Tag Archives: Kiesza

Happy Anniversary Paper Gods!

Today is the one year anniversary of Paper Gods.  It is hard to believe that the album was released a whole year ago.  In order to celebrate the anniversary, the band released the official video for Last Night in the City (at midnight Eastern time) and then a little video from Simon discussing the special occasion.

Last Night in the City:

Here’s the video of Simon:

Of course, Rhonda and I had lots to say about the video, Simon’s video and the anniversary itself.  In order to fit our thoughts into one blog, a video blog seemed most appropriate!

After listening to all of our thoughts, what you think about the video or about what Simon had to say?  We would love to know!

-A

Version 11: The Belasco Theater Los Angeles!

I promised the name of this review for their show at The Belasco Theater was going to be Version 11.  I don’t know what wise guy numbered the set lists for this tour……

I am thrilled to take a small break from writing to say hi and share a little bit of my experience from Monday, especially while the band is likely 40,000 feet up, headed back home!

To begin with, I don’t mind writing that the pre-sale for this last-minute show was a challenge of epic proportions. However, I could have predicted that as soon as I heard that Ticketmaster was handling the sales. I’m sorry to report that way, but it’s the truth. I heard tales from fans who were even unable to get onto Duran Duran’s website, much less Ticketmaster. I heard the password didn’t work for many, and in my own case – I just kept getting kicked out of the Ticketmaster portion of the sale and had to keep putting the password back in to try for tickets again and again. Speaking of which, there is something VERY wrong when at 10:00 on the dot I am requesting tickets and am already being told there are none. I ended up with one ticket (needed two), and decided to try my luck at on the Live Nation pre-sale, which went far better. Early entry be damned, at least I was going.

Speed ahead less than two weeks to the actual show, which took place on Monday, May 2nd.  Unfortunately, there was no way for Amanda to get out here (we are sinking everything we’ve got into our July shows – the band is going to see us all month-long at various gigs, so they should be prepared and plan their spit-zones accordingly.), and for some strange reason – my husband decided he needed to go with me. We went with a couple of my other Duranie friends (shout outs to Shelly & Katie), and planned to make a day of it, languishing on the beautifully picturesque Los Angeles sidewalks as we wait all day in the lovely GA line.  I had gotten reports that there were people in line as early as 3am for the show, and felt that was definitely over the limit of what I would be willing to do for this band. (Yes actually, I do have some limits!) Turns out that no, actually there was someone in line at midnight for the show. (Oh hell no. I don’t ever need the front that bad!)  So, by the time we arrived at The Belasco at 12:30 – we were pleased to see that the line really wasn’t very long at all.  We set up camp for the day, complete with chairs, blankets, some snacks and beverages.

Here’s the thing about GA lines. They don’t suck unless you’re stuck in the rain or bad weather. Otherwise, there is a lot of socializing that goes on, and just like any other show – I have a great time seeing people I hadn’t seen in months, so my afternoon was spent roaming up and down the line chatting with people, and the time flew by.  Before I knew it they were setting up barricades and we were packing up and getting ready to go in.

Once inside, we settled into some prime viewing spots. I have to say, the audience, at least for me, was well-behaved. No pushing, shoving or trying to get up to the front. It was really nice, and I am happy to say I didn’t even mind it being GA for a change!  Before long, Mr. Hudson came out to do his DJ set.  I’m going to be honest – I had low expectations.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I figured there would be mostly music I didn’t know, and maybe I’d find something I liked. I was wrong. Mr. Hudson knew his audience, and he played a LOT of fantastic music.  He had no trouble looking at the crowd, smiling and seemed to have a great time himself. We danced along and after what felt like a super short set, he was leaving the stage and the roadies came out to set up for the main event.

Rather than retell the entire show, I’m going to focus on a few areas:

Sound/Look/etc

I was near the front, but for me, the sound seemed really muddy at times. I hope it’s not my hearing but you never know!!  I had a hard time even hearing some of Mr. Hudson’s music, and then when the band came out there were certain songs that just didn’t sound clear. I am assuming it was the sound system and acoustics of the venue that sucked. Even at the very end when John spoke into the microphone I only picked up on bits of what he said and I couldn’t hear Nick at all. (if anyone knows what they said could you let me know?)  This was the first time I’d seen the updated visuals and even the risers the band was on – for this show the risers/steps didn’t correspond with the onscreen visuals (they didn’t light up at all), but the visuals were really nice.  The one thing I have to mention is that the band doesn’t move as much as they used to…and by the band I mean John, Dom & Simon.  I couldn’t decide if this was because the stage was small (and it was) or if it was because their current production and choreography has them standing pretty much in their own spots. Since this was the only time I saw them, I couldn’t tell. Maybe the band was just tired. ???

Other than that though, I thought they looked and sounded great. Some said that Simon sounded raspy and I did see him cough but I guess I didn’t pick up on his voice being as raspy as it was in the weeks prior.  I liked how he sat down during What are the Chances, too.

Set List:

This was the only show I saw for this leg of their tour, and honestly – while the set list has a few additions (the short medley including NMOM, the Space Oddity tribute to Bowie and IDWYL), the rest of the set is pretty much the same as I saw in October.

To the band: I heard what you said in your Sirius XM town hall, that you’re aware the diehards want B-sides but that it’s not feasible because no one else knows those songs, and it would also mean relearning how to play them.  I guess from our point of view as fans, there comes a point when it makes zero sense to keep going to see the same basic show over and over again, and that is really what it’s become as of late to many people.  I can’t say I’m in that group yet because I’ve got tickets to 8 shows in July.  (I deserve every last one of them and it’s the way A & I are going to celebrate finishing our manuscript), but I see their point as well as I see that of the band. I walked up and down the GA line on Monday – I wish I would have taken video (and in July I will), because nearly everyone I spoke with are doing less shows this summer as a direct result of the set list not changing enough.  So I guess it comes down to whether or not the die hards really make enough of a difference in ticket sales (which I doubt, but I don’t know), and whether it’s worth the time to remember how to play Careless Memories or Friends of Mine or Late Bar, Secret Oktober, New Religion (which we’ve surveyed as being the #1 most requested  song die hards want to hear)…etc.  I don’t know.  I don’t think anyone expects an entirely new set list, but I think being brave enough to switch out a few would freshen the show as much for us as it would the band.

New Moon on Monday

All of that said, in my opinion, I have to be honest – I stood in awe several times during the show on Monday. When Simon sang New Moon on Monday – even though it was only 25 seconds – my heart swelled.  I haven’t heard that song live in many years (I can’t remember when it was played last). I adored every second of it and honestly just stopped and stood there, trying to soak it all in.  I had goosebumps and thoroughly enjoyed every single second.

I Don’t Want Your Love

Another great moment for me was during IDWYL. Again, it’s been a while since it was played – and when it stopped showing up on the set list I was happy to see it get a rest, but now that it’s back in the set it feels rejuvenated. The band seems happy playing it, and the fans really seemed to get into it too.

Tributes

The Space Oddity tribute was really, really cool – thank goodness the band has a guitar player (Dom Brown) that can handle it. I’d hate to have to see poor Nick have to sample all of that, otherwise. 😉  I even got teary eyed. It was a beautiful moment that I’m glad I was able to see.  While I still think SAP does not belong in the encore, I loved the tribute to Prince with the lovely things Simon said about him. For me, I’m still rocked to the core that he’s gone, and it’s nice to know the band cared enough to say something.

