Girls on Film

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This article is about the single by Duran Duran. For the book, see Girls on Film (novel).
"Girls on Film"
Single by Duran Duran
from the album Duran Duran
B-side "Faster than Light"
Released 13 July 1981
Format 7", 12"
Recorded Red Bus Studios, London December 1980 (1980-12)
Genre New wave,[1]synthpop[2] dance-rock
Length 3:27
Label EMI, CapitolEMI 5206
Writer(s) Duran Duran
Producer(s) Colin Thurston
Duran Duran singles chronology
"Careless Memories"
(1981)
"Girls on Film"
(1981)
"My Own Way"
(1981)
Duran Duran track listing
"Girls on Film"
(1)
"Planet Earth"
(2)
Arena track listing
"Careless Memories"
(10)
"Girls on Film"
(11)
"Rio"
(12)
Greatest track listing
"Hungry Like the Wolf
(7)
"Girls on Film"
(8)
"Planet Earth"
(9)
Music video
"Girls on Film" Video on YouTube

"Girls on Film" is the third single by Duran Duran, released on 13 July 1981.

The single became Duran Duran's Top 10 breakthrough in the UK Singles Chart, peaking at Number 5 in July 1981. The band personally selected the song for release following the failure of its predecessor, "Careless Memories", which had been chosen by their record company, EMI. Its popularity provided a major boost to sales of the band's eponymous debut album, Duran Duran, which had been released a month earlier.

The song did not chart in the United States on its initial release, but it became popular and widely known after receiving heavy airplay on MTV when the Duran Duran album was re-issued in 1983.

About the song[edit]

"Girls on Film" was originally written by Andy Wickett, one of Duran Duran's previous singers before Simon Le Bon. The original demo of the song has a very peculiar sound that differs somewhat from the final album version recorded in 1981. However, Wickett's version of the chorus remained, with very little change having been made to that part of the song's composition. When Wickett left the band, Duran Duran bought the song from him for £600 and made him sign a waiver removing his rights to the song.[3]

The song begins with a recording of the rapid whirring of a motor drive on a camera. Both manager Paul Berrow and photographer Andy Earl claim to have supplied the camera for the recording.

Over the years, "Girls on Film" has become a staple of the encores for Duran Duran's live performances and is often the final song of a concert, during which lead singer Simon Le Bon introduces the rest of the band.

The song, along with "Rio", was originally omitted from the 1984 live album Arena to make room for newer and less familiar album material from 1983's Seven and the Ragged Tiger. Both tracks were included as bonus material in the 2004 CD reissue of Arena.

Music video[edit]

The song fared well on the radio and the charts before the video was filmed, but the controversy that ensued helped to keep the band in the public eye and the song on the charts for many weeks.

The video was made with directing duo Godley & Creme at Shepperton Studios in July 1981. It was filmed just weeks before MTV was launched in the United States and before anyone knew what an impact the music channel would have on the industry. The band expected the "Girls on Film" video to be played in the newer nightclubs that had video screens, or on pay-TV channels like the Playboy Channel. The raunchy video created an uproar, and it was consequently banned by the BBC and heavily edited for its original run on MTV; the band unabashedly enjoyed and capitalised on the controversy.

A Video 45 for "Girls on Film" and "Hungry Like the Wolf" was released in the United States in March 1983. The VHS-format tape contains the MTV-friendly "day version" of "Girls on Film", while the Betamax format contains the uncensored "night version". The Video 45 won the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 1984, the first year the Academy gave that award. The uncensored video was also included in the Duran Duran video album (1983) and the Greatest video collection (released on VHS in 1999, and on DVD in 2004). The edited version would later be used in the 2008 karaoke video game SingStar Pop Vol. 2.

Simon Le Bon commented in the audio interview on the Greatest DVD collection that the scandal of the music video overshadowed the song's message of fashion model exploitation.

Summary of the uncensored full-length music video[edit]

The band performs on an elevated stage behind a models' catwalk, which resembles a boxing ring, as various scantily clad women act out a series of erotic vignettes. A number of these scenarios feature mild depictions of BDSM, sexual fetishism and fantasy and recurring themes of seduction and abandonment:

  • Two models in lacy black teddies mount the catwalk carrying pillows. They straddle a feather-covered post at either end and move toward the centre, sliding their crotches along the horizontal candy-striped shaft in a slow and suggestive manner. The models proceed to have a pillow fight. Upon finishing, they kiss and return to their dressing room and pour champagne on each other's cleavage.
The Sumo wrestling match from "Girls on Film".
  • A petite female Sumo wrestler with her hair flared up in a tall tophawk ponytail mounts the catwalk to confront a lumbering, heavyset male Sumo wrestler. The woman is wearing a sheer top and a mawashi loincloth. In the confrontational tachi-ai stance, she seizes her opponent by the shoulder and flips him forward head-over-heels. He somersaults and lands on his backside with a thud and she gives the ceremonial rei salutation (i.e., a bow) and walks away victorious.
  • A masseuse in a white nurse's uniform with white garter suspenders and sheer white stockings administers a full-body hot-oil massage to a man on a steam-bath table. She later walks away leaving the man unconscious.
  • A woman in a cowgirl costume rides on the back of a muscular, G-string-wearing, black model who is fetishistically costumed as an equine. She later soaps his semi-nude body with a wet sponge and then leads him on a leash while he cavorts behind her.
  • A model wearing a one-piece swimsuit and high-heels struts and poses on the catwalk before falling backwards into a child's inflatable plastic wading pool and collapsing. She is "rescued" and revived by a male lifeguard. She responds by embracing and kissing the lifeguard so intensely that he becomes unconscious from exhaustion and is left in the pool while she walks away. The model is later seen reclining on a chair, nude, drying herself with an electric blow dryer before rubbing ice cubes on her nipples in closeup.
  • A brunette model removes her fur coat to reveal her breasts and skintight see-through plastic knickers underneath. She mud-wrestles with a blonde woman wearing a one-piece swimsuit. The blonde woman loses and is left behind in the mud, while the brunette woman is attended by a male assistant who sprays the mud off her body with a water hose.

B-sides, bonus tracks and remixes[edit]

The b-side of the single was another song initially unavailable anywhere else, a synthesiser-heavy dance track called "Faster Than Light".

The extended night version of "Girls on Film", similar to "Planet Earth" wasn't a remix, but a completely new arrangement of the song. This was mainly due to technology constraints in 1981.

There are two slightly different mixes of the Night Version, one clocking in at 5:45, the other at 5:27. The video version clocks in at 6:19.

In 1998, EMI released Girls on Film – The Remixes, featuring a swathe of newly commissioned re-constructions of the song by notable remixers like Tall Paul and Tin Tin Out. A couple of these mixes were included on the 1998 UK release of the single "Electric Barbarella".

Covers, samples, & media references[edit]

Cover versions of "Girls on Film" have been recorded by Björn Again, Wesley Willis Fiasco, The Living End, Girls Aloud, Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers, Billy Preston, Kevin Max, La Ley, Midnight Oil and Nathan Stack[4]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1981) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart 5
Australian Singles Chart 11
Swedish Singles Chart 15
Irish Singles Chart 16
Chart (1999) Peak
position
US Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs 24


Track listing[edit]

Release information pertains to UK release only (unless otherwise noted)

7": EMI / EMI 5206 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Girls on Film" – 3:27
  2. "Faster than Light" – 4:26

12": EMI / 12 EMI 5206 (UK)[edit]

  1. "Girls on Film (Night Version)" – 5:27
  2. "Girls on Film" – 3:27
  3. "Faster than Light" – 4:26

12": EMI / 062-20 0717 6 (Greece)[edit]

  1. "Girls on Film (Night Version)" – 5:45
  2. "Girls on Film (Instrumental)" – 5:41
  3. "Faster than Light" – 4:26
  • limited edition Greek release

CD: Part of "Singles Box Set 1981–1985" boxset[edit]

  1. "Girls on Film" – 3:27
  2. "Faster than Light" – 4:26
  3. "Girls on Film (Night Version)" – 5:27

CD: The Remixes (US)[edit]

  1. "Girls on Film" (Tin Tin Out Mix) – 6:55
  2. "Girls on Film" (Salt Tank Mix) – 6:29
  3. "Girls on Film" (16 Millimetre Mix) – 7:28
  4. "Girls on Film" (Tall Paul Mix 1) – 8:28
  5. "Girls on Film" (Night Version) – 5:31
  6. "Girls on Film" (8 Millimetre Mix) – 5:47
  • Released 1999

12": The Remixes (US)[edit]

  1. "Girls on Film" (Tin Tin Out Mix) – 6:55
  2. "Girls on Film" (Salt Tank Mix) – 6:29
  3. "Girls on Film" (Tall Paul Mix 1) – 8:28
  4. "Girls on Film" (8 Millimetre Mix) – 5:47
  • Released 1999

Other appearances[edit]

Apart from the single, "Girls on Film" has also appeared on:

EPs

  • Nite Romantics (1981, Japan)
  • Night Versions (1982, Australia)
  • Carnival (1982, worldwide)
  • DMM Mega-Mixes (1983, Germany)

Albums:

Singles:

Personnel[edit]

Duran Duran are:

Also credited:

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/song/girls-on-film-mt0026909796
  2. ^ People Weekly, Vol. 62. Time, Incorporated. 2004.  "But the big-haired lineup that gave us such '80s synth-pop hits as "Girls on Film," "Hungry Like the Wolf" and "Rio" has reunited for Astronaut, which finds the group taking creative flight again."
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ [2][dead link]

External links[edit]