Tag Archives: Nick Rhodes

Pop Trash at 20

Last week saw a Duran Duran anniversary. No, I don’t mean John Taylor’s 60th (although that happened, too!). I am referring to the Pop Trash album turning 20! 20! How is that even possible?! Did you also know that there was a write-up about the anniversary on the band’s official website? You can read it here! I thought I would take a few minutes to read it and drop down some thoughts.

Before I get started, I have to acknowledge that I don’t feel a particular closeness with this album. I admit that part of that is because a certain bass player was missing and it came out in a time when my fandom was pretty dang low. I’m not like some fans who do not own the album at all. I own it and know the songs. There are many that I like. That said, I cannot say that I love any of the songs. Perhaps, by reading about its history, I’ll appreciate it more, especially since the write-up features Nick, Warren, the engineer and the art director. I am sure that multiple perspectives will help. Of course, I find it interesting that Simon did not contribute. I wonder why.

Art Director

The cover for POP TRASH did feature the Excalibur car which Liberace used once for a show at Radio City Music Hall in New York. We jumped through numerous legal hoops for the PT artwork, including permission to use Elvis Presley’s eyes for the ‘Hallucinating Elvis’ page. The decision to use Liberace’s car came from sitting around the kitchen table at Nick’s house with Simon and Warren. There were other cover ideas on the table, one of which was much liked, but was too close to Beck’s ‘Midnight Vultures’. In the end, the shot of Liberace’s Rhinestone-encrusted roadster seemed to be the perfect vehicle to encapsulate the concept of the album.

One aspect of Duran that I have always appreciated is the connection to art and how much art adds to the packaging. I love that they worry about the details of the album cover, font, merchandise, etc. I remember seeing an interview with Nick saying that they view themselves more as a multi-media company. I can see that. Anyway, I appreciated that they included the art director in this walk down memory lane. As I read the description above, I found myself taking a look at the album cover again. I wondered and still do if the title fits the flavor of the album. Yes, there is the song, Hallucinating Elvis, but so many others don’t feel like that song does to me. Nonetheless, the imagery fits the title in my opinion, even if all of the songs do not.

Engineer

The most interesting part was this, “I had worked with Warren when he was in Missing Persons, and through that relationship I was brought in to help on the THANK YOU album. As that was progressing, I would bring rough mixes of our work home, and when playing these to friends they were astounded to hear that it was DD. We were getting a much edgier more rock side of the band, it was wonderful, but then the management and label heard it, got scared that it wasn’t old school Duran, and persuaded the band to try and make it sound more like the band everyone knew.”

I would be very curious to hear those original mixes, if they were, indeed, edgier and more rock. Likewise, I would love to be a fly on the wall when the management and label convinced the band to make it sound “more like them”. What was that conversation like? Why did the band go along with it, if this is true? This seems to be a theme that runs throughout Duran history–this tug of war between sounding “like them” and being more experimental. Thinking of the late 1990s, I’m not sure that the advice worked all that well as the band did not experience roaring commercial success.

Warren

I could not pick out just one paragraph or idea from Warren’s recollections but there were a few ideas that had a general theme, which was that recording Pop Trash was a different experience than the rest of the albums.

  • Nick having to do a lot of the lyrics, and me doing the same with the melodies, made POP TRASH different from earlier albums.”
  • “As far as the approach to the POP TRASH recording, that was slightly different. We’d been listening to some old Bowie records and loved the organic sound.”
  • “I played on bass for POP TRASH and the recollections for me was all about de clicking, sitting on the couch with Nick waiting for Mr. Tin to get rid of the clicks in the take. Yikes! The album would’ve benefitted greatly having JT in charge of the bottom end.”

In thinking about all those differences, I wonder if I cannot sense them and feel uncomfortable in response. Did the lyrics not grab me because Nick wrote a lot of them as opposed to Simon? Did the music miss John like Warren acknowledged?

Nick

Nick touches on the very same subjects here, “Admittedly, it was an awkward time for us, and the first and only album without John Taylor at all, which felt really uncomfortable, particularly for Simon and I to have lost all three of our Taylors. To lose one may have been regarded as misfortune, to lose three looked like carelessness… We were trying to carve out a direction, but all feeling a little unsure. Simon was going through a difficult time in his life and so for POP TRASH, I ended up writing more lyrics than usual, and that in itself created a different dynamic.”

As soon as I read this, I immediately had a different feeling about the whole thing. I can understand having a difficult time and trying to push through. I’m sure that they probably knew that it was going to be unlike any previously recorded Duran album but, perhaps, the victory wasn’t making the best album ever but just getting it done. Maybe I am been judging too harshly. I know that I would hate for people to judge my work when I’m struggling. This weekend, for example, is a big time campaign weekend of action. Unfortunately, there is a lot going on with my paid career that has me distracted. Am I doing the best job I can on the campaign front? Probably not but my effort is still there.