Overall

In a perfect world, the band would change-up their set even a little before July.  I know I’m a big (and loud) proponent of some of the obscurities – but even if the band didn’t incorporate B-sides,  there are other ways. They could shelve three songs that are tired, break down the set and they don’t give the impact the band needs, and add in three others that haven’t been played in years but are still known to many like New Religion, All You Need is Now, and maybe Serious…but those are just three off the top of my head from a catalog of thousands and at this point – I don’t really care what they put in the set as long as it’s new.  The few I’d remove might be: AVTAK, Come Undone and Ordinary World (with What are the Chances you don’t need both – and WATC is the one you need to be selling right now anyway). Granted, for every song I mentioned there are going to people screaming, “NOOOOO not that one.”  No kidding. We all have favorites, and yeah I’ve seen the outcry for The Reflex. Too damn bad. That’s the way it works folks, and I didn’t even bother to mention Rio, HLTW or GOF because those are stalwarts in every way for this band. Yeah, I’m tired of HLTW but it is the song everybody on the planet knows. I get it.  I see it when they play, and to be fair, I still dance and sing along, so what can I say?? I’m just gonna roll my eyes every time and Nick can smirk in my direction. No one will die if they miss AVTAK, but I think some might without Rio and HLTW. That said – if the band ever plays a fan show with B-sides (dreams are free) I had better not hear anything about anyone being hungry.

….you know, another way for them to handle this is to play a longer set like some of their contemporaries already do. Just saying. Ok, ok…moving on…

Still hate the spit zone (White Lines), but the good news is that I ducked.  Unfortunately, I failed to warn my husband. Oops.  He especially enjoyed the grin on Nick’s face as Simon spewed over the top of us. (ha ha ha)

The confetti canon is a great moment. I love it and I hope they don’t get rid of it. Still think Pressure Off is a fantastic song, I just wish we had radio stations with platforms to support it. (don’t we all?)

Danceophobia has really lost it’s luster for me. I picture it as a sort of rusted, slightly dented mirror ball now. It’s as used as Lohan herself (too much??), and it’s time to put it away.  Not even John’s dancing can save it, and now that Jessie Wagner is no longer touring with the band, why even bother – not even Lindsey knows the words anyway.

Best moment of the show for me? New Moon on Monday.

Worst? When they left the stage and the house lights went up.  🙂

Biggest surprise? It’s a tie: Kiesza coming out to sing Last Night in the City, which was VERY fun and a real treat – she is darling and is an amazing singer, and I Don’t Want Your Love  – I thought I’d still be bored with it, and wasn’t.

I can’t wait until July 8th. Chicago.  By then, I’ll be done writing and ready for a month-long party.

I hope the band will be ready.  For now, back to the salt-mines with me!

-R

I Am a Signal Somewhere in Your Bliss

I have a confession to make. It’s likely to get me into trouble in some circles (when am I not in trouble with someone out there??), but I’m going to share anyway.

I haven’t listened to Paper Gods since the beginning of November.

In my defense, I have a seven-year old. I know that doesn’t sound like much of an opening line – but wait!  When the album first came out, I listened to it day and night. Any time I was in the car it would be on, and when I was at home and could put in ear buds without fearing that the house would go up in smoke without my noticing, I’d be listening. I wrote blog after blog about the album. I wrote, changed my mind, and wrote again. And then my youngest started listening. She plays Minecraft in her spare time, and when she’s playing she listens to music. Admittedly I didn’t know this for a while (which is another blog for another day), but she found the album on YouTube and started playing it while she’d “craft”.  You can’t obviously see my dining room table right now, but I’m on one side of it and she sits at the very end of it, close enough so that I’m able to see what’s going on should I feel the need to intervene, or just remind her that “real life” is still going on around her. One day I was writing or working on something and all of a sudden I recognize that she’s humming and partially singing…and it is a song I know.  I stop and listen – she’s singing Last Night in the City (as apparently one does while they’re playing Minecraft).  My eyes got wider and wider as I listened. Not only does she know the words, she knows Kiesza’s part and isn’t afraid to belt it.

I should probably mention that my little one takes singing lessons, too. She’s in something similar to Glee (Yeah, I do question my own judgment sometimes…) so I get the joy of hearing them sing songs like “What Does the Fox Say” in their “Glee” sort of way each week. Nope, not kidding. (Again, the whole judgment thing…) So, as I take her to and from school twice a week and then when we go to singing, she has taken to requesting music be played as though I’m not only her chauffeur, but also her personal DJ.

So where was I? Oh yes, Paper Gods. It quickly grew from requesting one song to asking for many songs off the album – and not necessarily in the order presented. All day, every day, she would ask for “Last Night in the City” and “Pressure Off” to be played. Sometimes she’d request “What are the Chances”, and other times it would be “You Kill Me with Silence”. She’d groan at “Danceophobia” (Yes! She IS my child), and after about the 1,000,000th time I had to play “Pressure Off” for her, I decided I was finished. I needed a break. I needed to hear other music, for crying out loud – no offense to Duran Duran, but I was sick of it (and it takes a lot of nerve for me to admit that, but really – I needed a change of pace!) So, I told her no. (A collective gasp heard ’round the world falls over the crowd…) There would be no more mom playing DJ in the car. We were going to listen to other things. Period. She protested. I stood firm. She is obviously the better fan (but I have better tickets to the shows, so there!).  Only joking, people…and remember, she’s seven.

This continued for about a month. Until Monday night when she caught me at a low point. It had been a rough weekend, I was tired, and I just wanted to get home. She came bouncing out of Glee class as I dragged my mostly dead body to the car. She jumped in, buckled up (she never does anything quickly so this was unusual), I fell into my seat, threw my bag beside me, buckled the safety belt and started the car, sighing deeply as I considered what I was going to rush home to make for dinner. Just as I’d settled on the fact that I didn’t care, a small, ever-so-kind voice from the back of the car requested “Pressure Off”.

Part of me wanted to resist. But I was too tired. I gave in and put it on. After not hearing it for over a month, I’d forgotten how good it was. I still love the hook to pieces and I have it on good authority from my small passenger that Janelle Monáe is still “awesome”. (We live in California. Deal with it.)

Yesterday morning, we got into the car to head to school. We leave at traffic time, so we can count on the drive taking about an hour.  Gosh I love Southern California. My youngest knows the drive can be long, and quickly suggested every so casually that we listen to Paper Gods the entire way to school. “We can even listen to it YOUR way, Mommy.” (That means I start the CD – yes CD because my car is old and I hate screwing around with my phone and the audio jack and CDs sound better anyway – and we listen from start to finish. No repeats, no skipping around.)  Again, part of me resisted. I wanted to wait until after the first of the year and listen to it alone and see how I felt, but I gave in. (This kid has my number in the worst way. Tune in when she’s hit her teens and we’ll all see how this goes…)

A couple of observations:

  1. My little one has grown up with Duran Duran being constant in her life, even more so than my older two because I didn’t start blogging until just after the youngest was born.  She thinks she knows them even though her MOM doesn’t even know them. This is funny to me.

  2. My girl can sing, and it is nothing for her to hit and hold the high notes that Janelle and Kiesza hit.  Ah…youth.  🙂  She dearly loves Paper Gods though, and I appreciate that. You know that youth market DD was after?  Well…they overshot and got the seven year-old market hooked!  (I am joking. Mostly.)

