Duran Duran cover Bowie’s Five Years

Duran Duran cover David Bowie's Five Years

New music from Duran Duran

On what would have been David Bowie‘s 74th birthday, Duran Duran have recorded a cover of ‘Five Years’, which is of course the first track from David’s 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.

“My life as a teenager was all about David Bowie,” Simon Le Bon said in a statement. “He is the reason why I started writing songs. Part of me still can’t believe in his death five years ago, but maybe that’s because there’s a part of me where he’s still alive and always will be. When we got the Ziggy Stardust LP and put the needle in the groove, our first taste of its perfection was the song ‘Five Years.’ I can’t begin to explain how honored I feel for Duran Duran to be given the opportunity to perform this icon, and to place our name alongside Bowie’s for this commemoration of his music.”

Duran Duran have covered Bowie before. Their version of ‘Fame’ was a bonus track on the 12-inch of their second single, 1981’s ‘Careless Memories’ and they tackled ‘Diamond Dogs’ for the Thank You covers of 1995 (although it only ended up on the Japanese CD edition).

The band will appear at a special streaming event, A Bowie Celebration: Just For One Day, later today. Boy George, Adam Lambert, Michael C. Hall, Mott the Hoople’s Ian Hunter, Trent Reznor, Billy Corgan, and more will also perform. Tickets for the livestream are on sale now. All proceeds will be donated to Save the Children, which Bowie supported with funds from his 50th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden in 1997.

You can listen to Duran Duran’s ‘Five Years’, below. What do you think of it? Leave a comment.

79 responses to Duran Duran cover Bowie’s Five Years

  1. Neil Kelly says:

    Finally got around to checking this out. Seems you can buy on iTunes for 99p and given that i’ve bought some rare Duran stuff on there in the past i will purchase on there. Surely in this day and age though, iTunes could change over to HQ MP3 at 320kbps?

  2. Mark R says:

    I’m a Duran fan but not a fan of this. The vocal is good, especially for a 62 year old, but it’s too high in the mix. The bass is too low and I’m not a fan of the electronic drums (it’s not a drum machine; Roger Taylor has exceptionally good timing). I prefer their cover of “Boys Keep Swinging”. Their cover of “Fame” wasn’t great either.

    Their track record of covering songs is a mixed bag-we all know how their covers album Thank You was slated back in 1995 but it did have some good interpretations (Watching The Detectives, Perfect Day), it’s just that because it Duran, the press hated it. To be honest, Simple Minds released a covers album which was worse. Duran’s cover of Lennon’s Instant Karma (last released track with Andy Taylor on guitar) is very good and far more interesting that the cover U2 did of the song for the same charity album (Darfur?). The aforementioned Boys Keep Swinging was also very good, but yes, there have definitely been a few clunkers. 911 is a Joke was , a joke although I could see they were going for the Beck “Loser” angle with that one. Rebel Rebel was another Bowie cover they did but it only exists as a live recording, and very good it is too.

    I’m looking forward to the new album. It’s been produced by Erol Alkin, who is a fan. He has done some great work with Ride.

  3. Fulvio says:

    Five Years is Bowie at his highest prophetic peak. It describes perfectly the times we’re living. It’s songs like this that made him an absolute icon. And I see Duran Duran’s version as respectful and… timely.

  4. Daniel Christopher says:

    in my judgement, nothing special. I liked Beck’s rendition of Diamond Dogs which was innovative, this one though is very run-of-the-mill

  5. What? Lennon? Worry! says:

    Quite surprised this hasn’t been picked up, Bowie covers Lennon and Dylan, released on 7″

  6. Glenn Bradley says:

    As my son would say, just meh!!

  7. kenneth tilley says:

    i was going to give this a thumbs up, BUT they have changed the lyrics from queer to queen.
    if they want to copy Bowie’s songs at least keep to his lyrics, these things really anger me

  8. Careless Memories says:

    Polished version, great vocal. I would have liked a more prominent bass, Duran tracks are best led by a John Taylor bass line but I can barely hear him on this.

  9. Matthew says:

    Bowie fan, never a DD fan but this is a tribute so it’s fine . Don’t personally like the vocal much and it’s very respectful. I guess if they’d tried something different it would get slated. Hey it’s new.

  10. Michael says:

    Well I am a huge fan of Duran Duran and Bowie is my top idol, but songs like Five Years and Rock and Roll Suicide only work for me in the Ziggy Stardust context. This cover does nothing for me. I might have liked to hear Duran try out some late period Bowie track from the 90s or something. Something with more groove or more of a synth sound that they could take on.

