December 1992: Duran Duran Launch Comeback for the Ages with ORDINARY WORLD
For a band so inextricably tied to the 1980s, New Wave icons Duran Duran scored one of its biggest and most memorable hits amidst the chaotic rise of grunge and gangster rap with 1992 hit, "Ordinary World." The song was the lead single from the group's seventh studio effort, which is officially self-titled, but beter known as The Wedding Album, due to the cover art featuring wedding photos of the band member's parents tying the knot over the years.
The origins of "Ordinary World" were the results of tragedy: the death of singer Simon Le Bon's good friend, David Miles, of a drug overdose in 1986. “I’m not a big believer in the supernatural, but six years after [my friend’s death], I started to feel a weight inside me," Le Bon told Paste in 2017. "‘Ordinary World’ was the act of letting that go."
With Duran Duran circa 1992 featuring former Frank Zappa and Missing Persons guitarist Warren Cuccurullo as a full-time member, "Ordinary World" found the band displaying a much more mature and universal sound than the band's well-known hits of the 1980s. With a memorable guitar melody from Cuccurullo and possibly Le Bon's finest studio vocal performance, the track struck a chord with fans old and new alike. The song's wide-reaching sentiment was reflective of its mood.
“We wrote ‘Ordinary World’ while the first Gulf War was on,” Le Bon recalled. “The lines, ‘Papers in the roadside tell of suffering and greed/ feared today, forgot tomorrow / Here beside the news of holy war and holy need / ours is just a little sorrowed talk’ put everything in perspective. It makes you realize that a story about two people is just a tiny part of this huge story which is called humanity. This was true in 1992, and I think it’s still true.”
Duran Duran's label wanted to test the waters for the tune, leaking "Ordinary World" to a radio station in Jacksonville, Florida, towards the end of 1992. When spins ignited radio station phone lines with listeners positively responding to the song, it was rush-released to hit stores in December of that year.
While some industry pundits had declared Duran Duran "over" after the band's 1990 LP, Liberty, stiffed on the charts, "Ordinary World" proved them more than wrong. Debuting at #67 for the week of January 9, 1993, the track rocketed up the chart, eventually peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of February 20, 1993. It took a pair of monster hits to block "Ordinary World" from the top spot: Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" at #1, and Peabo Bryson with "A Whole New World (Aladdin's Theme)" at #2.
FUN FACT: "Ordinary World" was the second in a trilogy of songs inspired by Le Bon's friend Miles David. The first was "Do You Believe in Shame?" from 1988 album Big Thing, with the third tune of the trio being "Out of My Mind," which is found on The Saint soundtrack as well as Duran Duran's own Medazzaland (1997).