Arts, Music

Duran Duran’s Halloween-Themed Album Maintains an ’80s Sound


While Duran Duran may no be a commonly echoed name, the band’s new album DANSE MACABRE shows that it has not lost the musical talent that cemented its popularity in the ’80s and ’90s.

Duran Duran was one of the most successful bands in the ’80s, with 21 singles in the Billboard Top 100. Its classic synth pop sound became a facet within the new wave genre.

The band—a leader in the second British Invasion—was finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year after having been in the music industry for over 40 years—the band released its first major hit “Girls on Film” in 1981. 

Just five days before its induction ceremony, Duran Duran performed a one-off Halloween concert, which, according to the band’s interview with Rolling Stone, eventually became the inspiration for a Halloween-themed album. 

DANSE MACABRE was thus born, and Duran Duran released the 13-song album on Oct. 27—just in time for Halloween. The album features a mix of original songs, covers, and mash-ups and remakes of the band’s deeper cuts.

Duran Duran hones in on the darker side of its musical prowess with each song’s eerie tone. Although the band is known most for its upbeat hits like “Rio” or “Hungry Like the Wolf,” some of its lesser known songs like “New Religion,” which has a darker undertone, show just how easily Duran Duran can swing to mystery and drama.

“NIGHTBOAT” starts the album off strong, clearly setting a Halloween mood with sinister instrumentals. Duran Duran delves right into its classic synth sound, creating a creepy atmosphere with the tolling of a bell underscoring a hauntingly hollow rhythmic beat. Add this to the mysterious story in the lyrics, and it is clear that the band is attempting to create an album meant for the Halloween season. 

“Stillness overcomes me in the nights / Listen to the rising water moan / I’m waiting / Waiting for the night boat,” Simon Le Bon, the band’s lead singer, sings.

The following song, “BLACK MOONLIGHT,” is where Duran Duran truly demonstrates how little time has altered its sound. With its quintessential and intriguing guitar lines and layering of voices in the chorus, this song easily could have been released in the band’s heyday.

Le Bon’s voice, sounding unchanged, is what draws this song into being quite possibly the hit of the album. The chorus sounds as if it was written for one of the band’s 1980s singles.

“Hold tight / We’re going out tonight / Under the black moonlight / Move ‘til we’re outta sight / Into the black moonlight,” Le Bon sings in the chorus. 

Not only is the song satisfying on the ears, but it toes the line between cheerful and moody in a way that encapsulates the spirit of Halloween. It is not overly creepy but rather focuses on the amusement of the holiday in its telling of the joy of going out and partying on Halloween night.

Duran Duran manages to hit it out of the park with the originals on this album, each one unapologetically ’80s while still fitting the theme of Halloween. It is some of the band’s covers where the magic wears slightly thin.

DANSE MACABRE consists of five covers: “BURY A FRIEND,” “GHOST TOWN,” “PAINT IT BLACK,” “SPELLBOUND,” and “PSYCHO KILLER (featuring Victoria De Angelis).” The song “SUPER LONELY FREAK” is a cover of “Super Freak” by Rick James remixed with “Lonely in Your Nightmare,” one of Duran Duran’s older songs. 

The majority of these covers fit the album. Duran Duran manages to adjust each song to the album’s synthesized melodies as well as its overall Halloween theme.  But it is often difficult to get behind covers when they drastically change the originals. This is seen with hits like “bury a friend” by Billie Eilish and “Paint It, Black” by The Rolling Stones, where Duran Duran’s sound differs too greatly from that of the original tracks for the covers to be enjoyable. 

Despite this, Duran Duran still excels with the remaining covers, “SPELLBOUND” and “PSYCHO KILLER (featuring Victoria De Angelis).” Both covers keep the originals’ bones, specifically “PSYCHO KILLER (featuring Victoria De Angelis),” in which Italian band Måneskin’s bassist Victoria De Angelis plays the Talking Heads’ notorious bassline. “SPELLBOUND,” meanwhile, takes the more alternative-rock sound that Siouxsie and the Banshees originated and turns it pop in a way that simply works, nailing the Halloween theme on the head.

In all, this album perfectly exemplifies the spectrum of eeriness and pleasure that comes with Halloween. Even though Duran Duran is 30 years past its peak stardom, it has still managed to recreate its classic sound, and with it, the talent that made this band one of the most famous of the ’80s and ’90s.

November 1, 2023