THIRTY YEARS AGO IN THE MEDIUM: Blondie finds its own niche


Blondie produces a brand of New Wave sound touched by the subtle presence of disco chic that has firmly implanted the group into the mainstream. Certainly the group has evolved, and refined its style since its inception. Several years ago they played at Seneca College as the back-up for Iggy Pop, who at the time was touring with David Bowie as his keyboard player. Blondie put on a performance that nearly stole the show. With Deborah Harry dressed sixties-ish complete with knee high white vinyl boots singing such golden tunes as MacArthur Park and Red Rubber Ball, the performance was devastatingly pure power-pop. This style has practically been abandoned by the group to the extent that they have lost their cult following in favour of a wider audience.

However in this instance the resulting package is a far superior product. The early Blondie was crude—relying on volume and inertia for their initial success. Realizing they were riding on the crest of a wave of success, Blondie dropped some of its weaker members and opted for a more distinct and unique sound.

The most consistent member of Blondie is Deborah Harry. Rather than being strikingly beautiful, she is sensual. Her turned down lips and impish qualities along with her penetrating eyes have immediate appeal. Rather than being blatant and overt, her sexuality is enigmatic. At age 32, going on 16, she epitomizes the older woman fantasy to many younger men. Her singing is driving and concise. To many people, she is Blondie.

To Deborah Harry, as many a floundering interviewer has found, to call her Blondie is a profound insult. Yet the group remains shrouded within her mystique and privacy that excuses such faux pas. After appearing on the famed cover of the Rolling Stone, the group were so enraged by the article written about them that they completely denounced the magazine for an autocratic, self-motivated attitude. Not an unreasonable judgement.

With the immense success of Parallel Lines, the group has been thrust into the limelight. Although there has been an obviously premeditated attempt to popularize their music, Blondie cannot be accused of the same calculating homogenized product as the Knack. In fact, the success of Parallel Lines commercially was a surprise to the group. But with such singles as Heart of Glass and One Way or Another, Blondie uniquely captures the applause of an extremely wide audience.