My sympathy for the band during that time has grown. I’m glad that I took the time to read and think about it. It will definitely make the next listen to Pop Trash a different one.

-A

Surprising Fireworks and Sudden Silence

I’m a big fan of the deeper thinking questions that DDHQ occasionally throws out to fans for contemplation. Yesterday was no exception as they asked what was our fondest Duranlive memory.

Invariably when I see these questions, I end up stumped. Sometimes, the answer is as clear as day and I’ll post, but other times, like yesterday, I can’t think of a single memory that stands out above all others. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t because I don’t have great memories. Hardly. It’s because I have so many.

My time as a Duran Duran fan has been such a bright light in my life. I’m not talking about the time I’ve blogged, or even the time I’ve been a host at a party or a convention, though. I mean the times when I am simply a fan. I’m not half of Daily Duranie, not even L8BarMom. Just some…woman…standing in an audience, cheering for her favorite band. There’s no question, at least not in my head, that I’ve loved being a fan of this band. The music fuels my daydreams, motivates my words, and keeps me coming back for more. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Even so, I have no doubt that if it hadn’t been for my friendship with Amanda, I wouldn’t have gone to half as many shows as I have over the years. It is far too easy for me to say “I can’t”, and let it go at that. In fact, that’s what happened with the Vegas shows that were just cancelled. I didn’t even talk with her about them, I just said “I can’t”, and went about my day. While that might have made my life easier here at home at the time, it wouldn’t have made my heart quite as full.

Maybe not so surprisingly, I have thought quite a bit about the shows we’ve been to over the years, particularly lately. It’s so weird to me that so few of the memories seem any more “over the top” to me than others. One time that comes to mind – and I mean, it happened within a blink of an eye – was when I realized they were actually playing Secret Oktober in Brighton back in 2011. Context is important here, so let me describe it.

Amanda and I had already made one trip to the UK that year, and so we’d gotten ourselves to Brighton by sheer luck again in November of 2011. I say “luck” because we managed to get there despite a union walkout for public transportation, leaving my family, Amanda leaving her job, I don’t know how we made it work, but we did. I’d been begging for the band to play Secret Oktober at one of those shows…for months. Make no mistake, I knew the chances were about none, but I begged anyway. We’d gotten to Brighton in time, went to our crazy modern hotel, got ready and got ourselves to the show. There we stood in our spots, and all of the sudden this song starts and I’m not sure what it is until I KNEW what it was. If only to have a picture of my jaw hitting the ground that night at the precise moment I knew what they were playing…the rest of the song is an absolute blur to me, but that moment? Golden. Amanda and I hugged one another, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that much pure love and joy in a single second.

There are a ton of precious memories like that, occupying space in my head. I’m lucky. The thing is, most of those memories are just of being in the audience. Sometimes I can’t even remember where I was standing at the time – front row, fourth row, tenth row or beyond – it doesn’t matter now. I couldn’t tell you what was on the set list at the time, or what I was wearing, or even where the concert was at the time. The only thing that seems to matter was that I was there, with Amanda, and we were having the time of our lives watching this band that we’ve grown up watching.

Sure, some small things stand out. Like the time Roger shook my hand, when Dom flicked a pick my way once, when he ran over to be sure and grab my hand, every single time we duck from Simon’s baptismal blast during during White Lines…and seeing Nick look down at us and laugh in response, and when John looks our way. Those moments, though, aren’t necessarily what my mind drifts towards first. Just being there, basking in the glory of still being a fan of this music. Marveling in my head that I can still go see my favorite band along with my best friend. How could I ever have gotten so lucky?

A lot of things have changed in the past couple of months. I’m really not sure when I’ll feel comfortable traveling again. Getting on a plane again does not excite me. Wearing a mask in order to go to a show isn’t going to happen for me. Donning one for an entire plane ride is my idea of hell. I’ll just drive, thanks. I’m so thankful I did all of the things I could in the years before this stupid pandemic, because who knows when I’ll do them again next?

Thinking about being in the audience of any Duranlive experience brings a smile to my face, and sometimes, even laughter. Today more than ever, I realize how lucky I’ve been. I don’t think I can say that enough these days.

