Duran Duran are an English pop rock band famous for a long series of popular singles, albums and vivid music videos, for which they've won two Grammy Awards. They were one of the most commercially successful of the New Romantic bands and a leading band in the MTV-driven "Second British Invasion" of the United States. They are named after the character of Professor Durand Durand from the 1968 movie Barbarella.
The group were generally considered part of the New Romantic scene, with other style-and-dance bands such as Spandau Ballet, Japan and ABC. In 1980, they recorded two demo tapes and performed in clubs around Birmingham and London. In late 1980, when touring as an opening act for Hazel O'Connor, the band attracted critical attention, resulting in a bidding war between the record companies EMI and Phonogram Records. "A certain patriotism" toward the label of The Beatles led them to sign with EMI in December. However, Nick Rhodes said in a 1998 interview with Deluxe magazine, that the band felt they were "appallingly ripped off" by the EMI contract.
Duran Duran were amongst the earliest bands to work on their own remixes. Before the days of digital synthesizers and easy audio sampling, they created multilayered arrangements of their singles, sometimes recording entirely different extended performances of the songs in the studio. These "night versions" were generally available only on vinyl, as b-sides to 45 rpm singles or on 12-inch club singles, until the release of the compilation Night Versions: The Essential Duran Duran in 1998.
Although they began their career as "a group of art school, experimental, post punk rockers", the band's quick rise to stardom, polished good looks, and embrace of the teen press, almost guaranteed disfavour from music critics. During the 1980s, Duran Duran were considered the quintessential manufactured, throw-away pop group. However, according to the Sunday Herald, "To describe them, as some have, as the first Boy Band, misrepresents their appeal. Their weapons were never just their looks, but self-penned songs." As Moby said of the band in his website diary in 2003: "... they were cursed by what we can call the 'BeeGees' curse, which is: 'write amazing songs, sell tons of records, and consequently incur the wrath or disinterest of the rock obsessed critical establishment'."
Several of the band's contemporaries, including The Bangles, Elton John, Kylie Minogue and Paul Young, have named themselves fans of the band's stylish, uplifting pop. Simon LeBon described the group as "the band to dance to when the bomb drops". Successors like Barenaked Ladies, Beck, Jonathan Davis of Korn, The Bravery, Gwen Stefani and Pink have all cited Duran Duran as a key band in their formative years. The newest crop of performers to name Duran Duran as influences include Dido, Franz Ferdinand, Panic! at the Disco, Lostprophets (who took their name from the title of a Duran Duran bootleg tape), Goldfrapp and The Killers, and Scissor Sisters, who first came to wide notice while touring as DD's opening act.
Notable Duran Duran videos include:
- Hungry Like The Wolf
- Is There Something I Should Know
- New Moon On Monday
- The Reflex
- Girls On Film
- A View To A Kill
- Union Of The Snake
- Save a Prayer
- The Wild Boys
- Ordinary World
- Come Undone
The band's discography:
- Duran Duran (1981)
- Rio (1982)
- Seven and the Ragged Tiger (1983)
- Notorious (1986)
- Big Thing (1988)
- Liberty (1990)
- Duran Durannote (1993)
- Thank You (1995)
- Medazzaland (1997)
- Pop Trash (2000)
- Astronaut (2004)
- Red Carpet Massacre (2007)
- All You Need Is Now (2010)
- Paper Gods (2015)
To those of you who are in the know: LESTAAAAAAAAAAAAT!
Duran Duran has examples of:
- Bowdlerise: Did you know there was a time when the music video "Girls on Film" was too steamy and "Wild Boys" was too violent and had to be censored?
- Breakup Breakout: Ultimately averted, as none of the side projects the band members pursued in their side projects were able to match the success of the main group. For a while, it looked like Andy Taylor would pull it off, as he received a very good contract with a major label and had a few hit singles as a solo artist in the Hard Rock category, but his debut album didn't meet the label's expectations.
- Cast Full of Pretty Boys
- Cover Album: Thank You.
- "Double, Double" Title: The band has two albums called as "Duran Duran" (1981 and 1993).
- The '80s
- '80s Hair
- Even the Guys Want Him: Simon Le Bon, causing multiple Stupid Sexy Flanders reactions ever since 1980.
- Gender Flip: The video for "Girl Panic" portrays the band as sexy girls, all of them famous top-models getting in the skin of every band member.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Can you guess what "U.M.F." is supposed to mean when you hear the line "making love to the ultimate mind"?
