Get Cyndi Lauper on the phone. And Adam Ant, too. Tell them to take their heads out of the oven. Duran Duran — another once-hot ’80s act that got locked in the commercial freezer — just defrosted with a surprise top five single, ”Ordinary World.”
And these guys are not even talented! In case you need reminding, listen to Duran Duran, their first album in three years, which contains this inexplicable hit. Like all Duran’s albums, this one is poured thick with gloppy production effects (rattling dance beats, pumped-up bass) to cover for the tendency of its pop melodies to be as flat as their recent sales. Even ”Ordinary World” sounds like a Moody Blues ballad with a dented hook.
Not that music was ever the point with the Durans. It was enough for them to be among the first to realize that blowing major dough on fancy videos could snow fans planetwide. And yet their video overexposure eventually did them in — a point bitterly acknowledged in the new, anti-MTV track ”Too Much Information.”
That doesn’t mean the group no longer needs MTV’s help. Radio may have warmed to the single’s nostalgic lyrics and drenched, fussy production. But one hit does not a new career make. Especially since there’s little of even the meager tunefulness of ”Ordinary World” on the album.
Mostly we get overproduced, underwritten pop-funk. There is also a breathtakingly clueless cover of the Velvet Underground’s ”Femme Fatale” and a puzzling duet with world-beat star Milton Nascimento (they must have something on him).
Then again, the fact that the band managed to scam even one hit begs a chilling question — could Mr. Mister be next? D