New Wave music

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New Wave
Stylistic originsPunk rock, art rock,[1][2] garage rock,[3] glam rock, pub rock, ska, reggae, experimental, electronic, power pop, funk, bubblegum pop,[4][5] disco[6][7][8]
Cultural originsMid to late 1970s, United States and United Kingdom
Typical instrumentsElectric guitar – bass guitar – drums – synthesizers – vocals
Derivative formsNeue Deutsche WelleSuomi-rock[9]SynthpopMod revivalChillwave[10]
Fusion genres
Synthpunk2 ToneElectroclashNew rave
Regional scenes
Argentina[11] -Finland – FranceGermanyItalySpain – United Kingdom – United States – Yugoslavia
Other topics
Post-punkAlternative rock - No Wave
 
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New Wave
Stylistic originsPunk rock, art rock,[1][2] garage rock,[3] glam rock, pub rock, ska, reggae, experimental, electronic, power pop, funk, bubblegum pop,[4][5] disco[6][7][8]
Cultural originsMid to late 1970s, United States and United Kingdom
Typical instrumentsElectric guitar – bass guitar – drums – synthesizers – vocals
Derivative formsNeue Deutsche WelleSuomi-rock[9]SynthpopMod revivalChillwave[10]
Fusion genres
Synthpunk2 ToneElectroclashNew rave
Regional scenes
Argentina[11] -Finland – FranceGermanyItalySpain – United Kingdom – United States – Yugoslavia
Other topics
Post-punkAlternative rock - No Wave

New Wave music is an ambiguous category of pop or rock music from between the late 1970s to mid-1980s with ties to the original wave of punk rock.[12] New Wave music was first considered the same as punk rock before being identified as a genre in its own right, incorporating aspects of electronic and experimental music, mod subculture, disco and 1960s pop music.

New Wave differs from other post-punk movements as it displays characteristics common to pop music, rather than the more "arty" post-punk,[13] though it incorporates much of the original punk rock sound and ethos[7][14] while arguably exhibiting greater complexity in both music and lyrics. Common characteristics of New Wave music, aside from its punk influences, include the use of synthesizers and electronic productions, the importance of styling and the arts, as well as a great amount of diversity.[13]

New Wave is seen as one of the definitive genres of the 1980s;[15] at the time, it enjoyed commercial success as several of the major artists and groups of the time were labelled New Wave. The genre became a fixture on MTV,[13] and the popularity of several New Wave artists has been partially attributed to the exposure that was given to them by the channel. In the mid-1980s, differences between New Wave and other music genres began to blur.[16][13] New Wave has enjoyed resurgences since the 1990s, after a rising "nostalgia" for New Wave influenced several artists. The revivals in the 1990s and early 2000s were small, but became popular by 2004; subsequently, the genre has influenced a variety of music genres.[17][18][19][20][21][22][23]

Contents

The term New Wave

The catch all nature of New Wave Music has been a source of much confusion and controversy. The 1985 discography Who's New Wave in Music listed artists in over 130 separate categories.[24] The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock uses the term "virtually meaningless" in its definition of New Wave [25] while Allmusic mentions "stylistic diversity".[26]

"New Wave" first circulated as a rock music genre in the early 1970s, used by critics like Nick Kent and Dave Marsh to classify such New York-based groups as the Velvet Underground and New York Dolls.[27] It gained a much wider currency beginning in 1976 when it appeared in UK punk fanzines such as Sniffin' Glue, and also in newsstand music weeklies such as Melody Maker and New Musical Express.[28] In a November 1976 article in Melody Maker, Caroline Coon used Malcolm McLaren's term "New Wave" to designate music by bands not exactly punk, but related to, and part of the same musical scene;[29] the term was also used in that sense by music journalist Charles Shaar Murray in his comments about The Boomtown Rats.[30] For a period of time in 1976 and 1977 the two terms were interchangeable.[16][31] By the end of 1977, "New Wave" had replaced "Punk" as the definition for new underground music in the UK.[28]

In the United States, Sire Records chairmen Seymour Stein believing that the term punk would mean poor sales for Sire's acts who had frequently played the club CBGB launched a "Don't Call It Punk" campaign designed to replace the term with New Wave.[32] Because radio consultants in the United States had advised their clients that punk rock was a fad, they settled on the term New Wave. Like the filmmakers of the French New Wave movement whom the genre was named after, its new artists, such as the Ramones and Talking Heads, were anti-corporate and experimental. At first, most American writers exclusively used the term New Wave for British punk acts. Starting in December 1976, The New York Rocker, which was suspicious of the term punk, became the first American journal to enthusiastically use the term starting with British acts, and later appropriating it to acts associated with the CBGB scene.[28]

"The New York Dolls arrived and galvanized the entire scene. Real glam trash. Beautiful. They proved it was possible to be trashy and good at the same time. Kicked everyone into action at a desperate moment. They saved us all. At that moment, I was drawing lines into New York and the Velvets, European avant garde and electronic music, previous generation's Brit Psychedelia plus a ragged sort of insulting glam. I guess this was the start of the New Wave. By the way, whoever coined that New Wave byline is my hero. Because a New Wave is precisely what it was – and precisely what was needed at that moment."

