Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by WLL, Jan 16, 2020.
New wave in that context being simply new acts, not the genre that it would become. Sort of like the term British Invasion. Or maybe not!
New Wave - at least to me - was the first breakaway from the previous generation of rock musicians. ie the groups or people you would have seen in the movie The Last Waltz. Also a breakaway from Prog or big stadium rock and back to the simpler roots of rock 'n' roll.
As mentioned above, Godard etc and the New Wave of cinema is another example of the term.
Of course "New Wave" as a marketing term could be slapped on any up and coming group of the era.
But I "know it when I hear it"
I think this is another one of those discussions where geography is key. My experience of New Wave as an Australian is similar to @GubGub's, but with some American artists thrown in for good measure: The Pretenders, The Cars, Blondie, The Go-Go's. The one thing they all had in common was that the sound was mostly guitar-based, and the songs had lots of energy but much more of a pop sensibility than punk. It was a short-lived movement — all over by 1982, when synth really started to take hold.
As the term New Wave gained traction and became more focused, lets name some defining singles:
#1 Cars, Gary Newman
I never heard the term "post-punk" until maybe 10-15 years ago on the Internet.
That's not to say that no one in the US used that term 40 years ago, but it wasn't a very common term in the US.
I dont recall the term in the 80s either. Maybe later in the decade when u2 and the Cure were massive
Yes they would all have attracted the New Wave tag here too, though the Go-Gos never had much traction in the UK. How could I forget The Pretenders, especially that first album. I can still remember the thrill of playing that one for the first time.
#2 XTC, Making plans for nigel
Not New Wave in the UK. Synth Pop alongside Planet Earth by Duran Duran in 1979 until all of those synth based acts broadly got grouped as New Romantic as the 80s unfolded (including Ultravox, Depeche Mode and others who outgrew the label).
New Wave was guitar based here.
My experience at the time is that U2, at least early on, were considered "indie"--or what Rolling Stone magazine used to call "college rock" (with the idea being simply that they were artists very popular with college students/who were getting a lot of airplay on college radio, hence their college charts at the time), and the Cure were considered "goth."
Correct: as a former College radio dj , both came out of that genre and gravitated to the big time. However, they both have late 70s roots=post punk. Man, i miss the “imported” (wink) cigarettes from my college days: good times
Yes, it's a classic and one of the best debuts of all-time.
From what I've read and the conversations I've had over the years, it seems Brits and Aussies have a similar definition of "new wave". Certainly our charts followed yours quite closely from 1978-1982. Americans usually incorporate synth-bands into their version of "new wave" — it's a lot broader and seems to have lasted longer.
It seems that "new wave" also has different meanings for different generations. I hung out with some younger friends on New Year's Eve who put on a "new wave" playlist that featured a lot of songs from the mid-80s. I mean, I love OMD's 'So In Love' — but it's not new wave.
As well as our own new wave bands such as The Flowers
Not many of the pure electronic bands were labelled new romantics except maybe the Human League. Most were bands that mixed synth's with guitar/drums like Duran Ultravox Spandau etc
popsike.com - International Discography of the New Wave Punk KBD BOOK - auction details
Yes, 'Can't Help Myself' and 'We Can Get Together' are great Aussie new wave. The Swingers 'Counting The Beat' is another (although I think they were Kiwis). It's hard to pinpoint many others, though. The Sports? I'm not sure Split Enz quite fit under the "new wave" umbrella — 'I Got You' and 'One Step Ahead' probably come close. Does The Church fit? 'The Unguarded Moment' is an amazing song, but is it new wave? Not really.
I forgot to include Devo in my list of American new wave acts before. They were huge down here in the very early 80s and definitely considered new wave.
The two problems with the term are that
a) it means different things in different countries
b) the lines with some groups get very blurred.
In the UK the term is applied to bands that took the energy and inspiration from Punk but were more poppy and melodic, and only applies to 1977 to 1980. After 1980 there were different labels so the term had no relevance any more. You can't call any 80's act 'New Wave' in the UK.
Where as in the US I believe it went well into the 80's.
Some bands started as Punk and became New Wave as well as their sound changed but most were still regarded as Punk if they started Punk.
When I think od New Wave this is kind of the definition:
Even some of my long-time favourites jumped on the bandwagon. Marketing is king.
I think the definition of new wave has evolved to the point where today it has a specific meaning.
"New wave" seems to be reserved for artists who are synth-based and pop-based. Based on my knowledge of the Stranglers, I would not consider them "new wave" at all, but I wouldn't hesitate to apply the label to the Human League or OMD. I would consider the Stranglers to be post-punk. The Romantics is power-pop. Both of those labels are not "new wave", as far as sound is concerned (I know that these three genres were blurred in the late 70s-early 80s, but I'm referring to NOW).
Thanks. Borrowed this from Archive.org library. So much stuff listed.
I'd say New Wave covers alternative bands circa 1979-1985
This reminds me of the term “Alternative Rock” which was deemed on EVERY band that made it big in the 90s following Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
I think your "specific meaning" of the definition of New Wave is very american-centric, even now. In Europe the definition is almost the opposite from yours. New wave bands over here are considered mostly guitar-oriented artists from the late '70s/early '80s, such as Blondie, Elvis Costello, XTC, Joe Jackson, B-52s, Ian Dury, The Police, etc. Few synths involved.
Stranglers were on the cusp between punk and wave. They certainly had the nasty punk attitude, but their music was leaning more towards new wave.
I would definitely think the term changed meaning over time. BUt do always tend to think of it as the watering down of the music made by punk bands and their later developments & the attempt to commercialise that watering down, which might have been its main impetus anyway.
I'm not sure how many of the punk bands either side of teh Atlantic would have been happy with teh term Punk before a certain point. THink that might have been more of a media term which might be why it codified to something roughly generic after a certain point. I remember the retro style in the mid 80s refering to things as some variation on Punk 77 which I thought was weird since i thought the more significant, more inventive explosion was late 75 and throughout 76. Culminating possibly in the Anarchy tour where the London bands go to try to spread the word and find that the gigs have been cancelled. Meanwhile in some parts of the rest of teh UK new bands are picking up on energy from teh ramones first lp, Nuggets compilations and a few other sources, Iggy & The Stooges Raw power possibly. NOt sure what these bands would be calling tehmselves at the time but once the media become involved it gets dubbed punk.
New York scene had the CBGBs scene as well as another couple of venues, had teh New York Dolls, Suicide and a few others. Also had a magazine by John Hagstrom and Legs McNeil called Punk. I'm not 100% sure what the bands themselves called themselves but the name Punk came in from somewhere possibly the magazine that covered them. Suicide had been using the name Punk to describe some of its activities since a few years earlier.
I think a few of the bands were thinking of themselves as being New Wave until the media started using the term.
& some commercial releases who weren't 100% au courant with what was defined as what used the term New Wave to sell records.
What is now thought of as New Wave isn't really an area that interests me, Post-Punk and other break offs from the punk explosion do.
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