Revolutions: Blondie's "Parallel Lines"
2006 Inductees Blondie's album Parallel Lines ushered in the future of pop music.
Released 40 years ago, the record fused the band's diverse musical inspirations with airtight arrangements. The New York City sextet—helmed by vocalist Debbie Harry, guitarist Chris Stein and drummer Clem Burke—pushed for perfection with producer Mike Chapman. Dive inside the album's impact on release and now in our latest Klipsch Audio Revolutions episode.
Released in 1978, Blondie's Parallel Lines ushered in the future of pop music.
The New York City sextet—helmed by vocalist Debbie Harry, guitarist Chris Stein and drummer Clem Burke—shared songwriting duties.
To harness these diverse inspirations, Blondie worked with producer Mike Chapman. The glam rock scene veteran pushed for perfection; band members often did multiple takes of parts.
Although Chapman's approach created tension—Harry especially was emotional during recording—his direction was on the mark.
Parallel Lines boasts airtight arrangements and hi-tech flourishes, such as a Roland drum machine on "Heart of Glass."
The album kicks off with the sound of a phone ringing—signaling the organ-fueled rave-up "Hanging on the Telephone," originally by power-pop band the Nerves.
"Fade Away and Radiate" has a zero-gravity vibe—a slow-motion tempo, sci-fi keyboards, and prog rock guitar contortions from guest Robert Fripp.
In contrast, "Sunday Girl" is a sugary pop trifle with crisp handclaps and airy keyboards—and "Pretty Baby" updates lush '60s tones for the new wave set.
Despite its sleek sheen, Parallel Lines doesn't ignore Blondie's gritty CBGB roots.
The jittery "Will Anything Happen" fuses girl-group harmonies and jagged guitar riffs, and "I'm Gonna Love You Too" is an electric surf-punk pogo.
Harry's expressive vocals—and lyrics affirming that women have agency—give Parallel Lines a distinctly feminist viewpoint.
Her voice drips with exasperation on "One Way or Another," a song about trying to escape an ex-boyfriend stalker.
On "Picture This," which is saturated with lovelorn desperation, Harry hollers like a strutting cabaret singer—confident in what she wants from a crush.
And on "Heart of Glass," she sounds cool and carefree, no doubt because the song is about ditching a no-good ex.
"Heart of Glass" was a departure for Blondie, but the song hit No. 1 in multiple countries—driven by pulsating disco grooves inspired by Kraftwerk and the Bee Gees.
The band embraced this chart success: Harry told Billboard the song "helped introduce new wave music in a more commercial way."
Parallel Lines itself was also a worldwide mainstream smash, and cemented the band's popularity in the U.S.
The album's diverse approach would also endure across decades—inspiring new wavers the Go-Go's, fiery Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson and modern rockers Paramore.
Parallel Lines proved that punk and new wave weren't ephemeral trends—the genres gave rock & roll a necessary creative jolt.