Classic Summer Tunes: Duran Duran – Rio (1982)


Duran Duran‘s ‘Rio’ can be interpreted in two different ways. The iconic lyric of ‘Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand’ portrays the Eponymous figure as a woman, soaking up the sun on a sandy beach in a far-off destination. Yet, later on in the same chorus, frontman Simon Le Bon croons ‘Oh Rio, Rio, dance across the Rio Grande’. The Rio Grande itself is a river flowing between Colorado, USA and Mexico, and the name Rio in itself conjures images of Brazil’s second most populated city, Rio de Janeiro. Although it is unclear whether Duran Duran named the song after the city or the river, or if it really is just about a particular woman named Rio, it is undeniable that the name evokes all kinds of Summer images.

Whilst Le Bon’s lyrics give us ‘birds of paradise’, ‘cherry ice cream smiles’, and ‘a pretty view’, Andy Taylor’s guitar riffs are drenched with sunshine and wanderlust, making us want to hop on a plane to the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro itself. In Nick Rhodes’ use of synthesizers and beats on the backing track, there is a distinct sense of the ocean, its chimes are almost akin to the splash of taking a dip in the big blue.

If the song itself wasn’t enough to put you in the Summer mood, the music video certainly will, with the five band members dressed sharply in colourful Antony Price suits, lazing around a yacht, drinking cocktails underwater, and miming the saxophone at the top of a cliff. If you ignore the obvious sunburn some of the band members have, it paints an idyllic picture of a beach holiday abroad; full of fun, gorgeous landscapes, and cloudless, blue skies. Sure, ‘Rio’ may not really be named after Rio de Janeiro, but it certainly gives you the feeling of having the Brazilian sunshine on your back as you walk across the sand to the ocean.


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In the top 0.01% of Duran Duran listeners on Spotify in 2020. Also Records Editor for 2022/2023.

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