Tag Archives: Pressure Off

The Power of Performances

Last night, I went out with some neighbors to see a classic rock covers band.  One of the band members is another neighbor and people wanted to cheer him on.  Classic Rock isn’t exactly my favorite genre but I can appreciate a good performance and knew most of the songs.  On top of that, I appreciated a chance to blow off some steam as the honeymoon with the school year is over.

The observer in me enjoyed people watching last night as I sipped my beverage.  While a lot of the audience was into the show, there was one woman that really caught my attention.  She danced right in front of the lead singer for the majority of the show.  When she stepped away, it was only to buy shots for the band or to try to get on the stage, which she did.  Now, I don’t know this woman.  She might have actually known the band.  Even if she did or did not, I’m not judging her behavior other than saying this.  She clearly was moved by the performance, which made me smile.  Every time I see a band play live, I’m reminded that there is something special with live music that cannot be replicated in any other way.

As I watched this woman along with the rest of the crowd, I found myself missing seeing Duran play live.  I know that I just saw them in December, which really wasn’t that long ago.  Yet, I miss that magic and hearing their music live and in person.  I have no idea when the next time I will see them live but I know that I’ll be way more than ready.

Speaking of Duran Duran and performance, my handy dandy day in Duran history chart tells me that the band played Pressure Off on the Tonight Show on this date in 2015.  I miss those performances, too.  Perhaps, this is part of the reason why fans get so into new album releases.  A new album means new music, of course, but it also includes live shows and TV appearances.

Here’s the Tonight Show performance from 3 years ago:

I don’t know about the rest of you but I enjoyed watching it as much this morning as I did when I watched it three years ago.  Good times.

-A

Have you watched the 360 Lyric video for “Pressure Off” yet?

I don’t really understand lyric videos.

I mean, I get why they’re done. Learning the words to a new favorite song is pretty important to those of us who are fans. I can remember listening to the same song over and over, and the feeling of triumph when I’d finally be able to sing each word. I can even remember hitting rewind and play for what felt like hours on end, just so I could hear a specific word. Sitting with a lyric sheet in front of my stereo was commonplace for me in the 80s.

A lot of that still holds true today. I like knowing the words. If a lyric sheet isn’t included with an album, I’ll go find lyrics online and learn them. God forbid I go to a show and not be able to sing along!

I’m confused about lyric videos because honestly, they seem like a gimmicky waste of money. Do people really watch them over and over? I ask because on this date in 2015, Duran Duran released a lyric video to “Pressure Off”.

This isn’t your average lyric video, though. “Pressure Off” is done in 360-vision. The way it works best is if you watch on your mobile phone. Hold up your mobile phone, making sure it is in full screen mode, as you turn around, the video gives the feeling that you are in the center of the video. It is interactive, and the effect is kind of cool. The lyrics slide by thanks to computerized animation, and the viewer is treated to seeing still shots of the band alongside the iconic “stickers” from the front of Paper Gods.

It took me a long time after it was released to get the full effect because I didn’t stop to check it out on my phone (although I understood the point).  When I finally remembered to do it, I thought the video was cute and worth a view, but it seems like a lot of work to put something like that together all for the sake of putting the lyrics out there.

Obviously, there must be more to these videos than just “Hey, watch this and learn the words!” I’m guessing somehow, they make the band money. Why only have one video for a single when you can have two? I still don’t really get it, but I suspect I’m on the right track. Having two videos up for viewing might boost chart progress and get the song “out there”.

So, if you haven’t watched the 360 lyric video for “Pressure Off” yet, why not watch it?  Take a gander. Spin in circles. Follow Simon, John, Nick & Roger and get a little dizzy in the process! Remember that to see it in 360, you’ve got to watch it on your mobile phone using the YouTube app. (Link is above)

-R

 

Everybody, Everywhere, Feel It In The Air

Do you know what Duran Duran was doing on this date in 2015?  They were filming the video for “Pressure Off” at Black Island Studios in London!

The video for “Pressure Off” is stylistic and modern, filmed in black and white. I like its simplicity and the stark black and white look. Nick’s thick black eyeliner, that damn leather jacket John’s wearing as he slowly unzips the sleeve, Simon’s mirrored aviator shades, and Roger’s super white grin at the end are huge checkmarks in my “Yes!” column. Combine those scenes with appearances by Nile and Janelle Monae in what I think has to be the most effective use of guest artists in a video, and “Pressure Off” is a big winner.

