In November of 2007, Red Carpet Massacre was released by Duran Duran. This album became the crux of many an online debate that yours truly participated in with gusto. Spoiler alert: it is not my favorite album.
I had no problem engaging in “spirited discussion”. At the time, my opinions felt rational. Sometimes, you just don’t like something, and that’s okay. In hindsight though, I can very much remember how affronted I felt by the album’s mere existence. I can remember the feeling of betrayal, and even – yes, anger. I’m not entirely sure I’d say the anger and feelings of betrayal—it is one album, after all—were rational at all.
More recently, such as last week, I’ve seen some anger surfacing once again. This time though, it’s not with me. I’ve seen self-proclaimed long time fans respond with a type of vitriol, anger, and ferocity I’ve not seen in a long time. As I’ve thought more about it all, I’ve started remembering how I felt in 2007 and 2008.
It is difficult to be the one on the outside. What I mean by that is yes, it is weird to feel like the odd one out in the moments where everyone loves this song or that song, and you’re sitting back wondering if you misheard the song, because you think it’s plain vanilla in a world where everyone else says its the finest <insert your own favorite flavor here>. Sometimes we just want someone to validate our own feelings. When we don’t receive any of that, I can see feeling desperate and maybe even angry, but that’s also the point when we should be reminding ourselves that this is MUSIC. It is art. Not all art speaks to all people.
Amanda and I have written Daily Duranie for nearly eleven years now. During that time, I would venture to guess there’s been a song or two that hasn’t struck all of our chords. In fact, I know there have been those moments – for both of us. One of us tends to be a bit more vocal than the other, but yes, there have been times when I had to force myself to be positive for the greater good. Even so, I don’t think I’ve ever thought about shutting down our site, or even the good old Twitter account because I’ve disliked a song. Twitter wasn’t around during Red Carpet Massacre, so I don’t know how I would have felt then. For that matter, Daily Duranie wasn’t around either! I know that at the time, I didn’t give up my DDM account, and we were still chatting nearly every day on the other message board we were on, too. If anything, I talked more then, not less. I needed it.
It isn’t the anger I’ve seen during the past couple of weeks or months that is worrisome, although that too, deserves some careful consideration. For me, I suppose I tend to bristle more towards the way the anger is directed. Let me just say, it is not normal to hinge all happiness on the way an album sounds. I know this. I even knew it back in 2008. That time was not at all normal for me, though.
By the time RCM was released in November of 2007, I knew that my dad’s time was very limited as he had Pulmonary Fibrosis. At the time, 80% of people his age with the disease die within the first five years of diagnosis. I don’t know if that has changed in the years since then. He was on oxygen 24/7 by then, and to make a long story short – we knew he wouldn’t be getting a transplant. Walt had been laid off from work, and I spent most of my time exhausted and nauseous. Amanda went to see RCM on Broadway, and even now – it all feels like a blur. I can remember saying I didn’t ever want to see them play a single song from that album. So much anger, and I took every opportunity to talk badly about the album online. In hindsight, I had a terrible outlook on everything back then. I just struggled to see the light at all. While I have to stand by my opinions of the album, I can also say that everything going on around me very much affected how I feel about the songs. It didn’t get any better, either.
By the following April, after the band had already begun touring and shows were being announced left and right – I couldn’t even pay attention. I really felt like Duran Duran was in an alternate universe at the time. My dad was on borrowed time, having been denied a transplant once again. I knew he wouldn’t make it to meet his youngest grandchild, and he didn’t. He died three weeks to the day after she was born, and spent those three weeks on a ventilator. I didn’t care one lick about Duran Duran then, and the album they were touring had already been relegated to a bedroom drawer. I can remember feeling like the anger was just on a slow simmer, daring to bubble over if I gave it the opportunity.
Even then, I wasn’t mad at the band. I just think I used the album as the semi-tangible thing to direct my anger at. Red Carpet Massacre wasn’t the album I had hoped the band would make. I never liked Justin Timberlake, and Timbaland was responsible for a very formulaic type of music I still cringe over. I didn’t care that he was popular, I just knew I didn’t like what he was selling. Coupled with my own reality, one thing fed another. I had hoped, if not counted on the fact a new Duran Duran album would make me happy. It didn’t.
What I couldn’t see at the time was that I was so unhappy, so far in the middle of saying a long goodbye to my dad, that there was no way I *could* be happy. I was grieving. However unfairly, and at times I was incredibly so, I blamed RCM for what was really just a very awful couple of years. I still don’t love Nite Runner or Skin Divers, and the rest of the album just feels like a blur. The difference is that now, I can see why I reacted as strongly as I did. Ridiculous? Yes, even though I was grieving, even though I really didn’t like certain songs – it’s an album. ONE ALBUM. Not the end of the end of the world. I can still remember seeing posts directed to me specifically saying those exact words. Those people weren’t wrong. They were just trying to explain that to someone who was so far in the grieving process – even before my dad died – that I couldn’t function properly.
They had to do record Red Carpet Massacre to be able to record Future Past. Lesson learned.
Among many other things, music is meant to fill the heart and head. It is meant to contemplate, enjoy, take one on a journey, or even provide an escape. I suppose that music, if it’s any good at all, makes the listener feel things—and one could argue that anger is in fact, one of those things. But when one becomes so angry, so furious over the very thing they have claimed to love for forty years, that they want to tear it apart, it starts looking as though they’ve tied the band directly to their own sense of self. It is dangerous. Suddenly those critical tweets calling for an end to a band’s career, or the criticism over management direction and choices over collaborations read more as a cause for alarm, than they do a fan simply sharing a less-than-positive opinion.