-R

Katy Kafe with Nick – May 2020

I feel like it has been forever since I listened to a Katy Kafe and blogged about it. Did I miss some? Did Rhonda cover some that I completely missed? No clue. Anyway, I’m happy to take some time out of my weekend to listen to Nick and Katy and reflect on their discussion here. As always, this is not a full transcription but more about what caught my attention. If you want to hear the whole thing for yourself and you know you do, I would head over to duranduranmusic.com! (Interestingly enough, according to Katy, these have been done since like 2002. Who has been listening since then??)

Pandemic Life

Nick expresses well what so many of us are thinking and feeling in that it is hard to see/hear about the lives who have been devastated by the virus; yet, he remains hopeful that we will get through this. He also recommends that everyone be as careful as they can. On a positive note, he acknowledges that we all have more time on our hands at home. Apparently, he has been working on some projects that he has not been able to get to before due to lack of time, including organizing photographs, the musical and other Duran projects. Two thoughts here. One, what Duran projects? I would love to know! Two, good for him to get things done. I wish I could say the same. I’m lucky if I get my work done for school.

Learned Something About Himself

Has Nick learned something about himself during this time? He found out that he has the patience to organize and catalog his photos. Within that, he discovered what tends to be the subjects of his photos more than others. On a totally different note, apparently he has been sleeping better. (I so wish I could say the same. My dreams are out of control and many of them are not pleasant.)

Grace Jones

In what is news to me, Grace Jones was scheduled to appear with Duran at their Hyde Park show. The band thought it would have been interesting to do something with everyone on the bill but acknowledged that it might not be possible. They are looking at rescheduling everything for this year for next year, if that’s possible.

Nick’s Projects

He is working on the musical with John, a Japanese film documentary that he needs to edit, a book of his photography (completed and will be coming out later this year!). He also spends part of his day creating things and writing. The members have talked about to finish the album as they do have a few songs that are complete and ready to mix. (They should feel free to share those as soon as possible!) He recommends that everyone should do something for themselves! (I agree.)

One Final Picture

If Nick could take only one more picture, what would the subject be? If he was at home, it would be a portrait of who is there. It might also be a flower from his garden. The moon is possible subject. (Fun fact-he would love to go to the moon someday!)

Cameo Appearance in a Hitchcock Film

(Kudos to the clever questions!) Nick mentioned the shower scene in Psycho or ringing the church bells in Vertigo among others or carrying drinks in Rope. Of course, he acknowledges that he should choose Notorious. Ha! I was glad to hear him mention the Birds. My older brother made me watch that as a young kid and I think it scarred me for life!

Cats

Does Nick have a cat? He regrets not having a cat but finds it hard to leave cats home alone and he is often traveling. (I feel awful when I have to leave mine!) The next one will be another Russian Blue like the one he had before or a more unique breed.

Which Band Member?

Which band member would he go see first once the restrictions are lifted? Simon and Roger both live pretty close to each other so he would flip a coin between them.

Set List

Of course, a question about the set list came up. He mentioned about how they have to find a balance between fan favorites and the big hits because they cannot play a lot of songs that only the diehards know. That said, fan only shows might allow for something like one track off of each album. (This could be a fun question to ask the fan community.)

Fashion

Will there ever be a fashion show showing the history of Duran fashion? This would be a long process, Nick says, but they have been archiving material for about 9 or 10 years so far. Shocking to no one, Nick has the most clothes but John and Simon still have some of the more famous outfits. Obviously, he has no idea when a show like this would happen but there is a lot of interest out there, including from lots of galleries around the world. (I would definitely travel for this!)

Female Singers

So far, there is no plan to work with a female singer on this upcoming album even though there is interest on the band’s part. (Interesting.)

Don’t Look Back

Nick wishes the song, Don’t Look Back, would have been finished and released. According to him, this was a song done with Nile around the time of the Wild Boys. (Well, that sure caught my attention!) Reportage is mentioned and how Nick would like it out there one day once it is totally done, which would take about 3-4 weeks to clean it up. (So do all of us!)

Song to Redo

Nick doesn’t really think he would redo any song but would like to overhaul the Liberty album and do a “director’s cut” of it, especially since there are lots of extra tracks from that album. (That is an interesting idea and one that I think many people would welcome.)

Overall, this Kafe was great! I give a lot of props to the fans who sent in such awesome questions and there were many. I did not cover all of them by far! On top of that, I appreciate how forthcoming Nick was with his answers. This is definitely one that should be listened to.

-A

We Walk the Mile

I have really been enjoying the extra content lately. The bass tutorials, the instagram chats, lengthy interviews, and of course Duran Duran radio, have all been fantastic. I want to make sure to yell that out to the world, and to thank all those involved. All of it has helped to keep me entertained, engaged, and interested, and I’m positive I’m not the only one feeling that way.

