Icy cool, yet euphoric. ‘Atomic’ was a glorious peek into the future from Blondie a band that were at the peak of their powers. According to its composers, Debbie Harry and Jimmy Destri it was originally intended as a stylistic follow-up to their new wave meets disco classic hit ‘Heart of Glass’, of 1979.
The third single from their seminal ‘Eat to the Beat’ album and a remix of the album version. ‘Atomic’ is majestically produced: laced with throbbing baselines, spaghetti western guitars, dexterously wobbly keyboard lines that sound like rayguns being fired and Clem Burke’s rolling drums. But it’s Harry that’s the undoubted star here, her vocals at once intangible and glamorous, enticing but also possesses of an attitude of impending change, when she sings ‘Ooh your hair is beautiful’ scaling heights, she’s the pinnacle of a euphoric moment, capturing that feeling of being in love and in awe of someone and on the dancefloor, a transcendent melody that is immediately counterbalanced by the spoken ‘atomic’ that releases the baseline once again, straight afterwards bringing you back to earth.
Dare I say walking the line between new wave poise and disco beat has never sounded this great since. Reaching the top spot in the UK charts for two weeks, Atomic is ultimately timeless on so many levels, modern, floor-filling yet also brilliantly arranged and spacious enough to allow each part to throb and groove. Atomic as a word carries the undertone of bombs, war or scientific reactions, in 1980 in a Cold War era as surveying a shifting and uncertain landscape it seemed like a futuristic term, a portent of both hopes and fears for the future. For now, follow me to the dancefloor and remember where you were in 1980 because Blondie’s ‘Atomic’ is a stone cold classic pop moment. All together now ‘Oh, make it magnificent, tonight!’