Expectations are future resentments.
I am fairly certain that John Taylor did not coin that phrase, but I have to credit him anyway because I think the first place I read it was in his book, and if I’d read it before that, it certainly never stuck.
It is a phrase that I’ve muttered to myself, kept as a mantra in my thoughts, written, and said out loud many, many times. The words caution me to keep an open mind, which isn’t always easy, particularly when it comes to music, and especially Duran Duran. We all want them to fit in whatever nice and tidy little box we’ve created for them, don’t we?
Whether you are someone who fell in love with the darker, raw sort of sound they had on their debut album, the bright, happy pop of Rio, or maybe even the more esoteric or experimental phase of Medazzaland, it is that sound you tend to crave and are most drawn to. We all have our favorites, am I right?
With every new album, there’s a natural adjustment of expectations that happens. Whether you love what you’re hearing or very strongly dislike it, that initial period of getting used to the new songs is bound to happen. It takes a while to become so familiar with the new music that it feels like a natural addition to the existing catalog. I can remember going through that with Paper Gods, for example. The new music was just that – new. It took a while for the songs to get past that new car smell and feel a little more lived in!
Future Past has been a very, different experience. I say that because I’ve heard so many songs off of it and it hasn’t even been released yet. So far we’ve gotten “Invisible”, “More Joy”, “Anniversary”, “Give it All Up”, and now “Tonight United”. The expectation (there’s that word again), particularly for those of us Gen-Xers out there, is that a single or two gets released, then the album comes at a later date, usually not more than a month or two later. Maybe sometimes, the wait has been a little longer. Nowadays though, we live in a time where many bands release songs as they’re finished. Some never do a full album all at once. I think it’s crazy because as much as I’m not a “completist”, I do like a complete album! Even with Paper Gods, Duran Duran released songs starting in the late spring, culminating with the complete package coming out in September. This album has had an even longer lead time, with the first single, “Invisible” being released on May 19th, and the full album due out on October 22. We’ve heard five out of the twelve songs included, not counting whatever bonuses will be floating about. Has that been too much?
What does “too much” even mean?!?
In all seriousness, I’ve seen people express concern about too many songs being released. Yet six months ago, we were all begging for new music. Does anyone else out there feel like the band can’t please us all? While I agree that we’ve heard quite a few songs from Future Past, I am not complaining. These are strange times. We’re still trying to function during a pandemic. Things are not the same as they were even three years ago. We cannot expect the band to behave as though nothing has happened and go back to what was once normal. Not yet, and maybe not ever.
Yesterday, “Tonight United” was released. While I’d heard the song a week prior thanks to some clips from their live shows in Birmingham, I hadn’t heard the album version. It was difficult not to have expectations, given that we knew Giorgio Moroder had produced the song. I don’t really know what other people were anticipating, but if you’ve heard anything that Moroder has done with other bands over the years, it shouldn’t shock you to hear what he created with Duran Duran.
While I do miss hearing guitar on the song, and I feel that’s important to at least mention – there is a lot that I like. “Tonight United” is light and bright, happy, and incredibly danceable. While I would say that the complexity of songs like “Invisible” aren’t quite present in “Tonight United”, I’m of the school of thought that says not every single song has to have that sort of depth! Sometimes, I just want to get up and dance. “Tonight United” fits that bill in every way. I’m enjoying the very slow unwrapping of this album. There is an underlying message beginning to form, and I’m excited for October 22 to finally arrive. There is much to celebrate, and Future Past still has a story to tell.
Out of everything, what continually surprises me as a fan, is seeing how other fans react. I don’t know why I would assume that something so simple as a song would go over well with everyone. I always do, though, and I’m typically shocked when I see some of the sheer outrage. Talk about setting ones expectations – I need to remember there is no pleasing everyone.