Yesterday’s winner: Is There Something I Should Know?
Which song better represents All You Need Is Now Tour: Girl Panic or Girls on Film?
Yesterday’s winner: Is There Something I Should Know?
Which song better represents All You Need Is Now Tour: Girl Panic or Girls on Film?
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.
Loved doing this – it was a great exercise!
More puzzling than why Jane Fonda installed floor-to-ceiling shag carpet in her spacecraft, is why it has taken me all these years to watch Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy (1968). As the second-highest-grossing film in the UK that year, it isn’t surprising that a few young men from Birmingham would come across it and choose to name their band after a character. From the science fiction storyline to, well, Jane Fonda, it is the sort of film that captures the imagination of young men. Much like Duran Duran’s own videos, the film is a product of its time but remains a, sometimes, revolutionary text.
Equal parts Flash Gordon and Austin Powers, Barbarella finds herself trying to save the universe from the evil Durand Durand. There is a blind angel, the blonde adonis John Phillip Law, some evil dolls that try to eat Barbarella, an attack of parakeets, a bi-sexual princess and a lot of other ridiculousness along the way. As far as storylines go, it unfolds like the comic strip it originated from. The scenes look individually brilliant with a retro-futurist style the screams 1968 but it is far from gripping as a story.
While most will want to dismiss the film as soft-core sexist fluff, Barbarella has proven to be an iconic and influential character, most recently being reprised by Ariana Grande in her “Break Free” video and celebrated by Clutch with “In Walks Barbarella” . The kitsch and camp of the film overshadow how in-control of her sexuality Barbarella is throughout the film; ultimately undermining patriarchal attitudes and reflecting the sexual revolution of the late 1960s. Nobody exerts any power over Barbarella’s choices and she possesses the same sexual freedom of James Bond, moving from bed to bed without a second-thought.
Nobody, not even Durand Durand with his excessive-pleasure machine, can tame Barbarella and her innocence ultimately is what saves her from the Matmos, some sort of evil energy substance. That innocence is not tied to chasteness, but to peace and love and the search for a utopia that we know we will never find. Barbarella’s charm lies in how it celebrates and ridicules such thinking simultaneously. It’s all a bit daft and the film embraces that fully. Fonda may have been cast by her husband for other reasons but she magnificently threads the needle as an actor throughout.
Which brings us to Duran Duran. From “Girls On Film” to “Electric Barbarella”, many of the same criticisms of Barbarella apply to their work but they can be dismissed for the same reasons. If patriarchy is rooted in power, it is hard to see how the band has exerted that power over women in their music and short-films. In the subversive “Girls On Film”, the video unfolds with vignettes that establish power ultimately resides with the women and the band are kept at a distance, unable to participate. When they are allowed into the fray with “Rio”, they all make fools of themselves chasing their idea of female beauty.
The most troubling video is likely “Electric Barbarella” with the boys purchasing a sexbot for their flat. Why Nick, Simon, and Warren are sharing a flat is never addressed but I know record sales were declining at the time. Director Ellen von Unwerth brings her iconic photography to life in the video and, admittedly, her visuals threaten to overshadow the underlying message of the song. As much as the men wish to control their electric Barbarella, they are destined to fail in every regard. Myka Dunkel shrewdly exaggerates the ridiculousness of it all with her acting; something I missed the first few times I saw it upon release. Much like Barbarella, the video is a parody that mocks social conventions of the time without becoming too cynical. And it looks amazing doing so.
Did Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy give Duran Duran more than a cool name for their band? Definitely. When you watch the film, notice how many times Fonda says “planet earth” for example and how many Duran Duran songs can fit into a science-fiction context. With the band’s recent NASA show, this is the perfect time to watch Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy and ponder the ultimate question: is there anybody out there?
On this date in 1983, Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film” was featured on a radio album called “Rolling Stones Continuous History of Rock & Roll”. It was show #85, and it was released by ABC Rock Radio Network on this date. It was meant to be aired on the various stations within the ABC network, and if you look hard enough for it online – you’ll find copies floating around.
The show itself was entitled “The British Rockers”, which seems appropriate, and was an hour-long program. It featured songs from the 1960’s up to 1982. The album was used for license broadcast in the USA on this date, and was even issued with cue cards for presenters. So, if you listened to the broadcast in Los Angeles, for example, your local radio host would be presenting the broadcast in the same format with the same script as the host in New York.
“Girls on Film” was included on this album, and as fans will remember, it did not chart during its initial release. Rolling Stones Continuous History of Rock & Roll: 85, having been released in 1983, took place just as the song, and the band itself, became wildly popular here in the states.
The other day, Herald de Paris published an interview with Andy Wickett. I had seen a great deal of headlines posted by Duranie friends about this piece of work, but I hadn’t read enough of the article to make comment until today.
As a simple introduction for those who may not recognize the name, Andy Wickett was one of the lead singers of Duran Duran prior to Simon. I know, I know, it is difficult to believe that such a time existed. Last year, Mr. Wickett released (the article calls it a “monumental” release. I’m not sure I’d characterize it quite so strongly, but whatever) demos of songs he recorded with Duran Duran prior to Simon.
Funny thing is, I’ve had those demos for probably at least ten years now. I bought them as a bootleg type of thing online, so last year’s monumental release wasn’t exactly new.
