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Top 8 Duran Duran Songs of the '80s

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When asked to name important artists of the '80s, very few music fans of that era would leave Duran Duran off their short lists. And the reason for that consistent prominence is that the Birmingham, England quintet skillfully yet somehow not cynically combined the best musical and stylistic elements of the '80s into its diverse and pleasing pop music formula. The Duran Duran sound may not have changed the world or perhaps even its listeners' lives, but it certainly made them more lush and enjoyable.

1. "Hungry Like the Wolf"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Capitol Records

For many music fans of the '80s, this lively and melodic mid-tempo rocker served as their introduction to Duran Duran, the new generation's British import of the moment. The quintet became iconic '80s figures for many reasons, but one of the primary ones had to be their ability to tap into the zeitgeist. The Indiana Jones-esque video clip for this song may have spotlighted the band's teen idol potential, especially that of lead singer Simon Le Bon, but the music also speaks highly for itself. Andy Taylor's guitar and Nick Rhodes' keyboards work in tandem to create a unique atmosphere that maximizes solid songwriting.

2. "Rio"

On its breakthrough 1982 album of the same name, Duran Duran sprung onto the scene as a perfect bridge between guitar-based new wave and synth pop. For this reason, the band's potential audience was huge, drawing well across genres and from both genders, though perhaps a bit skewed toward female fans. This tune, which may be the group's pinnacle, features an unbelievably tasty intro that equally displays Rhodes' keyboards, Andy Taylor's guitar and even some notably funky bass from John Taylor. Throw Le Bon's brilliant clear-voiced vocals on top of that, and all you have is pure pop music gold.

3. "Save a Prayer"

Early-'80s new wave and synth pop simply never witnessed more luxurious textures than those conceived by Duran Duran, particularly on this achingly beautiful, genuinely moving track. With or without the band's island getaway video locale of choice, the quintet's best music simply transports the listener to a place - in the manner of a vacation destination - that makes us question why we can't go there more often than just the brief reprieves we're afforded. Ultimately, this leaves a taste of melancholy when we must return to ordinary life, but that sadness somehow feels welcome and revitalizing.

4. "Is There Something I Should Know?"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Capitol Records

When considering guitar riffs from the '80s, it certainly makes sense to focus on Van Halen or even outright heavy metal acts such as Judas Priest, but Andy Taylor should not be overlooked as a guitar wizard, I kid you not. But as usual, Duran Duran's best songs are multi-layered pleasures that you really don't need to feel guilty about. The drum-and-vocals intro may serve as a very memorable centerpiece for this particular tune, but there's just so much more going on. As a five-man unit, Duran Duran may never be afforded the respect it deserves for individual and collective instrumental prowess.

5. "New Moon on Monday"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Capitol Records
If Duran Duran can be accused of possessing a signature sound, then this song's resemblance and complementary relationship to a song like "Rio" tells the story quite well. From title to lyrics to rhythm to keyboard textures, Duran Duran's sound always contains exotic elements, like the complexity of delectable tropical fruit. Such is the case once again here, as Le Bon's sexy, breathy delivery makes up for any puzzling lyrical obscurity by delivering undeniable ear candy. And somehow that designation stands as anything but an insult; what a desolate decade it would have been without such treats.

6. "A View to a Kill"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Capitol Records
If there is an artist from any era during the 40-plus years of James Bond films more suited to tackle a 007 theme song than Duran Duran, then there must be an ultra-sophisticated hidden dimension out there not suitable for human consumption. Le Bon & Co. do not disappoint with their appropriately over-the-top take on the coveted film franchise theme, offering instrumental excess galore along with a characteristically forceful vocal performance. The band clearly revels in its opportunity to delve into the machinations of the top-secret spy world, which really doesn't even seem like much of a stretch.

7. "Notorious"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Capitol Records

Although the primary reason previously for my affinity for this tune is its unforgettable Sparkle Motion accompaniment in the wonderful 2001 cult film Donnie Darko, I was delighted to find more reasons to admire it once I revisited the song. I don't know if any band in rock history has played keyboards and guitar off of each other more effectively than Duran Duran, as the funky, eminently danceable groove featured here proves so well. But I also find myself amazed that I've failed to realize all these years how fine a singer Le Bon was and still is. Dismissals of this band have simply always been unjust.

8. "I Don't Want Your Love"

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Capitol Records
Having fully evolved into a dance-pop band reminiscent more of George Michael than the Cars, Duran Duran proved with this 1988 tune its ability to excel in a number of genres and formats. And even if it has remained far less popular than the band's more prominent '80s hits, this tune is propelled by a typically memorable hook as well as the hum of chameleonic reinvention. The band would shed its skin yet again prior to its 1993 comeback, but for our purposes "I Don't Want Your Love" stands as Duran Duran's last flashy shout of the decade it ruled with a stylish, gloved fist.
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