9 Dark Duran Duran Songs for Halloween

It’s Halloween again, and in 2023 (at the time of this writing), Duran Duran are delighting fans with an unexpected album of new songs, covers, and reinventions of older tracks called Danse Macabre. The Halloween-themed release is designed to play into the spirit of the season with tunes like the spooky title track, a more gothic take on the already eerie “Night Boat,” and a revved-up cover of Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Spellbound.” Former guitarists Andy Taylor and Warren Cuccurullo were even invited to participate on some reinterpreted songs.

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Their refreshing new sonic slant invited this look back at other Duran tracks over the years that are moody or spooky and embrace their darker side. While the Fab Five are known for their effervescent pop-rock sounds and poignant ballads, their catalog really does stretch far and wide. Here are nine tracks, along with two bonus side project listens, for fans to sink their teeth into.

1. Night Boat” (1981)

This dark track from the band’s first album was the opener for their recent U.S. tour. The video’s creepy vibe was seemingly inspired by Lucio Fulci’s cult flick Zombi, and it is apropos for a jittery song about waiting in solitude for the titular craft. Since it’s Halloween, let’s imagine a horror movie where the main character is standing on the River Styx awaiting the arrival of Charon.

The Chaffeur” (1982)

This tune from Rio is different from the other songs on the album. Nick Rhodes’ icy keyboards and synth ocarina fit with the lyrics, which could both be about an alienated couple on an aimless drive, or a chauffeur pining for an imagined lover they cannot have. The song’s story is never fully defined, leaving much to the imagination, and the Helmut Newton-influenced video features the titular character driving an aristocratic lady to a sexy night rendezvous with another woman. He watches silently from afar.

3. “Love Voodoo” (1993)

Ever been in a relationship where your obsessive love is a tad unhealthy, but you just can’t break free? Or are you the one who’s doing the manipulating? Either way, this song from their self-titled comeback album is for you. There’s a dark undercurrent to this brooding, slow-burning track. Every night how I try / How I try to resist you / But it’s no good to me. Sometimes you succumb to someone no matter how hard you try or hard bad they might be for you. The 2023 version is slightly faster and funkier.

[RELATED: Review: Duran Duran Deliver Tales from the Darker Side on ‘Danse Macabre’]

4. Be My Icon” (1997)

With its edgy guitars, ominous synths, and overall unsettling vibe, this track from the underrated Medazzaland album is straight-up about stalking. And it’s told from the point of view of an obsessed individual who believes in a stifling love that would scare away any normal person. When singer Simon Le Bon declares, No need to be scared / You’re gonna be so happy, you don’t believe him for a second.

5. Undergoing Treatment” (1997)

This downbeat, semi-acoustic closer from Medazzaland addresses the band’s slide down the mountainside of fame as they felt, like many ‘80s icons, how times had changed and their style had fallen out of favor. (Nice revenge: Their huge reunion a few years later.) The lyrics dig into how artists can feel when their very livelihood and identity feel pushed aside while they still feel vital. You want to hide and disappear. In essence, the song’s a metaphor for feeling like a living ghost.

6. Tricked Out” (2007)

Duran Duran have recorded a handful of solid instrumentals, and this is the best of the bunch. This zippy composition occupies less than three minutes on Red Carpet Massacre, but it is instantly memorable. The driving harpsichord and ethereal theremin sounds, combined with Dom Brown’s dissonant guitar, imbue this with a fun, sprightly feeling that sometimes invokes an Addams Family vibe.

7. Dirty Great Monster” (2007)

While the band has never copped to what this slow, brooding song was specifically inspired by, it seems that when “daddy got the hunger” he was not treating anyone well. One fan even cut together a video for the song using intense scenes from the New Zealand film Once Were Warriors, which is about domestic violence. One thing’s for sure here: the family members in the song (whatever type of a family that might be) are not simply avoiding the elephant in the room, they’re cowering from the monster of the manor.

8. Invisible” (2021)

The opening track to Duran’s last album Future Past has an eerie, AI-generated video that mirrors the song’s theme of isolation and disconnection in our social media age. Like “Undergoing Treatment,” the slowly churning, synth-driven tune offers a glimpse into what it’s like to feel unseen.

9. Danse Macabre” (2023)

This song and animated video are perfectly crafted for Halloween. Le Bon alternates between rapping and singing, and the combination of gothic rock and dance music elements just clicks. Plus it’s fun to see the boys done up as ghouls. Could we get a Halloween one-off show from them?

BONUS!

Arcadia, “Lady Ice” (1985)

One of the songs from the Arcadia project featuring singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, and drummer Roger Taylor, “Lady Ice” portrays a woman wounded by love and lost in a lonely world. She knows the desolation / Lovers’ arms, their isolation / Who knows where to find a true heart? The beguiling, spacey synth work that drifts through this tune certainly prefaces what Rhodes and collaborator Wendy Bevan would conjure on their later, four-album Astronomia instrumental project. Roxy Music’s Andy Mackay provides elegant sax work here.

Nick Rhodes and Wendy Bevan, “Incarnatus” (2021)

With its spooky synths and quasi-Satanic chants, this two-minute instrumental from Astronomia III: Heaven and Hell in the Serpent’s Tail is perfect to play in your haunted house. Other tracks from the album that would also work: “Interstellar Space” and “The Devil’s Staircase.” These pieces were the pre-cursor to Danse Macabre.

Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

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