Duran Duran’s beloved ballad Ordinary World came at a critical crossroads for the group, as the fragmentation of the music scene at the end of the 80s and early 90s witnessed a brutal disregard for much that had gone before. With dance and grunge music at the apex of cultural and commercial momentum, there seemed little space for a band now a decade into a career that had seen them transform from new-wave pioneers to New Romantic titans and then, latterly, musical magpies, rifling through different genres as they pleased.
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As in all good stories, there’s a twist…
Ordinary World was written by lead singer Simon Le Bon about his late friend David Miles and struck a chord with some of the political angst of that era. It’s one of those everyman songs with lyrics that anyone can identify with: the acknowledgement of what has been lost paired with a fragile confidence in the ability to step forward. Le Bon’s assured vocal is among his best, and the track, picked as the obvious first single from the 1993 album billed Duran Duran (but largely referred to as “The Wedding Album”), was an immediate hit with critics.
Ordinary World emerged relatively early in sessions for the album, and its razor-sharp melodic hook gave the band confidence that they were on the right track. Guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, who had been drafted in to replace Andy Taylor in 1986 and been elevated to a principal player for Duran Duran’s predecessor, Liberty, played a critical part in the song’s construction. His masterful guitar riff anchored the song somewhere between all-out pop and the melodic rock direction the group followed across the other 12 tracks that would make up their new album, which also included the big hit Come Undone.