The Wham!-Duran Duran feud

The most common and noticeable graffiti in Iceland in the early to mid eighties was scribblings by teenagers declaring their allegiance to one of two musical groups: Wham! or Duran Duran. Almost every bus stop shelter sported the names of both groups in various colours, sizes, bad handwriting and multiple crossings-out. It was the era of teased mullets and pink legwarmers, huge shoulder pads and Miami Vice, Fame, Footloose and Flashdance (not to mention the first Terminator movie), and the blossoming of the music video.

If you belonged to a Wham! clique you risked expulsion if you so much as suggested that Duran Duran were anything other than the Spawn of Satan, and vice versa. Being a musical omnivore, I liked both. I thought Wham! were cute and I liked to dance to their music, while Duran Duran were cool and I liked to listen to them. Liking both and refusing to say which I liked better was heresy to both factions and didn’t earn me any friends. You were allowed to like other groups, like Culture Club, Adam and the Ants, Kajagoogoo, Spandau Ballet and even Kiss, whichever clique you belonged to, but you had to say you were a Wham! fan or a Duran Duran fan before you would be fully accepted.

Time has now showed which group had more staying power: Duran Duran is still playing while Wham! had a brief life span from 1981 to 1986, and I only hear 2 of their songs on the radio now and then: Wake me up before you go go, and in the Christmas season, Last Christmas; while I regularly hear a number of Duran Duran songs from the same time period, like Girls on film, Planet earth, Hungry like the wolf, Rio and Save a prayer. Duran Duran’s music also seems to have aged better, while Wham! music is usually played as an example of 80s pop and included on nostalgic party albums.

Even now, when people discover you were a teenager in the eighties, one of the things they will ask you is whether you were a Wham! fan or a Duran Duran fan. If it’s Duran Duran, you’re cool, if it was Wham! they look at you with pity and change the subject.