the passions you ignore, you can never hide. One of these days you’re gonna find out, ’cause one of these days you’re gonna try. And what did I say to make you wind up with this spear of guilt inside?”  No, perhaps it’s not pure poetry, but I think they say something remarkably emotional and painful. I like that feeling of discomfort and searching that is conveyed through the words.

Overall Notes for Hold Me:

Even before the review, Hold Me was one of my favorites off of Notorious, but one thing I really love about doing these reviews is that they force me to really listen to songs that I’d long since forgotten. I listen to the songs with renewed ears, and more often than not, I glean more out of the song. That can certainly be said with Hold Me. I find that I’m enjoying it even more so after having reviewed the song. I really love the smoothness of Simon’s voice – it’s soothing up against the lyrics that are clearly meant to force someone out of their comfort zone, to stop them from hiding. I also really love the slight funk to the rhythm and the clear drum beats. I’ve also surprised myself by not being completely annoyed that the guitar really does not take a lead – in fact in this song there really doesn’t feel like there is ANY lead melody other than Simon on vocals. A well-written and recorded track.

Cocktail Rating for Hold Me:

4 cocktails!

4 cocktails rating

 

 

Skin Trade – The Daily Duranie Review

It is time for another review!  Someday, we will have reviews of all Duran songs then…of course, we will have to cover videos, DVDs, etc.  This week, we are moving on to the third track off of Notorious, Skin Trade.  This song was the second single off the album and did not result in much chart success.  In fact, it peaked at number 22 in the UK and number 39 in the US.  Did the song deserve those chart placements?  Here’s what we think!

Rhonda:

Musicality/Instrumentation

There is no way to miss the slow, sexy funk in this song. From the pick up drum beat to the first chords, through to the way that Simon saunters in with his first lines of lyric. It’s laid back, easy and simple in it’s own way. I especially like how the guitar is played rhythmically for this song instead of grabbing the lead. The horns join in for the chorus, adding the proper accents and staccato to the melody.  The middle-8 breakdown, just prior to the trumpet solo is genius, and to even have a trumpet solo in a Duran Duran song like Skin Trade in the 1980’s was brave beyond measure. Musically, this song couldn’t really be more different from the early sounds of Duran Duran, as much of this song comes from an almost-but-not-quite jazz vein. There’s not much punk or pop to be heard, instead showcasing an entirely different sound, which makes this (as well as the entire Notorious album) an interesting song for a  Daily Duranie Review. The melody is almost a bit too slow and draggy for me – it’s never been a song that I’ve fully embraced, but it’s definitely a tune that is a fine example of the musical aptitude and ingenuity of the band. Duran Duran was never a band to shy away from seeking new avenues and trying new things – Skin Trade being an excellent example.

Vocals

Here’s the thing: I like the chorus to this song. It’s in Simon’s range,  he’s not pushing the envelope and is able to get a full, developed sound. I like the stacked harmony – and I especially love that the mix of the voices gives a fuller timbre to the bottom of the chords. I feel the exact opposite about much of the verse(s). In a desperate attempt to reach the notes, he squeezes off his vocal chords, eeks out the notes, goes for a really bad falsetto and as a result the sound comes out all wrong. I don’t know why they allowed it to finish this way, but it doesn’t work for me at all.

Lyrics

I never knew what Skin Trade really meant when I was a kid. I just knew it wasn’t something I wanted any part of. (Turns out, my first instincts were probably right.) Over the years, I suppose I’ve come to some sort of an understanding with the song. I really don’t get a lot from it the way others might, except that it seems to describe that we’ll do anything for money…and we’re all a part of that Skin Trade. We’ll all do whatever we’ve got to do because we’re all chasing after the dream. The money.  Of course everyone loves using the line, “Would someone please explain, the reason for this strange behaviour“, but my favorite lyric has always been, “So cool to get angry at the weekend then go back to school.” (I have no idea why. I guess I thought it was funny that Simon mentioned school, especially since at the time – that was a good description of my life.) Ultimately, I think the lyrics are pretty spot on, even if I never identified with it the way I know others have. There are people that I know who love this song to pieces, and I just haven’t ever felt it like that. Drives me crazy because I wish I got it….