This pandemic has kind of forced all of us to see things differently, and I’m not just talking about the issues at hand. Specifically, I mean life. Friendship. Family. Learning. The list goes on and on. We have all had to find our way. Some of us are better about it than others, and that’s not really a surprise. I’ve chatted with family via text and email, Zoomed with a couple of friends, and spent more time with my three kids at home than I have in years. My husband and I have grown closer, and we’ve learned to rely on one another. I’ve cooked more at home meals over the past eight weeks than I have in YEARS. (I can’t say I’m loving that, but I’ve grown used to it, albeit begrudgingly. I even prepared food yesterday for Mother’s Day!)

We’ve slowed down a little. I think my family spends a little more time talking, a little less time rushing about. As a household, we’ve agreed to become even more self-reliant, pushing forward with our plans to become more of a homestead where we grow our own food and start our own cidery. (Think winery but with hard cider and mead. Mead is essentially wine made from honey.) We’re seeing how the world is changing and trying to adapt so that we can be happy, fulfilled, along with exercising some control over our own destiny.

I don’t think we’re all that different from Duran Duran, or anybody else really. None of us asked for this set of circumstances to be dropped like a lead weight in the middle of our lives. It is doubtful anyone really knows how long this is likely to go on. I’ve sat in on a lot of webinars lately, both those inside and outside of the entertainment industry. Concerts aren’t coming back as soon as we might hope, and even if they do – it’s hard to guess how they’ll look. It appears that the band recognizes that too. I mean, how could they not? They’ve decided to wait on releasing the album until 2021, which isn’t a surprise. I can be sad, but I don’t blame them. In the meantime, they’re doing what we’re all hopefully trying to do: exploring alternatives!

Simon discovered that he doesn’t mind doing a recorded radio show, or podcast. Katy seems to like that too, which I think is great! Nick took time to do a lengthy interview that I can’t imagine he’d have done normally. I mean, two and a half hours is a long time! John seemed to really enjoy his bass tutorial last week, along with the chat he had with Dave from Chromeo. (A band that I am going to check out this week. I know, I know…I’m slow, but I’m trying!!) While Duran Duran might not be a band that performs to an empty audience, or films a song during zoom calls, editing and then sharing it with fans, they are finding ways to engage and share parts of themselves in ways that many of us have wanted for years.

Personally, I love what they’re doing. I don’t need another Twitter Q&A, circa 2012 to remind me that there are 50,000 other fans out there, each vying for their two and a half seconds of attention with <insert band member name here>. What I do appreciate though, is getting past that nonsense, and hearing real discussions about music, their experience, or whatever they’re willing to share about themselves and Duran Duran. I feel far more connected to them now than I have in, well, a very long time, and I haven’t even left my house. Maybe it’s just me, and I can accept that some might disagree, but I think the content they’ve been creating has been golden. I look forward to whatever comes next.

As I said weeks ago, it is going to be the bands who figure out how to continue engaging their fan bases in some way that make it through this crisis, particularly if the lack of live shows continues into 2021. It is the people who find some way to make lemonade from lemons that will thrive in the future. Sure, my life looks different in 2020, as I’m sure yours does, dear reader, but it isn’t all bad. While I have my bad days and I worry about things from time to time, as does everyone, I also see that the only way through this is to keep evolving and finding the good. I’m going to keep working on that.

-R

Our time before and would it be so wrong

Before I dive into today’s blog post, I wanted to take a second or two to wish all mothers (people and pets) out there a very Happy Mother’s Day! Your work, care and dedication is too often taken for granted and I hope today you feel at least a little appreciation and love! Now, onto today’s blog post!

This week, as I flipped through social media, I saw some clips from Nick Rhodes being online with Red Ronnie. In some cases, nothing hit me as super interesting or surprising but one clip definitely caught my attention. It is a clip that I saw on Facebook and I’m going to attempt to link it here but I’ll try to transcribe as well, in case it does not work.

Question: “Everyone asks. Andy Taylor…will he come again or is it so difficult?”

Response: “Um..I don’t think, to be quite honest that it would make things any better, in any way. Um…Andy is a great guitarist. Yes, he’s difficult to be around. Um…when Andy was no longer with us, peace broke out and um..and we all got along much more easily. I don’t think he fits in, personality wise, with the band, really. No one would take away anything from his musicianship and I wish him well, but I don’t think it’s with us. You know, Dom has been with us playing the live shows for a long time and maybe we will have some other people come and guest as well. Nile comes and plays with us sometimes, Mark Ronson occasionally, maybe Graham will come and do some things. Who knows? We haven’t got that far yet, but very much looking forward to playing some shows and I wish I could tell you when it will be.” (I think I got it all but any errors are mine.)

