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The Story of Duran Duran


Submitted By ilovenickrhodes
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Duran Duran: The Story Behind the Music When most people think about the 1980s, most of them either remember or read about the outrageous haircuts, the dubious fashion choices, and the popular music performers of that era. No musical group embodied the 1980s more than English pop group Duran Duran. Their popularity was immense, due to the fact that most of the members of the band were fashionably attractive and the music videos they produced to back up their songs were interesting and as visually stunning as the group members themselves. As popular as the band was with their many legions of fans, they were less than successful in gaining the acceptance of older musical critics of the time. The critics bluntly criticized the group’s efforts to produce decent music, at times belittling the band as a unit. Critics also criticized the band’s appeal to a younger fan base, often calling the band a novelty boy-band for pre-teens .The media at the time had a field day with the band as well. Much of the mass media coverage on the band had nothing to do with the music they produced, but with the music videos they made. Duran Duran was quickly dismissed as a video band by the critics and the media. Despite harsh criticism and less than credible media coverage, Duran Duran was a hugely successful band. They were international stars who sold millions of albums worldwide, have had number one hits all around the world, and have produced some of the most iconic songs in music history ( The New Rolling Stone
Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll pg.288). Duran Duran was and still is a sublime musical group that should have been given more credit and respect from music critics and the media in general. The origins of the band are as unique as the band’s name itself. Duran Duran was formed in Birmingham, England in 1978. The original members of the group were keyboardist Nick
Rhodes, lead singer Simon Le Bon, guitarist Andy Taylor, bassist John Taylor, and drummer
Roger Taylor. (None of the Taylors are related). The band’s bizarre name came from the 1969 film Barbarella, in which the movie’s villain was named Durand Durand( The New
Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll pg.288). The band was considered to be a part of the New Wave alternative scene that was happening in England at the time. New Wave music in
England replaced the harsh and heavy sound of punk music with uplifting dance beats and romantic attire. Duran Duran was at the forefront of the early 1980s scene in England and later in the United States. Duran Duran’s fame in the United States began with the advent of MTV. The band decided that it would be an excellent idea to exploit the medium of music video in order to appeal to a vast audience. That decision catapulted them into instant stardom. Their music videos were shot on location in exotic locations and were filmed as miniature cinematic movies by talented directors. As popular as their music was, the band members themselves were equally in the spotlight ( "In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, And Duran Duran”). The band’s androgynous good looks made many teenage hearts flutter. The band did have many teenage followers, most of them girls, but the group did not limit themselves to one type of fan base.
Duran Duran made music for music lovers. Duran Duran was popular in the British and
American media. Diana, Princess of Wales once declared Duran Duran as her favorite band
(American Decades: 1980-1989 pg.84). The group was often compared to the Beatles, mainly because, as the impossibly handsome ,Nick Rhodes likes to put it, “the hysterical audience reactions” the group received (American Decades: 1980-1989 pg.83) . As flattered as they were with the Beatles comparisons, Duran Duran did not want to rewrite history; they just wanted to be a fresh sounding, modern band. The media loved Duran Duran, but the same could not be said for the music critics. The established rock critics of the 1980’s really disliked the band’s overall approach to music, calling it overproduced and passionless. For example, Richard Blade, a critic for credible English newspaper, Yorkshire Post, once stated that the group’s music was “ unnecessary and unlikeable”. Rock critics are credible people with valid opinions, but that does not necessarily mean that they are always right and that also does not mean that their opinions will dissuade other people. For instance, credible musician and philanthropist, Bob Geldof described Duran
Duran’s music as “wonderfully unique and strong” (“In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, And
Duran Duran”). Geldof, a very experienced and talented singer, is not easily swayed by critical opinion. The fact that he had good things to say about the band disproves previous opinion that they are unlikable. A group can never be considered unlikable or unpopular if they have so many people, like fans and other musicians, that are wanting that group to succeed. Critics may have expert opinions, but they cannot make someone like or dislike anything, it is all up to public opinion and perception. By the year 1984, Duran Duran was one the most powerful rock bands in the world. That same year, the group embarked on a massive tour around North America and the rest of the world, they made a documentary about the tour. The documentary they made was called “Sing
Blue Silver”. It helped accurately depict the band in a positive way by showcasing their true talent and the hard work they had to put in to make their concerts and the rest of their tour successful. Bassist John Taylor expresses enthusiasm when he says,” this is the most exciting tour we have ever been on and we’re proud of the fact that we can present ourselves live to such large audiences.” (“Sing Blue Silver”). The documentary also showed the media that the band was more than capable of putting on grand shows that fans would want to be a part of. “Sing
