Atomic City (song)

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"Atomic City"
Single by Holly Johnson
from the album Blast
Released 1989
Format 7" single, 12" single and CD single
Genre Pop
Length 6:15
Label MCA Records
Writer(s) Holly Johnson, Dan Hartman
Producer(s) Dan Hartman
Holly Johnson singles chronology
"Atomic City"
"Heaven's Here"

"Atomic City" is the third single from former Frankie Goes to Hollywood singer Holly Johnson, from his 1989 debut album Blast. The track was produced by Dan Hartman. A video was created for the track as well as a remix video titled Enviro-mental 12" Mix, directed by Colin Chilvers. The track was recorded at Marcus Studios, London.[1]

The song was written by Holly Johnson (lyrics) and Dan Hartman (music).


In the MCA press release for the Blast album, the release stated "Besides "Love Train" and "Americanos," key tracks include "Heavens Here" and "Atomic City."[2]

The only song on Blast to be feature a writing credit to anyone other than Johnson, Hartman also produced five other tracks on the album.[3]

In an interview with Johnson on memories of Hartman for Hartman's unofficial fan site, one question asked "When did you first meet Dan Hartman?", and Johnson replied "He came round to my house in London in 1988. To talk about producing tracks on my first solo album after I left Frankie Goes To Hollywood. I also appeared on the same bill as Dan earlier on a outdoor live TV event called Rock around The Dock in Liverpool 1986? I think-he performed I Can Dream About You. I still have it on video somewhere..." When asked "How did "Atomic City" come about?", Johnson revealed "I had all the lyrics and vocal ideas already sorted out but needed someone to sort out the structure, Dan came up with the funky bassline and made it work. He asked for 10% of the song!"[4]

Track listing[edit]

7" Single
  1. "Atomic City" - 4:22
  2. "Beat the System" - 3:44
12" Single
  1. "Atomic City (Extended Version)" - 6:16
  2. "Beat the System" - 3:44
12" Single (UK promo)
  1. "Atomic City (Extended Version)" - 6:16
  2. "Beat the System" - 3:44
12" Remix Single
  1. "Atomic City (The Bona Biodegradable Mix)" - 7:34
  2. "Beat the System" - 3:44
  3. "Atomic City (Environmental Instrumental)" - 6:35
CD Single
  1. "Atomic City" - 4:23
  2. "Beat the System" - 3:48
  3. "Atomic City (Extended Version)" - 6:19

Critical reception[edit]

Upon the release of the Blast album, American newspaper The Age mentioned the song in a July 1989 review of the album, stating ""Atomic City" is very 'Frankie Goes to Hollywood'."[5]

Upon the release of the Blast album, American newspaper Record-Journal stated "Some of the songs such as "Atomic City" are designed for the DJ's booth at the local disco."[6]

In a 1989 review of the Blast album, Smash Hits stated "Most of the songs (all written by Holly alone except for the overblown Atomic City where tunesmith for hire Dan Hartman chips in) are routine efforts, not worth the obvious effort and enthusiasm he puts into singing them."[7]

In April 1989, NME reviewed the Blast album, writing ""Atomic City" is a, er, blasting dance furore about having no ozone layer and seeing the air pollution from the power station, and so on. "Blast" mixes such nasties with disco exuberance and so it should be; Holly well knows that people get up and dance and get up and protest."[8]

In a April 1989 review of the Blast album by Melody Maker, the review states "The same vengeful confidence which gives a "Blast" to "All the Unbelievers and Deceivers" on the inner sleeve throbs through the hard-on, haughty syncopation of "Atomic City". This is an album of erect justification, a poke in the eardrum for those who considered Holly merely a cuddly marionette acting out his camp fantasies to the beat of someone else's genius. It may lack Trevor Horn's exotic depth and sweep but "Atomic City" has learned enough from Frankie to locate a hiatus of pastoral serenity in the midst of the swelter, a breather before hurtling back into the synthetic brass sweat bath." The review also speaks of the Johnson's lyrical messages on the album, including the song, stating "He tells us we watch too much box while "Atomic City" informs us "There's more to life than a TV gameshow"."[9]

In a UK magazine review of the single, the review states "It comes as something of a disappointment to find out that "Atomic City" isn't half as breezy as either "Love Train" or "Americanos". All the normal parts of a Holly Johnson song are in there (i.e. lots of "haww hawwwws", plenty of frantic parpings from the horn "section", a high-pitched wail or two from the backing singer "chicks" etc) but there's just not much of a tune to it. Oh well, I should expect the video will be good."[10]

In a German magazine, a review of "Atomic City" was issued, where the magazine gave the single three stars, writing "That Holly, the respectable-looking ex-head of evil Frankie Goes to Hollywood, would meet solo Sun exactly to the finish, I honestly never would have thought. Here already is his third single hammer. Heavy rhythm and power singing."[11]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1989) Peak
Austrian Singles Chart[12] 19
Belgian Singles Chart (Vl)[13] 22
Dutch Singles Chart[14] 40
German Singles Chart[15] 16
Irish Singles Chart[16] 9
Italian Singles Chart[17] 29
New Zealand Singles Chart[18] 20
Swiss Singles Chart[19] 10
UK Singles Chart[20] 18

Remixes and B-sides[edit]

  • "Atomic City" (The Bona Biodegradable Mix)
  • "Beat the System"
  • "Atomic City" (Environmental Instrumental)
  • "Atomic City" (extended version) (Saxes and Electric Sax by Gary Barnacle)
  • Holly Johnson - "Atomic City" (Razormaid)
  • Holly Johnson - "Atomic City" (RDS Mix)
  • Holly Johnson - "Atomic City" (UNICD extended version)


  1. ^ "Explore Releases on Discogs". Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  2. ^ "Zang Tuum Tumb and all that | Articles | Blast". Retrieved 2014-05-22. 
  3. ^ "Holly Johnson - Blast (CD, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 2014-05-22. 
  4. ^ "Memories of Dan Hartman". Retrieved 2014-05-22. 
  5. ^,5433728&dq=holly+johnson+atomic+city&hl=en
  6. ^,6079849&dq=holly+johnson+atomic+city&hl=en
  7. ^ "Zang Tuum Tumb and all that | Articles | Blast". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  8. ^ "Zang Tuum Tumb and all that | Articles | Holly Johnson: Blast". 1989-04-22. Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  9. ^ "Zang Tuum Tumb and all that | Articles | Rocket man". 1989-04-22. Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  10. ^ "Zang Tuum Tumb and all that | Articles | Holly Johnson: Atomic city". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  11. ^ "Zang Tuum Tumb and all that | Articles | Holly Johnson: Atomic city". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  12. ^ Steffen Hung. "Holly Johnson - Atomic City". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  13. ^ "Holly Johnson - Atomic City". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  14. ^ Steffen Hung. "Holly Johnson - Atomic City". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  15. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  16. ^ Jaclyn Ward - Fireball Media Group - "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  17. ^ "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: J". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  18. ^ Steffen Hung. "Holly Johnson - Atomic City". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  19. ^ Steffen Hung. "Holly Johnson - Atomic City". Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  20. ^ "The Official Charts Company - Atomic City by Holly Johnson Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013.