What was the reaction to this and what do I think about it? Some people focused on the music and recognized that the push/pull, two musical sides vying for attention worked really well in those early days to create some of the best Duran albums and songs. Others expressed sadness about what that means for Duran, musically, moving forward. Yet, Andy fans expressed a great deal of disappointment and anger towards Nick, believing him to be unkind towards Andy. Many assumed that Nick does not like Andy because he stood in the way of Nick’s controlling the band. As I read through comments and reactions, I was not surprised. I am well-aware of how the tension between the two did help to create some of the best material of the band’s career. Likewise, I’m not shocked that many fans, especially ones who love Andy, view Nick as controlling and mean. I cannot fault anyone for having their own perspective and feeling about this. After all, everyone is passionate about Duran Duran and the guitarist debate has been one that runs deep.

So what do I think of it? I have mixed feelings about it. My Duran fan self can definitely see and appreciate the creativeness that exploded with the tension between Andy and Nick. I would love to have another album like the first one or Rio. Who wouldn’t? That said, I also really enjoy Dom Brown during the shows and love how there is great chemistry there between him and the other band members. Would I want to change that? Would I want to risk the current status for Andy to be back? It could obviously be beyond amazing. But it could be a disaster. The whole thing just makes me want to scream a little bit in that there does not seem to be the perfect choice here.

Beyond the musical aspect of this, I think about the working conditions part. As a teacher and as an organizer I have worked with and on countless different teams over the course of my career. Do the people I’m working with matter? Absolutely. One hundred percent. I think back to my first real team in teaching in which I was part of a team of three. The two women I worked with had opposite philosophies and approaches to teaching. They were both super strong-willed people who did not hide how they felt or what they thought. This meant that I walked into a bit of a mine-field with a push for me to take sides. Things literally got so bad that my principal had to come into our office, divide up the space and assign us areas. From there, my principal worked hard to get the team to be able to work together. Eventually, the team came together and we probably did our best work. That said, it was exhausting and felt like it could fall apart at any point. I don’t think I would want that type of work environment now even if it helped me then be the best teacher I could be.

Of course, I have also been on teams that have been fun and trusting with minimal tension. Those teams have been able to get things done and done well. Was the work as good as if someone was there questioning us more? Pushing us to see a different side to a certain lesson plan or educational strategy? Maybe. But at what cost? How would that play out long term? I know that it would affect my desire to go to work. It would make me more and more unhappy and as I get older and older, I don’t want tension in my work place. I don’t think that makes me a terrible person so I can see where Nick is coming from.

As I walked the clip, I was surprised that Nick was as forthright as he was. I appreciate that he shared with us his perspective even if it wasn’t exactly what many wanted to hear.

-A

Want a Track Title?

I’ve been listening to Nick’s interview with Red Ronnie from yesterday. At over 2 and a half hours, it’s a long one. I didn’t get that far through it in one sitting, but I did get far enough to hear Nick shamelessly give out the title to one of the tracks they recorded for this next project: “Give It All Up”.

Just sets the mind in motion a bit, doesn’t it? Makes the new album that, according to Nick, they were about two weeks away from finishing before they stopped working, sound all that much more of a real thing. John flew home to Los Angeles, and the rest of the band is now sheltering-in-place at their respective homes in England. The album of course, sits…waiting ever so patiently. Along with the rest of us, am I right?

I have to say, he gave the title EASILY and without any sort of fanfare whatsoever. No bravado, no insistence that he really shouldn’t give out the details, or even that things could change. Nope. Ronnie asked him if he could give out even just one title from the new album, making sure to reiterate he didn’t want the name of the album itself, but a single track. Nick immediately said “Sure”, and came out with “Give it All Up” as though it was no big deal. Perhaps at this stage, it really wasn’t…which is fine. Except that to me and my Covid-19, very bored, anxiety-ridden ears, it was almost like Pavlov’s Bell.

I couldn’t decide if Ronnie was shocked it was that simple to get it out of him, or if he was thinking about what else he could ask (if anything). Meanwhile, I scrambled for paper, thinking that I’d better write it down, lest I forget.

Forget? Who am I kidding? The title is now burned into my long term memory. It’s right up there with “King of Nowhere”…the album title that ended up not really being an album title after all. (the rumored title for what we know as All You Need is Now) I wrote an entire blog about that damn title and look what happened…

…and here I am again. Writing another blog about a title that may or may not end up on an album. You’d think I’d learn.