  3. It had been quite a while since I’d heard the whole album and I was curious about how I’d feel after being away from it. Did I really love Paper Gods in the same way that I love Rio or the first album??  Paper Gods still presents a formidable challenge in that it really forces the listener to fully open up and push old perceptions of Duran Duran aside. It’s not like anything else they’ve done, collectively speaking, yet it’s still them. Does that make it well-loved, or does it make it an album that I will continue to appreciate and grow with over time, but maybe not one that I grab immediately when I think of Duran Duran?

I put the album aside again for a while, figuring that after the holidays, I’m going to sit down and give it a dedicated listen,  hopefully without my little back-up singer so that I can concentrate. (I don’t dare say that to her!) I’m curious to see how I feel about it after more time away, and I’m wondering if others have done similar – either with this album or others.  Chime in if you care to share!

-R

Review: Duran Duran Performs on the TODAY Show

My fellow Duranie Stephanie and I entered the chance to win Fan Passes for the band’s Today Show performance on September 17 . We live in Western New York, so the travel time to New York City is at least 6 hours. Not to mention, we both have jobs with limited time off, so our attitude was if we get passes, we’ll just figure out how to go. We really didn’t expect to win them at all. But then Stephanie got the email a week before the show saying she won a Fan Pass (good for 2 people). Our conversation together went something like this:

“Holy cow!”

“Can we do it?”

“Would we be able to take the time off with such short notice?”

“Can we afford to go?”

“It doesn’t matter – we are going!!”

So after an abnormally long train ride, we finally get to NYC around 11 pm. We decided to go to a bar near Penn Station and the sign outside says “Welcome Madonna fans!” Wait – what??? Madonna was at Madison Square Garden that night? That was just a block away! How cool would that have been if we could have seen that show too?!

Back to Duran-land: The Fan Pass instructions said they would start letting people in at 5:30 am and no one would be let in after 6 am. We decided to get there around 5:00 and figured we’d be early enough. We knew that we couldn’t get front-row spots because there’s a VIP section between the stage and the Fan Pass section. But we would be closer than the general admission audience, so we’ll just see what we can get. We saw on Facebook that some fans were there around midnight. We decided that if we were going to stay up all night, we’d prefer to spend the time having a few pints and some food. (I know, I never said we were the most hardcore fans! Just hardcore enough to skip work and travel to NYC for a free show.)

So we got to the Fan Pass line around 5 am. We waited. And waited. I met some (of course) nice people in line and we all commiserated about how early it was.

Today_PreDawn

Today_Waiting

Finally we received our passes which certified that yes, we are now official FANS!

Today_FanPass

(*Before judging our appearance in the photo, please remember that we stayed up all night before the show!)

It was after 6 am and we still hadn’t been let into the plaza. Now we were starting to get a little angry – and you don’t want to anger Duranies at this hour of the morning. But shortly after 6, a couple black vehicles pull up to the plaza entrance and we heard some fans squealing. Clearly the band had finally arrived. I debated whether the delay was due to Nick’s primping, John getting his hair to defy gravity, or Simon squeezing into his pants. Whatever the reason, we were all glad they finally arrived! Having been at the last-minute-cancellation in Atlantic City in 2012, I was starting to feel like this show might not happen either. But the boys were here – and we were all eager to see them.

Having watched the Today Show concerts on the plaza, I had an idea of what the venue would be like. However, once I was actually there, I realized (spoiler alert) it was a lot smaller than it appeared on TV. But frankly my reaction was, “Well then, I’ll be even closer to the stage than I thought I would be!” As you can see from the sound check photo, it was still pretty dark out when we were let into the plaza. It was rather strange to watch a show that started in the dark and ended when it was light. But as weird as it was for me, it has to be much weirder for the band.

Today_Soundcheck

We get into the Fan Pass area and the band is already doing their sound check and rehearsal. To me, this was the coolest part of the experience. Maybe some of you have been at shows where you’ve seen the band do sound check. This was such a treat and a unique experience. I loved that we saw them in their street clothes. We heard their songs multiple times, starting and stopping mid-song. I was thrilled to see that Kiesza was going to perform with them because “Last Night in the City” is my (current) favorite track off Paper Gods. And every time they played it, I loved it even more.

Today_Soundcheck_Kiesza

It was hard to tell if the band was in “sound check mode” or if they were grumpy for having to play so early in the morning. Of course the fans were all excited and we had our second wind and were ready for the show! Simon was a little playful with the crowd but I was hoping for a little more. They finished up sound check and left the stage, so we didn’t know how long it would be until they played again. I think a producer from the Today Show gave us the times the band would be on, but we didn’t listen too closely. I was secretly hoping the band would play an entire concert, but knew that was a little too much to hope for. However I was thankful for whatever we could get.

Here’s the setlist as it happened in real-time:

Ordinary World – This was played/filmed first but actually aired in the last hour of the show. I thought it was a downer to start with, and I worried that Simon wouldn’t hit the high notes, but he killed it. In fact the vocals and sound were amazing all around. I saw some chatter online about how the sound on TV wasn’t great. I thought it was awesome in person.

Notorious (snippet) – The show bumped to commercial with this one. If you watched the show and felt like you got cheated out of the song, don’t worry – we did too. What you saw is all we got.

Last Night in the City (with Kiesza) –  If you watch the video you see around 2:52 Kiesza misses the start of her solo verse. She kept missing it in rehearsal too. Methinks Le Bon got Le Pissed.

Hungry Like the Wolf – Overplayed or not, the guys still sold it. And I think this was the one that the crowd was most enthusiastic about.

Pressure Off –  When introducing the band, Savannah Guthrie was a little flustered and called the new album “Paper Goods”. She was standing so close to JT I would have been flustered too.

Today_Savannah

Save a Prayer – This one they played just for us in the plaza. I’m not sure how others felt, but I was kind of bummed that this was the last song. I’m so used to them ending on an upbeat song that it felt pretty weird for that to be the final song.

I was convinced that they’d play Sunrise given that, well, we were all there together for the sunrise that day. And it’s definitely one that the crowd gets into. Next time guys, OK?

Watching the show back on my DVR, I really enjoyed seeing the little bits when the anchors talked to the audience and showed us arriving pre-dawn. Speaking of the anchors, (a) Carson Daly has piercing blue eyes! I wasn’t standing too close to him but man, those are some sparkly blue eyes! And (b) we saw Dylan Dreyer after the show and man, she is tiny!

I had a great time chatting with fans around us. One woman said it was her first time seeing the band ever. I told her it’s never too late! And to be able to see them that close for free, what a way to see your first show!

Having been to a handful of Duran shows now, I really try to not be stuck behind my camera or phone and fret about getting a great photo or the best video. I really wanted to soak in this unique opportunity and have no regrets. My only regret is that we didn’t show more enthusiasm because then we would have been picked to go down in front of the stage and dance. That would have been incredible, however I was a little camera-shy because I was sort of playing hooky from work, so I wasn’t anxious to be all over the TV screen. Next time Steph, OK?

Thanks to my friend and partner in crime for inviting me to be her +1. I had a wonderful adventure and can’t wait to see them on tour in 2016. If you ever have a chance to start your day with a Duran Duran show, I highly recommend it!

Story & videos from the Today Show

-PamG

Duran Duran on Today Show!

It is Thursday, and my friends…it has been quite a morning.

