Hit ParadeSlate

Hit Parade: This Ain’t No Party?! Edition

How the first wave of CBGB punks became Billboard popstars, reshaping their knotty thrash into catchy bops.

HEY! HO! LET’S GO!! Is this chant: (a) a movement of disaffected hipsters, (b) walkup music for a baseball player or (c) a really catchy bop? How about all of the above?

The legendary New York nightclub CBGB was the birthplace of punk. But it was also the future of pop: the Ramones, Talking Heads, Patti Smith, Blondie. To varying degrees, these acts either became hitmakers, tried to reshape their music for the charts, or influenced generations of future multiplatinum stars.

Honestly? Their music was pretty infectious from the jump, even if it was too advanced for the ’70s hit parade. The music we called punk contained multitudes: the improvisatory jazz-rock of Television. The demented anthems of the Ramones. The quirky funk of Talking Heads. The stylistic eclecticism of Blondie—who scored four No. 1 hits in four different genres.

Join Chris Molanphy on a journey back to New York’s dirty days to try to answer: When did CBGB punk morph into chart pop?

Podcast production by Kevin Bendis.

Content retrieved from: https://slate.com/podcasts/hit-parade/2023/10/how-cbgb-punk-became-chart-pop.