For years, I’ve wanted to merge two of my favorite things – 80s and writing, and with the start of this blog, it happened. Then, I started the “song of the day” posts for the blog here, and so far so good, except for one thing: how in THE hell do I pick just one song to highlight as “song of the day?” When I have it figured out, I’ll let you know. For today’s “song of the day,” I went back to the January 31, 1981 BILLBOARD Hot 100 chart for inspiration.
Blondie ruled the chart that week, with their third No. 1 song in the U.S., “The Tide Is High.” Meanwhile, 60 positions down the chart at No. 61, they debuted with “Rapture,” the second single from their fifth studio album, AUTOAMERICAN.
It didn’t take any convincing for me to love “Rapture”; loved it from the moment I heard it. And, apart from “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang a year or so before, my young Top 40 ears hadn’t really been acquainted with Rap music. It was pretty cool. Then again, I was an impressionable 14-year-old, and Debbie Harry could do no wrong. Rap legends Fab 5 Freddy and Grandmaster Flash even appeared in the video.
Everybody and their mother knows that “Rapture” was the first American No. 1 song to feature Rap. What they may not know is that (and this is my chart nerdiness coming out again) Blondie had 4 Top 10 hits in the U.S., and all 4 hit No. 1. “Rapture” was the last time they’d be at the summit, spending 2 weeks on top in late March / early April 1981.
“Rapture” would go on to rule the singles charts in Canada, and the Top 10 in the U.K., Australia, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway and South Africa. More interesting, though, is that, like “Heart Of Glass,” which united Disco and Punk fans alike, “Rapture” was also a multi-format hit, reaching No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance Chart, and reaching the Top 40 of both the Rock chart and the Soul chart.
Blondie put out one more album the following year (THE HUNTER), before calling it quits for 16 years. And though they never reached the U.S. Top 40 again, they continued to be one of my favorite bands, and I enjoyed Debbie’s solo hits. Their 2014 album, GHOSTS OF DOWNLOAD, is still a favorite on my iPod and I listen to it often. Hope to get to see them perform one more time.
Rewinding back to the 00s, in 2005, for the 2006 release of their GREATEST HITS: SOUND + VISION CD/DVD set, “Rapture” was mashed up with The Doors’ “Riders On The Storm,” and it hit the Top 10 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart. It’s still one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard.
In my Portland club DJ days in the 00s, I remember playing “Rapture Riders” when it came out, just to mess people up and see what they thought of it. They dug it. But, as awesome as “Rapture Riders” is, when you’re dancing to or listening to the 1981 original (especially the 10-minute remix), maybe that’s what true “Rapture” feels like…