Why have a top ten when you can have one more? Here are our 11 favourite Duran Duran songs, ranked
Floofy hair: check. Frilled shirts: check. Lording about on yachts with models: check. Duran Duran were the official kings of 80s pop, dominating the charts with a plethora of catchy synth-pop hits and an international playboy aesthetic that, at the time, set rock music critics’ teeth on edge. New wave. New romantic. The ‘Fab Five’ have received many classifications over the last four decades, but one thing is certain – their extensive back catalogue reads like a roll-call of bona fide dance-floor bangers that transcends all the post-punk snobbery levelled at them.
And don’t just take our word for it. From Sacramento alt-metallers Deftones to The Killers’ frontman Brandon Flowers, generations of bands and recording artists have cited the Birmingham popsters as a huge influence. Plus, if you’ve never sung a Duran Duran song in some dodgy karaoke dive bar, have you even lived?
Ahead of their forthcoming 3Arena date, here are the 11 best Duran Duran songs, ranked. Eyeliner, optional.
So good it was sampled by Biggie, ‘Notorious’ was Duran Duran’s first single as a trio following the departure of Andy and Roger Taylor. Released in 1986, this tune saw Nile Rodgers take the lead on production, and his influence can be heard throughout. He also plays guitar on the track, obviously. Great for pepping yourself up for any significant life event (think Rocky vibes…).
10. The Chauffeur
Stripped back, dark, and more than a bit sexy, ‘The Chauffeur’ is the ninth and final track on Duran Duran’s hit 1982 album Rio, and is arguably one of their most revered songs. Featuring a mix of samples taken from a natural history documentary alongside Simon Le Bon’s haunting lyrics about (we assume) a love affair between a chauffeur and his beautiful yet unavailable passenger, this multi-layered tune is a DD fanboy favourite.
9. A View To A Kill
Co-written with composer John Barry, ‘A View To A Kill’ was recorded as the theme for the 1985 James Bond film of the same name, and has since become one of Duran Duran’s biggest hits. The dramatic composition and dynamic sound arrangements are typical of a high production film score (it was recorded with a 60-piece orchestra), but without losing any of DD’s signature sound. Plus, the video featured Le Bon blowing up the Eiffel Tower. Brilliant.
8. The Wild Boys
Produced by Nile Rodgers and loosely based on a William S. Burroughs’ novel, 1984’s ‘The Wild Boys’ hit the worldwide charts like a tribal juggernaut. Supported by a music video that cost an eye-watering one million pounds (featuring members of DD in various post-apocalyptic scenarios, including Le Bon strapped to a windmill…), this single has a distinctly darker and rockier sound, fusing densely layered synths with Andy Taylor’s screaming guitar riffs.
7. Ordinary World
The first single to be released from Duran Duran’s self-titled 1993 album – otherwise known as The Wedding Album – ‘Ordinary World’ relaunched the band’s waning career and cemented them as one of the world’s finest group of songwriters. With its ethereal sound and dreamy composition, ‘Ordinary World’ has fast-become one of DD’s biggest commercial hits. Le Bon even went as far as to perform a version of the track with the late Luciano Pavarotti (in Italian) for a WarChild benefit show.
6. Come Undone
Following swiftly on from ‘Ordinary World’, ‘Come Undone’ was the second single to be released from The Wedding Album, and for many, recaptured the darker elements of Duran Duran’s previous work, albeit with a 90s edge. ‘Come Undone’ also sounds like a song made in three parts, complete with a female vocal segment and a gradual escalation to the synth-rich chorus that is, let’s face it, catchy as hell.
5. The Reflex
An out-and-out barnstormer of a track, ‘The Reflex’ was the third and last single to be released from 1983’s Seven And The Ragged Tiger, Duran Duran’s third studio album. Funky basslines, synthy plinking, layered percussion and female backing singers serve up some serious swagger. Even Le Bon’s weird vocal flexing does nothing to hinder the track’s brilliance.
4. Save A Prayer
The third single taken from Rio, ‘Save A Prayer’ offers up a darkly melancholic take on the 80s power ballad. Featuring a looped, delay-treated synthesiser riff – which only adds to the song’s strangeness – ‘Save A Prayer’ discusses longing, passion and the heartbreak of a one-night stand. Heightened by the eerie key changes between the verses and the chorus, Le Bon’s layered vocals capture something like loss (or maybe love) in this, the OG of sad bangers.
Rio’s title track – and the fourth one to be released as a single – was always going to be a massive hit. Written about a woman who likes to dance on the sand (although the initial idea was attributed to actual Rio de Janeiro rather than a person), this poppy number is probably Duran Duran’s most recognisable song. Perfect for family gatherings or flying solo in your kitchen, ‘Rio’ has the perfect balance of jukebox lyrics and shoulder-pad dancefloor energy.
2. Girls On Film
With lyrics inspired by the dark exploitation of the fashion industry, Duran Duran’s third single, ‘Girls On Film’ (released in the summer of 1981), features funky basslines, stinging riffs and the kind of pop-synth melodies that would go on to become the band’s signature. The song gained notoriety because its sexualised music video was subsequently banned by the BBC, and heavily edited for MTV – a controversy that kept ‘Girls On Film’ in the charts, and Duran Duran posters on every teenager’s wall.
1. Hungry Like The Wolf
Come on. ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ was always going to take home the trophy for Best Duran Duran song. Why? So many reasons, so little time. Is it Le Bon’s Little Red Riding Hood-inspired lyrics combined with the catchy af guitar riffage? The do-do-do-do-do-do-dos? That weird twinkly synthy sound fluttering behind the melody like a trapped butterfly? And don’t even get us started on the heavy breathing. A regular on many people’s top ten greatest songs of all time, 1982’s ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’ is the song every pop artist wants to write and perform for the rest of their career. It’s brilliant. Full stop. Hit ‘add to playlist’, floof your hair and enjoy.