Blondie's 10 Greatest Songs: Critic's Picks
On Friday, punk/new wave legends Blondie released their 11th studio album Pollinator (via BMG). Known for bridging punk and disco (and rap, for better or worse), Blondie is a band that’s persisted and also evolved throughout the decades.
That genre-hopping spirit persists on the new set. Pollinator features a stacked list of collaborators, the likes of which you’d scarcely see on another artist’s record. Who (this side of Gorillaz) is bringing together contemporary pop divas Sia and Charli XCX, a British guitar legend in Johnny Marr, and Dev Hynes, a modern-day beacon of New York City cool who makes genre divisions absolutely obsolete? We’re digging the new album (the single “Fun” straight-up echoes 1977), but here, we’re chronicling the epic back-catalog that’s endeared Debbie Harry and company to this multi-generational virtuoso collection.
We ranked Blondie’s 10 best songs, highlighting their four-decade career:
10. “Maria” (from No Exit, 1999)
It was Blondie’s comeback single, their first in more than 15 years. All about desire and lust, and written by keyboard player Jimmy Destri, “Maria” was born out of the band’s re-formation in 1998 after breaking up in 1982, helping them reach a new fanbase along with the one that already existed.
9. “Good Boys” (from The Curse of Blondie, 2003)
Perhaps Blondie’s most overshadowed single, “Good Boys” is dark and haunting with its spooky clown music video, done in silent-film style, and evocative lyrics. An underrated Blondie jam lost in the shuffle of their later career, stuck in a poorly performing album (The Curse of Blondie), one wonders what its success would have been like if it had been released 20 years earlier.
8. “Rip Her to Shreds” (from Blondie, 1976)
From the band’s self-titled debut, this early number is one of Blondie’s most rock ’n’ roll songs, thanks to its twangy guitar. “Rip Her to Shreds,” only released as a single in the U.K., helped propel Blondie into superstar status, paving the way for them to become one of the most influential punk/new wave bands of that era.
7. “The Tide Is High” (from Autoamerican, 1980)
Originally written by John Holt and performed with Jamaican group The Paragons, Blondie’s version of the 1966 song -- which became a No. 1 hit in the U.S. and U.K. -- holds on to the classic island groove, topped with Harry’s playful vocals.
6. “Atomic” (from Eat to the Beat, 1979)
The third single from the band’s platinum album Eat to the Beat, “Atomic” pulled elements of rock, disco and new wave and meshed them into a western-sounding track with a modern twist. Harry’s ever-transcending punk style is highlighted in the music video, where she performs at a post-apocalyptic nightclub in a garbage bag.
5. “One Way or Another” (from Parallel Lines, 1978)
As the ultimate ode to stalker ex-boyfriends -- “one way or another, I’m gonna find you, I’m gonna get ya, get ya, get ya, get ya” -- the song was written about Harry’s ex, who stalked her after their breakup. The lesson to be learned here is that if you stalk a songwriter, they will forever immortalize your evil behavior in a song.
4. “Dreaming” (from Eat to the Beat, 1979)
The feel-good, uplifting vibes of this power pop ballad still hold their influence today: “Dreaming is free,” Harry croons in the chorus of the lead single from Eat to the Beat. That line in particular was written by guitarist Chris Stein, with Harry writing the rest of the track around it.
3. “Call Me” (from the American Gigolo soundtrack, 1980)
It was the top-selling single of 1980 in the U.S. It was also the main theme song of the 1980 film American Gigolo. Produced by legendary disco producer Giorgio Moroder, who also worked with Donna Summer and David Bowie, the track follows his trademark style -- strong beats, powerful vocals and so catchy that it stands the test of time.
2. "Rapture" (from Autoamerican, 1980)
At the tail-end of disco’s exit from pop culture, Blondie kept the dance sound alive and on the charts just a little longer with “Rapture” -- where it stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks. With its trademark funk bass and three-synth bell combination, it’s one of the band’s standout singles. The track is often credited as the first U.S. No. 1 song to include rap.
1. “Heart of Glass” (from Parallel Lines, 1978)
Arguably Blondie’s most recognizable number, “Heart of Glass” is one of the greatest dance songs ever made. With an epic lead-in that tapers off into a funky new wave/disco fusion with a sweeping bass groove, the single spotlights Harry’s vocal range and the band’s eclectic sound. Because of its disco edge, the band was under fire at the time of its release and accused of selling out to the mainstream -- they were considered to be only punk and new wave then.