Tag Archives: New Romantic

Some New Romantic Looking For the TV Sound

I heard you making patterns rhyme

If you had to categorize Duran Duran in a word, what word would you pick?

Are they pop? Rock? New Wave? Synthpop? Electronic? New Romantic? I think Nick described the band as Modernist once or twice?? What would you say?

My head is stuck on something precious

Yesterday, there were a few tweets going back and forth between several fans about DD’s music. Classic Pop Magazine has a Synthpop issue out on newsstands now. Although Duran Duran aren’t really mentioned in the magazine much, one of the editors put Ordinary World in their top ten synthpop songs. I find that interesting, because I wouldn’t characterize Ordinary World that way at all.

That got me thinking, of course. If Ordinary World isn’t truly synthpop, then what? I don’t think I ever came up with a reasonable answer for that. I always struggle with calling them a pop band because in my head – they’re not. They’re not music you’d hear on Top 40 radio (although we certainly did once). They might have some pop songs in their catalog, but I really hate the idea of categorizing them just as pop. It seems so pedestrian, boring and kind of cringy. Clearly, they’re not rock either. I mean, yeah, they’ve got guitar, but they don’t rely on it. I’d say similar for Synthpop – in my head, a synthpop group relies on the synthesizer for the melody lines. Is that the case with DD? I’d argue no on that.

Does it help to take one album at a time? I’d say no. For example, I mean, what do you call their debut? New Romantic? The problem with that, of course, is that the moniker isn’t as much about the music as it is about the fashion of the time. The reason we think of Planet Earth as New Romantic (aside from the words being in the lyrics…thank you Duran Duran…) is because of the ruffled shirts, the over the top hair and make up, the pirate look. To use a similar idea to what was discussed yesterday on Twitter, bands who were classified as New Romantic had synthesizers, but not all bands who had synthesizers were New Romantic. (nor were they New Wave – thanks @GuyFansofDuran!)

My eyes so cloudy, I can’t see

I think that for me, one of the reasons I’ve always valued Duran Duran so highly is that they didn’t CARE about boxes marked “New Wave” or “New Romantic”, or even “Pop” or “Rock”. The one thing I loved most about the band was also the one thing that challenged me from album to album. I never knew what a finished, new album would sound like, and there was never any way to prepare. As an aside, I’ve learned to never, EVER review one of their songs publicly after only a few listens. I have to sit with the music for a while. Paper Gods took me a good solid two or three weeks before I finally had that light bulb “I GET IT!” moment. I still don’t know what I’d characterize Paper Gods as, musically, though. Does it matter?

For those of us who tend to value a sense of routine and normalcy, Duran Duran has sometimes been the very opposite.

They’ve created music they liked. In their purist, most raw moments as a band in the very beginning, I don’t think they were worried about marketing or labels. Sure, they wanted fame and fortune. They wanted to be the biggest band in the world. But I don’t know that they were overly concerned with the minutia in getting there.

Can you hear me now?

What do I mean by that? Well, what I’m NOT saying is that they were careless for detail. That isn’t it at all. I just don’t think that they consciously sat back and tried to figure out what music might sell best, or get radio time the easiest. There was a certain kind of bliss with industry ignorance in that respect. How self-aware was the band before they really “made it”? I believe it was simple enough for them to get out of their own way back then.

Writing and recording under those conditions had to have been easier in that aspect. I mean, once you know who you are, and what you’ve done in the past, I suspect that has the potential to set the bar incredibly high. When I compare Rio and Seven and the Ragged Tiger, I see the latter as evidence of being far too self-aware, despite my undying love for the work.

I’m not sure how Duran Duran gets past all of the mind games that come along with recording nowadays. The ghosts of albums past, the requirements of record labels to deliver at least one verifiable, marketable, top 40 hit coupled with the notions of playlists, streaming, and the idea of how much differently music is consumed these days than forty years earlier. On top of all that, deciding what kind of music they’re actually going to record, and fighting whatever label people want to put on them now? Pop? Rock? Electronic? EDM? Urban? Contemporary? Oh hell no. How can anybody be creative in that environment?

Is there anybody out there trying to get through?

