Yesterday’s winner: Picture X
Last week, I posted a blog that caused quite a stir, especially on Facebook. I’m okay with people disagreeing with me, but what bothered me about it is that the point I hoped to get across got lost or wasn’t clear. The point I was trying to make was how important connections and friendships are for fandom to survive, thrive and increase, which is especially important when your idol(s) isn’t/aren’t around much. Those friendships keep you interested and keep you tied to fandom even when other interests might pull you away or when life might threaten to take up so much time and energy that one can’t think of fandom. Let me give you some examples from my real life to show what I’m talking about.
I am a Star Trek fan. I became a fan for a simple reason. My family watched it and my brother got really into it as a kid. Thus, the original episodes were always on at my house. Then, once the movies came out, we went to those, too. I didn’t have to think about my “fandom” at that point because it was a family activity. When I grew up and moved away from my family, Star Trek was the last thing on my mind. It wasn’t that I stopped liking it. I didn’t have any conversations about it anymore and had college and then career to worry about. When I moved to Wisconsin, my brother was the closest family member to me, geographically, so I would go visit him when I needed family and a break from life. At his house, we would watch Star Trek. I had forgotten that I liked it. His interest and my connection to him rekindled my interest. Soon, I found myself tuning in at home. I didn’t need my brother to want to watch it. This led to more conversations about Star Trek with my brother and my sister-in-law who is also a Trek fan. The three of us even attended Trek Fest in Riverside, Iowa (the once future birthplace of Captain Kirk). I would have never done that if it wasn’t for my family getting me back into it. These days, we still will talk Trek, watch it or even play Trek games whenever we are together. We called each other right after we saw the last movie (on opening night, I might add!). Our excitement was so strong that we all decided to go see it in the movie theater again! My fandom with Star Trek would have never begun without my brother. It would have died out without him, too.
Now, of course, my fandom with Duran has always been much, much stronger. It could and did survive years away from it. Like many people, I had years in my life that I didn’t think too much about Duran and certainly didn’t talk about Duran. I didn’t know any Duranies during that time and was pretty busy with other things. Yet, it was a conversation with a fellow fan that got me thinking about Duran again. This, of course, led to a full blown explosion of fandom in my life. My life, currently, is filled with so many Duranies that I could not really walk away from my fandom unless I stopped talking to a ton of friends. Even if I wasn’t paying attention to Duran news, I would hear what the band is doing from my friends. On top of that, their excitement gets me more excited. Just look at the past week with news about Duran’s recording with two different choirs. I saw my friends talking about it first before I saw the official announcement from Duran Duran. Then, after work, Rhonda and I talked for over an hour about it! Talking to her got me thinking more about Duran and got me more excited about DD14.
While I know that there are fans out there who can keep their interest going without having friends inside the fandom, I know, for me, and many others I have read about and come across in my research, that connections and friendships matter. They matter to keep the fandom going, especially when there is so much that can pull any of us away from being fans.
This is it!!!! Well, this is the first half of “it”! Today is the day that I reveal part of the top Duran Duran songs (songs 25 to 11) as picked by us (the fans!). First, let me thank each and every person that sent us a list! Most said that it was hard, particularly to order the songs, but that they enjoyed it. I know that it took me a long time to make my list as well as to compile the results (hence the lateness of today’s blog), but I think it was worth it! Now, if you didn’t do it, but wish that you had, have no fear! We plan on making this an annual event. You can send your list next year!!! Second, I wanted to clarify one point. A lot of lists contained specifics like certain remixes or certain live versions of songs, which was cool. I ended up adding those to the totals of the original song. Otherwise, those songs/votes would have been lost in the shuffle! Without making you all wait any longer, I now present the favorite Duran Duran songs 25 to 11.
25. Girl Panic
23. Wild Boys
21. Girls on Film
20. Last Chance on the Stairway
19. The Man Who Stole a Leopard
18. Before the Rain
17. The Reflex
16. New Moon on Monday
15. Lonely in Your Nightmare
13. Come Undone
12. All You Need Is Now
11. Late Bar
Next Saturday, we will reveal the top 10 Duran Duran songs! After that, I will do a little analyzing about what songs were chosen and what that says about our fandom and our preferences! Were you surprised by any on here so far? Any predictions for what songs will make the Top 10 now that you have seen 11 through 25??? Come on, be brave! Make some guesses!