Sure, there were other things I learned. The band was going to release a special white vinyl edition of their debut album for Record Store Day, they were working on a behind-the-scenes documentary of the Apollo gig at Kennedy Space Center last year, they had Italian dates on their schedule for later in the year, and now a lot of that will be rescheduled and moved out. But none of those things got me as excited as these four little words: Give. It. All. Up.

What is it about hearing an album title for a song I’ve never heard one note from yet? I suppose to some degree, it makes the album real. Instead of just being a “project”…which is kind of vague and indicates that sure, they’re tinkering around but nothing concrete is there yet, it’s an actual thing. Some thing that will actually come to fruition and be released, even. Not that I didn’t think they had anything before…but now at least something from it has a name.

Little things make all the difference.

-R

With a Home Tattoo

Do you ever get the feeling that the internet or something is stalking you? I have a friend who has recently been talking about how she has started to see advertisements for lawn care products immediately following working on her lawn. She claims that she has not even been looking at products involving lawn care or talking about it whatsoever online. When she told me that, I laughed her off. Now, I am not so sure. Remember last week when I wrote about a buzzfeed quiz asking Duran Duran fans if they were “obsessed”? Well, another one popped up in my world. That would not necessarily make me think that my paranoid friend was on to something until the new one had to do with creating a mansion, your dream home and how that creation would give you the Duran member to spend the quarantine. Does the internet know that I’ve been watching a lot of HGTV? Normally, I have the news on in the background but since the pandemic started, I have to limit my time with the news. Watching people fix up houses to create dream homes is easier to handle, emotionally. Psychologically.

Anyway, this quiz, which you can take here, involves you picking your favorite living room, kitchen, bedroom, etc. until each space of your mansion is chosen. I saw that a number of people took the quiz as did I and interestingly enough, all of the ones I saw all had Nick Rhodes as the winner. This, of course, got me thinking. Was he the only choice? What would it take to get one of the other band members? Did anyone get a different result? I am tempted to keep taking it over and over again to see. It isn’t that I have anything against Nick. I just would not think our styles would match. *Shrugs*

That said, I have to say that I enjoyed the quiz. Maybe it is because I have been watching a lot of HGTV and wishing that I could fix up my condo to have some fancy features shown in these photos. Perhaps, I also appreciated the less than serious aspect of a quiz like this, which is true of last week’s as well. It is just for fun and short distraction, which I need. (Too often my distractions become hours long, which is probably why my grading for the week is not done!) I have to say that I liked this quiz better than the obsessed one. One comment received said it well by saying that the obsessed quiz felt like a “I’m a bigger, better fan than you” type of quiz. I have to agree. It wouldn’t just separate out the amount of love people have for the band but also how they express it as well as the amount of time and money they can spend on the band. This one, on the other hand, has no competition to it. It is designed to just match one’s style to the band’s style. There is no harm in that.

On that note, does anyone have other similar quizzes or activities that people might do? I wonder if there isn’t a way for us to organize them (if there are many so that people can find them easily). Hmm…what do you all think?

-A

Question of the Week: The SOng that Represents the Astronaut Tour

I apologize for not getting a blog post out yesterday. While my intentions were there, my body said otherwise as I suffered through a pretty nasty migraine. Thankfully, I’m better today but I have been left with a ton of work to do to get ready for the new school world online tomorrow. Still, I wanted to check in here on a few items, including the weekly question, the twitter chat with Nick and the upcoming Duran Duran watch party.

Question of the Week

The last couple of weeks have been focused on the song that best represents the Astronaut Tour. First, I included all the songs they played in 2005 then limited to the songs people chose from that list. Now, we have a tie between two songs. This week’s poll will give us our final result.

Coming Soon
Which Song Best Represents the Astronaut Tour?
Which Song Best Represents the Astronaut Tour?
Which Song Best Represents the Astronaut Tour?

Nick’s Twitter Chat

Did anyone check out the Friday Twitter chat with Nick? I “watched” the tweets as I worked and had a few observations that I wanted to acknowledge. First of all, Nick was on longer than the rest, about an hour. It seemed to me that Nick took longer to “respond” which meant that there were longer pauses in between his tweets. That said, I appreciate some of the clever questions/comments that were shared. You can read the transcript here. I, for one, will be interested in seeing the chat next week with John. I’ll be curious to see if I will be able to watch as it happens as I’ll probably be doing school at that time. (I’m still getting used to this weird schedule I have.)

Duran Duran Facebook Watch Party

This weekend Duran Duran posted on their social media that they will be hosting a video watch party on Facebook: Duran Duran’s “Watch Party,” on the band’s Facebook page, will now take place on TUESDAY April 7 at 5pm EST (2pm PST, 10pm GMT). I, for one, have never actually checked into one of these watch parties. I might actually try for a bit on Tuesday just to see what it is like.

