It is always nice when DDHQ gives me something to think about and chew on while blogging. Yesterday, they asked the “simple” question of what has been the most surprising change they’ve made during the course of their constantly evolving life as a band?
Naturally, this question is fully loaded. I can cite about 35 surprising things just off the top of my head. Should I answer the question from the POV I once had as a preteen Duranie? How about as an adult? Fan blogger? Overall?? Could I even begin to decide on ONE thing that has surprised me more than all others?
Let’s face it, there have been many things to shock the hell out of me over the years. Roger left the band, first of all. In my mind, that wasn’t supposed to happen in 1985, or any time. I can tell you exactly how I responded to that news: “Why is it always the band member *I* like that has to leave first??” Imagine that sentence loaded with all of the self-centered emotion of a 14 year old girl, and you’d pretty much have my feelings in a nutshell. The music didn’t surprise me much, but having my guy leave certainly did!
Warren came along right as the 80s were about to leave the building. Sure, I’d seen him getting in there, but to be fair – I tried not to notice too much. I figured that as long as he towed the line (Andy’s line, I might add), it would all be fine. Say whatever you want about him – at the time I didn’t know anything about Warren except that he wasn’t Andy Taylor. That fact, was unsurmountable, but I had high hopes until I started seeing one interview after another where Warren took great joy in announcing just how much better of a guitarist he was. To me, *that* was what was so surprising about him, not his playing. I’d always been taught that if you’re good at something, it’s your actions that put the proof in the pudding, not the words.
Then there was Ordinary World. Just when I had begun to think that was all there was, the band proved they had more gas in the tank! The song was nothing like “Rio” or “Planet Earth”, and yet they were getting more radio play than they had in years. I wondered how long it might last. Yes, I know Warren is responsible for the guitar part. It is not my favorite song by a long shot, but I appreciate that his work kept the band going.
More recently, there’s been Red Carpet Massacre. The album surprised me because it seemed like such a departure from anything they’d done previously. People have said there’s no “Duran Duran” sound, but I’d humbly disagree. There are certain qualities to most, if not all Duran Duran songs over the years that I can absolutely attribute to the band. Simon’s stacked harmonies, John’s bass lines, even the atmospheric synthesizer and keyboards from Nick. Those elements seemed to be missing or at least very hidden in the mix on Red Carpet Massacre. Add to that the likes of Timberlake and Timbaland being VERY audible, and you’ve got one surprising album.
Anybody remember the days when John was on Twitter? How about Simon’s vocal problems in 2011? Both things shocked the heck out of me to some extent. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to engage with a real member of Duran Duran on social media…or anywhere….ever…and I did! I tend to wonder if perhaps John didn’t see the value in being on Twitter, or that it made the relationship between fans and the band more complicated, between all of the “likes” and “follows”. That is certainly understandable, but the one thing I am grateful for when it comes to social media, is having that time. As crazy as it sounds, it made the band feel a lot more human to me, and while I can’t account for the feelings of every fan – I can say it was more than I could have ever hoped for as a kid, which in turn makes it one of the most surprising things this band, or members within, have done.
Paper Gods surprised me because it was all of the things that Red Carpet Massacre was not, incorporated into all of the things that Duran Duran has always been. While I am not going to say the album was perfect, I can appreciate the effort to modernize Duran Duran’s sound. It still surprised me though, coming off of All You Need is Now. Two incredibly different albums within the same decade. Amazing.
All of those things, plus so many others have kept me captivated and learning to expect the unexpected from Duran Duran over the years. The surprises have kept the band fresh, and their sound from becoming stale. I could name probably ten more things that made me sit up and take notice over the years. But, one thing above all else stands out in my mind as being the most shocking.
One night in 2003, I snuck into my husband’s office downstairs while my kids were playing and Walt was in the garage. Earlier I figured I could pop onto duranduran.com and check out the message boards before anyone (Gavin) learned how to build a bomb. What came up for me as the website loaded was beyond my wildest dreams. Five faces stared back at me, and even then, I was confused. Wait. Could it really? Nah…… But wait, is that…is that John? If that’s John, who are those other guys?? It was only after I read, and re-read the headline announcing a show at the Pacific Amphitheater over and over, and over again, that I even allowed myself to consider that maybe, just maybe I was going to be able to see all five members of my very favorite band for the first time. So yes, for me, having the fab five reunite was, by far, the most surprising thing this band has ever done, at least, as far as I’m concerned….and that’s not a dare for them to try to up the ante!