Welcome! If you’re seeing this post, it means I’m still in the process of migrating a handful of posts from my old site, Preppies of the Apocalypse, to this shiny new site. Preppies will remain up as an archive, but after I’m done transferring some content here, it will no longer be updated. This will be a slow process, though, so if you like what you see here and want to read more, please head on over to Preppies for the time being. Thank you for visiting!
Oh, Rio, Rio, hear them shout across the land…
The video for Duran Duran’s 1982 hit “Rio” is a dazzling, much-loved spectacle that cemented the band’s (hard-earned and richly-deserved) reputation as a bunch of worldly, decadent, hilariously excessive playboys. My film-school training prohibits me from counting “gorgeous nitwits cavort on a yacht” as a legitimate plot, so I have to dock the video points for the absence of a cohesive narrative. Still, what it lacks in plot, it makes up for in witty vignettes and vibrant images. It’s a riot of colorful body paint and spilled champagne, set against blue Caribbean waters and white sandy beaches and endless violet skies.
It is, in short, totally awesome.
Back in the day, I didn’t have much use for Duran Duran’s video for “The Reflex.” After all, it consists entirely of concert footage, which, to my way of thinking, is the laziest and least interesting way of doing things. When it comes to music videos, I’m a big fan of strong narratives. Strong, weird, overblown, confusing, crazy, awesome narratives. Still, while I’d rather watch the boys fending off zombies or stumbling around bleak apocalyptic wastelands, I’ve since learned to relax and embrace “The Reflex.” It’s a concert video, yes, but it’s a pretty damn entertaining one.
Directed by the great Russell Mulcahy, “The Reflex” was filmed in 1984 during the band’s Sing Blue Silver world tour. While it may not be my all-time favorite Duran Duran video, there’s an awful lot to like about it. I like the gleeful synchronized hop Simon and Andy and John all take upon hitting the stage. I like Simon’s infectious enthusiasm. I like the preposterously high energy level. I like the shots of all those ecstatic, overwhelmed young audience members, particularly those two dudes who stand on their seats and bop around proudly as if to proclaim to the world, “Look, we’re guys, we’re at a Duran Duran concert, and we’re having ourselves a fantastic time, so all you haters out there can suck it.”
“Careless Memories” was one of three singles released off of Duran Duran’s 1981 debut album. While the other two, “Planet Earth” and “Girls on Film,” were big hits for the boys, this one sputtered and went nowhere. This is a shame, as it’s one of their best, darkest, angriest songs. Of course, the other songs were helped up the charts by their sexy, iconic videos: “Planet Earth” has lots of stylish New Romantic weirdness, and “Girls on Film” has lots of bare breasts. “Careless Memories,” on the other hand, just has Simon hurling tulips around a white room. No wonder it couldn’t compete.
Nick has referred to “Careless Memories,” which was directed by Perry Haines and Terry Jones, as “the worst video we’ve ever made.” I don’t know about that, Nick, have you watched “A View to a Kill” recently? Nick’s claims to the contrary, “Careless Memories” isn’t wretched. Quality-wise, it’s indistinguishable from a lot of the videos that came out during this time, which makes it disappointing only by the lofty standard the boys would soon set for themselves.
We open with a scene of the boys driving around. Simon sits in the front seat, while John and Roger and Andy are wedged together in the back. There’s nary a glimpse of Nick, and the universe is just a little less dazzling and glamorous in his absence. Roger and Andy whisper and snicker to themselves. They’re probably gloating about how they’re the only Durans in this video who didn’t get stuck wearing flouncy white peasant blouses.
It’s The Nick and Simon Show, with a surprise appearance by John!
Brief spurt of backstory here, for those who aren’t hip to this whole Arcadia business: In 1984-1985, at the peak of their wild success, the Duran Duran boys briefly split apart into two separate side projects: John and Andy teamed up with Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson to form The Power Station, while Simon, Nick and Roger banded together as Arcadia (Roger, ever the neutral party, also performed on some Power Station tracks). The differences between the two groups are most eloquently summed up in this excellent interview with the boys, in which it’s established that Arcadia produced “the most pretentious album ever made,” whereas Power Station produced “the most cocainey album ever made.” As I’ve always been far more pretentious than cocainey, I’m partial to Arcadia. Also, their videos were better.