I dutifully programmed the DVR to record the Today Show, because like most of you, I had other requirements that took me away from my television this morning while the Paper Gods took over the Today Show.  As a result, I spent the time between 7:30 and 10am in traffic, dropping my youngest off at school, and explaining to a fellow parent at said school that no, my son…who is 16…is not my husband. Nor is he the father of my youngest for that matter.  (Yes, that really WAS quite the awkward conversation, actually.)

So, as I raced back home, there was one thought on my mind: watching the Today Show in PEACE!  The good thing about the DVR is that I was able to speed through the sections of the show that were quite frankly, of zero interest, and get to the good stuff!  I stood in front of the television, remote in hand, as the camera would scan the crowd and marveled at how many familiar faces I saw in the audience. Man, do Duranies ever get around, I must say!!  There were so many there, and I have to admit that I was almost more excited about seeing fellow fans than I was the band!

I watched as the band played a teensy bits of Notorious and Save a Prayer before cutting to my local news update (who really CARES about traffic and weather anyway?!?).  Then I saw Savannah Guthrie embarrass herself as she called the new album Paper Goods (I’d have been flustered up there too, but then – I write. I don’t actually speak on camera for a living, and there’s good reason for that.)  The band played Hungry Like the Wolf and about half of Pressure Off before once again cutting to my local news. Completely annoying. It’s a shame that they didn’t cut Hungry Like the Wolf because that’s the song everyone knows, but naturally – that’s the way TV works. They’re going to cut the song that is less recognizable. This of course had nothing to do with the band at this point, because I was watching on the West Coast, and the Today Show isn’t even live here. By then, it’s just videotape, and edited at that. I’m pretty sure I saw songs out of the order that the rest of the country saw them in. (Yeah, we might have nice weather while the rest of the country is neck-deep in snow, but we definitely don’t have live morning TV or awards shows!)

Last Night in the City was about the only song that was shown completely intact – and with Kiesza sharing the stage with Simon, which was great! There was only one slightly off-moment during that song, and it was when Kiesza got down on her knees in front of Simon. I was happy to see Simon have the good sense to get on his knee as well, because otherwise, it would have just looked awkward.

Lastly, I saw Ordinary World during the Hoda/Kathy Lee show, which also great, although Simon seemed to strain quite a bit during parts of the song – I’m giving him a free pass on that simply because it had to have been done pretty early in the morning. It looked and sounded like it was early, anyway.  Thankfully, the powers that be allowed that song to go through to the end, and then Hoda and Kathy Lee mentioned that they enjoyed going back to the 80’s. Well, Hoda and Kathy Lee, that’s lovely, but that particular song was released on December 2, 1992… Fact-Checking:  kind of important.

The best part of my day? Social media has been completely taken over by photos of Duran Duran at the Today Show. I LOVE IT!!  I love seeing all of the photos of my friends who were there…lo and behold, even Daily Duranie was represented!

Even a little piece of Daily Duranie was in attendance at the Today Show. Photo courtesy of Pam Greenfield.
Even a little piece of Daily Duranie was in attendance at the Today Show. Photo courtesy of Pam Greenfield.

I’m having so much fun seeing everyone with their photos and reading the experiences that everyone is having,  this is really the best part of a new album being promoted…and we have much more to come!  If you’re not already getting our blog by email, I encourage you to sign up, that way you’ll never miss a single post!

-R

We Can’t Stop Believing

It has been a banner morning thus far!  I’ve been on Twitter and Facebook, contributed to a “delightful” conversation on gun control, and defended Duran Duran’s right to make music that challenges our comfort zone(s).

Yesterday, I wrote about how this album is a struggle for me. I’m trying to bond with it, and I’m still trying to figure it all out. There’s the music, which in a lot of cases, I really like even though I can’t necessarily hear the magic 5-piece band I fell in love with.  Then there’s the lyrics, which admittedly I hadn’t paid as much attention quite yet.

For me, Duran Duran is about both. The music that stays with me and touches my heart most are the songs that just hit me like a ton of bricks both musically and lyrically. I need both, and typically Duran delivers in one way or another. Take Last Night in the City, since the band released that song today (you can hear it below)

Last Night in the City (Stereogum)

Since I have nothing else to do at all (lies, all lies)…I took some time and wrote out the lyrics. I am not going to swear that these are 100% perfect, but it’s what I heard.

Last Night in the City

I’m not gonna sleep tonight, til the morning fills the sky
No ones getting left behind, this our time, this our time

We gotta live this night. Yeah, living like it’s our last night
Cuz nobody cares, if there’s no tomorrow

I’m not thinking ‘bout the future (the future) it’s somewhere out there
We’re all busy being human (human) we remember
Hearts beating all around me (together) now, they surrounding me
This is how we get connected, running out the shadows into light

We gonna live this night, yeah, living like it’s our last night
Cuz nobody cares, if there’s no tomorrow
We gotta love this night, yeah, loving like it’s our last night
Stars up in the air, yeah, it’s our last night in the city

I’ve been traveling all around now, big world, with my brothers
Always moving to a new town, no time to put the roots down
We can’t stop believing (can’t stop) no we believe in you.
Cuz when you’re standing in the spotlight, the only thing that matters is tonight

We gotta live this night. Yeah, living like it’s our last night
Cuz nobody cares, if there’s no tomorrow
We gotta love this night, yeah, loving like it’s our last night
Stars up in the air, yeah, it’s our last night in the city

I’m not gonna sleep tonight, til the morning fills the sky
No ones getting left behind, this our time, this our time

We gotta live this night. Yeah, living like it’s our last night
Cuz nobody cares, if there’s no tomorrow
We gotta love this night, yeah, loving like it’s our last night
Stars up in the air, oh yeah, it’s our last night in the city

Yeah, last night in the city

Yeah, last night in the city

I am not going to tell fibs here – when I first heard this song, I wasn’t really sure about it. To my ears, the song leans way to the electronic side of life that I try to avoid like the plague. That said, Kiesza’s voice is amazing and I kind of think she forces Simon to rise up to the challenge…which is fabulous. Even so, I still wasn’t sold on the song. I definitely wasn’t bonding with it. Last Night in the City was just another song that could have been by any band. I don’t know what made me try it, but I forced myself to sit down and listen to the lyrics. I don’t just mean hear the song, but I mean listen, which is when I discovered that this song has special meaning for Amanda and I.

Ever heard the phrase “burning the candle at both ends”?

When I leave this house and meet Amanda for a Duran Duran road trip, we really do burn that candle. We have a great time, we stay up all night (we like to reach up for the sunrise!) and no, we really don’t care if there is a tomorrow…and nobody gets left behind! I can see myself in these lyrics, and that my friends, immediately pushed this song from being just another tune to something that I will sing (and likely quote) with abandon whenever possible.

So, getting back to my struggle with this new album…I’ve taken part in more than a few conversations over the years where I’ve lamented that in some ways, I wish the band would just be who they are instead of trying to be on the charts. The trouble, at least what I see from where I sit, is that the band has never really been that type of group. Every single album they’ve ever made has consisted of taking a little from where they’ve been, and applying it to new territory they’ve yet to visit. Sometimes the end result is amazing, and other times, yeah maybe it falls short. But are we really going to fault them for trying? Some call it an identity crisis of sorts, and others say they’re just challenging their comfort zones.  Personally, I think they’re challenging mine.

-R

 

 

July Katy Kafe with John Taylor!

