7_Songs: Duran Duran

Duran Duran have been around for four decades now, with great music and a whole variety of styles and transformations. Formed in Birmingham in 1978, they were broadly speaking a New Wave band that rode the New Romantic trend to end up as the leading force in the Second British Invasion of the US in the early 80’s. If you didn’t hear them on the radio, you saw them on TV as they were the ultimate poster boys for a whole new generation. With their fancy good looks and sharp fashion styles, they mastered the medium of the music video and in a way became MTV’s best ambassadors. At the height of their career, they were even referred to as the new "Fab Five" who managed to blend glam, disco and punk, making rock music ready for dance floors. 

The group was formed by keyboardist Nick Rhodes and bassist John Taylor, with the later addition of drummer Roger Taylor, and after numerous personnel changes, guitarist Andy Taylor and lead singer Simon Le Bon joined, which eventually became the band’s classic line-up. The group never disbanded, but underwent several line-up changes throughout their career, which also resulted in several offshoot projects, both in the 80’s and 90’s, including The Power Station, Arcadia, The Devils and TV Mania.  

Duran Duran have released 14 studio albums and 39 singles in total. Their best-selling albums are Rio, released in 1982, and Seven and the Ragged Tiger from 1983. These two albums also contain Duran Duran’s most successful singles, “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Rio” and “The Reflex”, and also mark the band’s classic era. The group have had 14 singles in the UK Singles Chart top 10 and 21 in the US Billboard Hot 100, selling over 100 million records worldwide. 

Even though their career peaked way back in the 80’s, the band has been around in the last decade, teaming up with a great line-up of producers and artists. Their album All You Need Is Now was even released to critical acclaim. We are positive that their musical story is not over yet and expect the 20’s to bring new, exciting prospects. 

The seven selected tracks which are featured below do not necessarily reflect our favorite Duran Duran tunes, although they have a slight tendency to this. Moreover these are milestone records with interesting stories behind the music, video production or something else. And of course the idea of this feature is to have the whole artist career and discography on display.  

Planet Earth (1981)
"Planet Earth" is Duran Duran’s futuristic debut single released in January 1981. It was fairly a hit in their native UK, but also did surprisingly well in Australia where the band was relatively unknown. Hailing from Birmingham which was also considered as one of the strongholds of the New Romantic movement, the band illustrated such visual image with flamboyant  and eccentric fashion style as well as by the sharp and atmospheric synth sound of which was typical for this genre.

 Girls on Film (1981)
The wild "Girls on Film" finally got the band a breakthrough in the UK top 10 and the controversial music video for the song, which beside others, featured a naked female models in a pillow fight, certainly helped in gaining prominence. It was too hot and spicy for early MTV's and also got banned on BBC, but an edited version was adjusted to keep the high up in the daily airplay. Over the years, "Girls on Film" has become a staple of the encores for Duran Duran's live performances.

Save A Prayer (1982)
The release of Duran Duran’s second album Rio and its success meant slowly parting from the New Romantic, more towards a jet set image style. With more investment in their visual image the group went to travel around the world, in between touring, and delivered vivid travelogues with their music videos. The video for “Save a Prayer” was recorded in Sri Lanka illustrating the island's monuments and beauties on a bed of dreamy synths and flirty guitars.

Rio (1982) 
Next stop for Duran Duran was the Caribbean sea and the beauties of Antigua where the band recorded their video for the song “Rio”. It looked like a luxurious yacht ride with the group members wearing Antony Price suits while some of them even got seasick. The song was driven on a carbonated synthesizer and bass was breaking on the tenor sax waves. The b-side song “Chauffeur” also received the video interpretation and it was the completely opposite if “Rio”, dark and intriguing more akin to the Depeche Mode catalogue of late 80’s.

New Moon on Monday (1983)
Band’s commercial success followed with the release of their third album Seven and the Ragged Tiger when Duran Duran grew into a full-on teen heart-throb status. Their single “New Moon on Monday” was not the most successful single to be taken from this album, yet it remains as one of Duran Duran’s all-time favorites. In the music video, the band appear as members of an underground resistance movement in France.

Ordinary World (1992)
After some boisterous years in the first half of the 80’s a more quiet period followed for Duran Duran in which the band member worked on different projects. When the band reunited – now under a different line up – they could not really regain the old popularity until the release of “Ordinary World” in 1992. The song was a surprise hit when no one really expected it could make such an impact when Grunge and Brit pop artists were ruling the charts. By the release of “Ordinary World”, Warren Cuccurullo was already a standard member of the band and he arranged the remarkable guitar solo in the song. He remained in the band until the end of the 90’s.

Girl Panic (2011)
Duran Duran were having another career peak in 2011 with the release of their 13th studio album All You Need is Now which seemed like a return to the old charm. "Girl Panic" was the second single to be released from the album and it was released on Record Store Day. The music video was directed by Jonas Ã…kerlund featured appearances of 90's top models Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen, and Yasmin Le Bon who were portraying Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Roger Taylor, and Dominic Brown, respectively.

Singles cover photos courtesy of discogs.com

For the complete Duran Duran discography, as documented in music videos, please check the following playlist below.