I have news! I have actual, real, current Duran Duran news to talk about! As you can imagine, I’m beyond excited about that! What is it? Well, as many of you know, Duran Duran had a little press release up on their website yesterday talking about how Duran recorded this week in London with the Voce Chamber Choir and the London Youth Chamber Choir! According to this press release, they came together to record several new songs for the upcoming album! To read the complete press release and see some pictures go here. Along with that, the Voce Chamber Choir also posted a little blog about it, which you can read here. That little blog has a few more details and some more pictures!
I have to admit that I was completely THRILLED to see this tweeted this morning! It seemed to me that many of us in Duranland were dying for some news, any news, something from the Duran camp about the album. Then, we get this! Obviously, I’m excited to see some news. I think every Duranie was yesterday!! More importantly, though, this news makes me hopeful. First, I love that they are working with actual choirs. I adore when they have used more classical instrumentation in the past , like the instrumentals on All You Need Is Now, and think this kind of touch could make these songs (did you all catch that…SONGS…as in more than one) really special. Beyond that, I like what this must mean about where in the process the band is with the new album. As far as everything I have seen and heard about how they make an album, they usually start by just jamming. People just throw out ideas until something catches everyone’s attention and then they build the song from there. Typically, this is more on the musical front with lyrics and melodies coming later. For recent albums, including this upcoming one, I have heard many references about waiting for lyrics. It makes sense to me that the lyrics would often come last because they have to fit the mood, tempo, etc. of the music. It might be harder to write music to go with words. Anyway, then, from what I know, once the songs are written, they have to record them. It seems to me that if they gathered these two groups together to RECORD VOCALs, the songs have been written, words and all, I assume, and they are in the recording stage of the process. Now, of course, we have no idea how many songs are left to record and we all know that the mixing often takes a long time after that. Nonetheless, this feels like progress and hints of songs that I look forward to hearing.
If that wasn’t enough, apparently, there was a post made over on Mark UK’s message board about a fan who had a chance to visit the band in the studio, which you could read here. Unlike the news above, this is not an official announcement. Nothing in that thread is official or came from the band, in any way, shape, or form. I’m not going to comment about what all was stated there other since there is nothing official, but I will say that there was a lot there that got me thinking and wondering. It got other people thinking, wondering, and commenting as seen on the multiple page thread. Some of the things stated there involved Mark Ronson’s contribution to the album, the state of the recording process, touring, possible release time and one song title. I suggest that if you are curious, go there yourself and draw your own conclusions.
Yesterday was a good day in Duranland. I loved having news…real, official news. I didn’t mind seeing a fan post either simply because I enjoy the speculation and the discussion that arises from such. It is good to see a little life in the Duran universe. I can only hope that there is a lot more to come in the near future!
P.S. Just a reminder that today is the VERY LAST DAY to send in your list of your Top 25 Duran Duran songs! We start the big reveal tomorrow!!!
We begin our big finish of Seven and the Ragged Tiger with Rhonda’s review of The Seventh Stranger this week.
Musicality/Instrumentation: I will say one thing about the music on this album – it flows extremely well from one song to the next. The same basic elements and sound are found on virtually every track, and this last track is no exception. The song is not especially fast in tempo, and the song tends to have more of a lead-in (intro) than many others on this album, beckoning the listener in for one last round. While the amount of track layering on other songs was bothersome for me – there’s just too much texture to sort out – on this song, I found the layering and mixing to be just the right amount, with the exception from about 4:30 to about 5:00, where it tends to end up sounding a bit more like cacophony. There is a really clean guitar solo that reminds me the tiniest bit of Andy’s work to come much later on the Astronaut album, and the signature call and response between keyboards and guitars is very much present as well. What I don’t hear a lot of on this particular song is bass. I’m sure it’s there, but it’s not the driving rhythm we’re used to hearing along with drums. Those instruments are far more subtle, with a lot more percussion used as background. Overall, the music is interesting without being obtrusive – it’s a good sound for a closing track, letting the listener down easy as opposed to dropping them flat.