This is a long one, and I cannot apologize. John said a LOT in a very short amount of time. Get a snack and a beverage and don’t blame me for being wordy. As always, I will give my disclaimer that this is not written word for word from the Kafe recording. I listen, take notes and hope that my own feelings don’t completely cloud his message…or Katy’s. Sometimes I get it right, and many times for a lot of you I get it completely wrong. I accept that. If you want to hear the entire Kafe, get your DDM membership.

Album Title

Paper Gods is the title of the album,  and this song opens the album. Interestingly enough, this song was once settled midway through the album as a sort of beginning to the “darker side” of Duran…a section of the album I am really looking forward to hearing. I don’t know that we’ve gotten a whole lot of “Darker Duran” since the first album…although I can certainly name several recent songs that belong under that moniker: Red Carpet Massacre, Chains, Last Man Standing, Dirty Great Monster…but once the song became the title, the band decided to open the album with the song.  John explains that the song is about the commodification of everything, and how quickly everything goes in and out of fashion. It has a lot to do with the things we obsess about, and that to at least some degree it’s an explanation of Duran Duran’s experience.

The title Paper Gods can be viewed in a lot of different ways but for some reason that said it all to me. – Katy Krassner

Pressure Off

John explains that this song is really a very important song for the band. He says that it is kind of like their history in a song, referring to the fact that Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson and Ben Hudson all worked on it together in varying positions (producers and production, respectively).  John says (and I completely agree) that it has a feel good summer vibe to it. Where Paper Gods is dark and almost political, Pressure Off is kind of “Fuck off and dance” or “Party on Wayne” (truly, in my opinion, one of the best things John Taylor has ever quoted…) John mentions that the song is hedonist, and that’s really something that Duran Duran has always kind of subscribed to as their Modus Operandi. (And honestly, isn’t that sort of escapism something that we as Duranies have always embraced??) “You don’t write a song like that and not hope everyone likes it. Paper Gods is a song you write for yourself. Pressure Off is a song you write for everyone else.” (I haven’t heard Paper Gods, but this is EXACTLY what we’ve been saying about Pressure Off. It’s a song for everyone who doesn’t already know Duran Duran, and I still say it’s catchy as hell.) Katy asks if John likes playing it live, and you can hear John’s voice brighten as he talks about playing this new song. He comments that many of the songs off of this album are written and programmed meticulously, but this song was built on a live performance, so it lends itself to that environment very well. “Dom is the best Nile impersonator on the planet.”  And then some, in my opinion.

Just through social media, which I’ve handled for the band for some years now, it is the most positive response that I’ve seen for a Duran Duran single since social media began. – Katy Krassner

Again, I agree with Katy. I’ve NEVER seen this kind of response to one of their songs, at least not in recent (year 2000 or later) memory. Even critics and websites that have never really been on the Duran Duran bandwagon have chimed in with positive response for the song. Like Katy, I don’t want to put the cart before the horse…but since the song is already out and about now…I really think this song could go places if it gets radio play. My concern at this point is whether or not that’s happening here in the states. I don’t know what Warner’s promo plan might be, or whether they’re not pushing it until the album release gets closer, and I don’t want to second guess the label effort. I just hope I hear the song on the radio, and that the band gets the promotion help they deserve. The song is worth the effort, and if fans can help with that, I know a blog that is more than willing to do it’s part. Just tell us how we can help.

Live Shows

Specifically, Katy asks about putting Pressure Off into the continued set list, or if it was just a one-off. John eagerly says that playing Pressure Off is what is going to make the shows fun for him. Now, before fans scoff at the idea that only that one song makes the shows worth it for John, I don’t think that’s what he meant at all. Let’s face it, some of the songs in the setlist have been there for DECADES. It’s the newer music that keeps everything fresh. It’s a new challenge. I would imagine it gets just as tiring for the band to play Hungry Like the Wolf each night as it does for THIS fan to hear it…but it’s part of the deal.  John explains that the band evolves, so they are putting Pressure Off into the setlist for the next 3-4 shows, and then hopefully by the time they get to Bestival they will be playing 3-4 songs from the new album. Right now, the festivals and shows are serving as a sort of “Hey, remember us? We’re the band that brought you _________________”.  It’s about inserting themselves back into the narrative.  However, once they come to the western states, the focus is going to be on the new songs from Paper Gods.

Collaborations

Duran Duran has worked with people before, and I think we all know this. However, as Katy mentions to John, they’ve never really worked with this many collaborators on a single album. I’m actually very pleased she brings this up with him, because it’s a question that has quite literally been hanging in the air when the subject of this album comes up with fans all over social media. Why so many this time? John doesn’t really answer that question specifically, but he certainly does address the functionality.  He quickly states that he doesn’t think they take away from the Duran-ness of the album.  He uses Last Night in the City as an example. It is the second song on the album and features Kiesza…and actually the song opens with Kiesza and then Simon comes in following her. John says that he’s always wanted to try that with a Duran song. I think it will be interesting to see how it fares among fans, who tend to be purists when it comes to this band and specifically Simon. 

John also explains that the album is long by even 1981 standards…and by 2015 standards it is a VERY long album. I think in order to fully understand what he means, you have to go back to some earlier Katy Kafe’s with him as he describes his perfect album or even when they’ve discussed the differences between recording today versus back in the 1980’s. In this day and age, people don’t typically buy entire albums, they buy singles or songs. It’s rare for people (young people, most likely) to sit through an entire album from start to finish. He talks about rising to the challenge of sitting and absorbing a full album. I see it more as the difference between fast food and a full seven-course meal, to be honest. Kids don’t know what they’re missing!!! (I think I just aged myself to “You kids get off my lawn!” status right there. So be it.)  John believes the guests help with breaking the album up and adding interest in the same way that a course of sorbet, or a finger bowl might for fine dining.

He continues by explaining that they’ve adjusted their music so that it works in today’s world. For instance, he goes into detail about how now there is synthesized bass, sub-bass, and of course his bass in music, it’s not just one track or just one instrument creating the sound as it once was.

You can put that down to a lack of imagination, or put it down as us trying to adjust our music so that it works in today’s world. -John Taylor

The Promotional and Touring Grind

Does John really love doing promotion? It’s a fair question given some of his Kafe’s over the course of the last few years. I myself have questioned several times here whether or not John’s heart is still in this. To be fair, I think it’s been an incredibly long haul at times. All I have to really do is look at some of the old footage and remind myself that while I was sitting at home watching their fame unfold – they were living it. They were rushed from appearance to appearance and I highly doubt that they really even recognized what  was happening at the time. Hindsight is 20/20. So while I questioned, it wasn’t with malicious intent as much as it was genuine concern (mixed with a little frustration at times, I’ll admit).

John’s answer is as authentic as I would expect, and I have to share: it brought me to near tears in parts. (Yes, I have become somewhat of am emotional sap in the past few years, but I love this band.) If I could have trapped and bottled the clear emotions from both John AND Katy during this part of the Kafe, I would.  John freely admits that it isn’t all fun. He says that they all accept that promotion and being on the road and recording are all parts of the job, and some might like the studio and others might like being on the road, etc. He says that he loves being on stage when it’s all right – without technical glitches. That technical piece is their responsibility, he adds, and that’s why it’s important for them to do festivals and shows as they’re doing this summer, “to get the machine up and running”. He does not; however, love being on the road. That portion is the grind, and I think if we were all being fair, we’d agree and understand.

