Tag Archives: Grammy Awards

I Feel A Void: Lady Gaga’s Tribute to Bowie

Yeah, I saw Lady Gaga last night. After realizing I wasn’t going to be at home in time to catch the beginning and a quick text home, I knew I’d be playing with the fast-forward button on my DVR in order to squeeze in the more interesting parts of the Grammy Awards into my evening TV plans. Rest assured, Lady Gaga and Nile were on the top of that list.

Naturally, I watched some of the rest of the awards show as well. I don’t know about anyone else, but it very much felt like a LACK of awards show, and much more about just performances, which is fine…I guess…but it was strange to be five minutes into the broadcast and have LL Cool J announce that Lamar Kendrick had already won five awards. What the hell?  Maybe that’s just me.

As I continued fast forwarding whenever possible, I finally got to the Bowie tribute. Here is where things get tricky for me. First of all, I wouldn’t dare call myself a huge Bowie fan. I have dear friends who are huge Bowie fans, and it would be unfair to put myself in that same category. I will say that I have become far more of a fan since his passing, and that’s probably a subject for a much different blog post that has more to do with art than fandom. Moving on…

Performing something called a tribute is a very difficult balancing act. The goal of course is to honor the artist. That artist might be honored posthumously, as in the case of David Bowie…or they might be watching in person, as in the case of Lionel Richie last night. Either way, I truly believe that the people performing do so in an attempt to honor.  Do fair justice and respect to the work without making the performance about you (the performer) when it should be about the artist being honored. Make it too much about the person you’re honoring, and it can end up looking like a mockery of the very person(s) you’re trying to honor.

This goes as much for tribute bands, who make a living (or try to do so!) playing onstage in the persona of the band/artist they honor as it would for something like the Grammy’s where a huge portion of the show was dedicated to tributes (like last night). When I go to see a tribute band (I go often and have seen many, from Elvis and the Beatles to Oingo Boingo, Depeche Mode and Duran Duran to name but a few), the acts that are the most successful are the ones that take it seriously without going over the edge into ridiculous. Make too many jokes about the band you’re paying tribute to – and you’ve just taken that down a road that fans will not like. Play too much like your real-self, changing the original music and arrangements to suit your own taste, and you’re just a cover band, which is fine, but don’t call yourself a tribute act. There’s always a fine line to walk, and many bands do not do it well.

So, with that in mind, I watched intently as Lady Gaga’s face appeared on my TV screen and became painted like the Starman. She came on stage with beautiful red-hair and sang incredibly.  Had she just done that: relied on her voice, her obvious love for Bowie’s style, music and art, I think it would have been fine, I really do. But somewhere along the line, either she decided or someone told her that she should try to completely embody Bowie. And that’s where it all went wrong for me. I am not even a huge Bowie fan, and yet I couldn’t help feeling as though I was watching a poorly executed Vegas act in certain moments of the performance. It wasn’t her voice, gosh no. She was incredibly strong and did a beautiful job. It was theatrics that really got me. No one need point out that Bowie himself was theatrical. Believe me, the point has not been overlooked. The problem is, in recreating that drama, it felt very over-the-top, sliding down the steep terrain into mockery. It was pointed out to me by Katy Krassner that she really didn’t seem to be doing that intentionally (and I am sure she wasn’t), but I struggled with how to describe it all.  Campy is the right word. Picture a Vegas lounge act, and I think we’re on the right track.

Here’s the thing, at least for me: Lady Gaga sang beautifully last night. I want to make sure that point comes across. As much as I disliked and was confused by what was going on visually, her voice completely blew me away. I really don’t know that they could have found anyone else to do the job as well when it came to singing the songs. I loved seeing Nile every time he was given precious camera time, and I was thrilled to hear just a few bars of “Let’s Dance”.  I just don’t understand why her voice and Nile’s obvious talent and emotion for his friend weren’t enough without the theatrics.

