Blondie.
No, not Debbie Harry; Blondie. Why? It’s difficult to pin-point Harry’s specific contribution to this sonic pop wonderland of a band, and I am vehemently opposed to the glorification of black-hole beauties (Marilyn Monroe) when there are so many fascinating, resilient and complex women to worship in their lieu. I would like to suggest that the overall sound, look and message of Blondie, the band, is without a doubt gendered feminine. Blondie is a “woman” in cultural abstration. You with me?

Blondie is a contemplation on/celebration of feminine excess. Though Debbie Harry is the only woman in the group, she dominates their symbolism, offering not just a glamorous womanly image but contrasts the glorified feminine to the dull, uniform, and subordinated masculine. The album covers celebrate an excess of feminine power.


Additionally, the very name “Blondie” refers to Harry’s locks, which are not just blonde, but peroxide blonde. The band’s name celebrates an excess of (traditional) feminine beauty. Finally, the music of Blondie is excessive in the extreme. Take the various narratives of their “greatest hits”:

Hanging On The Telephone
The age-old myth of the “clingy woman” told without apologies from her point of view. The opening line claims “I’m in the phone booth it’s the one across the hall, if you don’t answer I’ll just ring it off the wall”, setting the scene of a woman who isn’t desperate but raging and insistent to be responded to, willing to go to any lengths to be heard dammit. She laments later, “Oh, I can’t control myself” over and over, loosing her agency in her emotional abandon, and yet, though the song’s main hook is quite passive, “don’t leave me hanging on the telephone” the track culminates with a very active command, “hang up and run to me”, where, we assume, he finally did pick up and now that she’s got his ear, she wants him to do as she says.

One Way Or Another
This one goes without saying. She knows what she wants, and she’s going to have it. This track certainly turns the table on gendered expectations. She’s not “wishing and hoping and thinking and praying” waiting for him to choose her, she is going to make. him. hers. Oh yeah, and when she’s done with him, she is so done.

The Tide is High
A kind of sequel (prequel?) to One Way or Another. A little more, um, gentle but still a continuation of the theme of feminine agency in the “game” of love.

Atomic
Any song where the symphonic and dramatic pinnacle coincides with the lyric “your hair looks beautiful tonight” is okay by me.

Rapture
Incoherent decadence.

Heart of Glass
The title alone evokes the “fragile woman” whose heart is in delicate peril. Aside from the obvious hyperbole of the title, the song is a misty re-telling of a vague love vaguely gone wrong. Lyrics like “lost inside adorrible illusion and I cannot hide” reveal nothing, and the Harry’s soft, emotionless delivery furthur cocoon’s this classic disco track in a shiney enigma. The song itself is like bubble-wrap for the heart. Isn’t that so disco?

Rip Her to Shreds
The super-bitch spares no one. Obviously somewhat parodic- Blondie plays with the alleged feminine desire to “tear down” other women by pushing the archetype to an absurd limit: going so far as to suggest a knifing merely because the spoken of woman (girl?) is dull.

X-Offender
A woman so taken by her consuming love for a police officer, she becomes a “sex offender” and gets arrested just to get close to him. She’s driven insane by infatuation, yet she is somehow shrewd and legitimated in the track which again, posits the woman as the hunter and the man as the prey.

Besides the lyrics, Blondie’s lush, synthesized sounds that shift between new wave, pop, punk and disco, are as incoherent and over-the-top as the feminine personae Blondie inhabits. Ultimately, Blondie creates a wild, excessive, exhibitionistic, demanding, loving, parodic, rebellious and fabulous Woman, and “she” is my Pop Feminist Woman of the Week.
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