On that note, I better get back to work. Is it June yet?!

-A

Hothead – The Daily Duranie Review

Here we are. We have indeed arrived at the time to review Hothead. Produced by Chris Kimsey, featuring spoken word by none other than Simon Le Bon, there isn’t much written about Hothead. The song does not seem to be a fan favorite, so let’s get to the bottom of it!

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

The first thing I notice is the guitar, which quite frankly for a Duran Duran song, isn’t always the norm. Not buried too deeply in the mix, not an esoteric enigma, vaguely floating up in the stratosphere – for this track, the guitar helps ground the track like a root in the soil. The synthesizer takes on it’s old role, creating atmosphere and answering the guitar in the chorus.

The thing is, the music is kind of catchy. I like the slight grit to the guitar posed against the silky texture of keyboards. The semi-haunted house feeling of the descending synthesizer chords during each verse help to create interest, and it lends a bit more meaning to the point of the song. I picture wandering down into the proverbial rabbit hole, or falling into a pit while in a forest! This is the first DD album, to my knowledge, where the band samples from newscasts and television, incorporating those bytes into the background of the sound. I like that they did that, because those samplings give the song context. It isn’t difficult as a listener to understand the time frame in question, or why the song was written. Given that triumph, I don’t hear much bass though, which is strange – I think it’s in there, but during this period of time I think bass was more “felt” than heard. The band seemed to have backed off from the more complicated bass lines of Rio days and before. The drums are solid, no with no-nonsense, which probably is appropriate given the texture and point of the song.

Vocals

So, this is where things start to go sideways. The very first voice I recognize is that of Former President George Bush (the first one). That can’t be a good omen, can it? You hear news report snippets, which are sampled and as I said before – give context to time and setting of the song, and then Simon begins. Not quite spoken word, not quite singing…but then he does sing the chorus, doesn’t he? That’s followed by a stop gap, more than a little cringy, yet oddly appropriate, “hothead” sung in high-soprano by backing vocalists. I can’t decide if the cringe is meant due to the meaning of the song, or if that’s just *my* take on it. Before I can decide for sure while writing, I hear Simon’s rap section.

This may not be a popular opinion, but the words “Simon” and “rap” really don’t belong in the same sentence. It is very difficult to get past the sing-song aspect and take it seriously. Some artists rap well, and some just don’t. It’s my (possibly unpopular) opinion that Simon does not.

Lyrics

I’ll admit something right here and now: I’ve never read the lyrics to this song before. Lyrically, the song is strong, and arguably, more “political” than Paper Gods. The words were timely then, timely now, well-written, and (still) have a great message. They’re not dated, and they’re definitely not vague. He wasn’t wrong that governments use media and propaganda to change the mind of the public, and that whatever they say today might totally change tomorrow depending upon whatever view they wish to spread at the time. There is absolutely a message warning us to wary of those with the loudest microphones. I can’t argue with any of that. It isn’t the words that are the biggest problem.

Overall

While I can’t say it is a favorite song, there are a couple of things I liked. The guitar line is great, and I love the call and answer with synthesizer. I do give credit for innovation. The sampling of the news bytes was something that we may take for granted in 2020, but in 1990 was still fairly new. Overall, the music is pretty good. The lyrics themselves are solid, although I know they’re not the poetic ramblings that fans enjoyed in earlier albums. The real problem, at least for me, are the vocals and their delivery. I’m not opposed to rap or spoken word – but the sing-song delivery that seems to accompany the way Simon raps does the song an enormous amount of injustice. It cheapens the message and makes it out to be far more of a game or joke than I think was intended. I feel like the song started off to be a great idea, but during recording, it went ass-over-teakettle.

Cocktail Rating

two cocktails!

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

This song definitely starts out in a non-typical Duran way with extremely obvious guitars. While I cannot say that I’m the biggest guitar fan, I think the jarring nature of the intro guitars is fitting with the theme of the song. You cannot talk about politics like this with a pretty synthesize sound, for example. Speaking of synthesizer, I really like the keyboards that pop up more when the guitars are pausing. The drums are solid with nothing too crazy going on. I don’t hear a lot of bass, though, which is a bummer. One thing that I notice about the musicality of this song is how the instrumentation is strong until the vocals and soundbytes begin then it almost feels as if the music takes a backseat.

