First things first, let me just say that I am not a very big Duran Duran fan. I always found their big hits “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Girls on Film” and “Rio” sort of overly bombastic and crude with Simon Le Bon’s vocal stylings lacking in nuance and modulation, almost but not quite shout-singing. And the lyrics are, frankly, dumb. If their MTV-fueled success was groundbreaking for the music video era and helped usher in the New Romantic movement here in the States — they were nicknamed the “Fab Five” at one point, for gods’ sakes — well, I have to say I much prefer the music of non-New Romantics like the Cure, The Smiths, Big Country, Echo & The Bunnymen and New Order, to name but a few of their contemporaries. Also there’s just something so time-specific about Duran Duran, from their very pretty ur-80s fashion sense to the Patrick Nagel cover art, that you can practically smell the Drakkar Noir wafting off their videos.
That said you’ve got to give the devil his due. Duran Duran did make extremely catchy singles and once in a while they could come up with a real beauty. Such is the case with the stunning “Come Undone” from 1993, quite late in their heyday.
One of the standout tracks along with “Ordinary World” from the band’s major comeback effort, The Wedding Album, “Come Undone” features gorgeous production, sinuous hooks and sophisticatedly mysterious lyrics. Le Bon’s vocal effort is also much improved 10 years on as he embraces an appealing Bryan Ferry by way of Micheal Hutchence croon. In fact the whole song does resemble one of INXS’s moodier ballads with the angular edges sanded off. Add to that a bevy of typically seductive Duran Duran hooks like a desperately sexy, helium voiced female vocal (“Can’t ever keep from falling apart at the seams”) replying to Le Bon’s darkly charged overtures (“Blow me into cry” indeed) and a well done arty video in an aquarium with crossdressing appeal and you come up with a Duran Duran hit that even a hater like me can love. And play on repeat, for that matter.