I love the whimsical side of the video, too. I am absolutely not the only Duranie to laugh at John mouthing the good old “F**k you” at the very beginning. That was my first indicator that this video lived up to it’s name! The magic of editing helped us see John upside down, and the weightless jumps into space for Nick and Simon (thank you, slo-mo). The carefree jumping paired with Nick’s seriousness makes me laugh.  At one point, John even throws his guitar, and it seems to just hang in the air. There are times I’d like to throw this laptop in the same way. actually.  The smiles and camera stare-downs also remind me that this band has a great sense of humor. I miss it!

I like the way the video is black and white, and yet the live performance of this song on tour was quite the opposite. The band wore vibrant colors in one way or another, and the confetti cannon spread a rainbow of joy throughout the venue. I’m sure the intention wasn’t to be the opposite of the video, but it is something I’ve thought about. Either way, I can’t help but smile and feel jubilant. (the edge goes to the live show for that, but even the video makes me happy)

Rather that read my gushing, why don’t you take another look? It had been a while since I watched it last, and I have to admit that seeing it today made me a little less weary of getting back into homeschool mode…

…speaking of which, I’ve got some teaching to do. Have a great Tuesday everyone!

 

-R

End of the Week Recap

I’m so sorry that I did not get a blog written yesterday.  I thought that I would have time but other duties got in the way.  Typically, if I know that Fridays will be difficult to find time, I write the blog post on Thursday night.  This week, I didn’t think I would need to do that because I did not have to go to work on Friday.  This led me to sleep in, believing that the afternoon would be open.  Unfortunately, a campaign task that I figured would be easy to get done literally sucked up my entire afternoon.  I was not pleased.  By the time I could blog, it was late and I was seriously crabby.  Not a good mood to blog.  Today, though, I’m here with a better frame of mind. (I hope! Ha!)

As I suffered through my week’s long “professional development” at work, I noticed that there were quite a few little Duran alerts that I wanted to acknowledge.

Cold War Premiere:

This week, Nick Rhodes and John Taylor, attended the premiere of the film, Cold War, in London, according to Duran’s Twitter.  While I love knowing what they are up to, I also appreciate that by sharing this I learn about an upcoming film.  People should feel free to ask me about the latest political moves and people in the U.S.  I’m feel like I pay enough attention to be good on that front!  I also feel pretty solid with my knowledge on Duran but the latest pop culture like movies or TV shows?  Not so much but I do like when someone sharing something about a upcoming movie that interests me.  According to IMDB, the plot is as follows:  “A passionate love story between two people of different backgrounds and temperaments, who are fatefully mismatched, set against the background of the Cold War in the 1950s in Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris.”  It sounds fascinating to me, mostly because of the historical context.

Simon and Sunseeker:

Simon will be a special guest at the Soton Boat Show on Friday, September 14th, according to a tweet from Sunseeker International.  What is this, you might ask.  (I did.)  This is what I learned.  According to the website, “TheYachtMarket.com Southampton Boat Show, Britain’s biggest and best festival of boating, showcases a plethora of beautifully designed boats and products from over 600 global marine brands.”  Its purpose is to celebrate boating in Britain.  I am not surprised that Simon will be attending.  It sounds like something right up his alley!

In2ruders:

Nick has been involved with another movie beyond attending premieres with John.  According to the tweet, Nick scored the soundtrack to the movie, In2ruders.  If that was not enough to catch your attention, his daughter, Tatjana, edited it and it stars the Bloom Twins.  Want to see the first teaser?!  You know you do!

After watching the teaser, I have to admit that I’m more intrigued with the idea of it being about the “dark side of the music industry”.  Fascinating!

Pressure Off Remixes:

If all that was not enough, Rhonda alerted me to some Pressure Off Remixes that are out there.  According to the thread, which you can read here, they were commissioned and never used.  I have to wonder why they were not used.  A lot of people really dig remixes.  Here they are:

What do you think of these remixes?  Do you have a favorite?  How do they compare to the original/album version?

-A

James Cole Winery Listening Party, 2015

Do you remember March 28, 2015?  I do. It was a day of envy, pride, joy, and jealousy.

On that date, Duran Duran appeared at a label (Warner Bros) event at James Cole Winery. It was a party designed to schmooze radio personnel and DJs by giving them a taste of Duran Duran circa 2015.  “Pressure Off” was played, and the band spent time working the room alongside label execs.

