Tag Archives: Serious

Serious – The Daily Duranie Review

Hey hey hey, it’s just past the middle of February and we’re already to “Serious”, off of Liberty. You’d think we weren’t slackers!!

The song is the 22nd single from Duran Duran, which reached a staggering #3 in Italy, and a disappointing #48 in the UK. We won’t even discuss the US. By the time Serious was released, interest in Liberty had already cooled. Unfortunately, Serious was the band’s least receptive single to that date.

Something Rhonda discovered as she did some background research for this review was that the sales of Liberty were so poor that plans for a third single (“First Impression” in the states, “Liberty” for Europe) were shelved.

We have to ask, was the song really that bad? We already know Nick wasn’t a fan of making this song the second single, but maybe it’s time to give it a listen again!

Rhonda

Musicality/Instrumentation

There is something about the guitar groove of this song that just sends me. I hear the hook and immediately think of warm, sunshine-filled summer late afternoons on the patio, and I really don’t know why. Maybe it’s because the song feels so easy and natural, just like a summer weekend afternoon. The guitar is almost but not quite a jazz groove, and it drives the whole song. As the conductor of my orchestra says, “There are tempos that are meant to be played dead on, others that are meant to feel like they are dragging just the tiniest bit, and still others that move the song ahead.” This one does the latter, thanks to the guitar. It isn’t a strong driving beat in the same way that JT drives the tempo in Careless Memories, but the groove keeps the song from being a slow ballad, if that makes sense.

In this case, guitar is the star of the song, and does the job well. That melodic groove sets the tone, drives the tempo, and steers the ship. I think my one complaint is that there’s this whole bridge section that sounds to be nothing more than a dreamy sequence with some syncopated drums to open it. There’s no real purpose, as no instruments are being shown off, and it isn’t as though the tone of the song suddenly changes. It’s just…there. The song didn’t really need it, other than to fill space and time.

I love that the rest of the instrumentation is balanced. I can hear the bass in the depths of the mix, the drums bring it together, and synthesizer/keyboards are only there to help anchor the lyrics to the music. There aren’t many songs when I can say that keyboards really take a backseat, but in this one – they do. Musically, I think it’s one of their best, but perhaps on the wrong album at the wrong time.

Vocals

I’m sure it’s not the case, but the vocals sound so effortless and easy that I’d swear they recorded them in a single take. (That is a compliment, I promise!) No whiny falsetto, there aren’t layers upon layers of vocals beyond a few tracks in the background to do a sort of call and response, it just feels easy breezy and natural. Hard to imagine going from the “sounds like he swallowed gravel” in Violence of Summer or even Hothead straight to some of the smoothest crooning I’ve heard from Simon, but he does it with style and grace.

Lyrics

These are not the craziest lyrics ever written, nor are they that complicated, or hard to understand. They’re very simple, with an easy message…which may or may not appeal to long time fans. It’s the love song that doesn’t quite play like a love song. It’s not slow, it’s not overly gushy or sweet. In fact, the words are quite playful in parts, which I can appreciate. I know that die hard fans look for those slightly more intelligent, less black-and-white lyrics. On this album, I think they’re hard pressed to find them, and that just might have been about where the band was in their career at the time, or where Simon was in his life, too.

Overall

I love being able to go back and review Duran Duran’s catalog. We try our best to be fair, but I think it’s very difficult to replicate how I might have rated the music when first introduced to it. For example, I like this song, but I can’t remember what else I was listening to in 1990. What was on the radio? Did Serious fit? I had to consult Google and see what else was popular in order to truly address why this song didn’t hit the charts or receive radio play (and in fairness, the answer is far more complicated than I can address here). To my ears, there’s no reason why this song wasn’t at least a mild hit, except that maybe it was a bit too easy, a bit too jazzy compared to what was on the radio.

