Friday, July 17, 2020

Song of the Day: 'Eat to the Beat' by Blondie

You know this illustration warms my 12-year-old heart! Blondie's "Eat to the Beat" was famously the first full-length video album, which took me YEARS to finally see. (My stepfather was so cheap he didn't break down and buy a VCR until 1985 -- and videotapes like this cost about 80 bucks back then. I think Tower Video finally had it as a rental and that's when I first got to watch it.) Although a few of the clips from this nearly perfect record were conceptional -- "Victor" always terrified me, and who could forget that Sue Ann Nivens bed in "Sound-a-Sleep"?! -- the majority of them were straightforward performances, filmed in various locations in and around Manhattan. 

This wasn't a huge liability -- who could ever tire of watching Debbie Harry play dress-up? -- except perhaps for the title track, which seemed like the perfect subject matter for something a little more madcap than this ... 

which was a retread of the raucous “Dreaming" video -- same stage/setup/outfit; I think she just took the wristband and put it on her head -- only this time the audience is standing still in stunned silence. (It's almost like the crowd was even acknowledging that "Dreaming" was the best song on the album and the titular track the weakest.) 

I feel like Chris Stein has said that "Eat to the Beat" video album was honored at the first MTV Video Music Awards -- or 1st annual, as they called it(!) -- which of course is best known for Madonna's life-altering "Like a Virgin" performance. I have never been able to independently verify Chris's claim, but it doesn't really make much sense given that the "Eat to the Beat" video tape came out in 1980 and that first awards show wasn't until late 1984. Perhaps it was some kind of "visionary" award recognizing that Blondie was ahead of the curve that the network was now riding. But even that would be a bit of a stretch coming from MTV, which never seemed to have much use for Blondie, playing them in low rotation at the beginning -- "Rapture" is technically the first rap video to air on the network -- and pretty much never by the mid 1980s. Let me know if you know the full story.


Blobby said...

It took years for me to see this, as we didn't have a laserdisk player. But while I adore the album, the videos, at best, were passable.

BigTriGuy said...

I know you're a big Blondie fan so its super polite to acknowledge Dreaming has always been better than the titular track. Since I'm less polite, can I say I've always loved Dreaming... love the 10/5/79 live perf vid... but Eat to the Beat was just a hot mess of a song. (Better fit for Weird Al) And for it to be the lead song makes no sense. At any rate, the post gave me a good reason to listen to some Blondie. And doesn't Ms. Harry look great and happy in the vid I referenced?