Let me be clear: Amanda and I travel a bit to see them. We pick portions of the country and go to see a few shows. We can’t ever go for very long, but we might do 3-4 shows at a time. By the time I am done with that final show, I AM EXHAUSTED. I typically come home and promptly become deathly ill (which really annoys my entire family!)My body can’t take the travel. I don’t know how the band does it. Even though I know it’s their job, it must truly kick their ass. I know it does me, and I don’t really have to “work”…my job is just to go and have a great time.  I just tend to push my body to the edge in the process.

I fantasize about staying in one place for 365 days. – John Taylor

Katy asks the one million dollar question that I’ve been waiting to hear. Is John ready to get back out there on the road? Does he still like touring and playing live?  To be fair, in recent years – specifically while the band was recording (a detail I find to be important, because I think John’s attitude may have changed during that period.), I noted several times in Kafe’s where John was very clear that he was in no hurry to play live or tour again. As a fan, it was disconcerting to hear, because for us – that’s really the meat and potatoes of being a fan.  Those live shows are what we all share together. They are special moments that for some of us, don’t happen nearly enough (and for even others not at all, which I need to also acknowledge).  Emphatically, John says that he loves being on stage. He feels really good onstage. He explains again about the technical side of it, which I think any of us should be able to understand. Then he goes on to say something that tells me everything I need to know, ” (Real) life is complicated. When the lights go down, it’s just the relationship between me and the other musicians, and the fans.”  He continues by saying it gets “over far too quickly” and then after the show he remembers he’s got to get back to the hotel and rest and then move on to the next place.

That’s EXACTLY what the shows are like for me. In that brief 2 hour period, my life becomes simple. It’s about me, the music, and the (brief) interactions with the band. I leave the real world completely behind. If anyone really wants to understand me or my fandom – that is it in a nutshell.  John nailed it.

He finishes the Kafe by talking about touring and how much they want to go back to places like Japan. Almost wistfully he mentions that when they were really getting out there back in the 80’s, they were requested everywhere, and now he feels a little like they’ve got to go knock on doors and ask to play. Katy, to her credit (I could have hugged her), reminds John that they’re still asked to play in places like America, and the UK, and Italy…and probably a lot of other places but my emotions got the best of me at this point. Then she says that despite what he says about the grind of touring, if he could see what SHE sees (and what we ALL see!) when he’s on that stage playing, she knows he loves it.

I worry about John because I truly don’t think that man knows how much he is loved. Yes, there are people out there that have issues and need new hobbies…but we love him. We love him for being a musician, being in Duran Duran…but we love him most because of who he is underneath.  It is in these moments when he seems most vulnerable and natural that I’m reminded of why I’m a fan. I wish he knew that. That’s why I write this blog, otherwise there would really be no point.

 

 

Paper Gods Press Release Insights Part 2

We continue our analysis of the press releases surrounding Duran Duran’s upcoming album, Paper Gods.  In part 1, which you can read here, we discussed statements made about the album as a whole.  In this part, we look at how individual songs on the album are described.  Of course, we have yet to hear any of these with the exception being the first single, Pressure Off.  Therefore, these descriptions are just that.  They are descriptions, which we may or may not find completely accurate once we actually have the chance to hear them.  Nonetheless, we thought it would be fun to offer some thoughts and reactions to the written descriptions.

Pressure Off

As described in the press release:  “Mark, Nile and Mr Hudson co-wrote and produced, the tracks ‘Pressure Off’ and ‘Only in Dreams’. The former, which will be the album’s lead single featuring Nile Rodgers, harks back to the taut funk of Notorious, with a sensational vocal from Janelle Monáe, and a chorus that is audacious in its effortless immediacy. “If only,” laughs Nick. “The one thing it wasn’t was effortless. But the idea was to make it sound like that.”

Amanda:

In reading this, I wish I knew more about Only in Dreams, especially since I have heard Pressure Off already.  Does the combination of Mark Ronson, Mr Hudson and Nile Rodgers always produce a song like Pressure Off?  I look forward to finding out.  As for what Nick said here, I wasn’t surprised that it took effort to create the chorus in Pressure Off.  Rhonda suspects that they came up with the hook  and the chorus first and built the rest of the song around it.  I wouldn’t be surprised.  I just wonder how or what in particular they were searching for when trying to find this chorus.  Was it a certain style?  Were they trying to match certain songs?  I wish I was a fly in the studio for that!

Rhonda:

Well…mostly I just wouldn’t be surprised if they came up with the hook first and built the rest of the song around it. I have no idea what Duran typically does, but that hook is so strong it just seems like it would have come first. (I’m probably dead wrong though!) I think that the chorus does have a sort of “effortless” feel around it…it’s kind of like I’ve told my daughter Heather so many times: “It’s ok if it really ISN’T effortless or easy, it just needs to LOOK that way when you’re on stage!” That’s sort of the way the chorus to this song comes off. On the other hand, I don’t think the verses sound so easy.  I’ve been reading the opinions of many fans lately on this one, and a lot of the criticisms seem to come from the verses – people don’t feel they match up well, stylistically. My opinion is very different because while it’s true, they definitely aren’t as bright, they give the song a lot more depth, sound-wise. If every line sounded like the chorus, I am afraid the song would be making a serious slide into bubble-gum land. I also recognize that I am a far better kitchen-table blogger/armchair critic than music writer, so there’s that.

“Big-Chorus Bankers”

The press release stated the following: “‘Face For Today’, ‘Butterfly Girl’, ‘Danceophobia’ (with a guest appearance from Lindsay Lohan as the voice of the ‘doctor’) and ‘Last Night In the City’ (which features a killer contribution from Kiesza) are among the album’s other big-chorus bankers”

Amanda:

Big-chorus bankers?! I totally get the idea of songs with big choruses. I assume that to mean choruses that stick out, that are memorable, that stick in people’s heads and make them want to keep listening and keep singing along. Duran has had many of those in their history, including some of my favorite songs. The most recent song that comes to mind with that description is Sunrise. As soon as you heard that chorus, you wanted to keep listening and you wanted to sing along with Simon. Interestingly enough, two out of the four tracks described like that featured contributions by others. Lindsay Lohan is the voice of a “doctor”.  Will this be a little like Nina Hossain in Leopard?  I’ll be very curious to hear that one!

Rhonda:

So basically it is saying that these songs were written with strong hooks? I think it has to be said (many, many times) that even Pressure Off has a ridiculously catchy chorus – probably the best I’ve heard out of this band in 25 years, if not 30.  I can’t imagine what else would be meant by a big chorus, so I’m going with that. I thought back to the last several albums. Admittedly there are very few songs with truly great big choruses. Is that really a bad thing?  I think it depends upon the intention. If you’re writing without the goal of getting on radio, then no, I don’t think it really does matter. I think it is about the artistry of what you’re writing. Does the writer really feel like they got their message across?  However, radio and chart-land does not work that way. Go listen to the radio. Songs that get played often, songs that are genuine “hits” typically have very strong choruses. VERY strong.  They get deposited in your ear, swim to your brain and hold on for dear life. That’s why they work. Listen to “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk & Nile, or Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. Those are some huge choruses!