In any case, Andy explains that before Duran Duran, he was in a band called TV Eye. There is a little history between TV Eye and Duran Duran, as they shared the same Cheapside squat for a while – I believe one band was upstairs and the other downstairs (or something like that). At the time, Stephen Duffy was the lead singer for Duran Duran, and at some point, he and Stephen basically switched bands. Andy began singing for Duran Duran and Duffy for TV Eye. According to Wickett, he brought a song with him from TV Eye called “Stevie’s Radio Station”. Duran Duran loved the song, and “Stevie” eventually became “Rio”.
Andy Wickett recalls writing the melody for “Girls on Film” one night, although the lyric that Andy had written it as “Girls IN Film”, which Nick suggested he change. It was recorded as a demo, which Nick and John later touted to EMI and A&M. According to Andy, both companies loved his voice and wanted more songs like Girls on Film.
At this point though, Andy left the band for “personal reasons”. Upon leaving, he wanted payment for “Girls on Film” since he helped write it, and in turn he was offered £600 if he would sign a waiver, ultimately releasing the band from further payment to Mr. Wickett. He signed the document, and later found out from his attorney that he could not fight and/or win a case for royalties against EMI.
If any of this back history interests you, I would steer you towards John Taylor’s brilliant autobiography, In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran. He writes about the band’s entire history, since of course he, along with Nick Rhodes, were the founding members. Best to get the details straight from the person who was there the entire time, I’d say.
However, the point of the article that fascinates me this week, is the claim from Andy that Duran Duran’s managers offered him £10 to give Simon 20 minute lessons – having him sing “Girls on Film”. He comments in the article that he believes he influenced Duran Duran’s vocal style, since the managers paid him to teach Simon how to sing like him. He says they used a lot of his lyric ideas and song titles such as “Sound of Thunder” and “To The Shore”, and that “they” influenced the Durans and Stephen Duffy.
He goes on, citing that DD and their management came to see him perform with Xpertz, a reggae band he’d joined after leaving Duran Duran. The Xpertz had a song at the time named “All The President’s Men”, and on Duran Duran’s next album they had a song titled “El Presidente”. Take that for what you will.
Personally, I hesitate to extol anything as fact from someone whose best memory of being in Duran Duran is “lots of fun white stuff”. I mean, sure – there was a lot of cocaine during the 80s. John Taylor himself may have mentioned that a time or two. But that’s the best memory he could manage? Not the songs? Not even performing?
The truth is, I have a difficult time with Andy Wickett, not that I’ve ever met him. I know fans who have and swear he’s the sweetest. I’m sure that is true. For me, the dilemma is simple: Andy is someone who could have easily profited heavily from some of the band’s earliest songs. He has intimated in the past that he felt the band knowingly cheated him out of money (never mind that he was not coerced into signing his name on a legally binding waiver, but did so willingly). It is troublesome to attribute everything he shares as fact without considering that he just might have an axe to grind. Regardless of whether truth, nonsense or likely somewhere in between, I cannot forget the entanglements of history when I read some of the things he says in interviews.
There are several people who probably feel as though they’ve been screwed by Duran Duran over the years, for one reason or another. That’s the cost of being in a successful band, I suppose. It also means that many people want their share, and are willing to say whatever it may take to make someone think twice about them and their contributions, however distant or prominent they may have been. I’ve personally seen and heard things from various ex-band members over the years about albums as recent as Paper Gods and All You Need is Now that just seem petty, yet the band still maintains some level of professional decorum with those people. It is something that I don’t know that I could do half as well.
I was not around during the days of TV Eye, Cheapside, or even the Rum Runner. I have no idea if what Andy says about giving Simon vocal lessons is really true – but I suppose anything is possible. If I genuinely thought that Simon would answer me seriously, I might ask. The thing is, at this point—it doesn’t even matter. Simon is the lead singer of Duran Duran, while Andy Wickett is marketing his new album, Creatures of Love, by retelling 40-year old anecdotes.
Yesterday’s winner: 1984 Sing Blue Silver Tour
Which song has BETTER LYRICS: Girls on Film or Planet Earth?
From the looks of my Facebook and Twitter timelines, we’re all still deep in the throes of celebrating Rio. I must admit that as I tore the cellophane shrink-wrap, it never once occurred to me that someday, I might be celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of Rio’s existence….on a blog.
The same holds true for the item worthy of celebration today. On this date in 1980, some guy in pink leopard pants auditioned for Duran Duran. You might recognize his name – Simon Le Bon.
I used to say that I couldn’t imagine Duran Duran without him. I’m wrong about that of course, because I’ve heard some of the early (before it was ever Rio or Girls on Film) music without him. It might have been Duran Duran…but it wasn’t DURAN DURAN. Simon was definitely the missing piece (or the missing link!! ha!). I definitely can’t imagine their concerts without him. Yes, Amanda and I love to give him a hard time, but there is a lot of love, too.
So while the 40th anniversary might begin next year, it’s a good thing they plan to celebrate for a few years because it wasn’t really Duran Duran until Simon joined, and today – we’re going to celebrate that turn of fate.
Happy anniversary to Simon as we celebrate the day he began this crazy ride!
Yesterday’s winner: Planet Earth
Which VIDEO do you like better: Girls on Film or Night Boat?
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
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!
Yesterday’s choice: The Reflex
Which song would you rather have LEFT OFF the setlist: Girls on Film or Save a Prayer?