Blue Silver” was effective in proving that Duran Duran was not just a video band, but a fantastic live act that had the confidence to branch out and present themselves in a way that embraced their raw talent and charisma. As the 1980s crashed into the 1990s, Duran Duran’s music changed drastically but critical perception of their music was still the same. In a New York Times article on the band was once again heavily criticized and depicted as a band of the past that would not be able to transcend the 1980s and become popular in the 1990s. This opinion is made clear by critic
Stephen Holden when he begs the question and says, “Duran Duran will be another one of those unfortunate groups that are popular one decade and nonexistent the next.” Holden, an experienced critic, begs the question by predicting that the band will not be popular in the new decade, but there is no proof that his statement will be true. He or anyone else cannot predict the future of a band in the very beginning of a new era. The article goes on to criticize the band’s newest album Liberty, calling it lackluster and void of emotion, which was a type of criticism that they have heard before. The article effectively uses ethos to present the band in a dubious light by downright stating that Duran Duran is not strong enough to go on in a new area of music. In 1993, Duran Duran proved their critics wrong with the release of their now iconic song
“Ordinary World”. The hauntingly beautiful ballad uses pathos to express the universal feeling of waking up to a frightening world, but finding a way to live in that world and enjoy it. The most meaningful part of the song emphasizes that feeling when lead singer Simon Le Bon sings,
“…but I won’t cry for yesterday, there’s an ordinary world somehow I have to find and as I try to make my way to the ordinary world, I will learn to survive” (“Ordinary World” 5:31). The song not only proved that Duran Duran could be popular in the 1990s despite contrary belief, but the meaning of the song itself helped fans, not just the critics and media, truly understand how powerful and emotional the band’s music could be. The song is so emotional that it would be wrong to say that it was passionless or thoughtless. The song was not considered good because it was so different from what they did before, it was good because they had the ability to be creative with the new sounds of the 1990s and not have it sound contrived and shallow in any way. For a band synonymous with making happy pop music, for them to have a smash hit with a song like “Ordinary World”, which is such an exquisite, tear-inducing song, this is quite remarkable and it shows versatility and excellence. Duran Duran’s fans far outweighed the people who hated them. If critics and the general media were correct in saying that they were just a style band and that their music was weak, then they would not have had any fans at all. The general public is not going to buy records or go to concerts to listen to a band that is less than good, it would be strange to conceive of such a notion. Duran Duran had fans from all over the world, which is testimony to the fact that they were performing music that was universally loveable and terrific. They did not limit themselves to what they could achieve with music, they always experimented with different sounds, which made their music unique to the point of strange. Their strange music somehow appealed to a large audience, which goes to show that strange is not always a bad thing, in fact it could be a positive signature that is easily recognizable. Duran Duran has had an extraordinary career full of peaks, plateaus, and comebacks.
They are now considered icons among the music world, continue to record music, and still have devoted fans from all age groups. Ironically, their music is now being praised by music critics, most likely because the new rock critics of today were the swooning teenagers of the past. This goes to show that every decade will have a yearning for the past and that will definitely affect people’s opinions of music in general. Many years ago, Duran Duran had a vivid dream, as most young musicians do, to create music that inspired them and that they could enjoy themselves.
They never conformed to anyone’s standard of music; in fact they revolutionized the standard of music with a one-of-a-kind approach to it. There were many people that wanted to see the band fail, but for them, that could never be an option, they were to driven to fail. The story of Duran
Duran is relatable to many people who have dreams and aspirations, but have so much riding against them from other people that do not believe in them. The difference between Duran Duran and most people is that they were able to prove their opponents wrong and become hugely successful. Despite critical backlash, Duran Duran really did not care what critics or the media had to say about their music, the band made music that pleased them and hoped that it would please others as well and according to their fans it did.

Word Count: 2,065

Works Cited
Blade, Richard. "The Year in Review." Review. Yorkshire Post 27 Sept. 1984: n. pag. Print.
Bondi, Victor. "Music Video." American Decades: 1980-1989. Detroit: Gale Research, 1995. 83- 85. Print.
Duran Duran. "Ordinary World." Rec. 1 Dec. 1992. Duran Duran. Duran Duran with
John Jones, 1992. CD.
Holden, Stephen. "RECORDINGS VIEW; Recycled Pop: New Life From Old Songs?"
Rev. of Duran Duran: Reviving Old Models. The New York Times [New York
City] 4 June 1990: 11-12. Print.
"In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, And Duran Duran." Publishers Weekly 259.44
(2012): 43. Academic Search Complete. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.
Romanowski, Patricia, Jon Pareles, and Holly George-Warren. "Duran Duran." The New
Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll. New York: Fireside, 1995. 288-89. Print.
Sing Blue Silver. Dir.Michael C. Collins Russell Mulcahy . Perf. Duran Duran. Regia,
1984. Videocassette.

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