We’re so busted, done and dusted…
Let’s take a look at this forty-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, which was included with some deluxe editions of Duran Duran’s 2007 Red Carpet Massacre album. Misfortune plagued the album from the beginning; for starters, Andy left the band for the second (and presumably final) time under acrimonious circumstances during the recording sessions. The remaining band members were pushed by their label, Sony Music, to work with a slew of different producers, including Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, and Nate “Danja” Hills, to give the album a more contemporary R&B feel. Upon release, the album was a critical and commercial failure; shortly thereafter, Sony dropped Duran Duran from the label.
Hide the lacy frocks! Nick and Simon have descended upon Sears!
In the summer of 1993, back when Duran Duran was riding high on its post-Wedding Album renaissance, Nick and Simon appeared on an episode of MTV’s long-running fashion series House of Style. In I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, an oral history compiled by Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks, Nick says, “Going on House of Style was one of the funniest things we ever did on MTV.” He’s right: The segment, in which the boys go a whirlwind shopping spree at Sears, is a trip.
Know you’ve got to save some for the shoeshine boy…
“All She Wants Is” was the second single off of Duran Duran’s 1988 Big Thing album. The video was directed by acclaimed photographer Dean Chamberlain, who first became acquainted with the band through Nick’s then-girlfriend (now ex-wife) Julie Anne Rhodes, and who previously worked with Nick and Simon on Arcadia’s video for “Missing”*. As with “Missing”, “All She Wants Is” was created using a visual technique in which individual frames were exposed for long periods of time, which, when combined with a moving light source, enabled Chamberlain to “draw” on the film with light. To add an extra layer of difficulty, the video was then pieced together one frame at a time to create a stop-motion effect.
The music’s between us…
The video for “(Reach up for the) Sunrise”, the first single off of Duran Duran’s 2004 Astronaut album, marked the first time the five original band members had teamed up to shoot a video since 1985’s “A View To A Kill”. To celebrate the triumphant return of the crown princes of MTV’s golden age, something grandiose was required. All total, the band filmed six different videos for “Sunrise”: one apiece for Simon, John, Nick, Roger, and Andy, plus one master video made from cutting together brief snippets of all the above. Here’s Nick in Paper Magazine discussing the concept: “The idea was to make five separate videos, one for each band member, showing some kind of journey home, all edited to different remixes.” Each video was shot on a different film format: color Super 8, black and white Super 8, MiniDV, 24p, or Super 16.
Here’s an incomprehensible ghost story, featuring Simon, Nick, and Warren. “Out of My Mind” is a single off of Duran Duran’s 1997 Medazzaland album. The album, despite being quite good, was a commercial failure; outside of the core Duran fandom, “Out of My Mind” is mostly known for being featured on the soundtrack for the 1997 Val Kilmer film The Saint. The video, which was directed by Dean Karr, is similarly obscure. If you’ve seen it, you probably remember it as the one in which Nick Rhodes makes out with a demonic tattooed bald lady while his head melts.
If you haven’t seen it, you’re probably thinking one of two things right now, just based on that description:
- Holy crap! That sounds awesome. I must see this!
- Holy crap! That sounds awful. I must see this!
Everybody, everywhere, feel it in the air…
Duran Duran just released the video for “Pressure Off”, the first single off their new Paper Gods album, and it’s a good one; since first viewing it, my fingers have been itching to Duranalyze the crap out of it. “Pressure Off” was directed by the band’s frequent collaborator, visual artist/director Nick Egan, who, in addition to creating the cover art for Duran Duran’s Wedding Album, also directed four of their earlier videos: “White Lines”, “Perfect Day”, “Ordinary World”, and “All You Need is Now.” Hey, those are all great songs! And those are all beautifully composed and visually compelling videos! However, while I have Duranalyzed a grand total of twenty-four videos to date, none of the aforementioned have made the cut. You know why? Because Egan doesn’t really do plots. His videos for the band, which mostly feature impeccably-shot performance footage mixed with cool visuals, don’t have storylines. Trust me, it’s much easier coming up with a thousand words or so about a video when there’s at least a loose narrative thread to follow.
“Pressure Off” has no storyline, either, but it’s so damn fun that I’m going to give this a whirl anyway. Here goes:
Where are you now? ‘Cause I don’t want to meet you…
I briefly touched on this one a few years back in my Duranalysis of the band’s agreeably half-assed 1981 video for “Careless Memories”, but it’s worthy of in-depth scrutiny on its own. This is the delightfully bonkers anime-style video (we’re all calling it “Duranime” from here on out, yes?) that played on the screen behind Duran Duran while the band performed “Careless Memories” on the 2004 Astronaut tour.
Like a radio tune I swear I’ve heard before…
“Come Undone” is the second single off of the band’s 1993 self-titled album, which is known far and wide as the Wedding Album, because Duran Duran had already released a self-titled album back in 1981 and life is plenty confusing as it is, thank you very much. The video was directed by JulienTemple, who also directed the classic 1988 comedy Earth Girls Are Easy. It’s a very pretty video (just look at all those bright, colorful, exotic fish! Just look at all those bright, colorful, exotic Durans!), but I’m correct in assuming we’d all rather be watching Earth Girls Are Easy, right?
I came across this fascinating cultural artifact recently on YouTube: It’s an interview with Simon and Nick from October 1984 for a music news show called Kulture Shock, which apparently aired on Tyne Tees Television in North East England. There’s not much of an online record for Kulture Shock; after doing some hunting, I could only scrounge up a whopping total of four relevant search results. There’s this video, there’s a performance by Duran Duran of “Girls On Film” circa ’81 or ‘82, back when Andy had shock-white hair and everybody favored those blue-and-white striped shirts, there’s an interview with the members of UB40, and there’s a performance by UB40. That’s it. While there’s an obvious explanation for the lack of an electronic trail—not everybody held onto grainy VHS copies of local television programs for thirty years before uploading them to YouTube, more’s the pity—I prefer to think Kulture Shock catered to a very selective pop-culture niche and, indeed, only produced episodes that focused on either Duran Duran or UB40. Because that would be kind of awesome.
Just that lately I’ve been so damn lonely when I think of you…
At long last! More Duranalysis! My original plan was to start tackling the Notorious videos—“Skin Trade” and “Meet El Presidente” along with the title track—but… well, look, nothing really happens in any of those videos, which makes them highly resistant to any attempt at in-depth quality Duranalyzing (“And then Christy Turlington wanders around while looking really pretty some more…”). So I’m speeding ahead to “Do You Believe In Shame?” off of the Big Thing album.
The video for “Do You Believe in Shame?” was directed in 1989 by celebrated auteur Chen Kaige, who, four years later, would receive the Palme d’Or at Cannes for Farewell My Concubine. It’s a gorgeous, evocative, melancholy video—a suitable accompaniment to a gorgeous, melancholy song.