I suppose though, for those of us Duran-purists out there, there’s likely some nose-scrunching going on. On one hand, sure, we want the band’s music to do well because of course we want to see the band succeed. Fans typically want that, don’t we? We want to sort of be validated so that we can walk around and say “See? We TOLD you Duran Duran still had it. We TOLD you they’re fantastic!” But, and this is the crazy, insane thing about Duranies that I’ve learned from over the years, there’s also a part of us that really doesn’t want it happening that way.  We want them to write solely for themselves. We want them to laugh in the face of critics and music charts. We want them to write the really cool, obscure stuff that we first fell in love with (or maybe discovered after we were finished devouring other songs like Rio or Hungry Like the Wolf?).  We don’t necessarily WANT them to bow down to the masses and write/record so that they get played on radio. What we want is for the band to write the music they want to write without worrying about it getting played; then, if it hits big we can sit back and pat ourselves on the back for knowing they had it all along but that the masses were too silly to really get it…but we’ve stuck by the band all along.

Personally, I’m not so sure it all works that way. I think that at least for me, I’m willing to concede to the fact that perhaps the music I love most from this band isn’t going to ever get them radio play. I kind of think they’ve got the right to make music that stands half a shot of being heard by a bigger audience, if that’s what they really want. In a lot of ways I feel for the band because I think they know it’s all a pretty tall-order. Up until now it’s felt like they’re either pissing off long time fans or they’re screwing themselves out of ever getting radio play. Where’s the middle ground? IS there middle ground?? If I were in their shoes, I am not entirely sure what I’d do. Try to do it all, and hope for the best, I suppose. Maybe, just maybe, there’s enough for everyone on this album.

What Are the Chances?

From the press release:  “‘What Are the Chances?’ the song that rolls back the years to the yearning and beauty of ‘Save a Prayer’”

Amanda:

Hmm…so What Are the Chances is the ballad on the album.  It is interesting that it also features John Frusciante on guitar.

Rhonda:

I knew it would come down to the guitar player. It always does. Listen, anyone who has read this blog during the past four years knows how I feel about guitar in general. I think the band needs guitar, and yes, I think it should be someone we as fans can all count on to be there permanently. To me, it’s not Duran Duran without it. I am much less of a fan of the music where the guitar is added deep into the mix as a sort of atmospheric afterthought than I am of the songs where there’s this beautiful, lush melody and seemingly out of nowhere I hear a soaring guitar. That’s the kind of juxtaposition, duality, tension….that I know to expect from Duran Duran at SOME points in their career. I also know that right now, they have a touring guitarist, but apparently he isn’t someone that the band wants to include or name as a permanent member.  Feelings about Dom run the full spectrum: many Duranies consider him just to be the hired gun in the same way they look at the roadies – they don’t even “see” him onstage, and still many others like myself consider him to be part of the family even if the band refuses. Perhaps it is all purely a business decision. I don’t know, and it really doesn’t matter. Duran Duran is happy to be a foursome, and from what I’ve been told over the past couple of years, it doesn’t seem they included Dom as much in the writing for this album (as opposed to All You Need is Now). Instead, they sought out presumably bigger names to do the writing and recording. It’s the one issue I’ve got with the band this time around, and it’s something that I continue to come to terms with as a Duran Duran fan AND as a fan of Dom’s. I’m truly surprised (and incredibly thankful!) that Dom has stuck around….and yes, I’m well-aware my words here are harsh, and yes, I know he’ll still be on the tour. He’s been around for over ten years now. It’s time for more than that. That said, I’m curious to see just what John Frusciante brings to this record. I’m well-aware of his incredible talent and I look forward to hearing what he’s got!

You Kill Me With Silence

Press Release:  ‘You Kill Me With Silence’ may boast another huge chorus, but at heart it is a deeply unorthodox and sonically engrossing song, with a disorientating closing sequence that reinforces the band’s art-pop credentials. Simon’s verdict on it sums up the freedom and inquisitiveness that still define the band’s music-making. “What I love most about the track is that it opens like a Snoop Dogg song; you almost expect a rapper to kick off, and instead what you get is Simon Le Bon channelling Nancy Sinatra.”

Amanda:

I have to admit this one intrigues me.  Any song that opens like a Snoop Dogg song and features Nancy Sinatra like vocals is going to interest me, as in “I can’t imagine what the heck that is going to sound like!”  Then, the idea that the closing is “disorientating” and “reinforces art-pop credentials” adds to my interest and inability to really process.  Heck, even the title adds to the mystery.  Yes, this one will definitely be one I look forward to hearing simply because it sounds so unimaginable!

Rhonda:

When I read this stuff, it’s very difficult to keep an open mind and not have already formed opinions by the time the album drops. I don’t want to go in with expectations of what I’m going to like or not like, you know?  Been there, done that with previous albums, and the results (for me) were disastrous, to say the least. HOWEVER…I’m really excited by what I’m reading here! Words like “art-pop”, “unorthodox”, “sonically-engrossing”….now those are music to MY ears. The trouble is that I’m really hoping it is going to be one of those delicious Duran-obscurities that no one but the deepest of fans loves…and that is one of those HOPES I’m trying to keep clear out of my head.  No expectations!!

Paper Gods

Press Release said:  “The title track (which features Mr Hudson’s vocals alongside Simon’s) is similarly daring, its polemical lyrics set to a soundtrack of fierce originality and menace. “It’s a song about our obsession, with money, with material things,” says Simon, “and how we trivialise our lives, and humanity. It’s definitely the angriest song on the album. Usually I tend to be much less specific when it comes to lyrics, because I like it when people hear our songs and create their own stories around them. But in this case, I wanted the anger to be unambiguous: ‘The slaver in a sweatshop, putting trainers on your feet.’ It’s about the price that we pay, that everyone pays, for the world as it is now.” “That song is definitely one of the strangest things we’ve done in a long, long time,” says Nick, “in that it’s a real journey, a strong lyric – we don’t often get into social commentary with songs, but this one felt like it needed that. And I do love the fact that it’s so unpredictable.”

Amanda:

I won’t lie.  I cannot wait to hear this one.  I like angry.  I like social commentary.  I do.  It is the Social Studies teacher in me, the political activist in me.  I have ALWAYS loved when Duran has gotten close or entered the social commentary realm because they always do it so intelligently.  It isn’t preachy but clever and thought-provoking.  Thus, I can’t wait for this one.  I suspect that I will love it and I will love the album title because of it!

Rhonda:

I’m really not a fan of obvious social commentary in music. I want to escape from reality, not be transported back to it every time I listen. That said, I like angry… (I doubt that surprises anyone. I’m the one with the fiery attitude around here, I think.) and I’ve heard that this song is of incredible length for a Duran song (9 minutes, I believe??) and it’s been compared to Bowie. That’s intriguing enough for me…and I do agree with Amanda, when Duran does a social commentary, it is usually done with incredible intelligence. I’m really looking forward to hearing this one.

Collaborations

John Frusciante:
What Are the Chances?
The Universe Alone
Butterfly Girl

John Frusciante’s playing…is equally unpredictable, the former Red Hot Chili Pepper twisting the songs into new and unexpected shapes. “We’re all so in awe of what he does with the guitar, his style is completely unique,” says Simon. “As a musician, he’s fearless, and that’s incredibly inspiring.”

Mr Hudson
Vocals on Paper Gods

Lindsay Lohan
Voice of the doctor on Danceophobia

Kiesza
Last Night in the City

Nile Rodgers
Co-wrote and produced Pressure Off and Only in Dreams
Featured on Pressure Off

Janelle Monae
Vocals on Pressure Off

Amanda:

There isn’t much to say about collaborations that I haven’t said before.  Sometimes, they are awesome as is the case with Janelle Monae’s vocals on Pressure Off.  Sometimes, they are not (thinking Skin Divers here).  Yet, we really don’t know until we hear the album.  Then, I will be able to  judge properly.

