Too Bad You’re So Beautiful – The Daily Duranie Review

Hello Thursday!  Today we’re continuing to review the album (and yes, someday we really will finish it – probably just in time to start complaining about the time it’s taking to finish up the “next” album, ha ha!)  by checking in with Too Bad You’re So Beautiful.

Rhonda’s take:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  I really like the beginning of this song with the way it starts with what sounds like Nick switching all systems “on”.   Then the guitar starts in with it’s driving rhythm, followed by the full band at 22 seconds into the song.  It’s a good intro that draws you in immediately.  I really like John’s part in this song, because rather than just have what could a very bland bass part – he really does have his own piece of the melody, and it adds a solid foundation to the sound.  I really don’t think there’s any mistaking the use of chords, the call/answer of the synths to the rest of the band, or even the short instrumental section in the middle of the song to be Duran Duran – it’s their classic “formula”. (and if I’m being fair, I should add here that I really dislike the word “formula” because it would indicate that they don’t try to be experimental or go out on a limb – and that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I just can’t come up with a better description word)  There are so many parts to this song that I can trace back to their beginning roots – it’s a definite classic.

Vocals:  Hello Simon LeBon.  After hearing a few of the more recent additions to the physical CD, I was starting to get worried.  His voice seemed to be strained and whiny, and he really isn’t that way at all.  However, in this case – his vocals are true to real life.  That said, there is a certain quality to Simon’s voice that has been lost over the years.  Back on their earlier albums (I’m thinking specifically of their first album and Rio), there was a beautifully dark quality to his vocals – it provided a depth to their music as a whole, and I think that as the years have worn on, that quality has been lost, and I do miss it.  As a whole though, Simon’s voice is still gorgeous, and we should all be so lucky as to be able to “bring it” quite the way he still does after singing professionally for over 30 years now.  Before someone slams me for not mentioning it, yes – I am aware that Simon had injured his vocal chords some years back, and the effects are there, like them or not.

Lyrics: I’m curious as to how many of you out there liken these lyrics to JoSi…and I’m even more curious as to whether or not my writing partner will comment on them in her review!  What is the song really about?  Well, I’ll leave the JoSi fantasy up to those who choose to partake.  I have to say that I really miss the obscurity in their lyrics.  Sure, we can all sing Planet Earth, and we can all sing Cracks in the Pavement (and if you cannot – my assignment for you is to go back and listen to SATRT.  It’s obviously been too long for you!), but what do those words really mean?!?  I miss the days of not really knowing for sure.  I mean, I suppose we could take up a debate about who Simon is really talking about in this song – but the fact is, we all get the basic idea.  I miss my head being full of chopstick!

Oh, and as for *my* take on the lyrics?  JoSi aside (because that’s really Amanda’s department!), I really like the idea of this song being about the fans.  For that matter, Simon could be singing the song from the standpoint of the fans and he’d be dead on.  I can really kind of see it either way – and yes Amanda, I’m entitled to my own fantasy here.  😀    My favorite line(s)?  “I may be a deluded fool but still fascinated”  and “My lunar dreams, how do I stop them?  But it’s not your problem when you’re above it all.”  (and I probably didn’t even say that right and I really don’t give a damn…..yeah I’m all about the puns today…..)

Production:   This is my least favorite category to review, and admittedly – it’s because I have one ounce of knowledge about something that is as wide as an ocean, and I recognize that.  I can only really give my opinion based on being a layman listener. (and I’m thankful each and every day that I play an instrument that is rarely “screwed with” on an electronic level – I’m a clarinet player!) I’m not an audiophile in any real sense of the word, and while I have a great ear, I’m no expert…but I digress.  I really like the song as a whole, although I feel as though every knob in the studio was turned up to ’10’ again.  It’s really up in your face, and I don’t feel that they did everyone justice here – the guitar blends right in with Nick’s synths (they slightly overpower the guitar, which I don’t think is a compliment) and that does it’s share to  although I will say that John’s bass is a standout.  In a good way.  The song really needs that bass to kick it into a groove without it just being a wall of treble clef sound coming at you, and John’s bass does that.  I’m not totally in love with the way Roger was recorded on this one either – the “slap” sound they gave his drums, while intriguing at first – is just too much of the “high” without any of the “low” that a drum can give, which would have benefited this song.

Overall: When I hear the very first sounds from this song – I know immediately that it’s Duran Duran. (what is it about their music? Without even hearing Simon we know it’s Duran Duran and there’s comfort in that)  That’s not a bad thing.  I would say that this is one of the “safest” songs on the album – I don’t hear huge chances being taken musically or lyrically in any sense, but with that safety comes great comfort to a fan.  Yes, it’s nice to fall for a song that’s completely “out there”….like perhaps Night Runner or even Hallucinating Elvis, but there’s something to be said for the warm cozy blanket feeling I get when I hear this song or many others off of this album.  Sometimes it’s good to be cloaked with what we know and love.  I read somewhere that the band felt pretty confident that this song would be in the “top 10” for fans.  I’m not sure if that’s true yet (haven’t heard a lot of chat about the song), but I definitely feel it’s a Duran Duran classic.  I’m looking very forward to hearing it live and feeling the differences between the recorded version and what they can bring live.  The one thing I want to say is that this song could have easily had been a 5 cocktail, but I can’t give it that rating with the obvious production issues.  If I could give Duran Duran one word to think about the next time they record, that word would be BALANCE.  Balance the high notes with low notes. Don’t forget to support the melody with the bass – it’s the foundation of the song.  John totally and completely brings it to the table on this record, but it’s not being taken full advantage, and that’s a crime on this one.


