Monday, July 27th, 2015

Duran Duran ft. Janelle Monáe & Nile Rodgers – Pressure Off

Surely we’ll pleased to hear from at least one of this lot?


W.B. Swygart: DURAN! DURAN! FUTURE! FUTURE! A harmless wodge of fluff, seemingly written by shuffling some motivational posters about to make a sentence, but the aggressive artificiality of that chorus noise is weirdly endearing. Not sure why they needed to hire Janelle Monáe to fill a role that amounts to “singing a bit quieter than Simon Le Bon,” though.

Natasha Genet Avery: I can totally understand the thought process behind putting the forward-looking-yet-accessibly-retro Monáe on this track. Unfortunately, her feature is a missed opportunity– singing in unison over this trite, weak chorus could have been done by a session musician, and her 16-second breakdown feels like an afterthought. Duran Duran invite us to “step out into the future,” but “Pressure Off” is an unimaginative and dated vision of what the future could look like.

Anthony Easton: Made we wonder about what a Monáe album produced by Rodgers would sound like, because this wedge of inspirational cheese does nothing for any of them. (Or for Duran Duran, but I have less invested.)

Ramzi Awn: Thank goodness for Nile Rodgers, at least somebody’s doing their job. “It’s up to you girl — it’s time to take the pressure off” is a glimmering hook, it’s too bad they didn’t do more with it.

Jessica Doyle: It feels like a first draft, a prelude to fuller meditations to come — Janelle Monáe reaching back to her own experiences as an anonymous audience member lit up by the experience, or Nile Rodgers considering the problem of time passing. As for the hosts, “(Reach Up for the) Sunrise” deserves retroactive credit for being built along similar lines, but meatier.

Alfred Soto: Of course it’s got a groove — that’s why Nile Rodgers’ name is above the credits. After the last couple years he deserves it. Despite several failed comebacks, this time Duran Duran may yet get theirs, but it’ll be in spite of Mark Ronson’s musty production and Janelle Monáe, who sounds blanker than Simon Le Bon.

Micha Cavaseno: At their best, Duran Duran have always been the most playful hybrids of post-Bowie soul-boy strut, yacht rock kosmische, and braindeadedness. In that regard, Rodgers makes perfect sense as a friend to help them give dance modernity another swing after Red Carpet Massacre was incredulously mistaken as a flop. Here, they certainly come off a bit obvious, with the fake crowd noise and dance-edit backing vocals all signs that Nile’s bag of newfound tricks is becoming like when your grandpa discovers a toy that makes funny noises and bugs you with it on Sunday to keep himself amused. As per usual, Simon’s lyrics are incomprehensible babbling in a suit coat, and the hook bears Monáe’s underused ease with straightforward pop. Unfortunately, they decided to transition into a showcasey bridge where the cheapness of those synth strings weighs down what could’ve been a decent return to a Duran Duran we’d love to see, and not that stupid post-“Ordinary World” AOR midlife-crisis bullshit the world keeps loving to foist them into.

Thomas Inskeep: Considering this was produced by Mark Ronson and Nile Rodgers (along with Mr. Hudson and the band themselves), this should sound even more ’80s than their last album (helmed by Ronson on his own), but instead it sounds a bit like Ronson trying too hard to ape a semi-contemporary Rodgers production. tl;dr: this won’t convince any Ronson haters. Simon Le Bon sounds fine. I wish he duetted with Monáe instead of handing her a brief bridge. Roger Taylor’s drums, however, sound superb, deliciously crisp. 

Scott Mildenhall: Amazing how Nile Rodgers is now so regularly deployed as a named credit. They could put it in italics and everything, just for added effect, but it would be unnecessary on a song where, subtly but surely, he is so key. Le Bon and Monáe help by barking a load of genericisms, and it becomes such a joyous occasion that a crowd form spontaneously to support them. It’s not the future, nor the past; for the time it runs, it’s unshakeably of its very own moment.

Brad Shoup: It’s a shame about Simon, but “Pressure Off” gets going only when Monáe’s on the chorus. Part of it is her dynamism, and a lot of it is her youth: Le Bon is such a diminished presence. Had she been in charge, it’s possible Rodgers would have spent a flourish for more than his signature on the back of a check. Duran Duran did uncalled-for drama better than a lot of their superstar peers. They’re just not the ones to deliver it this time.

Reader average: [8.19] (5 votes)

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