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: John Taylor and Nick Rhodes. They'd known each other since age ten, and John's departure from the band supposedly hit Nick almost like a breakup.
- The Invisible Band: "Girl Panic" features a quintet of supermodels miming the song interspersed with segments in which the models, in character as the band members, are interviewed by music journalists portrayed by the actual band members.
- It's Personal: A white British pop band deciding to cover Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel's gritty proto-rap hit "White Lines" seems to be a ridiculous exercise in poor taste...until one remembers that the band had numerous struggles with cocaine abuse. John Taylor's cocaine problems were so bad they nearly killed him and broke the band apart. In light of that, it appears they picked the most blatant "fuck you" song about the drug to vent some anger.
- Lead Bassist: John Taylor is a Type C due to the aforementioned HLP with Nick Rhodes, and Type A for his unorthodox playing style which has been emulated since then.
- Lyrical Cold Open: "None Of The Above" and "Notorious".
- Lyrics/Video Mismatch: "Come Undone". The lyrics appear to be about offering to help a person who's coming apart at the seams. The video is about a woman performing an underwater escape from chains and a male transvestite, among other images.
- Man in White: Simon wore a nice white suit in the video for Save A Prayer
- The Midlands: The band were formed in 1978 in Birmingham, were the house band at Rum Runner (a Birmingham version of Studio 54), and founding members Nick Rhodes and John Taylor (and fellow Brummie Roger Taylor) speak with that very distinctive Brummie drawl, decades after moving away.
- The Movie: Arena. Sort of.
- A better example is 1984's Sing Blue Silver, a documentary about their massive North American tour and how the band were coping with success. Another documentary came along in 1988, Three to Get Ready, which showed the band's efforts to chug along after two of their members left (thus leaving only Simon, Nick, and John), their attempts to manage themselves, deal with an increasingly unsupportive record company (Capitol Records), and prepare for their 1987 tour promoting Notorious.
- New Sound Album: Notorious, the first album after the 1985 hiatus, saw the group move toward Funk, resulting in considerable They Changed It, Now It Sucks! and Broken Base reactions from fans and critics (though the latter hadn't been terribly well disposed to them beforehand). Occurred to a lesser extent with The Wedding Album, which had a kind of proto-Britpop vibe.
- No Fourth Wall: The music video for "Girl Panic!", so much. Models hold clapperboards, the music stops frequently for a behind-the-scenes featurette, and the band members are interviewing models who are pretending to be the band members about themselves and about Girl Panic!.Yasmin Le Bon (pretending to be Duran Duran's guitarist Dom Brown): I'm quite amazed, actually, that it's pulled together.
- Notable Music Videos: Their cinematic music videos were popular in their day.
- One Head Taller: Simon and John, who both stand over 6 foot tall, dwarf their shorter bandmates. Who's taller varies.
- One Steve Limit: Simon Le Bon vs. Simon Colley, Andy Taylor vs. Andy Wickett
- Repetitive Name
- Real Song Theme Tune: Girls on Film was used as the Speed Grapher OP. Watch it here.
- The Rival: The music press developed a sort of friendly rivalry between Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, although members of both groups have said that they enjoyed listening to each others' records.
- Self-Titled Album: Their debut album was self titled, as was the big comeback album they released in 1993. The latter is often referred to as The Wedding Album to distinguish it from the earlier record.
- Shout-Out: The music videos for Hungry Like the Wolf and Wild Boys are shout outs to Indiana Jones and Apocalypse Now (the scene with Simon's head rising from the water).
- Wild Boys (the song and music video) was a shoutout to the novel of the same name by William S. Burroughs because the song was originally meant to go on a soundtrack for a film adaptation of the novel (by Russell Mulcahy) that went nowhere. So they filmed the music video that way instead.
- The song Electric Barbarella isn't really about an "electric" Barbarella, but the title is a shoutout to the band's naming origin.
- Zoom In is about Second Life; the band has performed in-game before and have their own land based on their music.
- Surreal Music Video
- Theme Tune: A View to a Kill, the only Bond theme to be a number one single in the US.
- Word Salad Lyrics: The early lyrics came from a book of poetry Simon Le Bon had written, and he doesn't like to explain what any of them mean.
"You've gone too far this time,But I'm dancing on the Valentine,I tell you somebody's fooling aroundWith my chances on the dangerline"
- The Reflex is a particularly notable example.