Blondie were just too punk.
The band that grew out of the late ’70s New York scene surrounding CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City chafed punk hardliners when they first appeared. Their songs were too glitzy, too pop, too disco-indebted and too pretty. But in the true spirit of the movement, Debbie Harry and Co. couldn’t stop to give a sh*t what any scenesters thought. They were too busy smashing together B-movies, ska, disco and the early strains of ’50s-aping punk to let in the opinions of wrongheaded puritans.
Of course, that strong-headedness served them well, eventually landing them massive global hits that sanded down the group’s punk edges but left in Harry’s “who the hell are you?” sneer. Their stubbornness forged a band and a sound so strong that the group was able to stage a comeback more that 20 years after their first album, hitting No. 1 in the UK — who always loved them best — in 1999 with the single “Maria.”
Given that Blondie are looking to do it again with the release of their new album Pollinator, it seemed as good a time as any to revisit the career of the punk icons whose songs were simply too undeniable to be left off of the Top 40 charts. Rather than a top 10, we figured we’d offer a primer on one of the greatest and most unique acts to emerge from the New York punk scene (and just about the only one still doing it).
“In The Sun”
This track from Blondie’s self-titled debut is a perfect example of everything that grated people about the act early on. It also shows exactly what the band were known for in their early days, cherry-picking their favorite aspects of ska, punk and surf music and blending them all together with a helping of kitsch and cheese. Being this willfully goofy might stand to annoy some self-serious types, but “In The Sun” contains its own counterargument by virtue of being great.