15
Sep 08

BLONDIE – “Sunday Girl”

FT + Popular42 comments • 2,400 views

#437, 26th May 1979

I prefer Blondie when they’re poking their noses where they didn’t seem to belong, applying their touch of devastating cool to disco or rap or reggae and getting clean away with it. “Sunday Girl”, delightfully frilly though it is, doesn’t floor me in the same way. In a way its weirdly reminiscent of the Grease singles, a pastiche of something I can’t quite put my finger one – except this doesn’t come alive for me until the last twenty seconds or so, when Debbie Harry suddenly gets some snarl in her voice and the handclaps and guitars start to surge… and then it’s over. Pretty, thoroughly pleasant, beautifully crafted, but too pert to excite.

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Comments

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  1. 26
    vinylscot on 17 Sep 2008 #

    A similar thing happened with ELO’s “Out of the Blue” when the relatively weak “Turn To Stone” was put out as the first single, before the much stronger and obvious “Mr Blue Sky”, “Wild West Hero” and “Sweet Talking Woman”, so it wasn’t unknown even back then.

    Sometimes it can backfire if the record company wait too long – e.g. Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday”.

    I always quite liked “Sunday Girl” – I mentioned in the HOG thread that I’d rather given up on Blondie after seeing them support Television rather poorly, but by now I was back on side. This was pleasant enough pop, and I would concur that it seemed to strike a chord with girls in particular. Myself, I’d probably rather they had put out “One Way Or Another” instead – now that was a cracking track!

  2. 27
    mike on 17 Sep 2008 #

    #24 – The most recent example I can think of is Robbie Williams’ Life Thru A Lens, whose fourth and fifth singles were “Angels” and “Let Me Entertain You”.

  3. 28
    rosie on 17 Sep 2008 #

    Surely all the fans go out and buy the album rather than the first single taken from it…

  4. 29
    SteveM on 17 Sep 2008 #

    Not if the first single is out before the album (I’m always baffled when artists/labels DON’T do this).

    #27 we shouldn’t discuss HIM but didn’t the first single from that album just miss out on the top spot itself?

  5. 30
    LondonLee on 17 Sep 2008 #

    The first single from ‘Thriller’ was ‘This Girl Is Mine’!!!

    I bought ‘Turn To Stone’ and was a bit let down by it at the time, took a while to grow on me. But it’s no ‘Sweet Talkin’ Woman’

    ‘Picture This’ felt a little underwhelming at the time too, it got mixed reviews (I preferred the b-side ‘Fade Away and Radiate’) and was out before ‘Parallel Lines’ (which I remember got a bad review in Record Mirror who thought they’d gone too ‘pop’)

  6. 31
    Malice Cooper on 17 Sep 2008 #

    After “Heart of glass” they were guaranteed another number one at least. I never liked this at the time and thought it was very weak and remains their worst single until “Island of lost souls”

    A huge percentage of Blondie’s fans probably couldn’t afford LPs in those days so a new single was new to them

  7. 32
    Tom on 17 Sep 2008 #

    #30 – I guess the label thought that Macca was a big enough draw to justify “The Girl Is Mine” being first. Also I guess it was priming the market in a “here be crossover” sense!

  8. 33
    Will on 17 Sep 2008 #

    Re 25: I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song that sounded more like a surefire Christmas Number One than Everybody Hurts. Yet for some unfathomable reason Warners waited and waited until finally releasing it as a single the following May.

  9. 34
    rosie on 18 Sep 2008 #

    LondonLee @ 30: I can’t see Fade Away And Radiate as an obvious number one single, exactly. When I first bought Parallel Lines I didn’t like it much, probably because it was different from everything else on the album in both tempo and mood. Much more album-tracky than everything else. But thirty years on, now that everything else on the album has been done to death (and survived the assault remarkably well, imho) it feels like the outstanding track.

  10. 35
    DJ Punctum on 18 Sep 2008 #

    Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” was #2 in the summer of ’81 so that was hardly a case of backfiring.

    Given the record which was at number one over Xmas ’92 I doubt that “Everybody Hurts” would have had any chance of going top at that time oh stop Bugging me Bunny…

  11. 36
    Erithian on 18 Sep 2008 #

    Mike #27: yes, you could win bets on this, “Old Before I Die” was the highest-charting single from the album, as well as being (useless information ahoy!) the last Number 2 single to date under a Conservative government. Much more on Robbie in a few years’ time.

  12. 37
    Tom on 18 Sep 2008 #

    #35 – I had a little redefining moment with that very record (not REM, the other one) last night: I hope I’ll remember it when I come to write about it eventually!

  13. 38
    vinylscot on 18 Sep 2008 #

    re Marcello #35. Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” would have been a stick-on for number one if it had been released six months earlier. (You could argue that it’s late appearance as a single helped the album, as undoubtedly many thousands of people bought the album because of that song – every mobile DJ needed it, for example.)

    Motown had history with Stevie on this sort of thing. How many weeks would “Isn’t She Lovely” have spent at number one if they had released that as the first or second single from “Songs In The Key Of Life”? In this instance they totally missed the boat as David Parton’s rather awful cover would have affected sales, were they to later release the original, which is probably why they never did.

    So, if he has a mind to, Stevie can look back on his UK Chart career and see that a film song, a dodgy duet and an ensemble charity song are the only number one singles he had.

    It could have been so different.

  14. 39
    DJ Punctum on 18 Sep 2008 #

    Six months earlier would have been the time when the upper reaches of the charts were so completely dominated by two specific acts that I think the record would have struggled to get to number two even then, to be honest.

    And it was Stevie’s fault that “Isn’t She Lovely?” wasn’t released as a single since he steadfastly refused to edit it down from its album length. The payback came when his next single off Songs was kept off number one by his former backing singer.

    Also, Stevie did play harmonica on a couple more number ones (and is also heavily sampled on one of those) but that’s quite enough bunnyism for today.

  15. 40
    lonepilgrim on 10 Oct 2009 #

    and heres a link to some mp3s of Blondie live from 1977 when they still sounded spiky

    http://www.bigozine2.com/archive/ARrarities06/ARbldfrisco.html

  16. 41
    Brendan on 26 Sep 2012 #

    This is where, for me, Blondie were at their best, a perfect pure pop song from one of the all-time great pop/rock bands. I can understand why, being the only consistently commercially successful critics’ favourite since Slade/T Rex, said critics would have preferred them to have been pushing boundaries but there’s always something to be said for pop that’s done as simply and as well as it is here. And, as if it were possible, Debbie became even more sexy when she sung it in French. I give it (even in English) an 8.

  17. 42
    hectorthebat on 5 Aug 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    Blender (USA) – Standout Tracks from the 500 CDs You Must Own (2003)
    Blender (USA) – The 1001 Greatest Songs to Download Right Now! (2003)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)

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