The difference between Gaga and Bowie comes down to artistry. Bowie just knew how to make it all work together without one overshadowing the other, and he did it with ease. Bowie’s work never really looked like he was forcing it into being a spectacle, in my opinion. Even at the time of his death and in the making of the videos for “Blackstar” and “Lazarus”, he was able to work in those deep, hidden messages without changing the intention of his work. Hell, I fell in love with Lazarus before I even realized what it was truly about. That it ended up being this lasting message to fans about the end of his life on this earth, and the idea that he made his death into this gorgeous supernova which becomes a black star (another word for a black hole) that will live on, just makes me long for more. (I could write and talk for hours about that single album and its artistic references. I mean, the man turned his death into a fucking multimedia event. Who does that?!?) When Bowie sang Starman, for instance, it wasn’t campy or in danger of becoming a late-night lounge act on the Vegas strip. It was just enough without going over the edge. That’s where the real art lies, and for me, that’s what last night’s performance was missing.

I’ll end with this thought: should the day come when it is Duran Duran being honored, I would hope that it would be done with the utmost in care and respect. I don’t need to see a full-mock up of the yacht from Rio, military suits, tigers, leopards, or a scene from Wild Boys on stage to honor them. I simply want to see respect from an industry that has offered them very, very little over the years. I would think that is all any fan would want.

-R

Isn’t It Time for a Grammy?!?

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I could pretty much just leave the blog right like this today and be dead on with the message…and the first (and largest) quote from Rolling Stone says it all.

If there were ever an album that truly DESERVED a Grammy this year, it’s Paper Gods. I write that with reasoning in two-fold.

For one, this is NOT a debut, upstart band. This is a band that has been working for the past thirty-seven years, and this album isn’t a throwback to everything else they’ve ever done. Not by a long shot.  Duran Duran has done what very few other bands have ever been able to do, and that is breathing new life into their career as they finish out their fourth decade in music. That alone should earn them a Grammy nod.

On the other hand, the “fandom” hand that I hold near to my heart that is full of emotion – isn’t it time this band receives some acknowledgment for their music?!? Yeah, they’ve gotten themselves a few “Lifetime achievement” awards for style or videos, and hey those are fantastic. WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC?!? I know what Duran Duran would say here. They would graciously say that they don’t need that kind of validation, and every single time they see one of us – the fans – scream for them, or comment on how much this band has meant to us over the years, it validates them. Good. I’m glad that the band feels that way, and before I say what needs to be said on behalf of the fans out there – I want them to know that I appreciate that they TELL us how much we mean to them. The little things matter. And we fans do love them. Fans do not stick around for decades supporting a band they don’t like much, and they sure as hell don’t write blogs, plan conventions, and/or travel specifically to see them, either.

The fans say it’s OUR turn. WE want that validation for them. I know I’m not alone when I say that I want to see Duran Duran up on that damn stage, earning their Grammy for the talent, expertise, innovation and devotion they’ve given their music over the years. Paper Gods proves all of that.

I hope the band “hears” me when I type this: the awards matter to US – the fans – because it’s gone on too long now. I speak for all fans when I say that we’re sick and tired of this band being kicked under the table purely because they happened to be the band that young girls fell in love with once. Being female does not equate to not knowing anything about music, and just because at one point I (or any female fan for that matter) happened to be a teenage girl, shouldn’t mean that Duran Duran will forever pay the price. Sometimes I want to ask these people – whomever is really voting for this shit or comments in the negative about DD’s fan base – why it is that they think Duran fans are so intense, or so “rabid?”

I can answer that: it’s because we’ve spent the better part of our lives defending them. We’re supremely loyal because we’ve had to be – and it’s not just about defending their good graces – it’s been about defending our own.

