I think it is fairly safe to say that there are some bands and artists who have one sound, one style that they use over and over again. Fans and critics alike can depend on them to fit that mold with each and every song and with each and every album. The first band that comes to mind with that is Depeche Mode. We pretty much know what we are going to get with every new release. Now, that doesn’t mean that some songs are not better than others but they all fit what we have come to expect of them. In looking at Depeche Mode’s career, I have often wondered if meeting that expectation over and over again has helped with their success. They probably don’t lose a lot of fans because they take a turn in sound or style, for instance.
Of course, other bands like the one this blog centers around do not. Duran Duran seems to go out of their way to reinvent themselves, to some extent, with each album and era. If I just look at the albums post-reunion, they are all different. Heck, just compare a Red Carpet Massacre to All You Need Is Now. They are very different. Did Duran lose fans with each of these albums? Maybe. Some fans might have been disappointed, for example, with the return to a classic Duran sound in All You Need Is Now. Other fans might have wished that they stayed with that feel with Paper Gods.
So, has this constant change between albums and eras worked for Duran Duran or has it hurt them? I’m not sure. That type of question feels like many of the “what if” questions I ask of my students in their United States history class. We don’t really know. We can speculate and ponder, which can be fun. Of course, we can use this pattern for other purposes, too. Lately, this idea of change has been one that I have been thinking about quite a bit on a more personal level.
For a long time, there was a part of me that felt like the Depeche Mode method of making music was the better choice. After all, sticking with formula could work towards perfection, or at least improvement. It could representing who they really are while changing could be thought of trying to be someone or something they are not. Yes, I have wondered about identity in this debate over musical styles. I have also pondered how identity fits in with making big changes.
Initially, when the pandemic started, for me, it was just about survival and taking things one day at time. Since then, other factors in my life have caused me to think bigger picture, more long term. After the election in November, I began to think about this question about identity, being true to oneself and how and if that can be applied to making a change. Is Duran Duran true to themselves when they change their styles between albums? Can I be true to myself if I make some big changes?
After a lot of thought, I have decided that part of Duran Duran’s style is exactly that. Part of who they are as artists is making changes, exploring different styles and being open to new music and ideas. It fits them. It fits their identities. On the same token, I think that I can keep my identity and who I am even if I make change, even as I begin this process of going in a different direction. As I type this, I realize that what I’m writing here sounds vague and is probably leaving a lot of you wondering what the heck I am talking. I am not ready to share all the big details but I will once I can and am ready to. I promise!
I have thought about making changes before. I have probably even written about them here and there and I have made some subtle changes over the years. This type of change would be bigger, more monumental. In the past, I have made some steps towards that but have allowed fear to get in the way. Some of that fear has been a loss of security, fear of failure, but, most significantly, fear of a loss of identity and rejecting who I am as well as who people know me to be. Yet, like Duran Duran, I think that a big change could actually fit exactly who I am and who I want to be. And most importantly, this move could bring some happiness that I have been lacking.
Very good article. The group I associate more with sticking to one style and sticking to it is Spandau Ballet as from True onwards the musical style was more or less the same. I think that by changing the musical style has helped Duran Duran.