Rhonda:

Here’s the thing: I love John Frusciante’s work. He is an incredible guitarist. I’m looking forward to hearing him, all of my other feelings about the band and guitar players aside. Huge fan of Janelle Monae’s work on Pressure Off, the song would be completely different without her. I really like Mr. Hudson, so I am really excited that he did vocals on Paper Gods. The only thing that really intrigues me by Lindsay Lohan’s appearance on the album is why? Overall, I think there are an awful lot of big names packed into one album. In some ways it reads like overkill, in others, perhaps not. Time will tell.

What do you think about what you read about these upcoming songs?  Which ones interest you the most and why?

-A & R

Just A Case of Early “Album” Nerves

It is coming.  Everyone in Duranland can feel it.  #DD14 is coming.  Pressure Off, the first single, is coming.  Perhaps, more show announcements are on the horizon.  Duranies knew this before this past week’s Katy Kafe but emotions surrounding the upcoming Duran happenings spiked in response.  Why?  Simple.  As part of the Kafe, Roger said that there were some surprises on the album, including a big one with a first name starting with the letter “B”.  This, of course, in typical Duranie fashion got the speculation running wild.  Who could it be?  Bowie?  Boy George?  Brandon Flowers?  Beyonce?  Bruno Mars?  While each of those guesses produced mixed reactions, an underlying feeling began to present itself.  The feeling?  A mixture of hopefulness, anticipation, and anxiety.

Why the anxiety?  Wouldn’t all big fans be excited for new Duran music?  Of course.  Fans can’t wait to hear new music.  We all can’t wait to see articles written about the band’s latest work and we so look forward to promotional activities and appearances!  That isn’t where the concern lies.  As we know, there are a ton of collaborations on this album.  Most of them are people who have been in the musical spotlight as of late.  Certainly, Mark Ronson, Nile Rodgers, Kiesza and Janelle Monae have all experienced a lot of success lately.  This leads to a myriad of thoughts and worries for many Duranies.

Why can’t Duran do an album just themselves?  Why do they need so many collaborations?  What is the goal?  Is it to make the best DURAN DURAN album or is it to make a hit?  Is commercial success the focus or is it the art?  Is it the music?   Will it feel like Duran Duran?  How will this album be marketed?  Will the focus be on getting new fans only or will hardcore fans who have been around for decades be acknowledged?  

There are just a few of the concerns I have seen, heard or even said myself.  I would guess that there might be even more out there.  Before I get the usual negative responses and comments, let me see if I could explain where these concerns are coming from, especially if you are a fan reading this that isn’t concerned.

I believe that all (or mostly all) fans want the band’s upcoming album to be one that is successful.  Of course, we do.  We want the band to experience success and we want to love what it sounds like.  This would make it more likely, I believe, for the band to continue beyond this album.  Yet, fans who have been around for a long time have seen albums not go as planned and ones that have created backlash. Goodness, just this week, I posted a poll with songs off of Medazzaland and Pop Trash and was told how those albums weren’t liked.  I won’t forget what it was like and still like whenever Red Carpet Massacre is mentioned.  There is division in the fan community about that album, like it or not.  All fans I know want to have an album that they can love and can be excited about.  There is just concern that this album won’t be one of those–that doesn’t mean it won’t be but just that there are concerns especially when there are so many others on the album and the focus seems to be on getting a “hit”.  Many fans don’t mind if the band gets a hit, obviously, but many want it to happen naturally because the band produced a Duran Duran song that just happened to get people’s attention and love.  Think Ordinary World.  As much as that song isn’t high on my list of favorites, I, too, can acknowledge that it was a genuine Duran song that just happened to find commercial success.  It wasn’t written solely for the hit.

Then, there are concerns about the marketing surrounding this new album.  Again, most fans I know are happy with Duran Duran getting new fans.  How could we not be?  We were all new fans once, right?  We all discovered them at some point, yes?  Yet, no one wants to be ignored or taken for granted.  After all, getting the diehard Duranies excited could help their cause, too.  I know that I, personally, have gotten non-Duranies to check out their music because of how much I have talked about them.  I know that I have gotten people to become fans by taking them to shows.  That happens all the time and can definitely happen with albums or singles, specifically.  Heck, it happens all the time with all sorts of fandom beyond Duran Duran.  How often do people go to a movie or check out a TV show simply because they have heard a lot of people talking about it?  How often do people check out new music for the very same reason?  It happens all the time.  In this case, Duran Duran has a built in fan promotional machine, if they just gave the fans something to work with.  If diehard Duranies got excited, REALLY got excited, we would talk up the new material in epic amounts.  The social media world wouldn’t really know what hit.  Look at how we got things like Duran Duran Appreciation Day to trend.  That was the fans doing that.  The fans could do that for this album, too, as long as we are included in the marketing package.  I’m not saying that the band and label shouldn’t try to get new fans.  What I am saying is that they should do something to have the Duranies help them sell more, too.  It would also help minimize the worries about the collaborations, too.  Fans would be too busy being excited and getting others to be excited that the concerns would simply be pushed to the back of minds.  This would reinforce Duranies’ fandom, too, ensuring that all of us stick around for a very long time, too.  To me, that matches everything I know about good marketing as well.  You want to keep the customers you have happy, while trying to get new ones.

It would be a win-win-win, for the band, for the label and for the fans.  Then, I suspect any and all worries would be wiped away.

-A

Duran Duran News: 3/8/15 to 3/15/15

Are you interested in reading all about the latest Duran Duran news from the last week (3/8/15 to 3/15/15)?  If so, read on.  Please note that I summarize official news (as opposed to unconfirmed rumors).

Public Appearances

As mentioned in last week’s summary, Simon was off to India to participate in the Cartier Travel in Style event.  Well, pictures and videos of the event have begun to surface, including this picture posted on Duran’s Facebook:

From Duran's Facebook
From Duran’s Facebook

Nick was also seen out in public this past week.  He attended the Savage Beauty VIP party.  Here is a picture that was posted on Duran Duran Argentina’s Facebook page:

From Duran Duran Argentina's Facebook
From Duran Duran Argentina’s Facebook

Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet, one of Duran’s peers from the early 80s in England, is on tour.  Like many bands and artists, they have a tour program that can be purchased by fans in attendance.  Well, guess who wrote the foreword?  No, it wasn’t Tony Hadley or Martin Kemp.  It was John Taylor!  We all know that John is a very good writer so I’m sure that this foreword is quality!  If that wasn’t enough, Spandau also has a film out entitled “Soul Boys of the Western World.”  Guess which band is featured on that soundtrack?  That’s right.  Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf is on the soundtrack along with other fabulous artists like David Bowie and Kraftwerk.  That soundtrack is coming out this week!

Kiesza

Did you hear that the artist, Kiesza, will be collaborating with Duran Duran on their upcoming album?  DDHQ confirmed that this week.  I covered reactions to this news on the blog post here.

Best Synth Pop Tracks of the 1980s

feckingdeadly.com posted a piece this week on the best synth pop tracks of the 1980s.  Which Duran Duran song do you think made the list?  Make your prediction then go here to see if you were right!

What did I miss?  This week was, generally, rather quiet.  Will next week be more entertaining?  Exciting?  We shall see!

-A