Roger didn’t appear in any of Arcadia’s videos; in fact, by the time the video for “The Flame” was shot in 1986, Roger had already left Duran Duran, with Andy following him out the door shortly thereafter. “The Flame” was directed by Russell Mulcahy, the man responsible for Duran Duran’s huge, awesome, epic monstrosities (“Wild Boys”) as well as some of their lesser-known gems (“Night Boat”). This falls into the latter category. It’s a fun, fluffy trifle of a video—it’s a little Rocky Horror Picture Show, a little Agatha Christie, and a whole lot of Nick and Simon being hammy and adorable. Damn good song, too. Let’s get to it:
Back in 1985, when I was young and the world was dazzling and new, I thought Duran Duran’s video for their hit single “A View to a Kill,” the theme song for the James Bond film of the same name, was really, really cool.
As it turns out, I was mistaken.
The video was directed by Lol Creme and Kevin Godley, who were also responsible for the boys’ extra-sleazy 1981 “Girls on Film” video (and who, performing as the pop duo Godley & Creme, had their own big hit in 1985 with “Cry”—you remember, “You don’t know how to ease my pain…” In the realm of weird Duran Duran-related music trivia, this is right up there with Nick Rhodes producing Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy”). The “View to a Kill” video features the Duran Duran boys as a quintet of gorgeous, glamorous spies who swarm around the Eiffel Tower and try to kill each other. Conceptually, this is a goldmine. The execution, however, is… problematic.
I should be clear: It’s not a disaster. In fact, there’s some pretty good stuff here. Overall, though, it’s a little lame and a little smug, and it isn’t clever enough to support the smugness. The video is interspersed with scenes from the film—specifically, the sequence where Roger Moore’s Bond and Grace Jones chase each other all over the Eiffel Tower—cobbled together to make it look as though the Duran Duran boys are interacting with the Bond characters. Fun concept, but it doesn’t quite mesh.
“Hungry Like the Wolf,” man. “Hungry Like the Wolf.”
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t like this song? Or this video? Seriously, pretty much everyone has warm, fuzzy feelings about this one.
“Hungry Like the Wolf” was one of three videos Duran Duran shot with Russell Mulcahy during a jaunt to Sri Lanka in 1982. Of the three (the others being the meditative “Save a Prayer” and the dirge-like “Lonely In Your Nightmare”), this is far and away the most entertaining. It’s a little short on plot, sure, but it’s joyous, rambunctious, bubbly fun.
We open with a bunch of bustling street scenes. Nick, Roger, John and Andy scurry madly about in search of their missing comrade, Simon. Nick has decided to be a slinky redhead this week, which coordinates nicely with his fiery red pants. Sadly, Nick is otherwise sorely underrepresented in this video—he pops up here at the beginning and puts in a few fleeting appearances throughout, but that’s not nearly enough of everyone’s favorite magical pixie for my tastes.
Vive la Révolution! It’s time to discuss Duran Duran’s “New Moon on Monday” video!
This is a great song, and maybe half of a great video. The video, which was directed by Brian Grant and released in 1984, has a fun premise and a cool look… but, yeesh, it’s riddled with mortifying, cringe-inducing, cheeseball moments that almost bring the whole production—nay, the whole Duran Duran empire—to its knees.
Watching the video for Duran Duran’s “Union of the Snake” is like coming into the middle of some obscure science-fiction film, where you have no earthly idea who the characters are or what they’re supposed to be doing, or even whether the film is any damn good. Still, you keep watching, because the images are intriguing enough to hold your attention, even as the cogs in your brain spin in vain, trying to make coherent sense of it all and coming up with… I don’t know, marshmallow fluff.
Yeah. It’s sort of like that.
It’s the great Duran Duran-versus-zombies showdown!
The video for “(Waiting for the) Night Boat” came out in 1982. I just saw it for the first time yesterday. How did this slip beneath my radar for so long? How did I go twenty-nine years not knowing there was a video in which the Duran Duran boys get their pretty asses handed to them by a horde of zombies?
As with so many of Duran Duran’s best videos, “Night Boat” was directed by Russell Mulcahy. It was shot in Antigua simultaneously with their much-celebrated “Rio” video; “Rio,” of course, became a breakout smash hit (and was recently voted The Greatest Music Video Ever by viewers of MTV UK) and kicked the Duran Duran international phenomenon into the highest possible gear, whereas “Night Boat” slipped through the cracks. I won’t say a word against “Rio”—it’s a bright, splashy, joyous video, and it boosts my spirits every time I see it—but really, folks, which would you rather see: Duran Duran cavorting on a yacht while competing for the attention of a leggy brunette, or Duran Duran getting ambushed by zombies?