Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tunesday: "Rio," Duran Duran



First, let's not overthink this video; yes, there are plenty of flaws here. Instead, let's celebrate the ridiculous excess of the '80s, shall we?!? I'm almost certain everyone 30 years ago sailed their yachts while wearing shiny, pricey suits. And if they didn't they shoulda!

Sure, the "comedy" featured in this clip is lacking; "I'm On A Boat," it is not. Really, what we're looking at here is not unlike the videos boy bands of the late '90s and early '00s put out (ex. A, "It's Gonna Be Me"). And to that point, I have no problem saying Duran Duran was a boy band, although an especially rare breed.  At the height of its popularity, the band was compared to the Beatles. Considering the guys' shared U.K. roots and ability to write songs and play instruments, this is a much fairer comparison than 'N Sync.

Second, let's not overthink the lyrics. Duran Duran didn't set out to teach geography to the masses with "Rio." Instead, they are simply combining aspects of their touring life — namely traveling to Rio de Janeiro and the United States. If you're seeking deep lyrics, I suggest you expect less from a group that named itself after a character from "Barbarella." My final geography and video note: It was shot on location in Antigua; so the body of water is the Caribbean Sea, not the South Atlantic. (Do I even need to say it's not the Rio Grande?!)

Whew, enough with the Wiki-formation (get more over here, if you so desire); let's discuss what makes this songs incredible. It's the synth (great arpeggiated sequence), the bass (John Taylor is so underrated) and the hook. It's a fun, carefree pop tune. I can't tell you how often I've heard and played this song at parties.

IMHO, what keeps "Rio" from being the perfect pop song is the bridge. There's gotta be a couple dozen versions of the track, and on most the sax solo is just too long. True, as much as I love the accompanying bass line (groove-heavy, ghost-note filled greatness!), the sax is just more '80s excess!

What else? In addition to still touring (no Dallas or Texas shows yet set for 2012), Duran Duran will be one of several impressive U.K. groups performing at the Olympics.

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