In 1990, on one end of the gamut there was Warrant with
“I Saw Red”, or “Silent Lucidity” from Queensryche, then on to “Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains…and on the opposite end…”Step By Step” by New Kids on the Block, or “Giving You the Benefit” by Pebbles, or even, “It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette. Admittedly, that song is the closest to what Duran Duran was bringing with “Serious”. Was there really space for them? Roxette was still semi-new, and Duran Duran had already been huge in the early to mid 80s. It would have taken something much more monumental for a resurgence on Top 40 radio at that point (which came a few years later!) There wasn’t a lot of places for Duran Duran to go, other than be relegated to flashback lunches on KROQ or elsewhere. Yet Liberty was a new album, and “Serious” was nothing like the 80s New Wave that Duran was known for. I can see where this became a problem of identity for Duran Duran during this period. While yes, it’s advantageous to have the space to recreate sound and never be pushed into a box, I would also say there has to be something to connect a band with identity, and in my opinion, however great Serious is, that identity is something that is lacking in both the single and the album.

Cocktail Rating

Amanda

Musicality/Instrumentation

In thinking about the musicality/instrumentation of this song, I am struck by the guitar of this song. Typically, it is not my favorite instrument but I really like it in this one. It definitely is the dominant instrument without being drowning out the others. It is taking the lead, but allowing the others to play the supporting role that they should. It feels secure in the lead and doesn’t need to prove itself in the way that too many songs with a guitar focus do. I also really like the drums in this one as well, which feels weird to me. Warren and Sterling are not typically the ones whom I praise but I think it is worthy here.

Vocals

This vocals to this song very much match the lyrics. Both are simple, straightforward. Simon’s range doesn’t vary in some crazy way and there is very little layering. It is just Simon being at a comfortable range with little, if any complications. This makes for easy listening as no one has to worry about what is going to come next or if there would be a surprise, vocally. It allows for people to relax and just let the song be.

Lyrics

These lyrics, unlike many Duran Duran lyrics, would fit into the more obvious, straight forward category. As I listen, I can definitely see a couple who are struggling to figure out how to really communicate with each other, how to deal, how to figure out what is important (or serious) and what is not. While I doubt that these lyrics really make anyone ponder a deeper meaning, I suspect that many might be able to relate to them. Sometimes, people need that just as much as they need to pushed to think or feel deeper. In this case, it might even cause people to feel better knowing that their relationship isn’t the only one who struggles with this.

Overall

This song makes me smile as I think it does for many Duranies. For me, I cannot help but to think of the video with the very cute JoSi moment and Nick so obviously chewing gum. It is a song that just makes people feel good. It isn’t super deep or as complicated as so many others. The song doesn’t require a lot of deep thinking. Instead, you can sit back and just enjoy it. All that being said, I’m not sure why this song doesn’t rank higher than the 3.5 cocktails that I’m giving it. I feel like it is good but it isn’t great. I’m not sure why. Maybe, in my own bias, I feel like a song cannot be great if it isn’t something more than just a feel good song. I know many, many people who love it and I get it. For me, though, it just cannot reach that level.

Cocktail Rating

Cocktail Rating

Words that are Spoken to the Wind

DDHQ likes to keep our brains from turning to mush by throwing out questions to engage the community-at-large. I think they do this about once a week or so, and last week they asked about favorite lines of lyric.

At the time, I had a tough time answering. This wasn’t so much because I didn’t have an answer or didn’t know, but because there are too many “favorites” to choose from.

“And so we travel, and we unravel, towards the place where all loose ends go.”

This line comes from “Before the Rain” off of AYNIN. I think that for me, I tend to fall hardest for lyrics that are a bit more introspective in nature. Sometimes, I really do feel like I’m a loose end, myself. It’s sort of a wistful, cloudy-grey, sort of feeling – admittedly when I’m depressed it is the sort of song that plays right into my thoughts and feelings, but I still love it anyway.

“Freefall on a windy morning shore, nothing but a faded track of footsteps, to prove that you’d ever been there”

These words, of course, come from Secret Oktober, easily one of the best songs Duran Duran has ever written. (YES I AM BIASED) Again, more than slightly brooding and introspective, I love the line. It reminds me to leave my mark on this world in some way. I really don’t know if the blog is that mark, but some days, it absolutely does. I like the lyrics that sound like someone is on the outside looking in. I very much felt that way in my pre-Daily Duranie days.

