Ranking EVERY Duran Duran album from best to worst!
Formed in Birmingham 1978 Duran Duran have never been a band to rest on their laurels and have probably seen as many highs and lows as anyone in their 40 plus year career.
It’s impossible to pigeon hole Duran Duran to one particular genre.From the New Romantic days and synth pop of the early 80s they’ve covered styles such as electro rock, funk, urban, rock, hip hop and numerous others.
They even found time in the mid 80s to form two other completely separate bands.
“Arcadia” which comprised of Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor was beautiful art pop and their self titled album warrants a listen
“Powerstation” which was more of a rock sound was made up of John Taylor, Andy Taylor and Robert Palmer on vocals.
I’ve recently been on a bit of Duran listening phase so I thought why not take a retrospective look at their work and try and compare and rank their 14 studio albums.
14) Red Carpet Massacre (2007)
After their big comeback in 2004 with the original line-up and album “Astronaut” which was a traditional Duran sound they once again pushed the boundaries working with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake.
It’s an interesting listen and certainly has it’s highlights. Lead single “Falling Down” which features Justin Timberlake is a dreamy ballad with a catchy chorus.
13) Thank You (1995)
A covers album. It pays homage to musicians as diverse as Bob Dylan, Page and Plant, Elvis Costello, Public Enemy, Lou Reed, The Doors, Iggy Pop and Grandmaster Flash.They even do an alternate version of one of their own songs “The Chauffeur”
After the big commercial comeback two years earlier with “The Wedding Album” it was a brave project.
That being said their version of”Perfect Day” is beautiful. Lou Reed was even quoted as saying it was the best version he had ever heard of one of his songs. It’s an album of highs and lows but it also demonstrated a band not afraid to move away from their comfort zone.
12) Liberty (1990)
Simon Le Bon was quoted as saying he thought this album was over produced.
John Taylor also mentioned that he thought there was an obsession with being a five piece with guitarist Warren Cuccurullo and drummer Sterling Campbell being made official band members.
Although the album received lukewarm reviews it also contains two of the most beautiful songs in their arsenal in “Serious” and “My Antarctica”.
11) Astronaut (2004)
The first album in 20 years with the original line-up. “(Reach Up For The) Sunrise” and “Want You More” have the familiar 80s sound and “What Happens Tomorrow” is a poignant reminder of how scary the world can be.
10) Seven And The Ragged Tiger (1983)
Some may rank this higher but to be honest I felt they may have been struggling creatively at this time.
It does contain however their second number one single “The Reflex” which is a different version to the remixed version released as single.
My highlight is the albums closing track “The Seventh Stranger” which showed the boys maturing as songwriters.
Proof that in every Duran Duran album there is a hidden treasure.
9) Pop Trash (2000)
One of the two lesser known albums in their back catalogue.
For a band known for their glamourous videos they achieved another first.
Lead single “Someone Else Not Me” was the first promotional video ever to be created entirely using Macromedia Flash digital animation.
The song itself is a beautiful melancholy ballad and the album is smooth, dreamy and spacy.
Pop Trash was their lowest seller commercially and you could argue that it suffers from over production. As a fan though it contains for me one of their greatest ever songs “Pop Trash Movie”.
8) Medazzaland (1997)
Probably the other forgotten Duran Duran album.
Ironically this album never got an official UK release although the lead single”Out Of My Mind” was the official title track to the 1997 Val Kilmer film “The Saint”
Although it was not a commercial success it’s actually a brilliant album. I think it’s their darkest and saddest album musically but also their most experimental.
7) All You Need Is Now (2010)
Another name to add to Duran Duran collaborators.
The boys recruited Mark Ronson and the result is a sound that makes you think you are back in the 80s.
The title track is the perfect radio friendly single, “Girl Panic” fills you with joy and “Leave A Light On” could be their modern day “Save A Prayer”.
6) Big Thing (1988)
This was a strange time for Duran Duran. It was almost as though they were crossing generations.
Released around the time when House Music was all the rage the band certainly showed they weren’t afraid to move with the times.
The album combines rock and funk and also contains one of their most beautiful songs “Do You Believe In Shame”.
5) Paper Gods (2015)
Whenever the band worked with Nile Rodgers or Mark Ronson they seemed to strike gold. The artwork to the album is pretty impressive too depicting images of the bands history.
It’s a pop and dance style record but sounds fresh and exciting. The title track is spacy electronica and Le Bons vocals sound as good as ever.
If you want a rocker though listen to “Last Night In The City”.
4) Notorious (1986)
The first album as a three piece.
On this album they also worked with Nile Rodgers who always managed to bring out a new energy in the band.
It was a sign of the more mature direction the band was heading in.
The singles “Notorious”, “Skin Trade” and “Meet El Presidente” would all showcase a new funky sound with use of horns and brass.
They didn’t completely abandon the traditional Duran sound though with the beautiful ballad “A Matter of Feeling” being a personal highlight.
3) Duran Duran (1981)
New Romantic excellence.
Duran Duran were always in tune with the times and their 1981 debut proves that.
Glossy singles “Planet Earth” and “Girls On Film” are some of the highlights of side one.
Side Two sees a more experimental side to the band. “Nightboat” is atmospheric and moody and “Sound Of Thunder” gives a Roxy Music vibe.
2) The Wedding Album (1993)
After 6 or 7 years in the commercial wilderness Duran Duran stormed back with an accomplished and mature album backed by the classic first single “Ordinary World”
The album was a sign that the band once again were comfortable in their own skin.
“Come Undone” is just dreamy and “Too Much Information” laments consumerism.
The artwork features pictures from the weddings of the parents of the four band members.
1) Rio (1982)
An album that could have had 9 hit singles.
One of the 1980s best pop statements that still sounds relevant nearly 40 years later.
“Rio” and “Hungry Like The Wolf” are poptastic.”Save A Prayer” is beautiful balladry, and even the lesser known songs on the album such as “Hold Back The Rain” and “Lonely In Your Nightmare” show a band at their creative peak.
The classic record ends with “The Chauffeur” which is dark and brooding.
Like Albums Ranked? Check out these lists…
Born in Manchester, live now around Heaton Moor. A football, boxing and snooker fan and support Manchester City(even before the glory days)
A big fan of gigs, music and all that come with it. I used to write for a boxing website and have previously worked for Music Zone, a job that involved listening to new releases, speaking to labels and keeping the schedule updated.