Vocals: One thing I really like about this song is that Simon’s vocals are in the lower part of his range, highlighting his versatility. After hearing song after song with soaring, stacked harmonies that range to the upper part of his vocal range, it’s a welcome change to have something a tinge darker and more mellow. It is apparent when I hear songs like this that Simon has had classic training – I can almost hear him dropping his jar as he tackles some of the lower notes to create a fuller sound. If there’s ever a question of his abilities, one does not have to go far to find the answer, that is for sure.
Lyrics: So many of the lyrics on this album seem to follow in the same theme : learning how to deal with fame. This makes sense to me because during this time – Duran Duran was the biggest band in the world, and to the band, it probably very much felt like it all happened overnight. To me, this song seems to express Simon’s desire to find someone to trust in a crowd. Different faces, every single night – who to turn to? It certainly describes a feeling of complete loneliness in a crowd of thousands, which seems to be incredibly daunting. As a fan, I can’t imagine what international fame must have felt like back then – all five went from being “regular guys” to being on the cover of every magazine, on our TV’s, radios…and pursued in every corner on the planet. In some ways, it almost seems as though Simon is commenting on the fact that he is one of the most recognizable people on the planet (at the time), almost no one really knows him, and yet I get the sense from the song that he is searching for that comfort of knowing and being known. Great lyrics.
Overall: Admittedly, I spent much of my youth skipping this one…or at least only half paying attention when the song would finally play on the turntable…fading into silence after it ended. There is a lot right with this song: the lyrics are great, Simon’s vocals are among the best on the album, and the music isn’t at all overpowering. But, I still feel as though some of the best parts of the band: bass, drums – are nearly completely overlooked on this one. Balance is what this entire album left behind, and I think that they never quite find it again until much later in their career.
Cocktail Rating: 3 cocktails!
You all can file this under the heading, “Things I would love to ask the band if given the chance”. It is true, I have questions that, if I were ever sitting down with any of them and knew I’d get a REAL answer for (not the pat, politically correct answer I’m sure they reserve for interviews and things), I’d ask. Here are a couple:
1. Is there a song that you’re sick to death of playing live?
I’m pretty sure that they’d never answer that question honestly. To begin with, it’s likely “bad form”, and they don’t want to offend anyone by mentioning one song or another. On the other hand, they did write all (most) of the songs they play live – and I suppose in that respect, they’re like children in some way – so it feels wrong to love one more than another, perhaps. Even so, I just have to think in some far corner of their mind, there’s at least one song that they’d like to forget for an extended period.
2. What is your least favorite Duran Duran song?
This is a far different question from the first one, because you can like a song and just be tired of playing it. I’m literally asking – what song do you really just not like? I’m sure there’s got to be one out there, don’t you think??
3. What producer have you least enjoyed working with?
Again, I think that the band can come up with some very lovely sentiments about every single producer they’ve had – but can they be honest and tell me who was really just hard to work with? Who did they clash with maybe on a personal level? I’m sure it’s a tough question and not one they’d want “out there” – which is why I wouldn’t really expect that they’d ever answer, but hey – it’s my blog. 😀
4. What is your least favorite place to go on tour?
Listen, I’m pretty sure Los Angeles has to be near if not at the top of their list in most cases (John aside, of course) but I am curious. They’ve been many more places in the world than I, so I’m wondering where has been the least liked!
5. I’ve seen where a fan will bring up something about the fan community and the response from anyone in the band is typically “We don’t get involved in fan community things.” Why is that?
Is the band really not interested? I wonder this because as many fans mention to me in response to many of my posts, fans are what keep the band “in business”. We buy the product. Why on earth wouldn’t the band be interested in what their customers do, or events that the customers plan? Perhaps that’s not what is meant – I suspect they mean that they don’t want to be involved in the drama, and that I completely understand. That’s why I’d ask the question though – to set that record straight.
What are some things that you’d ask the band if you were given the chance and knew they’d give a real, straight answer?