• AW

Fade To Grey

The recent CL poll voted A View To A Kill the Duran song with the best closing 5 seconds. In second place was Notorious. But who noticed that they are actually the only tracks on Decade with an end at all?

Planet Earth, Girls On Film, Rio, Save A Prayer, Hungry Like The Wolf, ITSISK, Union Of The Snake, The Reflex, Wild Boys, Skin Trade, I Don't Want Your Love and All She Wants Is - all just fade out! And, as you already know, so too do Ordinary World and Come Undone.

What is it with fade outs? You don't read a book and find the final page goes “and so they lived and so they lived together together happily happily happily ever aaaaaffterrrrrr……….”

Do bands just run our of ideas? They have their opening, build to the chorus, gun down the middle to the big finish, then…. err, just sort of carry on and stop quietly.

To save you checking, Duran have evolved on Paper Gods to have 6 of its 12 tracks which actually have an ending. Two others, Paper Gods and The Universe Alone sort of have an ending, although it could also be argued that just finally expire from exhaustion after their inordinate longevity. Even so, this is a much bigger percentage than on Rio. How many proper endings are there on that album? (hands up, please!) … it's one. If you know which one, have a lolly.

You will note that there may be a sense from this writer that a fade out is per se a bad thing. Clearly the Decade tracks prove otherwise. It is more a sense that it's a weird thing to do. Friends Of Mine seems to fade out very quickly as if the anxious producer noticed Andy had been at it for a while and they were dangerously close to a 6 minute track.

So to attempt to answer this question I asked an expert - Google. And there was some rather interesting answers.

The fade out, it turns out, has evolved over time. Back in the days of 78s, the fade was not an option when bands played live and the technology could not manage it. The Beatles had hard endings to all their songs pre-1966 when they had to play them live. After that they often had fade outs. Into the 1970s, as rock and pop moved on, the fade was more common. Radio-play often insisted on limiting songs to 3 minutes in length and (perhaps most crucially), the DJ liked to know when the track was about to end so s/he could talk over it ("That was Duran Duran, and now here's Linzi with the travel...") So fade-outs were in Duran's musical heritage - 'in their DNA' as it were - and the culture of their time. During the 80s, alternative bands started to 'keep it real', presumably as a reaction against the likes of Duran, and have an ending. This carried over into the 90s where it became increasingly common and, again apparently, does so to this day (I have no examples to hand, it will be worth keeping an ear out).

if you want conclusive proof that fade-outs were odd, go check out the strange sight on Top of the Pops during the last 6 seconds when the singer looked embarrassed as the music faded mid-chorus.

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