Song Of The Day 9/21/2015: Duran Duran – “The Chauffeur”

Stopped Clock Week – Listen, guys. When it comes to pop music, I’m an optimist. A poptimist, if you will, and I really hope you won’t. I believe whenever an artist goes into a studio it’s their sincere intent to make the best music they possibly can. I believe the moment of creation is one of the purest experiences in this life. As a critic, I sincerely don’t want to hear anybody make subpar music. And I don’t like putting people down because I truly hold stake in everyone’s potential. I also think time and experience can often shape one’s art in positive ways. Many times, espousing this pure-hearted stance makes me look like a fucking idiot. But it’s at my core, and it sprouts up every time I do yoga. I believe Justin Bieber is still capable of redemption and will always be so, until he gets cast in Big Brother Season 52. I thought Miley Cyrus had the best chance of any teen diva to eventually provide music of excellent artistic merit. Then she ran into Wayne Coyne and… well, jury’s out. To lunch. I think Rick Dees broke up his Cast Of Idiots way too soon, and that Mitch Miller simply didn’t take the right drugs.

I don’t like to run smack about artists I don’t like, because I always have to leave open the chance that I misread them at first. Just in the last couple of years alone I’ve come to appreciate Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead because I finally heard something by them that I didn’t pick up the first time. Maybe my ego was blocking it. Maybe I associated those artists with something distasteful. Or maybe I was just sick of everybody else falling over themselves in praise. Whatever. The point being, I try really hard to find the good in everybody, not speak too poorly, allow room for improvement and fight for the glistening sword of art as it slashes through the bristly thicket of not-art and comes to rest in a field of clover or alfalfa or whatever crop’s popular now.

And yet, even with that set of life-size disclaimers, there are some bands that still haven’t done anything I like much. I’ve had to work extra hard to find the good in them. For the next six days I’m showing my work. Stopped Clock Week will feature six artists I either don’t care for or, more plainly, can’t stand the sight of. I went through significant portions of these bands’ catalogs to find one song, just one, that I liked. Happily, I found one for almost every artist I looked up. (Sorry, Jane’s Addiction. I made it through about half of Ritual De Lo Habitual and decided it wasn’t going to work out between us. Which is a shame, ’cause I understand there’s a couple of threesomes on that record that looked like they’d be fun to videotape and sell to research scientists. But they all already have their own copies, so… well, best of luck with your efforts.)

Let’s start with Duran Duran. Never got ’em. Never liked ’em. Their worst crime was musical boredom. They seemed like four perfectly nice prep students who met someone who was going to play pluck-bass for the rest of his life and decided the meeting was not chance. Right off the bat they set out to provoke our notions of sensuality and sexual politics with girls on film and hungry wolves and women named after foreign rivers. And this was all very well and good when David Bowie did it, but he didn’t use plucked basses until Let’s Dance, and it wasn’t a good idea then either.

Then Duran Duran started using animal metaphors that signified nothing. What is a “ragged tiger”? A tiger that’s read Bukowski and smokes too much? Why do we need a “union of the snake”? If the snake was ever disunified there was probably a damn good reason. And I’m scared of snakes. I’m not going to go back and put a snake back together if it’s already been rent just for the sake of your metaphor. Oh, wait, is it supposed to be a penis?

However, I’m good with “The Chauffeur,” which is the last song from the Rio album. From what I understand it’s written from the point of view of the title character who’s watching what appears to be a conjugal visit (or a fantasy) happening behind the tinted glass of his chariot. He’s also looking at “aphids.” I don’t know how he’s able to see plant lice from his position, except maybe as a professional chauffeur he was instructed to be observant and compliant at the same time, and he really over-compensates somehow. Oooh, character development. Anyway, I’m okay with this song. We’ll pass it through.

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