Ever since steamy videos for songs like “Girls On Film” and “Rio” captivated early MTV viewers, pop stars from George Michael to Michael Jackson have invited world-famous models to add extra appeal to their shoots.
In the video for the band’s new single “Girl Panic” — the second from their 2010 album ‘All You Need Is Now’ — Duran Duran take the connection one step further by casting five of the world’s most gorgeoius and recognizable women to play the band members themselves: Naomi Campbell takes on Simon LeBon’s vocal duties, Cindy Crawford channels Taylor on bass, Eva Herzigova portrays keyboard player Nick Rhodes, Helena Christensen bangs Roger Taylor’s drums, and Yasmin LeBon steps into the shoes of unofficial Duran guitarist Dominic Brown.
“There’s no way you ask Naomi to be a bass player,” jokes Taylor. “Naomi had to be the singer.”
Shot in “mockumentary” style, the video also called the women to speak in character of their respective roles. “We all have histories together; we came up at the same time. The careers of the girls ran very much parallel to ours, so there wasn’t a great deal of education that had to happen.”
“Girls on Film” (1981)
But bringing five of the world’s most famous models to London’s Savoy Hotel simultaneously proved no easy task. Until the day of the shoot, much of the lineup remained a mystery, until Duran Duran and their team finally pulled enough strings to bring the 9-minute video to fruition.
“(Producer) Mark Ronson felt ‘Girl Panic’ was the song that most captured the band in the early ’80s,” says Taylor. For the music video, Duran Duran sought out Swedish director Jonas Akerlund, whose recent credits include Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera’s “Moves Like Jagger” and Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s 2010 viral epic, “Telephone.”
“Jonas had done a commercial for Dior, using ‘All You Need Is Now.’ So we met him, (keyboardist) Nick Rhodes threw the idea at him, and he loved it. He immediately wanted to do it.”
Without a hefty budget, the band used partnered up with Swarovski Elements and used clever product placement to help cover expenses. Italian designers Dolce & Gabbana furnished the shoot, in addition to making brief cameos. A cover of “Harper’s Bazaar” featuring the models also made a cameo. As part of the deal, the “Girl Panic” video was screened at Harper’s Bazaar annual Women of the Year awards, Nov. 7 in London.
“The video medium is in such a state of flux,” says Taylor. “There was a time when you’d know a video was for a single that was going for radio airplay, or on MTV. It doesn’t feel like any of those platforms are significant at the moment, to us at least.”
Regardless of how the industry has changed since Duran Duran first hit airwaves, there’s one thing they’ve always had on their side: the girls on film.