Music videos rightly get their share of credit for Duran Duran’s rise to pop music stardom. The band — five good-looking, stylish young men — emerged at the dawn of the video era, and image certainly played a role in their ascent.
But that was a two-way relationship. What gets less attention is how Duran Duran helped elevate the format. Videos made them stars, but for better or worse the band helped make videos an instrumental part of pop music as well. These key entries in their videography evolved the medium back when MTV lived up to its acronym.
“Hungry Like the Wolf” (1982):
Early music videos were largely performance clips, sometimes with shreds of plot or random images tossed in. This is the video that helped the band become international stars.
Singer Simon Le Bon channels “Indiana Jones in heat” in an adventure set in Sri Lanka. Besides incorporating plot, the video was one of the first to serve as a travelogue of sorts, showing off Sri Lanka’s lush jungles and bustling marketplaces. The band would continue this habit with videos filmed around the world in other locales, including Antigua and Australia.
“Hungry Like the Wolf” also kicked off their casting of top models — in this case Sheila Ming as Le Bon’s love interest — which other artists picked up.
“The Chauffeur” (1982):
Duran Duran continues its practice of making videos for album tracks with a lingerie-laden clip for this uncharacteristically downbeat cut from “Rio.”
The band previously used nudity in the “Girls on Film” video, but “The Chauffeur” — which none of the band members appear in — brings an eroticism not common in videos at the time.
“Union of the Snake” (1983)
With its dystopian setting, this video helped usher in the age of the big-budget music video. Duran Duran took it a step further with their next single, “New Moon on Monday,” and further still with “The Wild Boys,” which reportedly cost more than $1 million to make, nearly unheard of at the time.
There was also a 17-minute version of “New Moon” with a fleshed-out plot — the “Fab Five” lead a rebellion against an authoritarian government — that didn’t see the light of day until 2003.