Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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I Sez: Yay on Timbo / Duran Collab

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 9, 2007

The Good Dr. has opinions on things. Important things.

There’s barely even a plausible argument against Timbaland being the artist of 2006. The main producer on the two biggest comeback albums of the year, Nelly Furtado’s Loose and Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, Timbo spent a combined 16 weeks on top of the pop charts as well as nailing three spots in the Pazz n Jop top ten songs of the year. He got to appear in all the videos, he got to share the stage at the VMAs, and he’s now reached that rarified superstar-in-their-own-right status that most paunchy 35-year-old producers can only dream about.

And now that he’s got the clout, Timothy’s calling in the big guns. Aside from his own collaboration album, supposed to future guest spots from old friends Ludacris, Missy and Nelly Furtado, as well as less expected party crashers Elton John, Chris Martin and Fall Out Boy (!!), Timbo’s also starting to position himself as the Rick Rubin of the pop world, resurrecting the careers of ex-pop stars whose commercial fortunes have suffered somewhat as of late. First on the docket is Bjork, a collaboration that’s been begging to happen ever since Bjork decided that her music was better suited to harps and sitars and shit than the incoherent rantings of Einar Orn Benediktsson. But that’s not the collab I’m the most excited for.

If you’ve read a single review of Furtado’s Loose, or of any of the album’s accompanying singles then you probably read the same story I did a dozen times, about how Timbaland was inspired to create the glitzy synth-waves and outre rhythmic hooks by listening to New Wave bands like The Police and The Eurythmics, presumably the music he grew up on. Now how anyone listens to a song like “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” and gets “Maneater” out of it is utterly beyond me, but hey, that’s why he’s Timbaland and why I’m writing about him on a fucking blog.

In any event, Timbaland has clearly taken this New Wave phase of his to the next level, agreeing to produce a couple tracks for the next Duran Duran album. Much to my shock, I have not seen this news greeted with thousands of orgasmic cheers and extra EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!, but rather with extreme pessimism and trepidation. Now sure, this collaboration might seem a bit jarring at first, especially to fans of the first two Duran albums, but when you listen to ’84/’85-era tracks like “The Reflex” or “Union of the Snake,” the skittering rhythms and elaborately produced tracks seem like they’d serve for good Timbaland makeovers. Add Justin Timberlake (a self-proclaimed Duranie of sorts), who sings on at least one track, I think we might have a HOT ONE on our hands.

So the real question is, of course, can Duran Duran pull off the comeback, after over a decade of more or less complete commercial irrelevancy? Well, you’ll remember that they did it once before–people had pretty much written DD off as down for the count after seven years of fading fortunes, when they released The Wedding Album in 1993, going on to be arguably their biggest success since Rio in 1982. And they didn’t even have someone with the unignorable commercial clout of Timbaland at the time to give ’em a leg up.

Not to mention that Duran Duran, for a very large percentage of my generation, has come to define the 80s that we were too young to remember first-hand. “Hungry Like the Wolf” recently placed at #3 on a viewer-voted VH1 poll of the best songs of the 80s, ahead of anything by 80s ultra-megastars like Prince, Michael Jackson or even Madonna. Most of those people would be more than happy to welcome Duran Duran back to the pop charts. With the 80s revival on its way out and the 90s revival just around the corner, however, it’s make or break time for Duran Duran–in a few years, people’ll be about as interested in a Duran Duran revival as a new Bee Gees album.

Good luck to the boys, then. If a Canadian folk-pop singer can do it, you guys should have no problem.

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