We fans were treated to a bit of hastily recorded video recorded by cell phone that was widely broadcast by any fan who got hold of the link. We marveled at the song, and wondered what the rest of it might sound like. Most of us would have given our eye teeth and then some to have been in that room.

Honestly, I just wanted to taste the wine.

Ok, not really. I mean, I like Duran Duran alongside a good Cabernet.

I mean listening to Duran Duran while sipping a good cab.

I’d best quit while I’m ahead.

Funny enough, Amanda and I had an idea for a listening party once. We actually had the audacity to think that with social media these days, what the band really needed were the fans. A good way to utilize their ever-loyal fan base these days would be to hold an intimate listening party that was truly an experience for a relatively small fans in a controlled, but very exclusive yet relaxed environment. No one listens to radio these days, and radio doesn’t play new Duran Duran anyway, we thought. They needed a different, and quite frankly better way of reaching their fans on a personal level. Why wouldn’t such an idea work? It would be fairly cheap, but mean the world to the fans, who would then be ready to shout from the rooftops about how great this album was going to be, and do whatever needed done…because that’s how an army of fans work. Look at any artist today, from Taylor Swift down to even Panic at the Disco! – they all USE their fans, and they do it by having events just like what we were thinking of. Wouldn’t it be worth a try?

So we sent off a proposal to the powers that be. It was the first proposal we’d ever written for something like this, and I’m sure we left things out – like how it would profit the label. We were extremely foolish and naive when I think back on it. (In all honesty – nobody at a label cares about fans.  Our feelings about a band or a record do not equate dollar sign…except they really do…but what do I know? I can say this for sure: labels care about money. That’s it. You and I and anyone else who buys a record is purely a dollar sign. They don’t even care about your legs being attached to you unless you use them to buy another song or album!) We should have run a study to show how each person that went to an event like that translates into a certain number of dollars earned for the label. Dollars matter. Fans and loyalty? Who cares!

In my head, that’s the part that everyone in the entire industry is missing…but I digress. The past is the past, and I still have a story to tell.

You can imagine what happened next, but I’ll share it anyway. Our answer to our proposal? Dead silence, from label to management…not even a note of “Gee thanks, but go back to your silly little blog and leave the tough stuff to us.”  Months went by, and then….an announcement of a listening party for radio DJs and music industry people. It sounded far too familiar, even if it wasn’t. Yes, it stung, even if it was purely coincidental.

I’m not accusing anyone of anything here – because it isn’t as though Amanda and I cornered the market on good ideas, or even so-so ideas.  However, I am saying whatever party they had sure didn’t seem to work well.

Out of curiosity, how many times did you hear radio play “Pressure Off” where you live?

My own answer? None. Not even one time, even on radio stations where the band had been interviewed. Invariably they’d have the interview and play an older DD song instead. It was less-than-helpful, or so it seemed. Even the NFL played “Pressure Off” in what I hope was a hefty licensing deal for the band, but not a single radio station in my area ever played it. But does anyone really even listen to radio anymore anyway? My kids tell me no, that they listen to Spotify. (This explains more than I care to know, or explain to my husband about our data usage…)

Granted, maybe having those folks actually play “Pressure Off” on their stations wasn’t the goal. I really don’t know. It would just seem to me that the whole reason for having such an event would be so that they’d be more enticed to play the song, even if the party was more about relationship building than selling an upcoming album. I could be wrong. Admittedly, I’m a layperson. What do I know anyway?

So yes, I remember this date. I remember hearing “Pressure Off” for the first time. I also remember how much pride and joy my heart felt that day, and those feelings mean a lot more than an unanswered idea for a listening party. Live and learn.

-R

 

What is the function of a single in 2018?

My “Day in Duran History” desk calendar reminds me that on this day in 2011, BB2 announced that “Girl Panic” was the next single off of All You Need is Now.

Although I am the first to admit my memory isn’t what it used to be, I do remember hearing that “Girl Panic” would be the next single. I found that fascinating because up until that point, I hadn’t heard “All You Need is Now” more than a couple of times on the radio, if at all. I didn’t really understand the point of naming a single, unless of course we were talking about the physical release of a single – like on a 45. Sure, I’m dating myself here, but I really didn’t see the point, particularly if land-based radio wasn’t going to play anything the band released anyway.  I did buy the vinyl single, and like everyone else I waited on pins and needles for the video. But beyond that, I never quite got the necessity of the single.

