The Round of 64 for Sound of the City’s own version of March Madness—in which you, the Sound of the City voting public, help determine the quintessential New York musician—finishes up this week, with the Round of 32 scheduled to kick off Monday. (The schedule and results so far are here; the full, updated bracket is here.) Taking a cue from our neighbors at the Curbed Network, we’re going to have a power hour—new polls every 15 minutes until 4 p.m., at which point we’ll reveal more results. This time out, we’re pitting Blondie against Run-DMC—check out the arguments in favor of each below, and vote at Facebook for your favorite.
The great irony of punk was that a movement meant to tear down the rules quickly built up it’s own set of rules about what was and what wasn’t allowed. But the only rules Debbie Harry and Chris Stein followed were Entertain Thyself. Though no one would confuse her with Big Daddy Kane, Harry’s rap on “Rapture” was many people’s first exposure to then percolating sub-culture, and an early indication of how good punk’s primal attitude could fit with slinky, minimal dance beats. That’s a hell of a way to spend 1981. No style was off-limits to Blondie, but even more than their stylistic breadth, their greatest accomplishment was Harry giving voice to their inner lives of the bad-ass rock chicks and downtown scene women that until then were usually consigned to being little more than the object of desire in some dude’s song.
Run-DMC.’s list of firsts is hip-hop sacrosanct at this point. First Rap Group On The Cover Of Rolling Stone. First Rap Group To Take Rap To The Suburbs. First Rap Group To Have A Platinum Album And MTV Hit. First Rap Group To Make Adidas Look Totally Boss. (This last part might be apocryphal.) They owe their success to a number of factors, from smart marketing and Rick Rubin’s insistence that they focus on pop-rock structure and massive choruses; it also helped that they were the most accessible foot soldiers for a genre most white people were still struggling to understand. But the real reason these guys became the kings of rock is that that they sharpened every element of their attack, from the Reverend and DMC’s still-peerless back and forth interplay to Jam Master Jay’s cuts, into a percussive clap that slapped the listener upside the head until they paid attention and realized they were in the presence of royalty. Boom-boom-boom, there is none higher.