Tuesday, May 02, 2006

1001 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time - #26 - Rapture by Blondie

Claire: In a genre of music where the participants seem openly reluctant in 2006 to actually say they are a pop act, when they clearly are, constructing the correct pop "lineage" is difficult. Still, when we sat down to do this list, everything more or less began with Blondie, the true (not Queen, ugh) pioneers of the video age - you can play Bohemian Rhapsody until your eyes bleed - Debbie Harry is the starting point of everything to come - a beautiful, blonde super cool presence sweeping the Mitchells and Kings and Smiths of "female strum-rock" into the past. A clear triumph of style of substance it would have been, if Blondie were not also a fantastic, post punk band, mixed to sound like triumphant new wave pop. As video clips became more and more important, Harry was the first modern popstar, the pioneer of a visual age where stars could no longer hide in cardigans and tweed, but had to project an image - Madonna, certainly, owes her a massive debt.

Although this list is concerned with hooks, tunes, glamour and beats rather than legacy or "worthiness", there's little question on this list, Rapture is worthy of it's place for so many reasons, not least because of it's sheer, imposing quality. Languid, mid tempo disco beats that float in mid air, wrapping around Harry's sensual vocal, would be more than enough for a place on this list, a massive, beautiful smashing of new wave pop and disco, but there's much, much more. Mid song, Harry starts rapping - the first major white artist, for better or worse, to openly acknowledge hip-hop culture, complete with name checks of some of the major figures of the day. While now a days that's work a day and cliched, it was an exciting moment that gave hip hop exposure in dance and disco clubs that didn't know or care to play it. All of which sounds like the whole thing is the kind of miserable, credibility seeking music we despise, it's nothing of the sort. Rapture is simply a fantastic song, glacially cool, equal parts dance and beautiful dream scape - no song sounds like it, and yet, it's somehow influenced everything and everyone that's followed it - the very definition of amazing, hallucinogenic dreamy pop - there's even a rock guitar, clanging deep in the mix, kicking down yet another wall.

Harry and Blondie rarely appear on "worthy" lists dominated by dolts like U2 and Bob Dylan, but Rapture's genre smashing brilliance, the glamorous uber cool sweeping of Harry onto a more video orientated era, would render it the most influential pop song we could list. That's its equal parts thrilling and poptastic just adds to the thrill. A truly magnificent slice of pop.

Alyson: I think there's never been a doubt in our head Blondie should be in everyones "best" list, I'd be surprised if even those seeking to thrust a credibility conferring on their band (tool shiner in Pearl Jam holding out a Muddy Waters CD, I'm looking at YOU) would never denied the way Blondie smashed down the walls between punk, pop, and yes, rap. Most influential band of all time? Perhaps, certainly of the modern era, certianly one of the coolest.

For Rapture, significance is secondary to excitement - an orgasm on record to begin with, an exciting musical development in the middle, post coital and dreamy aftewards. Sexy, sensual, but nightmarish and gritty, it's 4 perfect parts of songs mixed together into one - as Claire said, nothing sounds like it, and somehow, everything sounds like it, or at least it's got a copy of it. I'm sure we could talk about the other members of Blondie and musical influences, and producers - but it's Harry at the heart of the Pop beast, a musical magpie clever enough to sweep across the styles with her vocals, but equally clever and sophisticated enough to stay grounded enough to remember to pack a hell of a hook into her music. Not in any way ashamed of being pop, but clever enough to begin the twisting of it's boundaries that some are smart enough to use, and some are dumb enough to claim "isn't pop" - it's their detriment that they will never be fit to walk in front of her graffiti.

An epic in other words.


Blogger Maartel said...

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1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, I completely agree with you on that.

There's way too many fools out there that can't understand.

In fact, I was arguing with my best friend kate yesterday about this, and
they wouldn't admit to me that he was wrong. Now I can just show them this blog :)

11:06 AM  

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