My questions about singles lingered on through the release of Paper Gods, although on second thought I wonder if it’s simply that I have the wrong expectations in my head for what a “single” really means. Take “Pressure Off” for example. I never once heard the song played on any of the radio stations in Southern California. Not once. I didn’t hear about it being played anywhere, either. I don’t remember any kind of physical release, CD, vinyl, or otherwise for it…so what’s the point?

On the other hand, I know LA radio pretty well. In this market, there really isn’t a station that plays a genre that lends itself to recent Duran Duran. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard “Rio”, “Girls on Film”, “Ordinary World”, “Come Undone” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” on at least three, if not four stations in my area. It is rare that I can get into my car and drive the whole way home from work (45 minutes on a bad day) without hearing one of the above songs played. That said, as far as LA radio is concerned, Duran Duran hasn’t released even one song since 1993.  I’m pretty sure I don’t need to go into a full diatribe on that kind of stupidity, so I won’t.

I do have to ask though – what is the point behind putting out a single these days? Is it beneficial for Spotify? For subscription services like Sirius XM? What about internet radio? Does a band really need to release singles? I suppose that leads me to the question of an album, too. Are albums still necessary?

I know that recently Nick suggested that perhaps the studio time the band has casually thrown around in mention during their Katy Kafe wouldn’t necessarily lead to a full album. He’s said similar things in the past. I can’t say I’ve liked the idea enough to shout from the rooftops about it. I’m a big fan of full albums, myself. I like the idea of a complete story being told through music. I hate the idea of losing that format.

Are albums really any more necessary today than singles? I’m not sure.  Let’s not confuse this with whether we want more albums and singles. Rather, let’s consider their necessity and usefulness in this current business model and market.

-R

 

 

Paper Gods – Which Is Your Favorite?

As I continue to kind of sort out my final thoughts on all things Paper Gods, I’ve been thinking about the album itself.  This album took a while to grow on me.  Amanda and I spoke about it on the way home from San Francisco, and she surmised that this was a ‘thinking person’s’ album.

I think she’s right about that. In my case, it wasn’t an album that reached out and grabbed me, but instead it kind of sat bubbling in my head, percolating away. For what seemed like months, I’d listen to the album on repeat in the car, and then I’d put it away for a bit. Then I’d pull it back out, and listen to it again on repeat. I would think about the lyrics, the meaning, the possible story, and the music itself.

There were a few things about the album that just didn’t sit well with me. I struggled with the idea that Dom was barely on it, for instance. Yeah, I’m loyal. I know he’s not an “official band member”.  Whatever. He’s been with them for so long, it sure feels like he’s official. It bugged me. I wasn’t totally in love with the feel of the album at first, either. It felt very electronic in parts, and oddly un-Duran Duran like in others. I kept listening. I did not want a repeat of Red Carpet Massacre – an album that I never really enjoyed – so I kept at it, trying to bond.

Somewhere along the line, I must have done just that. The songs no longer sound foreign to me. They no longer feel too electronic, or not DD “enough”.  I don’t even think about who played or wrote what song. They feel just right. Even so, I have favorite songs on every single Duran Duran album. I think we all must have tunes we enjoy more than others, and this one is no different. I also think that looking back on this tour has kind of given new meaning to at least a few of the songs I once struggled with.

When I think of Paper Gods though, a few songs come to mind: Pressure Off, Last Night in the City, and What are the Chances. I am certain this is because the band played all of them on tour, and so they come to mind easily. I also think about The Universe Alone, Planet Roaring, and Cinderella Ride. It’s kind of hard to pick a favorite from that list, but in the end it is purely sentiment that drives me.

While I know he didn’t write it, there’s no arguing that Dom owns the guitar solo in What are the Chances when he plays it live. He took something that wasn’t really his and made it so, and the album version is every bit as beautiful, of course. I feel just a teensy bit guilty that I had to remind myself on the way home from San Francisco that John Frusciante actually wrote the guitar part – I’d gotten so used to Dom doing it that I’d forgotten.  I’m not normally a ballad person, but on this album it’s the two ballads (What are the Chances and Cinderella Ride) that I love hearing most when I’m at home.  The words for both ring very close to home for me in completely different ways – which is something I can say for 99% of the album. The lyrics really hit me.

There is a lot to like on this album, and since it’s release, I’ve fallen in love with much of it. It may not have been an album that knocked me over upon first listen, but it is definitely one that made me think, reconsider, and ultimately embrace. It’s been a great ride.

