Top 10 Blondie Songs
Back in the late ’70s, music was on a collision course of genres that would forever divide charts, playlists and fans. But as this list of the Top 10 Blondie Songs prove, the band seemed oblivious to it all. Or, more accurately, they were well aware that they were crossing lines — they just didn’t care. Blondie came out of New York City’s punk scene, but they were more tuneful (and pop-minded) and less artsy than most of their contemporaries. From the early-’60s girl-group pop they embraced early on through the disco beats that made them stars to the groundbreaking New Wave/hip-hop fusion of “Rapture,” they rarely stayed in one place. So you’ll find a sample platter of sounds on our list of the Top 10 Blondie Songs.
‘The Tide Is High’
Following the massive success of the dance-floor smash “Call Me” (see No. 2 on our list of the Top 10 Blondie Songs), the band mixed things up even more on its fifth album, incorporating everything from rap music to reggae rhythms to disco beats. “The Tide Is High,” a remake of an obscure 1967 song by the Jamaican group the Paragons, was released as the first single and went straight to No. 1.
Blondie’s first two albums were hits in other parts of the world, but not in the U.S., which was slow coming to the punk/New Wave party. So this taste of their third album, Parallel Lines — which turned out to be their U.S. breakthrough — was released as the first single overseas a month before the LP came out. The springy hook and girl-group snap of “Picture This” turned out to be just the start of the album’s treasures.
‘Hanging on the Telephone’
The opening track on Blondie’s third, breakthrough album is the bridge between their scruffier early records and their hit-making period, which was right around the corner. “Hanging on the Telephone” was originally written and performed by the short-lived Los Angeles band the Nerves. Blondie retain the song’s New Wave edge but sharpen the melody. They were starting to get serious.
‘In the Flesh’
Before they were chart-topping pop stars and Debbie Harry became a New Wave icon, Blondie were a scrappy New York City group that sifted ’60s girl-group pop through a punk filter. Along the way, they helped pioneer New Wave, punk’s more pop-friendly (and more open-eared) offshoot. Their debut single, “X Offender,” is a tougher cut, but its follow-up, “In the Flesh,” is more daring — a gently swaying slab of girl-group doo-wop that pointed the way toward Blondie’s restless future.
Debbie Harry has admitted that “Atomic” was written with the global hit “Heart of Glass” (see No. 1 on our list of the Top 10 Blondie Songs) in mind. But somehow spaghetti-western guitar got added to the New Wave and disco mix, and the song turned out way more futuristic and foreboding than planned. A cool fusion of the band’s many styles.
Blondie’s fifth album is kind of a mess. After finding success outside of their punk and New Wave circle with a pair of disco hits, they decided to go all in on Autoamerican, incorporating everything from jazz and blues to island music and hip-hop and seeing what sticks. The album’s first single, “The Tide Is High” (see No. 10 on our list of the Top 10 Blondie Songs), reached No. 1. So did the follow-up “Rapture,” the first song featuring a rap to top the chart. “Rapture” proves that Blondie, even when they were stumbling (Debbie Harry’s flow isn’t the smoothest), they were more adventurous than just about any other group of the era.
The year after they scored the first of their four No. 1 hits, Blondie returned with their greatest blast of pure power pop. Taking a cue from Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, “Dreaming” wraps everything Blondie did so well — girl-group bounce, big pop hook, the meshing of styles and eras — in the thickest battalion of drums and backing vocals they ever recorded. It stalled at No. 27, but it should have gone Top 10.
‘One Way or Another’
Few fans will dispute Parallel Lines‘ status as the band’s best album (four of its tracks make our list of the Top 10 Blondie Songs). It may not be their most diverse LP, but it’s close. “Heart of Glass” was the big pop and dance-floor hit, but “One Way or Another” — a tale of obsessive love co-written by Debbie Harry about an ex who was stalking her — is the album’s toughest cut. From the opening stabbing guitar riff to the song’s wailing, chaotic finale, “One Way or Another” is the sound of a great band earning its rep.
Superstar disco producer Giorgio Moroder originally wanted Stevie Nicks to help write and record the theme song from the grimy male-prostitute movie ‘American Gigolo.’ Luckily, Debbie Harry and Blondie stepped in (Nicks was busy preparing her debut solo album) and checked out with the biggest hit of their career: “Call Me” stayed at No. 1 for six weeks. It came out just as disco was retreating back to the dance clubs. Blondie’s New Wave spin on the genre was just what it needed.
‘Heart of Glass’
Before “Heart of Glass,” Blondie were a cult band with a punk pedigree. After “Heart of Glass,” they were one of the biggest groups in the world. Retaining part of their punk edge, spliced with disco for the first time (most members were fans of the music), Blondie married a glorious synth riff to an irresistible dance-floor beat. “Heart of Glass” set up their career, but more importantly, it proved that great music crossed genres and was blind to restraints.