Blondie's 15 greatest songs, ranked

5 July 2021, 11:52

Blondie
Blondie. Picture: Getty

By Mayer Nissim

Straddling punk, new wave, disco, rock, pop, reggae and even rap, Blondie are the ultimate crossover band, with a back catalogue packed with catchy hits.

Formed in the mid 1970s in the punky soup of New York City's music scene, Blondie became one of the most successful and well-loved groups of the time.

They released six albums before calling it a day in 1982, but reformed in 1997 with the massive No Exit and have been releasing new music ever since.

Blondie in 1977
Blondie in 1977. Picture: Getty

They're due to tour the UK this November in a double-header Against The Odds tour alongside Garbage, so it's a great time to remind yourself of their back catalogue.

As well as some of their more recent hits, Blondie's first run of singles are among the catchiest in pop history, and we've picked just 15 to get you in the mood.

  1. (I'm Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear

    Inexplicably not a single in the US, '(I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear' stormed into the UK top ten as the second single from second album Plastic Letters.

    Written by Gary Valentine, who quit the band before it was even released, it was about his supposed telepathic link with his then-girlfriend Lisa Jane Persky.

  2. Fun

    While Blondie's post-comeback music doesn't quite touch their greatest work, there are still plenty of great tunes on their albums after their comeback.

    'A Rose By Any Name' featuring Beth Ditto from Ghosts of Download just missed this list, but we couldn't leave off this highlight from the band's last album Pollinator.

    Co-written with Dave Sitek from TV On The Radio, its electronic-powered bounce made it the band's biggest single since 'Maria'.

  3. Dreaming

    Chris Stein and Debbie Harry were inspired by ABBA's 'Dancing Queen' for this swooning opener and lead single for the band's fourth album Eat to the Beat.

    It only scraped the top 30 in the US but went all the way to number 2 in the UK and remains on their setlist to this day.

  4. Picture This

    A love song from Debbie to Chris, 'Picture This' was one of the many, many singles from Blondie's masterpiece Parallel Lines.

    A gorgeously understated track, it flits between tender romance (All I want is a photo in my wallet/ A small remembrance of something more solid") and something much more steamy ("I will give you my finest hour / The one I spent watching you shower").

  5. X Offender

    Blondie's very first single was a co-write from Debbie Harry and the blink-and-you'll-miss-him Gary Valentine, and it's finished lyrics are about a sex worker who falls for the policeman who arrests her.

    Originally titled 'Sex Offender', their then-label Private Stock insisted they change the title for obvious reasons.

    The single and the band's debut Blondie album flopped, but were heard by the people at Chrysalis who picked up the band and re-relased it.

  6. The Tide is High

    Originally written by John Holt and released by his Jamaican ska band The Paragons in 1967, the song was known in Jamaica and the UK, but it was Blondie's reggae-ified version from 1980 that took it supernova.

    The single went to number one in both the UK and US, leading the hit-and-miss Autoamerican album.

  7. Denis

    Another cover, 'Denis' went top ten when the original (spelled 'Denise') written by Neil Levenson was released by Randy & the Rainbows in 1963.

    Blondie's 1978 version featured on Plastic Letters and was a hit all over the world, including the UK where it went to #2. Somehow it didn't chart in the US, though.

  8. Union City Blue

    Inspired by Debbie's appearance in Mark Reichert's 1980 movie Union City, 'Union City Blue' was written by Harry with bass player Nigel Harrison and was released as a single in the UK with a video shot by prolific pop video producer David Mallett.

    Waves of guitars and keyboards and Debbie's soaring vocals add up to make 'Union City Blue' of Blondies most powerful and poppy power pop moments.

  9. Maria

    Blondie have been reformed for 24 years now. That compares to the 8 years of their original run and 15 they spent split up. It's been one hell of a successful comeback, and it all started with one of THE great comeback singles.

    'Maria' sounded both like classic Blondie and completely of-the-moment when it was released. Jimmy Destri wrote the song, which rightly went all the way to number one in the UK and had a music video from an uncredited Roman Coppola to help it on its way.

  10. One Way or Another

    A catchy, aggressive pop-punk classic, Debbie wrote 'One Way Or Another' about being the victim of a real-life stalker, taking the not-too-pleasant incident that made her leave New Jersey and shaking it off with pure energy.

    One of their most-loved songs and a consistent live favourite of the band, it was one of the many, many international singles from their 1978 album Parallel Lines.

  11. Heart of Glass

    'Heart of Glass' had been bouncing around in Blondie's plans for years and years before it was eventually perfected.

    Called 'Once I Had a Love' back in 1974 and 1975, the band informally called it 'The Disco Song', though they also tried it as a pop ballad and even reggae track.

    Eventually, Blondie and Producer Mike Chapman went full Euro disco and the band did more than their bit to straddle the tempestuous rock/disco divide.

    It went to number one in the US and UK (despite radio stations insisting on editing out the "pain in the ass" lyric), and is one of the biggest selling singles in pop history.

  12. Atomic

    Blondie were apparently trying to "do another 'Heart of Glass'" but actually out-did it with 'Atomic'.

    The suitably explosive 1980 single was featured in a slightly different album mix on the previous year's Eat to the Beat and was later covered by Sleeper for the Trainspotting soundtrack.

  13. Rapture

    Written by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, 'Rapture' is maybe Blondie's most divisive, Marmite song.

    The second single from 1980's Autoamerican, it's a fusion of pop, new wave and rap that is way more authentic and convincing than many people give it credit for.

    It was also the first song featuring rapping to top the US charts. What's more, its video was also the first rap video on MTV, and featured Zeitgeist-throttling cameos from Fab Five Freddy, Jean-Michel Basquiat and graffiti artist Lee QuiƱones.

  14. Call Me

    After dabbling with Disco, it made sense for Blondie to hook up with Disco King Giorgio Moroder.

    Debbie and Giorgio wrote 'Call Me' together and it featured on Paul Schrader's 1980 thriller American Gigolo, with Debbie writing the lyrics from the perspective of a male sex worker (basically Richard Gere's character in the movie).

    Recording issues meant that it was actually sessions musicians (including 'Axel F' maestro Harold Faltermeyer) who did the instrumental backing, but it's still very much credited as a Blondie song, and they're more than capable of playing it live, too.

  15. Hanging on the Telephone

    Despite all the excellent songs written by members of Blondie over the years, their very best song is actually a cover.

    Originally written by Jack Lee and recorded by his short-lived punky power pop group The Nerves, 'Hanging on The Telephone' was one of the four songs ever released by the band in their lifetime, featuring on their self-titled debut EP in 1976.

    Blondie picked up the song a couple of years later, and although it's almost a note-for-note cover, it somehow sounds it was always their song. It opened Parallel Lines and set the tone for one of the best ever albums.

    Jack Lee was happy enough for the band to record it too, it seems, as he gave them 'Will Anything Happen' for the UK flip, which also appeared on the album.

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