John Foxx[33]
Talking Heads performing in Toronto in 1978.

Music historian Vernon Joynson states that New Wave emerged in the UK in late 1976, when many bands began disassociating themselves from punk.[34] Music that followed the anarchic garage band ethos of the Sex Pistols was distinguished as "punk", while music that tended toward experimentation, lyrical complexity, or more polished production, came to be categorized as "New Wave". This came to include musicians who had come to prominence in the British pub rock scene of the mid-1970s, such as Ian Dury, Nick Lowe, Eddie and the Hot Rods and Dr. Feelgood;[35] and according to Allmusic "angry, intelligent" singer-songwriters who "approached pop music with the sardonic attitude and tense, aggressive energy of punk" such as Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, and Graham Parker.[36] In the U.S., the first New Wavers were the not-so-punk acts associated with the New York club CBGB, such as Talking Heads, Mink DeVille and Blondie.[17]

CBGB owner Hilly Kristal, referring to the first show of the band Television at his club in March 1974, said, "I think of that as the beginning of new wave."[37] Furthermore, many artists who would have originally been classified as punk were also termed New Wave. A 1977 Phonogram Records compilation album of the same name (New Wave) features US artists including the Dead Boys, Ramones, Talking Heads and The Runaways.[17][38]

United States and United Kingdom differences

There are differences between the United States and the United Kingdom in how New Wave evolved and is defined. New Wave is much more closely tied to punk and came and went quickly in the United Kingdom. At the time Punk began it was a major phenomenon in the United Kingdom and a minor one in the United States. Thus when New wave acts started getting notice in America, Punk meant little to the mainstream audience. British mainstream and music media were more genre specific and its writers and presenters were allowed more latitude than their generalist U.S. counterparts. Post punk music developments in the U.K. became mainstream and were considered unique cultural events.[39]

"Bit by bit the last traces of Punk were drained from New Wave, as New Wave went from meaning Talking Heads to meaning the Cars to Squeeze to Duran Duran to, finally, Wham! "

—Music critic Bill Flannigan writing in 1989[40]

A consensus has developed that New Wave ended in the middle 1980s knocked out by more guitar driven rock music be it Heavy Metal, Roots Rock, British Indie/American Alternative reacting against New Wave. While some U.S. fans at the time viewed it that way, this represented a minority viewpoint. To the majority of fans it was still a "New Wave" reacting to "lumbering" Album based Rock. It was common for rock clubs and discos in between live sets by American guitar acts to play British dance mixes and videos.[41] For most of the remainder of the 1980s the term "New Wave" was used in America (and the Philippines[42]) for nearly every new pop or pop rock artist that largely used synthesizers. Despite the consensus, in the late 2000s New Wave referred to these acts, as well as late 1970s and 1980s post-punk and alternative acts.[3][43][44]

Styles and Subgenres

The New Wave sound of the late 1970s represented a break from the smooth-oriented blues and rock & roll sounds of late 1960s to mid-1970s rock music. According to music journalist Simon Reynolds, the music had a twitchy, agitated feel to it. New Wave musicians often played choppy rhythm guitars with fast tempos. Keyboards were common as were stop-and-start song structures and melodies. Reynolds noted that New Wave vocalists sounded high-pitched, geeky and suburban.[14] Theo Cateforis, Assistant Professor of Music History and Cultures at Syracuse University noted that a nervous, nerdy persona was a common characteristic of New Wave fans and acts such as Talking Heads, Devo and Elvis Costello. This took the forms of robotic or spastic dancing, jittery high pitched vocals, fashion such as suits and big glasses that hid the body. This seemed radical to audiences accustomed to post-counterculture forms such as disco dancing and Cock rock which emphasized a let it hang loose philosophy, open sexuality and sexual bravado.[45]

The idea of Rock music as a serious art form started in the late 1960s and was the dominant view of the genre at the time of New Wave's arrival. New Wave looked back or borrowed in various ways from the years just prior to this occurrence. One way this was done was taking an ironic look at consumer and pop culture of the 1950s and early 1960s. The B-52's became most noted for their kitsch and camp presentation with their bouffant wigs, beach party and sci-fi movie references. Other groups that referenced the pre-progressive rock era were the Go-Go's (1960s), Deborah Harry's (Marylin Monroe), and Devo (3D) kit).[46]

