“And we sway in the moon, the way we did when we were younger...”
The video for Duran Duran’s “All You Need Is Now,” the title track and first single off their 2011 album, was directed by Nick Egan, who’d previously worked with the band on the videos for “Come Undone,” “Ordinary World,” and “Too Much Information”; more recently, he directed the videos for “Pressure Off” and, in combination with the Snorri Brothers, “Last Night in the City,” both off of the Paper Gods album. Egan does consistently nice work, though he gravitates toward videos consisting mostly or entirely of performance footage, whereas I will always prefer even Duran’s cheesiest narrative-driven video—hello there, “Careless Memories,” I was just talking about you!—to videos without a plot. So while I feel a bit lukewarm overall on the content of “All You Need Is Now,” I think it’s a lovely song, and the video has some beautiful images.
The band members, all dressed elegantly in black, perform in a room with terrible foil-lined walls. Oh, look, here’s Simon Le Bon, smack in the middle of his controversial bearded phase, which afflicted him throughout the All You Need Is Now era. I’m not complaining, honestly; while I miss the unobstructed view of his pretty face, the man looks good in a beard.
My edition of the All You Need Is Now CD came with a bonus DVD featuring some nifty behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the Durans, in which they yammer on agreeably about the album. In one interview, Simon describes “All You Need Is Now” as “…a message from us to us, and to the fans,” then goes on to call it “…a strong philosophical statement about where we’re at.” “Strong philosophical statement” might be a bit grand, but I’ll allow it: “All You Need Is Now” is a surprisingly poignant and self-reflective song, featuring lyrics that look back on the days when Duran Duran was on top of the world.
Here’s what John Taylor has to say about the song: “It speaks to a certain person, and when they hear it, they know who they are.” I can identify myself as one of those people.
Roger weighs in on the song, calling it “…a very ironic look at where we were when we were kids, basically. Kind of how shallow we were, in a way, because everything was just about that moment, all about who we were.” Whoa, there, Roger! I’m not sure I’m mentally prepared for this calmly introspective and self-aware version of Duran Duran. Where are the yachts, the bottles of champagne, the swimsuit-clad women pretending to be sexy cats? Where are the pillow-fighting topless models, for crying out loud?
Frequently throughout the video, the four Durans will pose in front of the tinfoil-covered wall with the screen divided into squares, mugging for the camera like they’re starring in a slinky and stylish reboot of the Brady Bunch. Just in case you were wondering, Simon is Greg, John is Marcia, Roger is Peter, Nick is Cindy, and… well, look, guitarist Dom Brown, who has toured and recorded with Duran Duran since Andy’s (second) departure and who has a more-prominent-than-usual role in this video, seems like a sterling chap, and I like him too much to ever dub him the Cousin Oliver of Duran Duran, so we’ll just leave him out of this comparison.
That foil-wrapped set drives me batty. It provokes such a visceral negative response that I have a hard time looking at it. Adding to the visual chaos, the set is cluttered with a haphazard amalgam of equipment—instruments, speakers, monitors—and tangled extension cords; every time I watch this video, I grow increasingly worried that someone’s going to spill a beer and electrocute a gaggle of Durans.
Never one to skimp on equipment, Nick appears to be running an unlicensed pop-up Radio Shack out of his corner of the set.
This video contains a few scenes of non-Duran-related narrative content, in which a trio of beautiful young things with great hair and fancy outfits exchange texts before meeting up at the Frolic Room in Hollywood. They’re all very cute and appealing, and I appreciate the way their new wave-inspired haircuts and their frilly New Romantic-lite outfits evoke the earliest days of Duran—very fitting for a song about wistful 1980s nostalgia—but on the long list of things I look forward to seeing in Duran Duran videos, “cool millennials” comes in very close to the bottom.
The band continues to perform in their tinfoil-saturated prison. Simon, bless his big hammy heart, makes eyelash-batting hand gestures during the part where he sings “bat your lashes, let it shine.” Few things are more ridiculously endearing than Simon pantomiming his way through a song. To return briefly to the terrible “Careless Memories” video, remember the way he’d point his fingers into guns during the “fear hangs a plane of gun smoke” lyric? I saw Duran Duran in concert during the Paper Gods tour, and when Simon reached the part in “Last Night in the City” that goes “I’ve been traveling around now/big world with my brothers,” he made a grand sweeping gesture around the stage with both arms to indicate that his bandmates are his brothers, and it was so corny and sweet it made my shriveled and bitter heart soften a bit.
While the bulk of the video takes place inside the aluminum hellscape, we’re treated to brief moments in which we see the Durans out and about in their natural habitat. Here we see Nick, dressed in an exquisitely tailored three-piece suit and an overcoat, glamorously lurking among the tombs in a cemetery. It could be a somber statement about the losses that come with age and the creeping awareness of mortality, themes which are an unspoken undercurrent throughout the song; it’s equally likely the shot was included because Nick knows he cuts a dashing gothic figure among the tombstones.
(Last month, Nick threw a gloriously over-the-top birthday extravaganza for his girlfriend at a grand palazzo in Venice, complete with a multilayered all-black birthday cake and an assemblage of well-heeled guests, his bandmates included, dressed head-to-toe in full-tilt Goth-inspired fashions. Nick showed up in a fancy ruffled shirt and a long black feather-trimmed coat; the resulting photos from the party might be the most wonderful sight I’ve seen all year. In this oft-dismal and gray world of ours, it’s a comfort to know that, somewhere out there, Nick Rhodes is swanning around palaces in black feathers and ruffles.)
Roger, meanwhile, is buying records in a shop. I like the slice-of-Duran-life aspect of this video: In their free time, Roger shops for records, while Nick elegantly lurks in graveyards. All this seems very plausible.
We’re treated to rapid-fire blipverts of the Durans from their glamorous past (Simon: “We were young and beautiful and stupid”) and their glamorous present, both of which are filled with screaming fans and sold-out arenas. Nick nuzzles with slender blonde ladies at cocktail parties and models sleek and stylish suits.
And somewhere in the blue heavens, a beard-free Simon pilots a fighter jet, which is the sort of thing that should strike terror in everyone’s hearts.
You know that scene in Help! in which the Beatles return to their adjoining flats while their sweet elderly neighbors comment on how natural and unaffected the boys have managed to remain throughout their global superstardom? And then John, Paul, George, and Ringo enter what turns out to be one gigantic flat through four separate doors, and we see that it’s a surreal and decadent paradise: Ringo has his own bank of vending machines, George’s floor is covered with growing grass, and John retires to his sunken bed, which is lined with bookcases filled with copies of his own books of poetry. Despite its well-earned and accurate reputation for monstrous silliness, Help! is a masterpiece, and I will listen to no argument to the contrary. Point being, the Beatles looked essentially sane on the outside, but seethed with weird and hilarious glamour on the inside. Ditto for Duran Duran.
The Durans, Dom included, pose for photographs on the banks of the Thames, shivering in the cold night air while clad in a variety of stylish outerwear—attractive overcoats, quirky hats, colorful scarves. Nick is wearing a frilly cravat, because Nick always goes the extra mile for fashion.
It’s a sweetly cute video, right? Sway in the moon all you want, Duran Duran, the way you did when you were younger; I’ll sway right along with you.