Saturday, April 28, 1979

Blondie hit #1 with “Heart of Glass”

Heart of Glass

Blondie

Writer(s): Deborah Harry, Chris Stein (see lyrics here)


Released: January 3, 1979


First Charted: January 27, 1979


Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 11 RR, 44 AC, 14 UK, 11 CN, 15 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.32 UK, 3.72 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 173.0 video, 189.9 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Blondie had been around several years, releasing nine singles from three albums before finding success with “Heart of Glass.” They’d never even charted on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 when that song – the fourth single from their Parallel Lines album – took them all the way to the top. There was some backlash from fans who thought the band had sold out, but Blondie has said they liked the idea of deliberately being uncool by crafting a disco song. SF Lead singer Deborah Harry said, “I don’t think being commercial is totally derogatory.” She saw “Heart of Glass” as helping to “introduce new wave music in a more commercial way.” FB

Guitarist Chris Stein said the song was added to the Parallel Lines album as “a novelty item to put more diversity into the album.” FB The band had actually performed a more funk-oriented version of the song for years. FB Harry and Stein wrote an early version called “Once I Had a Love” back in 1974-75. On the show Words and Music, she said “lyrically, it was about a stalker who was pursuing me, and Chris saved me from him.” SF In 1975, they recorded a demo with a slower, funkier sound inspired by the Hues Corporation’s “Rock the Boat.” WK When they started working with producer Mike Chapman in 1978, he asked them to play all the songs they had and he liked that one.

The band re-recorded the song with a more pop-oriented, disco vibe. WK “Heart of Glass” marked one of the first uses of a Roland CR-78 drum machine, which was first introduced in 1978. WK Harry said it took more than 10 hours to get the sound down right. SF The band’s decision to combine the drum machine with actual drumming as well as synthesizers alongside guitars – made for one of the first rock/disco fusion hits. WK

The song was released as a 12-inch single in December 1978. The nearly six-minute version met with reluctance from radio stations because of the line “pain in the ass” so the song was edited into a 7-inch single version released in January 1979. That version topped the charts in the U.S. and UK.


Resources:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Blondie
  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 502.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia


Related Links:


First posted 10/31/2019; last updated 11/12/2022.

Saturday, April 21, 1979

Cheap Trick “I Want You to Want Me (live)” charted

I Want You to Want Me

Cheap Trick

Writer(s): Rick Nielsen (see lyrics here)


Released (studio version): September 1977


First Charted (live version): April 21, 1979


Peak (studio): 97 CN


Peak (live): 7 US, 3 CB, 4 HR, 11 RR, 1 CL, 29 UK, 2 CN, 43 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions, live version): 1.0 US


Airplay/Streaming (in millions – studio and live versions): -- radio, 19.18 video, 141.38 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Cheap Trick formed in 1973 in Rockford, Illinois. After their self-titled debut failed to chart, they quickly followed it up with In Color that same year. It reached #73 in the U.S. and featured the song “I Want You to Want Me.” However, that song nor any other from the album, hit the Billboard charts in America. It did reach a lowly #97 in Canada.

Japan, however, was a different story. “Just as their third album, the classic Heaven Tonight hit the streets, Cheap Trick found themselves being welcomed to Japan, Beatlemania-style. This led to a headlining tour, and the recording of a series of shows at the legendary Budokan arena.” UCR

In the fall of 1978, Cheap Trick released a live album, At Budokan, capturing the shows. It was originally intended to be released only in Japan, but it caught on in the U.S. and “reportedly became the biggest selling import album of the ‘70s.” UCR That led to an official American release by Epic Records in early 1979. The album reached #4 and sold three million copies.

Much of the success was due to the live version of “I Want You to Want Me.” The band’s Rick Nielsen, who wrote the song as “an overblown pop parody” WK/sup> and Tom Petersson were critical of the “lightweight production” WK of the original studio version. In concert, however, they played it at a faster tempo, which “transformed into a rocked-up guitar raver in concert, and…helped catch the ear of listeners in the states.” UCR The song reached #1 in Japan, #2 in Canada, and was a top-10 hit in the United States. It made “Cheap Trick household names, and turned the masses on to what the band’s die hard fans already knew: This was a great band that needed to be heard.” UCR


Resources:


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First posted 7/31/2022.

Wednesday, April 4, 1979

Sister Sledge “We Are Family” released

We Are Family

Sister Sledge

Writer(s): Bernard Edwards, Nile Rodgers (see lyrics here)


Released: April 4, 1979


First Charted: April 28, 1979


Peak: 2 US, 2 CB, 11 GR, 3 HR, 3 RR, 30 AC, 11 RB, 8 UK, 12 CN, 19 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.4 UK


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 29.53 video, 162.5 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers were best known as the co-founders of Chic and that band’s #1 hits “Le Freak” and “Good Times.” The latter was sampled on the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” the first top-40 rap hit, and inspired Queen’s #1 song “Another One Bites the Dust.” The pair also penned Diana Ross’s 1980 #1 hit “Upside Down.” Rodgers alo produced #1 hits by David Bowie (“Let’s Dance,” 1983), Madonna (“Like a Virgin,” 1984), and Duran Duran (“The Reflex,” 1984).

However, it was Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” which marked Edwards and Rodgers’ first major chart success outside of Chic. In fact, it was the first song they wrote for another act. WK Atlantic Records President Jerry L. Greenberg wanted the two of them to write and produce for other acts on the label, but they didn’t feel confident enough to work with big-name, established artists. They suggested working with the label’s least established act to see if they could get a hit and then could take on bigger acts. WK

The inspiration for “We Are Family” came from Greenberg’s description of who Sister Sledge were – a group comprised of four sisters who, before the album We Are Family, sang backup for various artists. SF Cash Box described the song as having “caressing exuberant lead vocals backed by Sister Sledge’s infectious harmony vocals.” WK 19-year-old Kathy Sledge sang the lead vocal. A then-unknown Luther Vandross sang backup. SF

The sisters have said that because of the song, fans often share stories with them about their families. SF “We Are Family” has “gone on to be used more generally as an expression of solidtary in various contexts.” WK It has become “an anthem for women’s groups and a message of unity.” SF


Resources:


First posted 7/14/2022; last updated 11/27/2022.