Every once in a while, DDHQ will ask a question that gets me thinking. Today became one of those days when they asked fans what three songs best represents Duran Duran’s sound.
First of all, I didn’t ever answer the question. My intentions were good, but life got in the way, and I didn’t even think about it again until late in the afternoon.
Second, where do I even begin?! Not only is there a large catalog of music to consider, but the styles are as varied as their hairstyles. If I take the question seriously, I suppose the best place to begin is, well…the beginning. 🙂
I think the first album must display the humble beginnings of this band. That music is what led them, creatively speaking, in a forward direction from the Rum Runner. That said, I think one song has to come from there. The question is, which one?
My heart says Friends of Mine, but that’s more of a favorite than it is anything else. Next would be Planet Earth, but is that MY beginning (as a fan) or the band’s, I am not sure. So then I think about Girls on Film. It isn’t my favorite off of the album, but it does display their ingenuity (camera clicks), and I think of the bass line along with the keyboards and guitar…and it does add up to quintessential Duran Duran from that period. So, I’ll go with Girls on Film.
The next song is tougher for me, because when I listen to Rio, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, Notorious, Big Thing, or Liberty…every single album changes enormously. Not enough to where I’d say “that’s not Duran Duran”, but I think you all know what I mean. Personnel changes, style changes…but it is all still Duran Duran at heart. So where do I go from here?
I think I have to go for the obvious, which is a little painful…but it’s honest: Ordinary World. I would have EASILY preferred Rio, or even Hungry Like the Wolf on some days (!!), but then I’m ignoring a very important part of their history. I believe Ordinary World is the turning point, the apex when the band collectively decided to keep going and give it their all, whether as the Fab Five, Fantastic Four, or Terrific Three….not that I don’t think they did it before then, I just mean, it all came together beautifully, in that moment.
So that leaves one. Goodness. I could have easily done this in five songs. Four songs seems tough, but three? ACK! One song. Ok. So again, I’m struggling with the changes in sound. Sure, Astronaut brings us back to the Fab Five and Sunrise would have been an easy pick, except that it’s now 2017. We’ve had a few remarkably different albums since then. What song defines their sound best? Do I pick something off of Paper Gods because it’s most recent? Do I pick from All You Need is Now because it’s a fan favorite? What about Red Carpet Massacre, where does that album fit?
I’m going to work through this the only way I know how – train of thought writing. (which ought to be interesting…) Astronaut was the album, or so I thought, because it brought the band full circle. When I think of the song Sunrise, it brings me right back to all the promise of the Fab Five returning. The trouble is, that didn’t last, and I don’t think it’s a fair representation of their sound. Then there’s Red Carpet Massacre. Out of all the Duran albums, this sounds the least like anything else they’ve done. That doesn’t make it bad, just not quite what I think represents DD. That brings me to All You Need is now and Paper Gods. On one hand, All You Need is Now is like the first part of DD’s career revisited. It is comfortable (for me), but there weren’t a ton of surprises, and I didn’t feel like it was innovative…but I loved it right away and still do. Paper Gods has been a different journey. While it’s forward-thinking, it’s still very much the Duran Duran I know and love. In a lot of ways the album feels and sounds very much like the story of DD’s career. When I listen to only a song or two, I feel like I’ve only heard a single conversation. It is the one DD album I own that I listen to from start to finish without skipping around, which is different. I think that’s why it is hard for me to pick a single song and say “Yep, that is the ONE song that tells it all.” Instead, I find myself thinking about the bonus material. Planet Roaring tells the story of how I feel to be a fan, and if there is any one song that is 100% complete Duran Duran on that album (although it’s only a bonus), it is this one. My problem with picking it is simply no one knows about it but fans.
Earlier today I perused the replies from other fans on the original post. The one thing I noticed, overwhelmingly, was that fans mainly chose hits, or in other words…songs that can be found on many a set list.
I don’t think that’s an accident. In fact, I would imagine that when the band sits down to think about what they’re going to play on tour, they consider songs that appropriately culminate their career. After all, they are picking a handful of songs that walk (or dance) an audience through their entire career. It’s kind of like Duran 101 when you go to a show! Duran Duran wants to pick songs that an audience knows. That’s why choices like Secret Oktober, Fallen Angel or even Virus don’t get played. No one knows them, and as much as it pains me to say, I get it. I don’t love it, but I get it.
So what to do about that third song? The rebel in me says to just go for it and pick Planet Roaring because in my heart, it’s the one song that should be on the main album that isn’t. My head tells me that I should be more methodical. I hate that, so tonight I’m going with my head for two out of the three choices, and my heart for the third. (Two out of three isn’t bad!)
Girls on Film
I’m curious though, what did you pick? My choices aren’t necessarily the best or even the right ones – they’re just what I picked tonight (I’m writing this on Monday night!), and I cannot guarantee I’d pick them again tomorrow. I’m sure that not one of you would pick the same as me, so it’s your turn…what would you choose!