The UK Number Ones Blog Favorite Single: Atomic (Blondie) 1980
Stewart at UK#1s Blog asked his followers which UK #1 song was their favorite. There were so many to choose from but, I am a kid/young teen of the late 70s, early 80s and this was a no-brainer for me. This is, hands down, my favorite Blondie song. Just as a side note, my second choice was Cathy’s Clown by The Everly Brothers.
Released on February 23, 1980, Atomic was the ninth track on side two of the album Eat to the Beat, Blondie’s fourth album, produced by Mike Chapman. Written by Debbie Harry and Jimmy Destri, it was the third single released and the band’s third #1 in the UK Singles Chart. A rock, disco and new wave fusion, Atomic is described as “a cool, electronic enhanced dance number (PDF). Debbie Harry’s laidback vocals blend into the musical wood work.”
‘Atomic‘, which featured King Crimson‘s Robert Fripp on guitar and Ellie Greenwich on backing vocals, was lyrically meaningless and was described in Record Mirror as ‘vapid and irritating…the best thing about this single is the live [cover] version of David Bowie‘s ‘Heroes‘ on the B-side (12″ UK single).’ “Jimmy Destri wrote this song…” Debbie claimed. “He was trying to do something like ‘Heart of Glass‘ and, then, somehow or another, we gave it the spaghetti western treatment. Before that, it was just lying there like a lox. The lyrics, well, a lot of the time, I would write while the band were just playing the song and trying to figure it out. I would just be kind of scatting along with them and I would start going ‘Oooooooh, your hair is beautiful‘.”
1000 UK #1 Hits
Jon Kutner & Spencer Leigh
May 26, 2010
Atomic didn’t do as well in the US. It only made it to #39 on Billboard’s Hot 100, debuting on May 17, 1980 and peaking on July 5, 1980. It may be ‘lyrically meaningless’ but, it is certainly not vapid and irritating. It has a great beat and an energy that is hard to deny. Debbie’s vocals do, indeed, blend well with the ‘musical wood work.’ The single Call Me from American Gigolo had an instrumental version on the B-side and Debbie did some vocal blending with that, too.
The late Gia Carangi was dancing in the video.
Song Saturday: Call Me (Blondie)
Returning to my phone playlist, I submit for your approval on this chilly Saturday night, Blondie‘s Call Me, the theme from the 1980 movie American Gigolo. I was 13 when this film came out and, with its “R” rating, I wasn’t allowed to see it (I caught it on HBO, later, tho…). The drum beat opens the movie as Richard Gere cruises in a black Mercedes. This movie was so bad-ass (to a teenager) and Siskel & Ebert gave it a decent rating but, the rest of the critics panned it. Oh, well. This was the movie that put Gere on my radar (I hadn’t seen Looking For Mr. Goodbar).
Produced and co-written by Giorgio Moroder, he originally approached Stevie Nicks to assist in composing and performing a song for the soundtrack but, she was prevented by contract to another company. Moroder then asked Debbie Harry and she fashioned lyrics, and the melody, in a few hours.
The song made it to the #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 and stayed there for six weeks. It also made it to #1 in Canada, the UK and in Record World magazine. There are 20 covers of this song with Blondie re-recording it in 2014 and, a live cover done in 2002.