There’s Only 1 Popstar That Got In Debbie Harry In Awe
Blondie - ArtNoyze / Youtube
Long before Madonna and many decades prior to Lady Gaga, who gained attention for their provocative songs, daring outfits, and extravagant stage performances, Debbie Harry held a commanding position as the frontwoman of Blondie, a cutting-edge band emerging from the punk scene of the mid- to late-1970s.
The band soared to fame with an unexpected hit, the disco-infused New Wave anthem “Heart of Glass.” However, it was not just the music but also Harry’s blend of resilient yet delicate allure and bold demeanor that transformed Blondie into a prolific hit-producing force, amassing over 40 million record sales.
Despite performing at the same venues as punk icons like the Ramones, Blondie exuded a pop sensibility that few could rival. Regardless of the glamour Harry projected to the audience, she maintained a magnetic hold over them, ushering in the early stirrings of new wave music.
But there was a time when fame shook Harry, especially when people focused on her looks and saw her as a sex symbol. She ultimately found consolation in a pop star who completely embraced her charm.
In contrast to her peers in the rock and roll scene, Harry found inspiration in the career trajectory of the Queen of Pop, Madonna, who harnessed her image to her advantage, evolving with each generation and disregarding others’ opinions.
Her thoughts on Madonna
Despite Madonna’s controversial moments, the pop star became a role model for Harry, who reminisced, “I am completely in awe of Madonna. She’s able to take that success and live with it and remain sane. I say that with a smile, you know.”
Madonna’s influence on Harry even extended beyond just fame. When voicing her dissent against Donald Trump in the 2010s, Harry followed Madonna’s lead by using her platform for advocacy.
Although her approach wasn’t as extreme as Madonna’s “Bomb the White House” statement, Harry recognized that her platform could effectively champion causes she believed in, asserting, “There’s gotta be a resistance of some sort — a protest. Music is about to regain its edge.”
Harry might have looked at Madonna fondly, but the punk icon also thought there was a huge difference in ambitions between the two of them. During the Queen of Pop’s birthday when the two met, Harry realized that Madonna was “totally career-orientated and showbiz-minded”.
She added: “She is so totally career-orientated and showbiz-minded. I missed the boat on that one. If I had thought more I would probably have been Madonna before she was.”
She almost lost her sanity
Fame was a dual-edged sword for Harry. Although Blondie embraced the audience singing along to songs like “One Way or Another,” the constant scrutiny took a toll on her composure both onstage and off.
As the band’s popularity expanded nationwide, Harry’s self-consciousness about her appearance grew. Being the female focal point of the band and the center of attention during performances led her to realize that the insecurities she harbored before fame were no longer necessary.
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In an interview with the NZ Herald, Harry acknowledged that fixating solely on her looks would jeopardize her sanity. She recounted, “There was a time when I had to take down all the mirrors in my house. I felt like I was looking at myself too much. The world made such a big deal of how I looked. It’s problematic. I’m lucky I was born this way. It’s perfect for showbiz.”
This attitude of resisting being commodified into marketable products inspired countless female performers in the following decades, helping future artists enjoy the liberty to express themselves unrestrictedly, employing any fusion of musical genres they deem appropriate.
The legacy of a badass rockstar
Even though the band’s existence was relatively brief, concluding in 1982 following the launch of their sixth studio album The Hunter, Blondie forever holds a spot in music history thanks to the band’s audacious blend of diverse musical styles and unwavering commitment to their artistic integrity, transcending trends and earning them the status of genuine pioneers in the field.
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While it holds true that the band’s image remains strongly “defined by bleach blonde Harry’s sly streetwise vocal delivery and sexually charged public persona”, the legendary frontwoman herself stands as an iconic figure who fearlessly contested her place in an industry frequently marked by hostility.