Sunday, April 24, 2011

Duranalysis: Careless Memories

“Careless Memories” was one of three singles released off of Duran Duran’s 1981 debut album. While the other two, “Planet Earth” and “Girls on Film,” were big hits for the boys, this one sputtered and went nowhere. This is a shame, as it’s one of their best, darkest, angriest songs. Of course, the other songs were helped up the charts by their sexy, iconic videos: “Planet Earth” has lots of stylish New Romantic weirdness, and “Girls on Film” has lots of bare breasts. “Careless Memories,” on the other hand, just has Simon hurling tulips around a white room. No wonder it couldn’t compete.

Nick has referred to “Careless Memories,” which was directed by Perry Haines and Terry Jones, as “the worst video we’ve ever made.” I don’t know about that, Nick, have you watched “A View to a Kill” recently? Nick’s claims to the contrary, “Careless Memories” isn’t wretched. Quality-wise, it’s indistinguishable from a lot of the videos that came out during this time, which makes it disappointing only by the lofty standard the boys would soon set for themselves.

We open with a scene of the boys driving around. Simon sits in the front seat, while John and Roger and Andy are wedged together in the back. There’s nary a glimpse of Nick, and the universe is just a little less dazzling and glamorous in his absence. Roger and Andy whisper and snicker to themselves. They’re probably gloating about how they’re the only Durans in this video who didn’t get stuck wearing flouncy white peasant blouses.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Duranalysis: Arcadia’s The Flame


Brad and Janet?

It’s The Nick and Simon Show, with a surprise appearance by John!

Brief spurt of backstory here, for those who aren’t hip to this whole Arcadia business: In 1984-1985, at the peak of their wild success, the Duran Duran boys briefly split apart into two separate side projects: John and Andy teamed up with Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson to form The Power Station, while Simon, Nick and Roger banded together as Arcadia (Roger, ever the neutral party, also performed on some Power Station tracks). The differences between the two groups are most eloquently summed up in this excellent recent interview with the boys, in which it’s established that Arcadia produced “the most pretentious album ever made,” whereas Power Station produced “the most cocainey album ever made.” As I’ve always been far more pretentious than cocainey, I’m partial to Arcadia. Also, their videos were better.

Roger didn’t appear in any of Arcadia’s videos; in fact, by the time the video for "The Flame" was shot in 1986, Roger had already left Duran Duran, with Andy following him out the door shortly thereafter. “The Flame” was directed by Russell Mulcahy, the man responsible for Duran Duran’s huge, awesome, epic monstrosities (“Wild Boys”) as well as some of their lesser-known gems (“Night Boat”). This falls into the latter category. It’s a fun, fluffy trifle of a video -- it’s a little Rocky Horror Picture Show, a little Agatha Christie, and a whole lot of Nick and Simon being hammy and adorable. Damn good song, too. Let’s get to it:

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Duranalysis: A View to a Kill

Back in 1985, when I was young and the world was dazzling and new, I thought Duran Duran’s video for their hit single “A View to a Kill,” the theme song for the James Bond film of the same name, was really, really cool.

As it turns out, I was mistaken.

The video was directed by Lol Creme and Kevin Godley, who were also responsible for the boys’ extra-sleazy 1981 “Girls on Film” video (and who, performing as the pop duo Godley & Creme, had their own big hit in 1985 with “Cry” -- you remember, “You don’t know how to ease my pain…” In the realm of weird Duran Duran-related music trivia, this is right up there with Nick Rhodes producing Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy”). The “View to a Kill” video features the Duran Duran boys as a quintet of gorgeous, glamorous spies who swarm around the Eiffel Tower and try to kill each other. Conceptually, this is a goldmine. The execution, however, is… problematic.

I should be clear: It’s not a disaster. In fact, there’s some pretty good stuff here. Overall, though, it’s a little lame and a little smug, and it isn’t clever enough to support the smugness. The video is interspersed with scenes from the film -- specifically, the sequence where Roger Moore’s Bond and Grace Jones chase each other all over the Eiffel Tower -- cobbled together to make it look as though the Duran Duran boys are interacting with the Bond characters. Fun concept, but it doesn’t quite mesh.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Duranalysis: Hungry Like the Wolf


“Hungry Like the Wolf,” man. “Hungry Like the Wolf.”

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t like this song? Or this video? Seriously, pretty much everyone has warm, fuzzy feelings about this one.

“Hungry Like the Wolf” was one of three videos Duran Duran shot with Russell Mulcahy during a jaunt to Sri Lanka in 1982. Of the three (the others being the meditative “Save a Prayer” and the dirge-like “Lonely In Your Nightmare”), this is far and away the most entertaining. It’s a little short on plot, sure, but it’s joyous, rambunctious, bubbly fun.

We open with a bunch of bustling street scenes. Nick, Roger, John and Andy scurry madly about in search of their missing comrade, Simon. Nick has decided to be a slinky redhead this week, which coordinates nicely with his fiery red pants. Sadly, Nick is otherwise sorely underrepresented in this video -- he pops up here at the beginning and puts in a few fleeting appearances throughout, but that’s not nearly enough of everyone’s favorite magical pixie for my tastes.