Released today in 1981: Girls On Film

EMI EMI5206

EMI EMI5206

A week before the release of Girls On Film, former Duran Duran collaborator Andy Wickett signed an agreement waiving his right to royalties for his contributions to songs the band had written before they joined EMI records:

“I acknowledge receipt from you of the sum of £600.00 and in consideration of such payment I hereby confirm that I have no interest as a writer in any of the musical works and compositions by the musicians now presently professionally known together as “DURAN DURAN” or by any of them. I warrant that this waiver will bind any third party or successor in title who may hereafter claim on my behalf any interest in any of the said musical works and compositions and I agree to indemnify you against any claims which you may receive contrary to this waiver from any such third party.”

According to Wickett’s website, in 1979 while working a night shift at Cadbury Bournville he wrote the melody for the song’s chorus and found the lyric, “girls in film they look better, girls in film always smile” in a book he was leafing through to pass the time. When he tried out his new ideas with the group the next day, John Taylor suggested ‘girls on film’ sounded better lyrically, and soon the rest of the music and lyrics were completed. The song was chosen as one of the tracks to be recorded as a demo for the band to take round to record companies, with Wickett singing lead. Although there was interest from a couple of major labels, Wickett decided to leave and shortly afterwards, the line-up that appeared on the first Duran Duran album was finalized and they signed with EMI.

Upped from £200.00, Wickett’s waiver agreement might have seemed smart money at the time. Although the group’s debut single had been a substantial hit, the follow-up had limped to a lowly position in the Top 40 and the reviews for Girls On Film were not encouraging. “This is so numbingly inadequate it could make you squeal with irritation,” said New Musical Express. At Smash Hits, the verdict was: “The first five minutes are the worst. [Ha-bloody-ha. The song is three-and-a-half minutes long; the 12” version clocks in at 5:31] After that it goes into a bit of a decline, with a disco beat, jazz-funk implications and echo in all the right places. My toes didn’t tap once. I could go on like this for hours. They do.”

America agreed with the line both the reviewers above took: when the single was released there in November 1981 it flopped, despite the launch of MTV a few months earlier and the availability of an outrageously sexist soft-porn Godley & Creme promotional clip for the song, the content of which rather defeated the apparent subject of the song’s lyrics (to wit, the exploitation of women in film and modelling). The clip is often credited as helping to boost the single’s fortunes, but there’s little evidence for this given America’s lack of interest and that even in the UK, it received little airtime despite a tamer edited version being prepared. The controversy it stirred up did provide column inches in the press though, and this might have helped it on its way to becoming Duran Duran’s first Top 10 hit.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Jul. 13
1981
DURAN DURAN Girls On Film (EMI EMI5206)
1984
The COLOURFIELD (Terry Hall) Take (Chrysalis COLF2)
1987
Samantha FOX I Surrender (To The Spirit Of The Night) (Jive FOXY6)
SINITTA Toy Boy (Fanfare FAN12)
WET WET WET Sweet Little Mystery (Precious Organization JEWEL4)
Pete WYLIE If I Love You (Siren SRN54)

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One thought on “Released today in 1981: Girls On Film

  1. This article on the Girls on film song is great … I never knew that about Wickett. Though recall the critical disdain at the time about the song – and the band

    Like

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