Vocals

I’m not even sure where to start about the vocals. I guess I will start with the soundbytes of news headlines. I don’t mind them. In fact, part of me finds it fascinating what they chose and makes me wonder why those. To me, they fit with the theme of the song. Then, there is Simon’s vocals. At first, they aren’t terrible. I don’t mind them. Then, the first chorus happens. What the heck is that all about? Why the shouting like of “hothead”?! Why have a female vocal singing “hothead” for far too long? What is the point?! I don’t get it. Then, Simon’s vocals take a noticeable change for the final verse. It is more spoken word but not really. I don’t get that either. The vocals just make the song feel disjointed, lacking cohesion. It feels like they couldn’t decide exactly what they were going for so they did a bunch of stuff. It doesn’t work.

Lyrics

I have to admit that I find these lyrics pretty interesting but then again I spend a lot of my life involved in the political sphere. One thing that I find most interesting is how the overall message about media, politics, propaganda, etc and so forth is not dated at all. These issues are still relevant. In fact, they might be more relevant now in 2020 than in 1990 especially with the rise of social media, fake accounts, interference from other countries, etc. I look at other lyrics that might fit in the same category and feel like some of them feel more dated than this. The biggest example is Too Much Information. It definitely feels like the focus is on the Gulf War of the 1990s. Again, I give a little shoutout to the soundbytes as I found them to be interesting, too.

Overall

This song is definitely not a fan favorite and I totally get why. While there are elements that are interesting like the lyrics and much of the instrumentation, the vocals really detract from the rest especially since they are so front and center during the majority of the song. I do appreciate the fact that the band decided to do something political in nature but because of the vocals, specifically, I think it turned a lot of listeners off. They did not get the message or did not or could not think about what the lyrics might mean. That said, I do give credit for even mixing things up, musically, by having the guitar start it out and in such a dramatic way. I have to just wonder that if they had tweaked things a bit if the final result would have been significantly better.

Cocktail Rating

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 781f2-twoglasses.jpg
two cocktails!

Year End Katy Kafe with Nick 2019

I’m still in the process of listening and blogging about the year end Katy Kafes. So far, I have blogged about John’s and about Roger’s. Today, I will move on to Nick. As always, I am not sharing everything. I’m focusing on what struck me and what I reacted to. If you want to want to know about the whole thing, please head over to DuranDuranMusic and listen for yourself.

Event of the year:

Nick mentioned that there were a lot of “ghastly political things” that he doesn’t want to remember. Instead, he would rather remember the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. He distinctly remembers being a little kid watching it, which he believed had a massive impact on what he thought about life. Additionally, it was “such a significant achievement that was positive for everyone.”

Favorite Movie:

Like John, Nick loved Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. While he acknowledged that it was a little long and slow, in places, he enjoyed every minute of it. He feels that both the writing and acting were great.

Favorite TV Show:

While Nick does not typically find a lot of time for TV, he made a point of doing so this past year. He mentioned two shows: Black Mirror and The Crown. He raved about the latter stating that it looks amazing with casting that it right on.

Favorite Book:

Leave it to Nick to talk about a book of photography. In this case, he talked about the latest Stephen Gill book that focused on photographs taken in rural Sweden.

Favorite Music:

Billie Eilish was Nick’s choice in this category. Fascinating. He acknowledged that she is very young but finds her clever and more interesting than others. When questioned about this choice, he stated how he believes that female singers are leading right now.

Favorite Thing Saw:

In this category, Nick focused on museum and art gallery shows. Nick discussed the various shows he saw in great detail. I took note of a couple including the Stanley Kubrick exhibit with props and clothing from his movies and seeing The Last Supper in person in Milan.

Favorite Duran Duran Moment:

Shocking to no one, Nick chose playing at the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Apollo 11 rocket to the moon. He described it as surreal, being at that exact location with rockets all around them, a big choir, a string section and a full moon. He shared a little about how this happened. Apparently, he had visited NASA a year earlier and the NASA people mentioned the idea of Duran playing at this and he jumped at the chance. Fascinating.

Looking Forward to the Most in 2020:

The first thing Nick popped out with was a nap. As someone who has been grading all weekend, I definitely could relate to that. Of course, he turned more seriously to the fact that they have spent a lot of 2019 working on the album. He said that he 100% thinks that the album will be out in 2020. His prediction is that it will most likely be between April and June. The worst case would be September. They have about 6 songs all set but have to battle to decide the rest. Katy asked how that happens. He explained that it was a democracy that works (unlike the UK and the US, he added!). Either they work on a song until everyone thinks it is the best it can be or it doesn’t get added. One story Nick shared was how he loved Northern Lights but Simon did not agree with a certain part. Apparently, they compromised by including it as a bonus track which Nick thinks it is the right way now.

All of the album talk got me excited! Maybe I’ll have new Duran music by my birthday. I would approve!

-A