If I were them, I’d want to throw my phone in the trash compactor, unplug from society, and forget the labels. It seems to me that it might be the only way to record an album with honest, pure, organic intentions.

Of course, if they did that, then they wouldn’t be able to read my incredibly humorous and intelligent fodder.

Hmm.

Throw your electronic devices away, gentlemen… and good luck!

-R

Duran Duran Interview 1981 Thoughts and Reactions

A couple of weeks ago, the question of the day focus shifted from interviews to comparing b-sides and bonus tracks. We moved away from interviews because there were not many people who were voting. When I questioned why, the overwhelming response I got was that people enjoyed the interviews but simply did not have time to watch them and vote within the day. I could appreciate that myself as time is not always something I have. That said, I wanted to honor those people who mentioned how they were often seeing interviews for the very first time and enjoying them. How do I keep that part alive while engaging more of the fanbase? The simple answer is that I moved on in terms of questions of the day but figured that I could occasionally focus on a blog post on an interview. Today’s blog does just that. In this case, let’s watch an interview from 1981. Then, I’ll dive into what I thought about it!

Now, I have seen a lot of Duran Duran interviews in my life but that one was *new* to me. How many of you had seen that before? Some of the topics that the interviewer focused on included studio use, the New Romantic label, fashion and more. Studio use was the first topic but one that we missed the beginning of the discussion for. It sounded like the band was asked about which studio they would use for the next album. I love that Nick just declared they were looking at some place in France. Do people even ask that question of them anymore? Would they even answer? Does that matter much? I’m sure that it would be important to them but to the average listener or viewer? It doesn’t to me unless I had a chance to be anywhere near it. I just thought it was an odd question.

The second big topic was the New Romantic label. This, of course, interested me a lot more. It also shows that this interview was indeed from the early 1980s as now people mention that label but it doesn’t mean anything. I’m sure in 1981 people thought this label might be around for a long, long time. In hindsight, we know that it doesn’t. Other labels, like New Wave, Post-Punk, etc. from the time lasted much longer and mattered a lot more to the general public as well as the music industry, I think. The band’s response was exactly what I expected. They clearly wanted to shake off the label. Perhaps, they thought the New Romantic label would stifle them or limit their potential audience. I could get that. I also saw their point about it being about how they looked as opposed to music. Maybe, if they didn’t have a line in Planet Earth about new romantics, they wouldn’t have been asked that as much (even though I like that lyric). Now, almost forty years later, the term just makes me smile. I wonder how present day Duran would respond now.

The rest of the interview was far less interesting to me. While I understand people’s interest in fashion, it isn’t something I know very much about. It is a world that I have never had any connection to. This, of course, is even more removed from current day fashion as they were talking about places and designers of the early 1980s in the UK. Nonetheless, it does provide a little time capsule of that period.

While I cannot say that I learned a ton from this interview, I enjoyed it nonetheless. I liked seeing how they held themselves then, how they interacted with each other and what they had to say. What did the rest of you think? On another note, when I do these interview focused blogs, would you all like to rate the interviews like we were doing for the question of the day? Do you have any interview that you think I should watch and discuss on here?

-A

Rio goes gold, 1983

Do you know what happened on this date in 1983?

Rio went Gold.

That means by this date in 1983, that little album with the recognizably Nagel cover had sold 500,000 copies. 500,000 people or so, snatched up that vinyl, or cassette. (did they have 8-track too??) I still have my original copy and remember buying it. Do you?

I’m a little surprised that my copy still works. I would have thought that with the number of times I played it – over and over again – that by now the grooves would have widened and been completely worn out. I loved that album from the very moment I heard the opening “backwards sounding” rush of notes all coming together to transport me away to a completely different world. Escapism at its best.

To this day, some of my favorite songs and videos are from that album. So for this Throwback Thursday, I’m going to spend some time gleefully skipping down a memory lane dipped in gold!

I couldn’t find a full-length clip of Last Chance on the Stairway (dammit, why hasn’t someone else done it for me?!) but I did find a couple of the electroset version they did….and this is the longest:

Happy listening and viewing!

-R

 

PS – Happy March!!!