In their 43 years of existence, Duran Duran has had 30 singles in the U.K. Top 40, including 14 singles in the U.K. Top 10 and 21 in the U.S. Hot 100. And save for a couple of mediocre albums at the turn of the millennium, they have been quite consistent in the quality of their output, with almost every album yielding some great songs. That makes creating a list of the best Duran Duran songs challenging, but not impossible. Here is a good overview of their fantastic career in 20 memorable songs — and some may surprise you.
Duran Duran are noted mostly for their dance songs, but they could crank out a good ballad when they wanted. “What Are the Chances?” has a sly beat by Roger Taylor, it begins with a lone guiar solo sounding like something out of an old Western movie. It moves slowly through the verses until lead singer Simon Le Bon’s voice reaches the soaring chorus – a trick we’ll see them implement throughout this list.
A forgotten gem from their debut U.S. album, “My Own Way” is a perfect example of a Duran Duran song: a crunching guitar from Andy Taylor, funky bass line from John Taylor, and that signature chorus again from Le Bon. It managed to slide up to No. 14 on the U.K. chart before America even knew that it existed.
“Union of the Snake” is somewhat unusual in the Duran Duran catalog in that it’s mostly in a minor key, and being sad is not a mood you’re likely to be in when you listen to this group. The chorus isn’t as catchy, hence the low ranking for this U.S. Top 5 song.
The first album to be completed without a Taylor in the lineup, Medazzaland is experimental and weird. So is “Electric Barbarella,” but there’s that singalong chorus again. Trivia answer: This was the first single ever to be sold online.
A ballad from another Taylor-less lineup, “Someone Else Not Me” features strings and a Beatlesque chorus that changes from major to minor, causing a twinge of heartache that’s rare for the group.
The first single from Duran Duran failed to chart in the U.S. but is a much better song than their first Top 10 U.K. hit, the controversial “Girls on Film.” It’s raw and date but is a prototype of the formula that the group would polish just a year later to astounding success.
This was a massive hit in the U.K. and was not originally released in the U.S., but when it finally was, it barely cracked the Top 20. But as evidenced by a Duran Duran show, it still makes women swoon.
There’s a reason why Rio is one of the greatest albums of the 1980s. This is the third of five songs to make this list, and while it’s similar to “My Own Way” (Duran Duran had a formula), its verses are better.
A surprise entry, this ballad was written for the late Michael Hutchence of INXS. Hutchence was alive when it was written, and its light, airy sound is now poignant and reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel or the Dream Academy.
The newest song from the group finds them in throwback mode, with a disco beat and the familiar melodic chorus. “All of You” shows that Duran Duran still has something to say in pop music.
“Ordinary World” signaled to the world that Duran Duran was not washed up. Their first Top 10 single in six years was a monster smash and was their first ballad to be a hit since “Save a Prayer.”
Astronaut was a reunion for the band — the first to feature all five members in almost 20 years. And the reunion pumped new blood into the group. “(Reach Up for the) Sunrise” is a command to dance, with its thumping beat and chorus` making it an instant classic.
A departure for the group, “I Don’t Want Your Love” is sparse but groovy, with little in the way of lyrics, but they can’t do without the earworm in the chorus, and it’s a refreshing change from the hypnotic, robotic verses.
“What Happens Tomorrow” is unique in that it doesn’t have the soaring chorus that we’ve come to know in love. It’s almost a pre-chorus that never peaks; instead, it sets the listener up for the verses. Another strong ballad for the group.
People wondered whether after the band splintered in 1986, leaving only John Taylor, Nick Rhodes and Le Bon, whether they could go on. They responded with the strong single “Notorious,” produced by Chic’s Nile Rodgers. It’s funky, fresh and fun.
“New Moon on Monday” is the most underrated single on the band’s third album; it only reached No. 10 in the U.S. Le Bon does his best Elvis impression on the bouncy verses, but again — the chorus. That wonderful chorus.
The first James Bond theme ever to hit No. 1, “A View to a Kill” is quintessential Bond and showed the world that it could write a tune when it needed to. Next to “Live and Let Die,” it’s the best Bond theme song ever written. (“Nobody Does It Better” is better than both but sounds as much like a Bond theme as “Walking on Sunshine.”
Damn. Another unforgettable chorus. Aside from that, this song has everything a Duran Duran lover needs: the powerful bass line, pounding drums, and oh yeah, Le Bon’s chorus.
This song’s desperate chorus (“Please, please tell me now!”) made it a smash on both sides of the Atlantic at the same time. America had finally caught up with Duran Duran, and the song’s inclusion on the U.S. re-release of their eponymous debut album made the collection even better.
Having your first U.S. hit be your best one was usually the kiss of death in the 1980s, but it was just a sign of things to come for the band. From the classic video to the melodic verses and — again, the catchy chorus — it should have gotten higher than No. 3 in the U.S. We have Michael Jackson and Culture Club to thank for that.