Monday, July 18, 2022

Musical Monday - The Wild Boys by Duran Duran

#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: December 15, 1984 through December 22, 1984.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

In 1984, Duran Duran was riding high. They were the darlings of MTV, having pushed out a series of catchy songs tied to slickly produced videos. More than just about any other musical act, Duran Duran had benefitted from the addition of the visual element to musical success, with their videos often being better than their actual music. It was at this point that Duran Duran did what so many musical groups had done before them: They decided to get artsy and experimental.

The Wild Boys was inspired by a 1971 novel by William S. Burroughs, and was the brainchild of Russell Mulcahy, a prominent music video director who had previous directed the videos for several of the band's songs, including the hits Hungry Like the Wolf and Rio. Mulcahy wanted to make a feature-length movie based on Burroughs' novel, and pitched the idea to Duran Duran with the idea they would do a song and he would direct the ensuing music video as a kind of preview of the hypothetical movie to be used as a teaser to entice movie studios to back the project. No movie was ever made, leaving this song and music video as the only extant artifact of the idea.

Indulging in arsty endeavors can either create a signature for a band - for example, Pink Floyd's concept album and related movie The Wall - or wreck a band - I'm looking at you Styx and Kilroy Was Here - but The Wild Boys seems to have had almost no real impact on Duran Duran's fortunes one way or another. The band was a glitzy pop sensation for a few years before The Wild Boys, and (notwithstanding some issues among the band members), they were a glitzy pop sensation for a few years afterwards. The band's fade from the limelight was more the result of their New Wave synth pop style going out of style than it was due to some career-ending experiment with quirky concept songs. perhaps the fact that The Wild Boys was just a single experimental song and video accounts for its apparent minimal impact on their ongoing success.

I will say that when the video was first released, I heard persistent rumors that the "original cut" had been so salacious and risqué that MTV refused to air it until several cuts had been made. This was always passed on by high school experts who would impart their knowledge with knowing looks. Unfortunately, I cannot find any evidence that this was actually the case. So much for the expertise of mid-1980s era high schoolers.

Previous Musical Monday: Out of Touch by Hall and Oates
Subsequent Musical Monday: Do They Know It's Christmas? by Band Aid

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: I Feel for You by Chaka Khan
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Like a Virgin by Madonna

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

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