I cannot tell any of you how many times I had kids laugh back in school when I’d triumphantly name Duran Duran as my favorite band. I’m sure most of you have similar tales to tell. I think to a certain degree it hardened me, because I’d glare in reply with a steely gaze, and then flatten them with some basic facts about the band and what they’d accomplished. Sadly, not much has changed over the years. To this day I have neighbors who look at me comically when they ask what I do – and yeah, it can sometimes be tough to choke down the whole “You write a fan blog??” comments. I hate it, actually. So yes, I want to see this band win. You can bet, should that day come – I will feel as victorious as I might if I was bringing home the award myself.  I have no doubt that every other fan out there feels similar.

Duran Duran deserves their moment. I know damn right well that they’re better than M.A.N.Y. of the other bands and performers out there that pick up Grammy’s every single year like it’s no big deal. They thank their managers and producers, most of the time forgetting about the fans that bought their album to begin with, and try to manage not looking like complete assholes (some of the time) as they grab their umpteenth trophy and walk off stage. Once again: IT. IS. TIME.

It’s time to recognize that Duran Duran has outlived much of the unfounded criticism that has relentlessly followed them throughout their career, much in part due to people like me. Fan Girls. Don’t get me wrong, I roll my eyes in complete disgust at that comment, particularly because it’s made by people who know precious little about music, much of the time. Huge, sweeping generalizations were made by critics out there because you know – if young girls happened to like the band, obviously that must have meant they weren’t very good.

Funny thing – those fan girls every music journalist and critic out there has laughed at? We’re still here, and many of those critics are LONG gone.  (A special thank you to Simon for mentioning that during a recent interview with Lyndsey Parker for Yahoo Music!)

Vote early, vote often!!  Paper Gods deserves your consideration.  (and  if you’re a fan who hasn’t bought the album yet – GO GET IT!)

-R

Duran Duran News: 2/2/15 to 2/15/15

It has been two weeks since I attempted to summarize all of the official Duran Duran news.  Clearly, there has been some activity with Duran Duran.  As always, let me know if I missed anything!

The Music of David Lynch

Duran Duran will be among more than 10 performers/guests to make an appearance at a special show in Los Angeles on April 1st to celebrate the music of David Lynch and to benefit the David Lynch Foundation.  Want to know more about it or get tickets?  Read the official press release here or our reactions to it here and here.

Bestival Festival

Duran Duran is going to be playing the Bestival Festival in the UK on September 12, 2015.  Want details or tickets?  Read the official press release and/or Rhonda’s blog post about it here.

 Out and About

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The members of Duran Duran have been out and about, it seems.  Simon and others went to the recent rugby game between England and Italy.  SpBAFTAeaking of Simon, he also attended a little pre-Grammy party with John and Nile Rodgers!  Nick was busy, too.  He was attending the BAFTA’s   The band’s official Facebook page posted these pictures.

Valentine’s Day

Save a Prayer was featured in Mad World’s Ultimate Valentine’s Day Mixtape Part Deux.  You can read Rhonda’s blog post about the entire list on Discord and Rhyme!

Before the Rain Film Maker

Remember when Duran Duran had a contest on Genero TV for the best videos to go along with the tracks on All You Need Is Now?  Well, the winner of the Before the Rain has been busy!  Read about what he has been doing here.  Here is his version of Before the Rain:

On that note, I’m absolutely positive that I missed some Duran Duran news from the past 2 weeks.  Please comment below on anything I missed!  I would appreciate that!

-A

 

Todays Date in Duran History – 1986 Grammy Awards

Hey, what were YOU doing on this date in 1986?

Nick Rhodes was presenting a Grammy Award to Sheena Easton for Song of the Year!

On this date in 1986 I was 15 years old and in the 10th grade, which meant that I was a sophomore in high school. I can remember seeing Nick give the award – I liked his hair. (An important note, right?) And that was the most exciting part of that entire evening for me….and probably a lot of you.  Little did we realize (Maybe some knew. I’ve thought about this and I don’t believe that at the time of the Grammy’s I really knew/understood that Andy & Roger weren’t coming back.)  that later that year Notorious would be released (November of 1986) and the Fab Five would really and truly be down to just three.

Now that I’ve brought you all down, you can go read Nick and Katy’s Oscar Picks to bring you back up!!