  11. Steve W says:

    It’s never been one of my favourite Bowie songs but it’s an okay version. The vocal is fine to my earsm at least he doesn’t try to ape Bowie.

  12. MelodicMusicIsTheBestMusic says:

    I’m not at all keen on this version or the original to be honest but what I do like and I think is an absolutely brilliant version of “Heroes” is by the Aussie band Icehouse I actually prefer this version to Bowie’s one.

  13. ioannis says:

    Not bad ,not great.something i wont listen second time. Master Bowie was really one of the greatest ever. It s hard to cover his songs ,it is an oddity indeed.

  14. Paul says:

    Too many people have already made their mind up about anything DD as they associate them with the 80’s which I sort of get, I just wish people would be more open minded as this is IMO is an exceptional cover which needs the be listened to a few times to appreciate fully. Now who is excited about the new album then :-)

  15. martin farnworth says:

    Too respectful. Of course the risk is that you can be disrespectful by making something crud- this isn’t that. This is at worst a tasteful karaoke version but not much more than that. There are too many Bowie covers out there. At least do something unexpected in your style or even a song less obvious. When Bowie re did his songs on tour he often changed them himself- that would be in the spirit of the great man.

    • blaahh says:

      Agreed, all of Duran’s Bowie covers are too respectful because they were Duran’s main inspiration and I doubt they would ever wish to tinker too much. Ps, by the way there are far more than four Bowie covers by Duran ;)

  16. Ron says:

    Talk about sucking the life out of a really good track. Yuck.

  17. Helen Wilson says:

    Duran Duran have stood the test of time. So many so called 80’s band live off their old hits , churning them out at 80’s concerts. Duran Duran have always continued to write new music. They have produced fabulous albums that are just over looked and underrated. Without doubt, they are one of the best live acts. Their shows are just joyous. The sound quality amazing. Simon’s voice has got better and better. They have put love and respect into this Bowie cover.
    Too many people judge them on their 80’s image. They are really decent, down to earth , likeable , extremely talentef human beings. Still great looking too!
    Why do some people have to automatically criticise? Listen to their vast back catalogue. So, so many gems.
    Duranie for ever!

  18. Chrispy says:

    I agree that this just sounds like Simon, Nick, some backing singers, and *maybe* that’s JT’s bass playing(?), it’s hard to tell. It’s nice enough, and unlike some who apparently would like to grind axes, I really like Simon’s vocal here. His voice sounds healthy, strong and in good form. I like it enough, though it’s perhaps a little demo-ish sounding. Simon pulls it off well!

  19. Dean says:

    Yikes, are they serious? lol

  20. Jason says:

    Some of the remarks about simons voice and the standard of the recording is a joke they grew up with his music and where massive fans and worked with him and knew him .its not going to be easy for anyone to cover a bowie song .would all the duran duran haters out there like garry barlow to have done it instead get real .

    • Different Time says:

      No one had to do it and no one should have done it. If Duran want to cover Menswear or some of Pulp’s pre Lipgloss songs, then I don’t think people would mind too much. Henry Priestman (Christians) covering something from the plastic soul era would be a much better tribute. Listen to the Blackstar album.

  21. Graham Thomas says:

    Paul I have it on good authority that Simon once hummed Golden Yeas in the bath. You missed that one as well.
    Good cover btw.

  22. Otto says:

    I like it.

  23. Philip McGill says:

    Well done guys, pretty decent effort. I cherish every tribute to the Great Man, and this didn’t disappoint.

  24. Jason says:

    Great cover by a great band who love bowie as we all do .job well done .

  25. Bole says:

    This is great cover, they managed to make it as Duran song

  26. daveid77 says:

    Five Years since Paper Gods
    Five Years and then not a lot
    Five Years one lousy song
    Five Years that’s all we got

  27. Bruno says:

    Very brave to cover this one. Le Bon’s voice is similarly distinctive like Bowie’s but sounds very different – so for me it sounds all wrong on this track. Personally if you are going to cover such a classic where the original is definitive you need to bring something totally new to make the exercise worthwhile. Take Richie Havens cover of Here Comes the Sun. Love it or hate it, this version brings a new angle on a classic song.

    • Fogarrach says:

      Durans 5 years is fine. A bonus track or a b side. It’s a tribute, nice one.

      Duran Duran have a great Distinctive sound and they almost always write originals to their best strengths.

      Bruno hits the nail with Richie havens.

      Listen to Richie’s cover of QUicksilver messenger service’s What About Me?

      I’m not saying it’s better than the original, I’m suggesting that Richie havens is one of the best interpreters of other people’s music in the world.