Amanda’s thoughts:

Musicality/Instrumentation:  I have been anxiously awaiting the chance to review this one.  (We don’t have much left, do we?  Of course, we have lots of previous songs and albums to review!)  I LOVE how this song starts.  It feels very sci-fi to me as it feels like buttons have been pressed and that whatever the sound is keeps increasing until the meat of the music begins.  It definitely works to build anticipation and to give the listener a clue that this is going to be an upbeat song.  Then, I love how instantly I hear bass, guitar and drums before the vocals start.  I have to admit to really loving the bass in this one.  It reminds me in some ways of some of John’s classic bass lines that I love like a Hold Back the Rain, for example.  Not sure why.  It just does.  I appreciate how Nick’s synths become more noticeable but still not in the spotlight during the part leading up to the chorus.  This, of course, is complimented by Simon’s vocals at that time, which I will mention later.  Then, the keyboards come on very strong at the end of the chorus signaling a new verse.  This pattern feels very Duran Duran to me.  Then, of course, there is the little interlude about 3 minutes into it which features a softer keyboard sound along with the foundation of the bass and Simon’s prettier vocals, which is a nice touch!

Simon’s vocals are the most noticeable in this song during the two sections of the song in which Simon sounds more mechanical and less melodic which begins with the lyric, “Lay me on your bed”.  At first, I wasn’t sure about his vocals in those sections.  It sort of reminded me of the strange, almost harsh keyboard sounds in All You Need Is Now.  Obviously, those two do not sound at all alike and I’m not saying that.  I’m saying that both elements were different than the rest of the song and seemed almost shocking.  Yet, I can’t imagine either song without these parts.  Both work to catch your attention.  In this song’s case, this section alerts me that the chorus is about to begin.  The lyrics in those sections are also such that they catch my attention as well!  As for the rest of the song, I think classic Simon is featured unlike Other People’s Lives and some of the other tracks off the album that we haven’t gotten to yet.  I like classic LeBon.

Okay.  I’m not going to lie.  I’m a JoSi fan and thought INSTANTLY about JoSi when I heard these lyrics.  The same was true for the first time I heard Want You More off of Astronaut.  (Rhonda was full of lyrical puns and I’m referencing other songs!  What is up with us today?!)  Both songs were very gender neutral.  Yes, there is a reference to a “queen” in this song, but that term isn’t always used to describe a female.  Then, of course, there is the image of someone laying on a bed, smoking a cigarette.  Strangely enough, John has recently quit smoking.  Thus, he was still smoking during the making of this track.  Coincidence?  That is for you to decide, my friends.  Now, let’s assume for a second that this is the case of Simon lusting after John.  I find myself relating!  Do you know how easily I related to the line about being a “hostage to that face of yours”?  How many John girls haven’t felt that?!   Then, of course, the idea that the person singing wants to be more than just a friend.  I think that might fit with the idea of JoSi as well.  I won’t even go there with the line, “I want to stroke your sleepy head.”  Beyond the potential JoSi references, there is another line that has caught my attention, which is, “I may be a deluded fool but still fascinated.”  That line could really be a reference to fandom, in general.  Good stuff.  Of course, this isn’t exactly poetry of LeBon’s past or even the poetry of Before the Rain, but it is vague enough that we can interpret it however we want!  *coughJoSicough*

Like Rhonda, this is the area that I feel least qualified to talk about.  I almost wish that I could review songs after I hear them live.  To me, then, I have a much better glimpse into the quality of production.  Some songs are definitely improved by production and others are not.  I suspect that this song might be one that is better live, which isn’t to say that I don’t love it because I do.  I just bet it sounds better live.  Does that mean that the production was bad?  I don’t know that I would go that far either.  I think that a valid criticism could be that the instruments became a little less natural with the production.  It became too smooth.  It took a little away from the soul of the song.

I love this song.  Up until hearing this song, I had been searching for an upbeat song to compliment the fabulous slower tempo songs.  While I love Girl Panic, it didn’t take me to the level of I must listen to this song over and over and over again like songs like Leopard had done for me.  Yet, this song does that for me.  I keep finding myself listening to it over and over again.  The musical pattern feels like classic Duran for me.  The lyrics entertain the heck out of me and Simon’s vocals do exactly what they should do.  Now, let’s hope that John’s tweet about getting ready to play this one in the UK is right because I’m ready to rock out to it!


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