Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Prophecy of Madness and Duran Duran

A long time ago, when I was young (before my age was in the double-digits), I used to listen to the radio before going to sleep.
One Christmas prior, I'd gotten a clock radio. Every night when I went to bed, I'd turn the radio on to 93.9 Cool FM. I'd listen until I fell asleep. The radio would turn itself off. I'd go to sleep listening to the popular music of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Today, Cool FM doesn't exist anymore. I believe it's now Bob FM. It's too bad because I miss their jingles and their music style, and I even miss the commercials and the voice of the DJ (called the 'Milk Man'). In the morning if I turned on the radio every now and then a jingle would come on - "coolest hits in the morning....93.9...Cool FM!" - and I actually liked that jingle. Again, the sound and voices put nice images and colors into my head.

But anyway, here's where those two 80s bands, Duran Duran and Madness, come in. It is like an unwritten prophecy. Every now and then, not usually, a commercail pertaining to Cool FM would come on advertising this compilation of hits or songs that was being produced and marketed by Cool FM. Two examples - song choruses - played. One went "Our House, in the middle of our street..." and the other went "Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand..."

I was instantly struck by each chorus as sounding very well put together and nice. One - "Our House" - sounded like it was simple and nicely constructed together and well sung, and the other - "Rio" - sounded fun and cool-sounding. I liked either of them.

Later I would hear each song as a whole and love both of them. Yet I went in the direction of Madness, not Duran Duran. I heard the whole of "Our House" first while being driven home by my aunt. She was skipping through a CD of old songs she'd put together. Of the few that she kept on to play completely, "Our House" was one of them. When it started up it sounded very good. By the time the bass and trumpets had cued in, I was marvelling at the sound. By the time the string section started playing and Suggs began, "Father wears his Sunday best..." I felt like I was in heaven, or something like that. The true harmony of each instrument, specifically the piano, string section and trumpets, was amazing. Toward the end of the first chorus I began to get the feeling it was that song with that simple yet nicely-sung chorus with the lyrics "Our House" in it. I was right. And I couldn't believe it.

Years later I heard "Rio" for the first time. My friend's mother was driving us home from Barrhaven where they'd just moved (I would move there a year later). Coming down Meadowlands Drive, this really stylish, fancy, fast song started up with a recurring guitar sound started. It wasn't very loud, and I didn't really expect that song due to the radio station (The Hot 89.9 doesn't seem to play a lot of eighties music) and it sounded really well polished and exact. That was the impression I got and the first thing I thought was that they'd started up with a big fancy verse, they'd better have an even better chorus to make up for that, because it sounded complicated and well-mastered. Then the chorus began, and I was surprised that that song would have that kind of chorus in contrast to the largely bass-driven, arpeggiator hooked verse. The chorus had a nice, bright guitar sound and it sounded bright and fun altogether. I was lucky my friend's mother took the long way around the block, giving me a chance to hear the whole five-minute song. It was still very quick and slick and stylish-sounding and I liked it.
It gave me the impression that very accomplished, older musicians were playing and singing the song because it was a complicated-sounding piece that was run through perfectly.

But I went straight to Madness instead of pursuing the musical talent of Duran Duran. These two bands have been almost intertwined in my musical pursuits because they don't seem far apart yet they sound very different. I read an interview with Madness's guitarist and the first question was how did the band get on with Duran Duran. I've read lots of other comments about it from Madness's point of view. Duran Duran seemed bigger than Madness due to their big videos and larger notability with them and their concerts.

I went toward Madness because I simply like their sound. A few years after I heard "Our House," my mother got into downloading music and so I downloaded the song. That first night I would listen to it every half-hour. Soon I branched into their other singles. Soon I began to gather knowledge about them. Now I'm virtually an authority on the subject of the band, because I know a huge amount about them and listen to them everyday.
For Duran Duran, I did find out about them. While I don't know everything or care to know about everything, I do like one other song of theirs. It's just interesting that to this day, I hear two choruses, and after that I end up having Madness as my premier source for music as well to a much lesser extent, Duran Duran. I tend to believe that bands don't mix up with other bands too much. But both of them seem much closer together than I thought with the knowledge of the other, that it is kind of funny that they just happened to have each of their star songs showcased together on an advertisement. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it can be a small world. I hear those two choruses, and one band wins out in the long run. The other, which was more well-known, only gets so far. I like "Rio." And "Hungry Like the Wolf." But while I know and like Duran Duran, they will never match Madness. I was mesmerized by "Our House." I was delighted with "Rio."

I just think it's a cool coincedence. Because I will read an interview and someone like Suggs or Chris Foreman will either bring up something about Duran Duran, or they will be asked about them or something. And they were to first two eighties bands I heard that I instantly liked.


-Justin C.

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