  28. Joe Mac Pherson says:

    I can Believe Simon Le Bon’s sincerity when he speaks of following David Bowie at an early age.
    In October, 1981, Duran Duran played exactly 2 concert performances in the United States of America. The first was held at Palladium, in New York City. The second was at The Roxy, on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, which was still part of L.A. until 1984. The Roxy holds 500 people, total.
    I was at The Roxy on that special night. I still have my concert ticket. Duran Duran were exceptional, doing a full set. For the encore, one of their selections was a David Bowie song: Fame. I must say, the band did a wonderful interpretation.
    That was October, 1981. All these years later, it’s grand to hear Duran Duran with something new, for 2021. So many years later, they still pay respects to Bowie.
    ** Trivia Time ** Also in October, 1981, just a few blocks away from The Roxy on Sunset Boulevard, I can still recall the amazing marquee for Whiskey A Go Go: New Order, and Simple Minds were headlining. Like The Roxy, the Whiskey has a crowd capacity of 500. Can you imagine that night!?! Amazing!

  29. Different Time says:

    Dedicated Duran fans only. They should perhaps cover Menswear or Pulp. But not Bowie and not Five Years. Listen to the album Blackstar again instead.

  30. Paul Edwards says:

    Some hilarious snobbery on here basing the ‘criticism’ solely on it being DD who did this.

    It’s a very hard song to replicate and whilst it is great if one were to cast an independent ear over the original track you might criticise the echo on the vocal.

    It’s a faithful cover and contains a lot of love. The percussion (until a real drum kicks in later) is the weak part but the keyboards and pianos work well, both complementing each other. The bass stands out in the same place as on the original, it’s only a guitar that is lacking but I think the keyboards have filled that gap.

    Simon’s voice is unique and you either like it or don’t but the suggestion he can’t sing is ridiculous. He does a good job on this.

    It’s a better cover than Boys Keep Swinging.

    • Paul Toszek says:

      Well said you

    • Rod Mas Farquharson says:

      Agree. After eight Bowie covers performed by DD, I guess this is the more mature rendition to the great Duke.
      I will always love the Fame version but this is so respectful of the original, Duran has nothing to prove in 2021. They are part of the music history.

  31. Richard Orchard says:

    great version :)

  32. Kauwgompie says:

    Simon sounds great. It’s tough covering Bowie but Simon does a great job. His voice seems to get better with the years, or maybe he just knows how to better use it. I like this song.

  33. Ernie says:

    Odd choice of song for them to cover, unless it was just the title. There’s plenty of better Bowie songs they could’ve done but I am very impressed by Le Bon’s vocal on this, excellent!!

    His voice got better after he lost it on the AYNIN tour, maybe he looks after it a bit better now & lost some weight & that helped.

  34. SANDY COWAN says:

    Nice tribute.Love Duran. Heartfelt from fans of the Great Man but sure everyone will agree you can’t improve on perfection.SANDY COWAN

  35. StevieT says:

    A very faithful rendition. A couple of years ago I started planning an acoustic Bowie party for this Sunday, to be called “Five Years, a Bowie Celebration”. Looks like i will be commemorating the event by myself now!

  36. Ken says:

    Thought I would point out Neil Diamond and the Beach Boys did RPO Recordings of their back catalogue which were excellent.Midge Ure’s Orchestral reworkings was another really good offering.I also liked the Flock of Seagulls orchestral re-recording of their best tunes too. So that is at least 4 that have merit.So it simply aint true that orchestral re-workings are all bad.Neil Diamond even supervised his own and took it up a notch with some really classy re-sung orchestral versions.Anybody who thinks Neil’s offering was poor has some very bad taste as in my view it was Neil at his very best on that offering.

  37. Olli says:

    Like it or not, of course Simon´s voice isn´t everyones taste. As I do not like Alanis or this Counting Crows´ guy….
    I love Simon le Bon, starting with his name, look, changing hair and – last but not least – voice.

    In my opinion his voice and kind of singing is unique in pop world and everyone hobbying in hearing music knows what I mean.

    I liked lots of songs from the “Thank you” album and this “Five years” is well done, too.
    Looking forward hearing more from DD this year. But please no red carpet massacre II ;-)

  38. 4th cover by dd. They did Boys Keep Swinging in 2014

  39. Jazzmaster says:

    One of my all time fave Bowie songs. Listened to Ziggy Stardust in its entirety yesterday and I think I played Five Years three times before moving on to Soul Love.

    Never been a huge fan of cover versions unless it’s The Byrds covering Dylan but this one is nice. Maybe I am in the minority here but I have always liked Simon’s voice. It seems rather harsh to judge his 62 year old voice with the one he had when he was 20. Unless we are talking about Leonard Cohen, most of them don’t improve with age.