“Searchlight the crowd, I’m fixed on your face, I know it well, but it’s a dream I can’t place”

Sometimes, when I’m in my car listening to this song, I would swear
Simon read our blog at some point. There’s a few songs off of Paper Gods that make me feel that way, but obviously it’s because he wrote about things that were universally experienced. This song though, and particularly this line, remind me of what it is like being in the audience for Duran Duran. If there was ever a place, or a moment, that felt like an escape from reality….truly taking the Pressure Off….it would be at one of their shows.


“Don’t worry if you’re confused, we all tend to be sometimes.”

I think my problem is that I’ve spent most of my adult life confused…

No really, this line from Serious gets me because like much of what Simon writes, anyone and everyone can attribute it to some part of their own life. I try to remind myself that spending far too much time being serious is a waste of good energy. This song helps.

“I’m just a number on the metal fence which marks the great divide.”

I have no idea what inspired Simon to write Edge of America, but I know how I feel when I hear it. I think that as a stay-at-home parent, I’ve often felt forgotten. It is a very bizarre thing to raise children in this world. Once you choose to stay at home, sometimes it feels like you no longer take an active part in society. That is definitely how I felt from time to time as my kids grew. This song, and specifically this line, gave words and a voice to something I felt deep within.

These were just a few of the lines running through my head last week, and there are dozens more where they came from. I don’t know if I have a genuine favorite. I’m just lucky my favorite band seems to know exactly what to write and say.

-R

Keeping the Rhythm Going 28 Years and Counting: Liberty

Liberty was released on this date in 1990. My excellent math skills tell me that adds up to birthday #28 for this album. Back on the 25th anniversary, Simon posted some thoughts about Liberty on dd.com.  If you haven’t read it yet, you really should.

Liberty is one of those albums that feels like a guilty pleasure. I have been known to blast “Violence of Summer” on long drives, some of which may or may not have taken place at like 2am on the way home from gigs at the Key Club in Los Angeles. The word “overproduced” has been used in tandem with this album frequently over the years. At one point, I suppose I might have agreed. I tried to be one of those critical listeners that might be taken seriously. These days, however, I’m far more apt to say “So what??? I think it’s fun and I like it!”, than anything else. Life is far too short to worry about explaining why a song or two makes my heart sing.

The album is 28 years old. I think it might be fair to put the criticisms aside and just love the music. Frivolity and fun are not bad qualities. I happen to agree with Simon on “Serious”. It is by far one of the best Duran Duran songs ever recorded. It ranks right up with “Ordinary World”, and I applaud its simple beauty. “My Antarctica” is another stunning example of the band’s songwriting genius.  I don’t know what Simon meant by the lyrics, but when I think about them, they remind me of the saying “life happens when you’re making other plans”.  Simon seems to call out a relationship with someone who is set to have the public see his/her life one way when in fact it is completely another. I love the vagueness and how the words allow themselves to tell your own story. It is absolutely some of Duran Duran’s best work, and hits home with me far more than some of their major hits. It is a song I wish they’d play live.

There is plenty on the album to love. While Simon wasn’t fond of “All Along the Water”, I adore the song, even with its fair amount of cheek. Again – it’s FUN. It keeps me moving, and I’m certainly smiling. Is it lyrically captivating? Probably not as much as others, but not every song needs to punch me in the gut with emotion. I love it.

When I think about Liberty and this period of time, it makes sense to me when Simon says it felt like part of The Wedding Album. On my own Duran Duran timeline in my head – there’s not really much I remember about the time period for Liberty, only that it was released, and before I knew it the band was on to something else. Maybe they needed that album as a creative precursor to what came next, but I believe it is worthy of standing on its own and not be known as the “also appearing” album of the 1990’s. In fact, I’m going to give it a listen today!

-R