Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Song #132 of 9999 - Rapture by Blondie

Song #132 of 9999

Title: Rapture
Artist: Blondie
Year: 1981
Album: Autoamerican

"Rapture" by the new wave band Blondie is the first song featuring rap elements to top the charts in the United States. The disco-infused record clocks in at an extraordinarily long five minutes, the last three minutes of which is a freestyle-like rap about a man from Mars who eats cars and bars and people and...well, it's the rapture so what did you expect? The rapping is not good, but is in keeping with the rapping style of the era and acknowledges early rap pioneers Fab Five Freddy (who appears in the video) and Grandmaster Flash.

While the rap section is fun (they had to be half-joking, right?), I like this song more for the first two minutes when Debby Harry layers long breathy phrases over disco funk provided by the band. It's an atmospheric, cool singing style that I think was kind of rare at this time and kind of reminds me of some Japanese dream pop artists I've heard in the last decade or so. This part of the song also features the lyric "Back to back/Sacroiliac" which is a pretty impressive description of dancing if you ask me and a wicked rhyme.

The video is worth checking out if you've never seen it. While graffiti art is pretty standard these days, it was relatively new in 1981 and, if you lived outside of NYC, it was interesting to see, even on television. Jean-Michel Basquiat, who later became a very famous neo-expressionist painter, is actually in the video. So is Lee QuiƱones, another graffiti art pioneer. Some very authentic touches and references to what would become the most significant pop culture movement of the next thirty years: hip-hop.

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