Overall

As I said before, I know fans who are completely obsessed with this song.  I’ve never really had that kind of a relationship with this one. It continues to be a song that I either skip over, or let play through and not even notice in the way I might others. I do appreciate the innovation of the period – bands just were not playing jazz funk the way this band did back in the 80’s, and all critics really need to do is listen to a Duran Duran song like Careless Memories and then turn around and listen to this one to realize that this band was far, far more than just a bunch of pretty faces. In a lot of ways Skin Trade was incredibly underrated, both by fans like myself as well as critics – but I have to wonder why that is. Was it really because it was just so different at the time that critics discounted it? Was it because the vocals didn’t do the song justice…or was it because at this point, the Fab Five was no longer, and the “hype” of the band was gone – therefore allowing the band to simply fade into the background?  I would probably argue all of the above, but I’d give special attention to the fact that I think in the case of Skin Trade, the maturity of the band’s songwriting was well-ahead of the maturity of their fans. (as well as the music industry to a great extent.)  I continue to have a growing appreciation for Skin Trade as the years go by, although I still wish they’d changed the key of Simon’s vocals.

Cocktail Rating

3 cocktails! 3 cocktails Amanda:

Musicality/Instrumentation

This is one of those Duran songs that people seem to have strong feelings about.  I’m no exception.  Yet, I went ahead and listened to the song again to really HEAR it before I provided my review.  Right away, when listening to the opening notes of the song, you know that this isn’t the Duran of the early 80s.  While instrumentation is clearly present, they aren’t being played in the same way, in the same genre as songs like Sound of Thunder or New Moon on Monday.  No, this song is focused on making Duran sound as funky as possible.  While we always knew that Duran was influenced by a wide variety of musical genres, including funk, before this album and, especially, this song, this influence wasn’t very obvious.  What do I notice about the instrumentation of this song that seems to form the funky?  All of the instruments seem a bit slowed down, more of a saunter than a dance.  The guitars aren’t even played at a very quick tempo, even during the faster chorus.  Of course, the chorus is really noticeable because of the use of horns, which definitely get placed in the song spotlight.  Another part that captures my attention is the bridge of the song, about two-thirds of the way through, as it has more noticeable bass and drums with guitar being interwoven.  Of course, that moves back into more horns.  I give Duran credit for broadening their horizons and focusing on a a different musical influence.  That said, it isn’t my favorite.  For me, I have always felt and still feel, even after listening to it again, that the horns are too dominant and shadow the rest of the instrumentation.

Vocals

As I listened to this song again for purposes of this review, one thing became very clear for me.  The vocals are what bothers me the most.  While I’m not the biggest fan of horns, the vocals are the biggest negative to the song.  While Simon alters the range of his vocals throughout the verses, the higher notes/higher range don’t really work.  I get that his voice is supposed to go from high to low, multiple times within the verse.  It might have worked if he wasn’t pushed to go as high as he does.  Here, Simon doesn’t sound like the quality vocalist he is.  We all know that he has a great voice and is able to create mood, stack harmonies, etc.  Heck, the chorus shows off some of those skills.  Unfortunately, one has to get through the verses to get to that chorus.

Lyrics

The immediate thought that comes into my brain when I think of the lyrics to this song is prostitution.  Isn’t that what the first verse implies?  The woman is making money but she is also frustrated while she “works” on the weekend.  Yes, Simon does broaden the idea to include all exploitation and the desire we all have to make money.  Yet, I had no connection with the lyrics even with the line about going back to school or about “strange behaviour”.   Anyway, while I appreciate that Simon was thinking about society and one of the dark sides to society, it just didn’t hit me at all.

Overall

I wish this song did it for me.  I like, in theory, that Duran embraced a different musical direction.  I like that they discussed large issues of society and didn’t shy from using different instrumentation/tempo/vocals than they had previously.  On paper, I should love this song.  Yet, I have never been one to really get into it.  Yes, I think that the biggest factor is the vocals.  I wonder how the song would seem if Simon was pushed to recording his vocals in a different range for the verses.  Yet, I am also not a fan of horns.  Combine those two things with the lack of connection to the lyrics and you get my overall rating.

Cocktail Rating

2.5 cocktails!

3a186-twohalfglasses