Category Archives: Duran Duran

Simon Le Bon in Come Undone video

Duranalysis: Duran Duran’s Come Undone

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?

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Duran Duran Kulture Shock

Duranalysis: Duran Duran on Kulture Shock

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.

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Do You Believe in Shame Duran Duran dominoes

Duranalysis: Duran Duran’s Do You Believe in Shame?

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.

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Duran Duran Falling Down Simon Le Bon

Duranalysis: Duran Duran’s Falling Down

For something new and different, we’re moving out of Duran Duran’s golden era and heading all the way up to 2007 with a look at the video for “Falling Down”, the only single released off their Timbaland/Justin Timberlake-produced Red Carpet Massacre album. The song wasn’t a hit, but the video, which was directed by Anthony Mandler, is stylish and sleazy and fun. Let’s hit it:

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Three To Get Ready Duran Duran

Duranalysis: Duran Duran’s Three to Get Ready

Three To Get Ready is a David Gasperik-directed documentary shot in early 1987 as Duran Duran was promoting their funk-infused Notorious album and gearing up for their Strange Behaviour tour. The title is a reference to the band’s three remaining members—Roger and Andy had parted ways with the others the previous year, leaving Simon, Nick and John to carry the torch. The documentary captures the boys at an uneasy and uncertain time: After splitting with longtime managers Paul and Michael Berrow, they’ve made the risky decision to manage themselves, and they’re acutely aware of the valuable momentum they’ve lost since the release of their last album. On the spectrum of Duran Duran documentaries, it’s not as raucous and fun as Sing Blue Silver, but it’s an interesting watch, and certainly worth Duranalyzing.

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Electric Barbarella Nick Rhodes Simon Le Bon

Duranalysis: Duran Duran’s Electric Barbarella

People say they’ve heard about our deviation…

“Electric Barbarella” was a single off of Duran Duran’s 1997 album Medazzaland. This was a strange and bleak time in the band’s history: John Taylor had just quit, leaving only Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes, plus guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, to soldier on. For an assortment of reasons, neither the album nor the single nor the video, which was directed by photographer Ellen von Unwerth, made much of a splash upon release (though the song does hold the distinction of being the first single legally sold as a digital download). Too bad—the song’s fantastic, and the video is… well, it’s worth Duranalyzing. Here we go:

Simon, Nick and Warren stroll around a silver-walled emporium, which is lined with cases displaying scantily-clad mannequins. A bald, white-suited salesclerk, who straddles that fine line between attentive and creepy, assists them. The setting has a late-sixties/early-seventies kitschy sci-fi vibe to it—they’re referencing Barbarella, obviously, but there’s a touch of Logan’s Run here, too, with maybe a little 10th Victim tossed in as well. The Durans, it turns out, are looking to purchase a sexy robot. You know, for general carnal entertainment, and maybe a little light housecleaning.

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Duran Duran Book Report John Taylor Andy Taylor

Duranalysis: John Taylor’s In the Pleasure Groove versus Andy Taylor’s Wild Boy: My Life in Duran Duran

John Taylor’s memoir, In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death & Duran Duran, hit US bookstores this week. It’s a good read—John’s a thoughtful and witty fellow—but how does it compare to the other Duran memoir of note, erstwhile DD guitarist Andy Taylor’s Wild Boy: My Life in Duran Duran?

To state the obvious, John and Andy are two very different people, and thus they’ve written two very different books. If sensitive, introspective John is Duran’s Marcel Proust*, then cheeky, rough-and-tumble Andy is its Irvine Welsh. John’s book is controlled and contained, written to expose some of his personal demons—drugs, girls, the perils of mega-celebrity, the deaths of his parents—while conscientiously refraining from splashing mud on his nearest and dearest. I attended a discussion John held about his book earlier this week (he’s lovely and charming in person, by the way), in which he stated that, as his life in Duran Duran is going quite well at the moment, he felt no need to throw anyone under a bus. This is in contrast to Andy, who wrote his memoir to settle a few scores (throughout it, there’s a persistent sense that the bus he’d ideally like to throw Nick Rhodes under might not be a metaphorical one).

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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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Duran Duran Arena Nick Rhodes

Duranalysis: Duran Duran’s Arena (An Absurd Notion)

For the past, oh, several months, I’ve been loosely planning on doing one of my Duranalysis thingymabobs on Arena (An Absurd Notion), Duran Duran’s 1984 Russell Mulcahy-directed science fiction-themed concert film. On the surface, it would seem tailor-made for a Duranalysis, due to all the Duran-centric weirdness flying about, but I’ve never quite managed to whip up the necessary enthusiasm.

Here’s Arena in a nutshell: Footage of the boys performing in concert is interspersed with a bizarre narrative in which Milo O’Shea gamely reprises his role as the band’s namesake, the evil intergalactic scientist Durand Durand from the 1968 cult classic Barbarella. In Arena, Durand Durand arrives on Earth and, with the aid of his requisite coterie of mutant dwarf minions, schemes to wreak terrible vengeance on the boys for stealing his name.

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