Ranking The Hits of Duran Duran

DD DecadeOn a recent afternoon I pulled out my copy of Duran Duran’s Decade, their collection of mega-hits from the 80s. I don’t think DD gets its due when it comes to discussing the hit makers of the 80s – some even described them as a “throw-away pop group.” Shudder. What other band so perfectly exemplifies the 80s use of heavy synth, nonsense lyrics and sex appeal? NOT Def Leppard, that’s for sure. If I were to order the songs on this disc into my perfect DD Queue Of Good Times, it would go like this:

1. Rio – my favorite DD song, hands down. I recently put it on a playlist that I will listen to while I fly to NYC. “Dancing on the sand” is such an 80s, Eurotrash thing to do. I love it. I wish I could say it was one of my hobbies on Facebook. I also hope that at some point in my life someone comes up to me and says, “I’ve seen you on the beach and I’ve seen you on TV.” The best DD beats. If you played “Rio” in a club today, people would still get out there and dance it up. Of course, they also still get out there for “YMCA.” There’s no accounting for taste.

2. Hungry Like The Wolf – I remember this video with great fondness. The song is a 1980s anthem kicked off with the laughter of a pretty girl and brought home with heavy breathing. The ultimate stalker song.

3. Girls On Film – It evokes a certain mood and time that we can’t recapture. DD always seemed to be trying to top itself with the sexual imagery they put into their lyrics and this is a great one: Give me shudders with a whisper, Take me high ’til I’m shooting a star. When I was young and this song was on the radio, I thought the line, “And she wonders how she ever got here, As she goes under again,” was very deep and really spoke to the experience of being in junior high (I listened to all of the DD canon throughout the 80s, although Girls On Film was released in 1981). But I don’t think I really understood what the song was about. Some Internet musings: It’s either about models or porn, but either way, it’s the same thing: exploitation and regret.

I have to interject here with a note that DD really had a thing for cherry-flavored items. Rio= cherry ice cream smile, Girls On Film = “lipstick cherry all over the lens.”

4. The Reflexflex-flex-flex-flex-flex! Even I had an inkling that this was a dirty song. Why don’t you use it? Try not to bruise it? I remember wondering if that actually happened to guys when they… you know… if things down there would bruise easily. But then there was also the element of the mysterious boy waiting in the park, the reflex in charge of finding treasure in the dark. And this was at a time when everyone was hysterical about child abuse, kids being abused at day care centers, cults, etc. so I didn’t want to enjoy “The Reflex” too much, you know. Kind of keep that volume at a steady, acceptable level.

5. Is There Something I Should Know – The best part about this song is the energy it starts off with. We’re not messing around here. PLEASE PLEASE TELL ME NOW! BOOM-BOOM. BOOM! PLEASE PLEASE TELL ME NOW… Look, why should I talk about it when you can enjoy this video of a live show from 1983. Is it just me or does Andy Taylor remind you of Paul Revere in that little pony tail and blue coat? This is a cool song  because it talks about holding broken glass.

6 & 7. A View To A Kill & Notorious (the title of “Notorious” has been ruined for me by Tori Spelling and her stupid tv show So NoTORIous) It’s a tie here. I really listened to both songs and can’t really put one before the other. A View To A Kill was a big deal because it was for the James Bond flick and it was really popular at the time; way better than the actual movie. Notorious is standard DD fare but without the sexual overtones this time. Now they’re talking about witness control, money, etc. These guys are kind of like the Danielle Steele, John Grisham and Jackie Collins and Tom Clancy of lyrics.

8. Planet Earth – good song, not earth moving but waaay better than Union of the Snake and Save A Prayer.

9. I Don’t Want Your Love

10. Wild Boys – I’m not into the chanting on this one and the whining of Simon. “Shiiiiiiine.” Even though I’ve heard this song 341 times I still wait to see if his voice is going to crack.

11. Union of the Snake – OK, totally thought this one was dirty even at age 11. It’s a dirty boys’ club. “Hey, man, you part of Union of The Snake?” “I hereby call this meeting of the Union of The Snake to order. Old business? The race, the climb, breaking through that borderline? Right. What about new business? Right. Those voices in your body coming through on the radio.”

12. All She Wants Is

13. Skin Trade

14. Save A Prayer – least favorite DD song. Listen, Duran Duran does not excel at ballads. I will admit that if I hear this song I will sing it for days but its kind of more like “Cotton-Eyed Joe” getting stuck in my head than anything I actually enjoy. What is this song about? I was kind of wondering if its about the AIDS epidemic but that may be too forward thinking. Does anyone remember that diet candy bar called Ayds? And then when the whole AIDS thing hit they had to quickly change the name but it didn’t work, no one wanted to eat a candy bar called Diet Ayds even if it would help slim one down? Yeah, that doesn’t have anything to do with anything but I thought I’d mention it.

Also, did you know that after Live Aid and touring for the side project Arcadia drummer Roger Taylor retired to the English countryside, suffering from exhaustion? When I was in 6th grade, I decided I had a crush on Roger Taylor. WHY? Why would I pick him? Who picks Roger Taylor and not Nick Taylor or Simon Le Bon? Duh. But it’s fitting that I picked the one most likely to retire to the English countryside. Would you like a spot of tea, Roger?

Hungry like a wolf for more Duran Duran? Check out “How Cocaine Destroyed Our Dream” from the  Daily Mail in 2008. Great pics. Ragged tigers indeed.