    • Chris Squires says:

      The second best singer Duran ever had.

      Perfect for the pop world as it was 40 years ago and he has certainly grown in to his voice. It’s better than some still treading the boards.

    • Michael McA says:

      Yeah – I played Ziggy yesterday too after hearing DD’s Five Years.
      Then Hunky Dory.
      Bowie was my Rock God but his music never moved me emotionally – unlike say Kate Bush’s.
      Listening to him thrilled me more. Excited and amazed me. Awed me. Humbled me.
      But when he died? Bloody hell. And I’m still crying.
      I sobbed playing Ziggy yesterday.
      He was special. Made us ‘weirdos’ and ‘freaks’ feel special.
      It’s down to Bowie that I stand tall.

  40. Craig Hedges says:

    There is one thing to be grateful for, the Bowie estate hasn’t allowed his vocals to be used on one of those terrible albums with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the past few years…. yet.
    Having said that I would still really like them to strip the 80s instrumentation from Bowie’s 84 cover of Brian Wilson’s God Only Knows and give it a new arrangement, perhaps just string quartet. It’s such a shame his vocal of this song is trapped in such a bland dreary recording.
    Just listening to Duran’s cover, it’s not bad, Simon’s vocal sound fine to me. Who’s actually playing on the track, is it just Nick and Simon? The backing’s quite generic, drums and bass sound programmed. That’s was my main gripe with some of Duran’s recent output, It doesn’t sound like a band playing. Is that Nick playing the piano flourishes?
    So many questions…

  41. blaahh says:

    Somewhat worried by the quality of Simon’s vocal…

  42. G heath says:

    Nice cover guys

  43. Martin says:

    Decent enough cover – Nice one

  44. Peter says:

    This could have been so much better, LeBon vocal is great, however to high in the mix, the music is pants, flat and uninspiring!

  45. Rik says:

    Vocal is great..I’ll just ignore the snobs about this.
    Well done guys

  46. Paul Price says:

    I like it. But I can’t hear Duran Duran on it. Only Simon, backing singers, and a drum machine.

  47. Eldritch Andrew says:

    Happier, better, safer new year to you all.
    I’m a Bowie superfan and this is NOT terrible at all imho.
    What I dislike though, is the changing of the lyrics. I guess soon the words “fat ” or “skinny” or “tall” or “short” will have to be altered as well.
    I wish all the readers that we will be reading this site for many years to come. Be safe .
    And thank you so much Paul.

  48. WayneUK says:

    Shouldn’t be allowed. Can’t stand Duran. Le Bons voice went years ago live. Time they packed it in.

  49. John ob says:

    Never liked duran duran but their original stuff had its place
    But le bons bleatings really have no place on a great song like this

  50. Mark Jensen says:

    Duran Duran have also recorded a version of Boys Keep Swinging, if you are listing all previous Bowie covers by the band.

  51. Tony says:

    One of my favourite tracks off my favourite Bowie album. This, however, is pretty dire.

  52. -SG- says:

    Good cover… Simon sounds great, it’s new but this could have been recorded 30 years ago, that’s a good thing.

  53. Andrew r says:

    Only makes you realise / miss Bowie’s genius
    As a singer and songwriter . Can remember where I was what I was wearing when I heard of his death . Still can’t quite believe it . Never realise what you have had till it’s gone . R. I .P

  54. Ian Ryder says:

    Love Bowie. Dislike Duran. Duran have a dreadful track record with cover versions. And this is awful. No menace and Le Bon just can’t pull off the vocal. Terrible.

    • Michael says:

      As a person who has loved both Bowie and Duran Duran all his life, I do agree that Duran have never been very great with cover takes… but then Bowie also did some pretty dire cover versions, himself… And they each also did a few good ones.

  55. James Giraffe says:

    Hi Paul,

    I just looked and I think tickets for the Bowie event are actually £18.35 and that they will donate $2 to Save The Children for each sale.

    Sounds interesting though.

  56. Andrew R says:

    Great song….one of Bowie’s underrated / missed gems…excellent cover…suits his vocal range and he makes a tremendous effort…great work all round

  57. Mick Lynch says:

    hi paul, is that a typo above regarding the tickets costing €2. happy new year,

  58. garax says:

    Seems pretty creditable to me.

  59. David says:

    It’s no ‘White Lines’, is it?

  60. Paul Fraser says:

    $2 sounds like a great deal, but tickets are actually on sale for £18.35 ($25). $2 goes to charity.

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