-R

On the other side of what we’ll never know

Today is my last post for the week. I’ll be back on Monday as usual, but in the meantime, I have a very important event to attend on Saturday. My son Gavin will be graduating from high school. Those are words I wasn’t quite sure I’d ever get to write.

It marks an ending, and a beginning. I remember when Heather, my oldest, graduated. It really was “A Big Thing.” I had no idea what to expect. Would we remain close?  How would she do in college? Was dance really the right path for her?  As I recently said to a friend whose first-born is graduating this year, it is hard to be sad, excited and scared all at once. I broke down many times, always in the shower, and tried very hard not to show my feelings. I figured she was having a hard enough time adjusting without the added pressure of mom’s emotions added to the mix.

Oddly, Heather’s graduation, and now Gavin’s graduation, mark the beginning and end of the Paper Gods album cycle. As the soundtrack of my life continues to be written, I think it’s kind of poetic that I will always equate Paper Gods with the graduations of my two oldest children. Even the album itself—lyrics and all—work well with this part of my life. I don’t know how Duran Duran does it, but they did it again. I’ll never think about this time of my life, with its endings and beginnings, without thinking about Paper Gods.

Gavin’s graduation, on the other hand, is weird for me. I thought I would be far more emotional than I am. I’m excited for Gavin to start college. He needs the challenge, and I have no doubt that Astrophysics will provide! I will miss him at home, but I am also ready to stop being his teacher. Honestly, I think he was ready for me to stop being his teacher about two years ago, but we survived! That said, when I think about just how far this kid has come since seventh grade when he looked me in the eye and told me, with all the seriousness that a twelve-year-old can muster, that he didn’t see the point of school because he was going to be a YouTube star, and by the way I’m failing out of school anyway….well, it’s been a long road with many crying sessions in the shower. I’m incredibly proud, and not just of Gavin. I’m proud of myself. Heather was my first baby and I learned how to be a mom with her. Gavin was my second, he was a challenge from day one, and he taught me how to advocate for my child. I’m so grateful.

Homeschooling has been one adventure after another, and I will never regret a single day. Gavin went from working very hard to fail out of school, to wanting to become a research physicist. Despite being told by more than one of my in-laws that I wasn’t smart enough to teach him—I did it anyway. My kid is not only going to college, but a UC school. I am ridiculously proud of Gavin. He learned to use his Autism as a tool and turn it into a positive. Sometimes, defiance is a wonderful source of energy. I embrace it.

Duran Duran is similar in many respects. To begin with, this day marks a couple of notable anniversaries in their world. It’s the date that the first album was released in 1981. (thirty-six years ago, but who’s counting??) Critics called them a flash in the pan, a one-hit wonder, and just about anything else they could think of.  Duran Duran didn’t shrink into the night because the critics couldn’t pull their heads out – they defiantly continued. Do they still have something to prove? Not in my mind, but I get the motivation. I live it every single day. If that weren’t enough, just two years ago, Pressure-Off, the lead single off of Paper Gods, was also released on this date. The full album came out a few months later, and what did that album do?  It soared to the top ten. So much for being a flash in the pan, right?

I don’t really know what will come next for my family. I’ve always halfway joked and expected that when the right opportunity came up, that Gavin would move far away and we’d get the occasional postcard. This is not a child who is going to stick close to home out of affection or loyalty – it’s not who he is.  It is very hard to stand back and let your child fly from the nest without knowing what will happen, particularly when you’ve spent the majority of his life front-loading him for even the smallest changes in schedule. I am not living his life for him though, he’s got to live his own. I have to let him go, and I will. I would imagine Duran Duran feels the same way when they release an album. You put all of this time and energy into something, and when it’s done and needs released, it’s no longer yours. They tour with it, show it around, and then it’s done.

I feel the same with my kids. Things don’t stay the same after they graduate. Yes, we all get together sometimes – but not nearly as often as we did when they were little. Nowadays Heather is in her own apartment, and is home here occasionally for dinner. (Free food brings them home every time!) I treasure the nights when everyone is home and we play board games or cards and laugh a lot. I can’t really look back with sadness at the loss of their childhood, though, so I don’t. I adjust to what is new, and embrace what comes next.

In the meantime though, I might just spend a little more time listening to Paper Gods, and sneaking in an extra shower or two before Saturday.

-R