What’s singular? What’s plural? And what’s the greatest single ever released?
OK, so maybe I’ve gone and given away the answer to the last question already. It’s my answer. You might agree or not. Fine. But that’s not the thing here. A thing is clearly a singular noun, an unquestionable thing. But there are other times when it gets a bit more complicated; things that you think should be singular turn out to be plural and vice versa. That kind of thing is today’s thing and we’ll also make it a Blondie thing.
Blondie was, is and always will be one of the greatest bands that appeared in the seventies and gained the fame they so clearly deserved in the glory days of ‘post-punk’ and ‘new wave’. The name came from when singer Debbie Harry dyed her hair, you guessed it, blonde. The catcall ‘hey blondie!’ that was then directed at her was the inspiration for the change in name of the band she sang in. I don’t know for sure if the idea was to rid the word of its stupid, somewhat offensive connotation, but I’d like to think so. In any case, Blondie was the name of the band and not the singer.
When we use nouns that refer to groups of people ( a band, a team, your family, the govenment…) we can use singular or plural verbs depending on whether we see them as a group of individuals or something more united. Fans of Manchester United will probably know that their team is actually the most hated football team in the country. Fans of Chelsea might only be slightly consoled by the fact that it is just second in those ratings and then be concerned by the way the team are playing right now.
Back to Blondie. The band gave its first performance at the legendary New York club CBGBs in February 1974 and they returned for many, many more gigs in the following years. There we have both singular and plural in the same sentence, for the reason mentioned above.
People are plural, as well you know. You see many of them in your day-to-day life, and none would disagree with you that ‘people’ is a plural noun. If we talk about ‘a large number of people’ then the verb will still be plural even though ‘number’ is singular. A huge number of people bought and still have copies of Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’, their best selling single. It captures the zeitgeist* of late seventies NYC with its swirl of new wave and disco sounds perfectly.
So how much would you pay for a ticket to see Blondie? And how long would you queue up to buy that ticket? Me, I’d have queued for 24 hours in the freezing cold to see this gig. 24 hours is (singular) a long time to wait, but it would’ve been worth it. Now we just sit in front of our computers and stress out trying to get high demand tickets only to find that those with more influence or money have got the ones we really wanted.
Four pounds and twenty-five pence isn’t a lot to pay to see the band. But obviously that was then and this is now. A pint at the bar would cost you more that that these days. The point is that when we talk about sums of money, despite the fact that we’re talking about countable pounds or euros or whatever, the sum is singular. 1,800 dollars is a lot of money to see a concert. Apparently, that’s what some people paid to see ‘Bad Bunny’ this year. I can’t say I know him, but for that money he’d have to be really, really good.
Have all the good names for bands and artists been used up? I now find myself wondering this. The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Engelbert Humperdinck… Well, I’d say the majority of all the great names have been taken. Partly because I think it’s true and also because I’m trying to make the point that when we talk about a majority the verb will be plural.
There’s an absolutely brilliant TV series called ‘The Deuce’, created by David Simon (The Wire) and George Pelecanos and set in NYC in the seventies and early eighties. No surprise really that Blondie’s ‘Dreaming’ was chosen as the theme music for one of the seasons. So now we have ‘series’ as a noun that you might think is plural but is also singular. One series, two series three series.. four days of Netflix bingewatching..so it goes.
So now, finally, to what we’re all really here for. A song that oozes style, charm, attitude, energy and positivity. Apart from the meaning we’ve been dealing with above, ‘singular’, as you know, is a word we can use for something exceptional, remarkable, way cool…
For me, the moments in the video that give this already perfect pop song that singularity are the following: Jimmi Destri’s ‘one, two, three, four’ finger count-in, Debbie Harry’s destroyer sneer as she sings «people stop and stare at me, we just walk on by» and Clem Burke’s drumming, which is just breathtaking, compelling and thoroughly exhausting to watch.
Blondie is a band and dreaming is free.
*zeitgeist; what a cool word! Obviously borrowed from German, it’s a way to refer to ‘the spirit of the times’.
2 comentarios sobre “Blondie is a band.”
No doubt this is the best post in the series so far! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
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No doubt, this is the best post in the series so far! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
Me gustaLe gusta a 1 persona