On Sunday, 28th, 2019th, at YouTube, I clicked the band Blondie’s song “Atomic,” which was released in 1979. Essentially, the video looks like a post apocalyptic rave at a futuristic looking club. However, the video had lots of fresh ideas which began to appear throughout the 1980s. Here’s my take on “Atomic.”
To begin, one of the four apocalyptic horsemen, probably the horseman of plague, makes an appearance in this music video. We see an anonymous horseman arriving at a futuristic looking nightclub; as well, he gets off his horse and enters the club. Also, we see a sign “Blondie In The Flesh.” That being said, it costs 25 units to get in the club. Plus, there is a nuclear explosion. This is how the video of “Atomic” starts.
The theme of this video is post apocalyptic. At some time in the future, Armageddon has happened. According to the bible and book of revelations, these people have been marked (drummer’s bullseye target t-shirt) and have been found written in God’s book of life; therefore, these people will survive the coming great tribulation while angels band the wicked together and toss them into the fire. And “Atomic” tells us about this post apocalyptic event, which could resemble the devastation of an atomic war.
With that, there is this post-apocalyptic nightclub. In the courtyard around the stage, there is a lot of silver. You see shiny panels and silver gratings hanging from the ceiling. There are screens, coverings, and clasps. People are wearing strange clothing: futuristic garments, neck pieces, shiny breast pieces, arm coverings, and ornamental headgear. There is even a stacked keyboard which looks like an altar. Perhaps, this club resembles the new Jerusalem, the new Tabernacle, or the new heavens after the apocalypse.
Immediately, you see Debbie Harry. She’s wearing a punkish futuristic costume, which could just as easily be an ephod. Also, her costume/priestly garment is a black garbage bag. Plus, she’s wearing a t-shirt that reads “Vultures,” which could refer to bad people who persecuted her for her beliefs. Further, Debbie is surrounded by a band that seems to wield it’s guitars as utensils for this post-apocalyptic club.
Coincidentally, this song talks about hair and atomic, which probably refer to Gia Carangi. In one line, Debbie Harry sings, ‘Uh huh make me tonight. Tonight make it right. Uh huh make me tonight. Tonight, tonight… Oh, uh huh make it magnificent. Tonight right. Oh your hair is beautiful. Oh, tonight, atomic.” In the video, Gia is the supermodel with the beautiful hair and always appears around the atomic blast scenes.
Notably, Gia Carangi, a fashion model credited with starting the whole supermodel craze of the 1980s, appears in this video. She was a strong supporter of group Blondie. However, she died of AIDS, which swept throughout New York like a storm at this time. Gia’s story was told in the movie “The Self-Destruction of Gia.” Anyways, she’s wearing sunglasses and arrives at the club around the same time as the apocalyptic horseman.
Perhaps, Andy Warhol tries to make a connection between the horseman of plague and Garangi when they arrive at the same time at the club. However, how could Warhol know Carangi would die of AIDs at this time. And how could we know AIDs would sweep the world. After all, it was 1979 when the song was released. Anyways, the video is open to interpretations and suggestions in much like all Andy Warhol videos.
That being said, this is a Warhol video. Everything is neon pastels like Warhol paintings. Definitely, you can feel Andy Warhol’s influence in this video.
Now, here’s a fun fact: Debbie Harry’s look, from this Atomic video, was the inspiration for the character, Harley Quinn, in the movie “Suicide Squad.” The Debbie Harry looking t-shirt, belt, gloves, and shorts were incorporated into Margo Robbie’s version of Harley Quinn. Further, this Debbie Harry look will continue in the movie “Birds Of Prey” to be released in 2020, which stars Margo Robbie as Harley Quinn.
In regards to the dancers, you even see Fab Five Freddy, a hiphop pioneer and later host of “Yo MTV Raps.” He’s part of this post-apocalyptic rave at a warehouse. Everyone in the video is dancing.
Throughout the video, Christ Stein, Debbie Harry’s boyfriend and founder of the new wave band Blondie, plays like a robot while wearing a pastel lab coat. Stein seems to be dressed like a mad scientist. Moreover, he seems to be making movements with his guitar and hands as to suggest showing off Frankenstein creations: Debbie Harry and the band mates.
In another scene, Stein moves his fingers. At that instant, the bowtie guy seems to play his bass as if being possessed by Stein to do it. As well, in the next scene, he seems to be controlling Gia’s and Fab Freddy Five’s dancing. Clearly, Stein was a puppet master.
Oddly, Debbie Harry does a strange dance with the horseman of plague. They shake, jerk, and spaz together to the beat of the song. The horseman and Debbie don’t look comfortable in their skin or something is under their skin. That being said, they could be on drugs or have a disease; whatever the case, its still a plague.
Also, in this video, there’s lots of multicolored dancers. They are wearing multicolored rain coats. There’s even a disabled, dancing girl with a missing eye with some sort of silver rings on her head. Plus, a girl in a green coat sways to the beat. These people dance like robots.
I like the scene with the guitar guy and the bowtie. He just seems to be standing there with a bowtie and playing his guitar in the background. At one point, while Debbie and the horseman are doing the strange dance, they both turn to the bow tie guy and seem to want to say, ‘Join in’. However, he goes back to posing in the video.
Meantime a Fab Five Freddy looking guy dances around in video. He seems to be futuristically dressed. I am not sure if he’s the real Fab Five, but Fab Five did appear in later videos of Blondie’s like “Rapture.”
While most people will remember this song from the 80s, the tune has been used in the 2000s. A video game company, BMG Interactive, picked up this song for their “Grand Theft Auto” video game. Also, the song was used in a Youtube video featuring the Trainspotting movie.
In conclusion, Atomic is open to many interpretations. One being, it’s about biblical post apocalypse times. Also, the video touches on diversity with the multicolored dancers in coats. We even see hiphop culture, which was new at this time. As well, too, the video seems to be about Gia Carangi. Of course, it’s a Andy Warhol video. “Atomic” is a classic song for Blondie in my opinion.