Category Archives: Arcadia

Arcadia Election Day Nick Rhodes

Duranalysis: Arcadia’s Election Day

Nick Rhodes, Duran Duran’s eternal pixie, turns fifty today.  To mark this august occasion, I’ve thrown together a special bonus Duranalysis: Arcadia’s 1985 video for “Election Day.”

Plans were originally in place to have Ridley Scott (!) direct this, but when his production schedule for Legend conflicted, Scott suggested Roger Christian, who’d been his art director on Alien, as a replacement. Christian, the Academy Award-winning set designer of Star Wars (and the future director of, ah, Battlefield Earth; I haven’t seen it, so I shan’t judge or mock, though I may quietly snicker, just a little), established a gorgeous visual style; really, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-looking video.

Still, I have mixed feelings about this one.  There’s a passage in Rolling Stone journalist Rob Sheffield’s coming-of-age memoir, Talking To Girls About Duran Duran, in which he refers, with affection, to the band’s “bat-shit pretensions.”  I’m hesitant to give Nick and Simon too much flack here, because Duran Duran’s quest to synthesize pop music and art is one of its noblest achievements, but…  look, Nick envisioned this video as an homage to the films of the mid-century French surrealist Jean Cocteau.  Brace yourself for some bat-shit pretensions.

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Arcadia Goodbye is Forever Nick Rhodes

Duranalysis: Arcadia’s Goodbye Is Forever

Sometimes it’s all about Nick.

My apologies in advance to Simon, who is doomed to get a little shortchanged in the praise department this time around. I’d feel worse about that, but I’ve already given him plenty of tongue baths—strictly in the metaphorical sense, alas—in earlier reviews. Simon does a fine job here, but really, Arcadia’s video for “Goodbye is Forever” belongs to the lovely and strange Mr. Rhodes.

The original plan was to give this one a pass and wrap up this whole Duranalysis business this week with “Girls on Film.” Because the Duran Duran universe is a never-ending rabbit hole and because time is finite, I’d intended to stick to the videos produced in their Golden Age (1981-1985) and, with the exception of Arcadia’s “The Flame,” which is far too much fun to ignore, skip over all the later albums and side projects. Then someone suggested I tackle this one, which turned out to be a great idea. There’s nothing quite like a whopping dose of pure, uncut, pharmaceutical-grade Nick.

Nick, as I’ve mentioned before, is magical.

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Video for Arcadia The Flame

Duranalysis: Arcadia’s The Flame

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:
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