Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Is There Something I Should Know?"

Duran Duran, 1983.

I first heard this on the TV in my mother's room. Often it's turned to one of those Galaxy music channels, and it was on the 80s channel.

The bass line immediately had my interest, like it does in just about every case.

Listening to the song on YouTube, the song, like just about every Duran Duran song, has a lot of style to it. Bright snappy drums, a general, fast bass line that has a lot of complicated slaps and pops in it towards the end, particularly in the last choruses. The guitar has a very nice and bright melody or riff, which is continuously repetitive throughout the song, allotting a single riff for the main verse, the second verse, the lead in to the chorus, and the chorus.

It sounds very bright and confident, and also slightly romantic when the guitar lazily strums in the chorus lead-in. The bit right after the chorus - 'do you feel the same 'cause you don't let it show?' also sounds quiet romantic.

The song has a very straight-forward, easy message in its chorus, and has a lot to say during the verses (actually, I find that the second verse kind of stretches a little bit too long with the 'you're as easy as a nuclear war,' as if the singer is trying to keep the subject's continued attention). There's also a synth keyboard that's always going, mostly just hitting fast notes that keep in the same key as everything else. You don't really hear it prominently except for the little da-da-dada-da-da-da bit between the end of the verse and the beginning of the chorus.

The bridge is a bit repetitive sounding, I find, and the harmonica isn't something I'm used to hearing in that band's songs. The drums repeat themselves over and over, with two different drum rolls.

The drums have a big beat in this song, they begin the whole thing with these booming tom-tom hits while the lead singer demands the lyrics of the chorus. Every other chorus sounds powerful with the beat that they offer.

As for the lyrics, the song seems to me like the lead singer is calling out someone who obviously has a crush on them. There's a bit early on where he mentions that 'I know you're watching me every minute of the day.' The chorus is simply, 'please, please, tell me now, is there something I should know?' As in, perhaps, please tell me, what is the point of this game? Do you like me? Should I know something, like, how you feel?

'Do you feel the same 'cause you don't let it show?'

I can sympathize with the singer immediately. It brings back my memories of the mid-late spring of 2009. A wonderful girl indeed watched me all day, mostly from her locker in my case. There's a bit I mentioned earlier, where the singer mentions, still in the second chorus, that 'you're as easy as a nuclear war.' This is after he says, 'don't say you're easy on me!' Again, I sympathize - it took a long time before someone I knew finally admitted their feelings. But I don't want to make that sound negative because whether it took ten months or ten years, it was the happiest event for me.

In essence, that's what the song appears to be about - trying to get that girl who has an obvious crush on you to admit her feelings.
God I've been in that position so many times. Only one person ever did admit it. I wish I'd employed that song in a particular e-mail instead of harsh accusations and evil suggestions. But I hadn't heard it yet. Bad timing.

The music video - well, what, by reputation, do you expect with Duran Duran videos? Exotic filming locations, tonnes of variety and style and some sort of storyline.

With this one, it begins with the right side of the Nick Rhodes's face in a small square, and the top of Roger Taylor's forehead in a top rectangle, imposed on black screen, as they say 'please please tell me now!' Some glass sphere smashes in slow-motion. John Taylor's nose and mouth move in a subsequent bottom square. They all become parts of one single image, as Simon LeBon (the lead singer who is the one yelling those actual words) crazily thrashes his arms wildly, which then freeze in motion. His face is mad-looking in freeze-frame. The separate images becoming different and the same are the big factor in the visual effects of this video. As well as LeBon's crazed expressions.

The rest of the video is much less exotic than you'd think. It's not a performance video but there are many little scenes of the rest of the band, minus LeBon, standing in a tight row, looking up in the light and chanting the chorus. LeBon walks around surreal landscapes with thin tree trunks and stairs, and a little kid runs around with a red ball. There's a recurring pyramid, amidst other geometric shapes.
Oh, wait. Maybe those aren't thin tree trunks he's walking around. Perhaps, actually, LeBon is actually super tiny, and he's walking around on top of someone's scalp and the trunks are actually hair follicles. By the color I'd say they were Roger Taylor's hair follicles.

Among the many shots of band members and LeBon strutting about in enclosed geometric spaces are snippets of the band's other music videos. The only one I recognize is 'Hungry Like the Wolf' near the end.

I don't get why a naked baby crawls around.

During the bridge it goes all blue (like their blue work shirts) as people dressed in bowler hats and old-style coats and glasses and things run around chasing a ball and measuring the circumferences of real tree trunks.

At the end, it gets proper as each band member takes it in turns to repeat the final chorus. No forehead, mouth, eye of different people like in the beginning, a proper, full screen shot each of them, complete with zoom-in.

Nick Rhodes looks normal; John Taylor looks interested; Andy Taylor looks half-dramatic and half exasperated; and Roger Taylor looks ridiculously uncomfortable and like he wants to get it over with.
I don't blame him - if you have a singer who spends his time thrashing his arms around, screaming and looking generally insane walking around on your scalp, I'm sure you'd be uncomfortable too. I've read that the drummer cringes every time he sees himself sing that.
I can see why they showed just his forehead in the beginning.
The ultimate ending, of course, is of Simon LeBon continuing to sing or demand the chorus into the camera, composed so that he's at one side of the scene, until it fades to black.

Very interesting music video.

Unfortunately the very high-quality version of the music video was disabled for embedding so I had to put this crappy version on - if you want to see the high quality one, it's here.

Music: B+
Lyrics: A-
Music Video: B-

What do you think? Of the song and the video?

Justin C.

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