06 June 2010 // Written by Joe Sparrow ~ 12 Comments

Duran Duran – 911 Is A Joke

Picture the scene. It’s 1990. You are Public Enemy – young, gifted and the “black CNN”.

You’ve released your angriest, funkiest, most brazenly controversial record yet – Fear Of A Black Planet. The key track is 911 Is A Joke, a fiercely critical song highlighting the longer response times of US emergency services visiting black neighbourhoods.

A million albums are sold in the first week – and America is running scared of its own problems. All is well.

Now imagine it’s 1995, and you have the deep misfortune to be in Duran Duran. For reasons unfathomable, you are still a million-selling act. A voracious, excited fanbase awaits your new album… of cover versions. What could go wrong?

This is what could go wrong:

The immediate question, as with all ill-thought-out cover versions, is ‘….but… why?…”. You must learn to immediately reject such notions. The key to truly appreciating excruciatingly bad cover songs is to disregard rational thought.

Rational thought, after all, would never have led to a soppy 1980′s quasi-boyband to cover the angriest song ever written by the angriest hip hop group there has ever been.

The secret is to revel in the detail:

  • Luxuriate! in the blunderingly stupid faux-bad-attitude styling of Simon Le Bon, as he hops around, busting middle-class stupid-fresh stylings and attempting to look menacing, in skin-tight pink spandex trousers.
  • Gasp! at the excruciating use of the mouth-organ – a pre-emptive Yeah-I-Feel-The-Black-Pain-Too sop to the critics, the sound of whom’s jaws collectively slamming against the floor was heard by even the most addled Duran Duran member.
  • Shudder! at the dawning realisation that Simon Le Bon looks like a drunken escaped mental patient enjoying a night of freedom in a Karaoke bar.
  • Laugh yourself silly! at the bewildered faces of the audience, who are wondering if the whole enterprise is for some sort of hidden-camera prank.
  • Prepare To Sue! for the emotional pain caused by the ‘impromptu’ segue into a verse of Shaft. (Seriously, this happens.)

Watch the video right to the end, and then go and scrub yourself clean with bleach. A cover version so monumentally stupid, it has become the low-tide mark by which all others are tearfully measured.

It might be worth remembering at this point that when Public Enemy performed this song live, they had 10 Security Of The First World guards, wielding Uzis, marching on stage with them. Just to put it all in context.

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12 Responses to “Duran Duran – 911 Is A Joke”

  1. David J J 29 June 2010 at 2:37 pm Permalink

    So excrutiatingly bad I can’t find the words.

  2. Doubleclick 7 July 2010 at 1:47 pm Permalink

    The extra piece of stupidity here is that, on top of all this, Duran Duran were clearly attempting to be the Red Hot Chili Peppers

  3. Dutchman 13 January 2011 at 10:48 pm Permalink

    You forgot ‘walk this way’ from by Aerosmith and RUN-DMC.
    Sugarbabes and Girl Aloud did there version…..

  4. Inversion table 18 February 2011 at 11:48 am Permalink

    I agree with David it’s too bad I think many of peoples didn’t like it!

  5. EScaf 2 February 2012 at 11:04 am Permalink

    hi!!!

  6. chris 13 February 2012 at 12:11 am Permalink

    Excuse me, but “a soppy 1980′s quasi-boyband”? you don’t know what you are talking about, boy.

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  9. Public Enemy Suck 29 December 2012 at 3:32 am Permalink

    Gifted? Err,they’re rappers.It’s speaking crap poetry over a sampled/stolen beat.

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