Blondie’s “Rapture,” which went to #1 on the Billboard singles chart on March 28, 1981, is notable for a lot of reasons, including one important musical precedent.
But first, a brief backstory. Blondie had formed in the mid-1970s and was initially classified as both new wave and punk. For their third studio album, 1978’s Parallel Lines, they were matched with producer Mike Chapman. The combination of the era, the upbeat songs, Chapman’s production and Deborah Harry’s sex-kitten delivery and looks combined for a winning formula. Parallel Lines yielded a huge, worldwide #1 smash in the disco-sounding “Heart of Glass” as well as such great tunes as “One Way or Another” and “Hanging on the Telephone.”
Fast forward to 1980. Blondie had a huge hit with “Call Me,” their second #1 pop smash (and #2 on the dance charts). The song was featured during the main title treatment of the feature film American Gigolo and if you’re somehow not familiar with the movie, consider yourself lucky. For the release of the Autoamerican album later that year, Blondie was still working with Chapman and experimenting with various genres. The album’s first single, “The Tide is High,” had a calypso beat and became their third #1 hit.
The next single, “Rapture,” represented an almost complete 180. As with many of their other songs, “Rapture” was co-written by Harry and band co-founder Chris Stein. This time, the trendsetters incorporated rap into their music–hence the song title. You can probably win a few bar bets with this: “Rapture” became the first #1 pop single in the U.S. to feature rap.
Fab Five Freddie told me everybody’s fly
DJ’s spinning I said my, my
Flash is fast, Flash is cool
Francois sais pas, Flashe no deux
And you don’t stop, sure shot
Go out to the parking lot
And you get in your car and you drive real far
And you drive all night and then you see a light
And it comes right down and lands on the ground
And out comes a man from Mars
And you try to run but he’s got a gun
And he shoots you dead and he eats your head
And then you’re in the man from Mars
The cheesy set, the low production qualities… hey, remember this was 1981! Check out the video…