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This was the band's breakthrough hit in the US. It's success originated from MTV, which had only just come on air, showing their video of the band in the Sri Lanka jungle (they also shot the clips for "Lonely in Your Nightmare" and "Save a Prayer" on this trip). It was an early sensation particularly in the Deep South where the channel was being trialled. In a pre-MTV world where Duran Duran could be heard but not seen, it is unlikely that they would have broken through in America.
Duran Duran were asked in an interview with Q magazine (February 2008) for their memories of the video. Drummer Roger Taylor recalled: "We'd go to Alabama or Texas and the girls would be screaming and the guys in cowboy hats would be looking at us with clenched fists. I don't suppose they'd seen so many guys in make-up pouting before." Singer Simon Le Bon added: "It worked for us though. Video made it possible to create a cult of personality across the globe. You arrive on a tour bus and they'd already seen us on a yacht in a video."
In 1982, new synthesizers and sequencers were coming on the market that changed the landscape of Pop music, as groups like The Eurythmics and The Human League coaxed new sounds out of them. Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor was able to take advantage of the technology on this song, creating the distinctive track by linking a Roland 808 drum machine with a sequencer and a Roland Jupiter 8 keyboard. In an interview with Blender magazine, guitarist Taylor explained that the track "came from fiddling with the new technology that was starting to come in."
According to the band's Blender interview, lead singer Simon Le Bon's lyrics were inspired by the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, which features the Big Bad Wolf.
The first Grammy Award for Best Short Form Video was given at the 1984 ceremony, and it was given to Duran Duran as a joint award for "Hungry Like The Wolf" together with "Girls On Film
The video was loosely based on the movie Apocalypse Now, with the rest of the band searching for Simon Le Bon in an exotic locale. It was shot in the Sri Lanka city of Galle, with scenes of Simon running through a market. The night before the shoot, Le Bon went to a stylist to get blond highlights in his hair, but she botched the job and his hair turned orange. That's why he's wearing a hat in the video.
The outfit bassist John Taylor wore in the video was used as the basis for styling the character Sonny Crockett, played by Don Johnson on 1980s TV show Miami Vice.
The band's girlfriends contributed makeup that helped shape their look, and keyboard player Nick Rhodes' girlfriend appeared on this song, providing the laugh at the beginning and the moaning at the end, possibly the sounds of the wolf sating his hunger.
Speaking with the A.V.Club
in a 2012 interview, John Taylor said the song was "written very
quickly." He recalled: "It was a Saturday afternoon, we were in EMI's demo studio, a studio they had up in Manchester Square HQ, and I think Nick [Rhodes] and Andy [Taylor] were kind of messing around. Andy had the riff, Nick developed this sequence, Simon had a thing, Roger [Taylor] came in and played 'cause he'd just bought some Simmons drums, so that was where he got those big fills from. I came in, and they'd been working for maybe two hours, and I just knew exactly what to play. The song was probably written by cocktail hour. [Laughs.]"