On one hand, these responses make sense. Neither Medazzaland nor Pop Trash were very popular eras for the band. In fact, these albums weren’t released in as many countries and the number of copies were quite small. Duranland was not a very popular place then. On top of the lack of sales, small production numbers, and loss of general popularity, many of us were at busy points in our lives. Most of the original Duranies are now mid-30s to mid-40s. The late 90s were a time that many of us were busy starting careers, starting families or both. Personally, I was graduating college, starting my career and beginning graduate school. I didn’t have the time or the money to follow any fandom. Thus, there are many reasons why people weren’t paying attention to Duran from 1997-2001. We were busy and they weren’t very popular. Yet, like many people, I went back and got those albums after the fact. Many people obviously have not. Why not? Even if they couldn’t buy them in stores, in this day and age, most songs are readily available to purchase through online providers like iTunes or are readily available to listen to on sites like youtube. So, if the music is available, why is there still a percentage of fans who don’t seek out the music from that era?
From 1997-2001, Duran Duran was at a strange point in their careers. 1997 saw the last of the three Taylors leave when John left the band early that year. This left Simon, Nick and Warren. In terms of writing, from everything I have heard and read, Simon wasn’t doing super well with writing lyrics and many songs were written by only Nick and Warren. I have also heard and seen interviews in which Simon talks about how badly he missed John and how he felt like the life of the band was fading away. Is this what the fans saw? Is this what the fans felt? Could they feel this shift in writing? Could they feel Simon’s unhappiness? Or was it something personal? Did the band no longer look and feel like Duran Duran?
It seems to me that there have been many discussions within Duranland about whether or not Duran Duran could continue without one of the band members. In this past year, many fans have come to the conclusion that Duran wouldn’t be Duran without Simon since he is the voice of the band. This, of course, was reinforced by the band’s forced cancellation of shows when Simon injured his vocal cords. The shows could not and did not continue without Simon. Then, of course, the band was forced to cancel dates in 2008 when Nick was stuck somewhere in Latin America trying to recover from an ear infection. Even 2005 saw the cancellation of some dates when Roger broke his foot. Does that indicate that those members are essential? I don’t know. The band managed to continue for quite some time with Roger and, even, John. On the other side of the coin, they did put Dom in whenever Andy was unavailable. It seems to me that the fanbase never questions if the Notorious era was Duran Duran. There is also little question about whether or not the Wedding Album was Duran Duran. While people might say that Medazzaland and Pop Trash were Duran, actions say otherwise. Was the loss of John Taylor too much? Did that tip the balance over to it no longer being and feeling like Duran? Was John then more essential than Roger or Andy? Is Roger now essential? Maybe. I don’t know. It just seems to me that many people did not feel like it was real Duran Duran during 1997-2001. The reason could be that the band wasn’t the band without John Taylor. He could be the big factor. The other factor could be that writing piece.
Do Medazzaland and Pop Trash sound and feel like Duran Duran? Obviously, every fan is going to have a different answer to that. Some might say that they do. Others might say that they don’t, at all. Some might say that some songs do and some don’t. No matter the answer, I think most of us can acknowledge that things were different now that the writing was frequently done with just Nick and Warren. I know that I really liked the tug of war that seemed to take place between Nick, on one side, and Andy, on the other. This musical tension often resulted in really amazing music. This musical tension wasn’t the same after the Fab 5 split in the 1980s yet there were many great songs that came out from 1986-1997. Yet, to many fans, Medazzaland is still very different from the Wedding Album. Did John help to create some of that musical tension? I don’t know. It just seems to many fans that something was lost, musically, when John left.
So, let’s take an informal survey. Did you get Medazzaland and Pop Trash when they came out? Why or why not? Did you get them or hear them years later? Why or why not? Did these albums sound and feel like Duran to you? Maybe after getting feedback from all of you I would know what the deal is with those two albums and I would know what really is needed to make Duran Duran…Duran Duran.