Ever since the dawn of MTV and Friday Night Videos, the music video has significantly impacted musical tastes and pop culture. It might not be as extreme as when the Buggles declared that "Video Killed the Radio Star", but there is no arguing that the music video certainly could make or break a song's popularity. So this regular Flashback Video feature will serve to remember some of the music videos from the great '80s decade that made an impact on me in one way or another.
This issue we will cover "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran. This was the second single released from the band's second studio album, Rio, in May of 1982. "Hungry Like the Wolf" became Duran Duran's big breakthrough in the U.S. thanks much in part to the music video and its heavy rotation on very early MTV and as well as other music video shows. It was re-released as a single in the U.S. in December of 1982 and would peak on the Billboard Hot 100 at #3 in March of 1983. The band became known for their creative and often elaborate music videos while establishing themselves as one of the most popular pop bands of the decade.
Director Russell Mulcahy, who had directed the band's first video "Planet Earth," was brought back to make the music video for "Hungry Like the Wolf" and would direct many of Duran Duran's music videos in the decade. Previous to this, as the artform was evolving into mainstream popularity, Mulcahy had directed other music videos including The Buggles "Video Killed the Radio Star", The Vapors "Turning Japanese", Rod Stewart "Young Turks" and Kim Carnes "Bette Davis Eyes" among many others. For Duran Duran, Mulcahy also directed videos for "Rio", "Is There Something I Should Know?", "The Reflex" and "The Wild Boys" among others. He became one of the most prolific music video directors of the decade also creating The Motels "Only the Lonely", Billy Joel "Allentown", Spandau Ballet "True", Elton John "I'm Still Standing", Elton John "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues", Bonnie Tyler "Total Eclipse of the Heart", Billy Joel "A Matter of Trust", Kenny Loggins "Meet Me Halfway", Def Leppard "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and Billy Joel "We Didn't Start the Fire" in addition to dozens of others. Mulcahy was recognized for his incredible work when he received the Video Vanguard Award at the 1985 MTV Video Music Awards. He later moved on to direct films including 1986's cult favorite Highlander and others in later decades.
Even though both Duran Duran and Mulcahy had done some quality stuff before, it was really the "Hungry Like the Wolf" music video that put them both on the map especially in the U.S. The timing was perfect as MTV was establishing itself. When coming up with the concept, the band had a vision of jungles and exotic women, so one of their managers suggested Sri Lanka, a country he had just visited. The video always reminds me of Raiders of the Lost Ark which had been released in 1981 and that sounds like it was intentional. I loved that movie and recreating that vibe probably helped draw me to liking the "Hungry Like the Wolf" music video at the time.
The storyline reflects the lyrics "I'm on the hunt, I'm after you," with lead singer Simon Le Bon pursuing a tiger-like woman (played by Bermudian model Sheila Ming) through the cafes and marketplace in a city all the way to the rivers and jungle. At the same time, other band members are hunting for Le Bon. Scenes were shot in the Sri Lankan capital city of Colombo including the Pagoda Tea Room, the town of Galle for the marketplace and the hotel bar, plus the Elephant orphanage at Pinnawala as well as the Yala National Park. Telling this type of story during a short form music video just wasn't being done much up to this point, so Duran Duran and Mulcahy were somewhat considered trailblazers in that regard. See for yourself as you watch the music video for "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran...
One interesting note of the fashion chosen for the video resulted when Simon Le Bon went to a stylist the night before the shoot to get blond highlights in his hair, but she botched the job and his hair turned orange. That's really why he's wearing a hat in the video. Another interesting '80s fashion note is that the outfit bassist John Taylor wore in the video (minus the headband I suppose) was reportedly used as the basis for styling the character Sonny Crockett, played by Don Johnson on Miami Vice which debuted in 1984.
In February of 1984, the "Hungry Like the Wolf" video won the first Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video jointly with the band's video for "Girls on Film".
Hope you enjoyed another trip back to the '80s thanks to Flashback Video!