Power pop continued the guitar singles oriented British invasion sound of the middle of the 1960s into the 1970s and to this day. Although the name power pop had been around before punk (it is believed to be coined by Pete Townsend in 1967) it became widely associated with New Wave when Bomp and Trouser Press magazines respectively in March and April 1978 wrote cover stories touting power pop as a sound that could continue New Wave's directness without the negativity associated with Punk. The Romantics, The Records, The Motors,[17] Cheap Trick, and 20/20 were groups that had success playing this style. The Jam was the prime example of the mod sensibility of British power pop. By the end of 1979 a backlash had developed against power pop in general particularity the Los Angeles scene. The skinny ties worn by a lot of L.A. power pop groups became symbolic of the supposed in-authenticity of the genre. [16][47]

A revival of ska music led by The Specials, Madness and the The Beat/English Beat added humor and a strong dance beat to New Wave.[3]

The term post-punk was coined to describe groups such as Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, Gang of Four, and The Cure, which were initially considered part of the New Wave but were more ambitious, serious and challenging, darker, and less pop oriented. Some of these groups would later adopt synths.[48][49] Although distinct, punk, New Wave, and post-punk all shared common ground: an energetic reaction to what they perceived as the overproduced, uninspired popular music of the 1970s.[50]

The New Romantic scene had developed in the London nightclubs Billy's and The Blitz and was associated with bands including Duran Duran, Japan, Ultravox, Visage, Adam and the Ants, Bow Wow Wow, Soft Cell, Spandau Ballet, ABC and Culture Club.[51] They adopted their visual and musical style from David Bowie and Roxy Music.[52]

Kraftwerk received notice for their use of the synthesizers. Their 1975 pop single "Autobahn" reached number 11 in the United Kingdom. In 1978 Gary Numan saw a synthesizer left by another music act and started playing around with it. By 1979 his band Tubeway Army had 3 albums and 2 singles in the British Top 20 and a Number 10 U.S. single. Numan's admitted amateurism and deliberate lack of emotion was a sea change from the masculine and professional image synth players had in an era when elaborate lengthy solos ware the norm. His open desire to be a pop star broke from punk orthodoxy. The decreasing price and ease of use of the instrument led acts to follow in Kraftwork and Numan's footsteps. While Tubeway Army had other conventional rock instruments several acts that followed used only synthesizers. Synthpop or "Technopop" as it was described by the U.S. press,[53] filled a void left by disco,[21] became a broad genre that included groups such as The Human League, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, a-ha, New Order, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Yazoo,[54] Ultravox,[55] Kajagoogoo,[56] and the Thompson Twins.[55][57][58][59]

In the early 1980s New Wave acts embraced "crossover" of rock music with African and Africa-American styles. Adam and The Ants and Bow Wow Wow acts with ties to ex Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren as well as Naked Eyes used Burundi styled drumming.[60] The Talking Heads album Remain in Light was marketed and was positivity reviewed as a breakthrough melding New Wave and African styles although Chris Franz has said he found out about this supposed African influence after the fact.[61] Second British Invasion acts were influenced by funk and disco[62]

The genre produced numerous one hit wonders.[26]

Reception in the United States

In the summer of 1977 both Time[63] and Newsweek magazines wrote favorable lead stories on the "punk/new wave" movement.[64] Acts associated with the movement received little or no radio airplay or music industry support. Small scenes developed in major cities. Continuing into the next year, public support remained limited to select elements of the artistic, bohemian and intellectual population,[28] as arena rock and disco dominated the charts.[55]

Starting in late 1978 and continuing into 1979, acts associated with punk and acts that mixed punk with other genres began to make chart appearances and receive airplay on rock stations and played in Rock discos.[65] Blondie, Talking Heads, The Police and The Cars would chart during this period.[16][55] "My Sharona", a single from The Knack, was Billboard magazine's number one single of 1979. The success of "My Sharona" and that new wave albums were much cheaper to produce during a time when the music industry was in its worst slump in decades[66] prompted record companies to rush out and sign New Wave groups.[16] New Wave music scenes developed in Ohio[55] and Athens, Georgia.[67] 1980 saw brief forays into New Wave-styled music by non-New Wave artists Billy Joel and Linda Ronstadt.[16] [

Theo Cateforis noted that the majority of United States male New Wave acts of the late 1970s from caucasian middle-class backgrounds and believes the acts either to criticize it or to just reflect who they were intentionally presented exaggerated tendencies discussed earlier that are associated with this "whiteness".[68]

Early in 1980 highly influential radio consultant Lee Abrams wrote a memo saying with a few exceptions "we're not going to be seeing many of the New Wave circuit acts happening very big over here (in America). As a movement, we don't expect it to have much influence." Lee Ferguson, a consultant to KWST interviewed at the time, said Los Angeles radio stations were banning disc jockeys from using the term and noted, "Most of the people who call music New Wave are the ones looking for a way not to play it."[69] Despite the success of Devo's socially critical but widely misperceived song "Whip It",[70] second albums by artists who had successful debut albums, along with the newly signed artists, both failed to sell and radio pulled most New Wave programming.[16]

The arrival of MTV in 1981 would usher in New Wave's most successful era in the United States. British artists, unlike many of their American counterparts, had learned how to use the music video early on.[55][71] Several British acts signed to independent labels were able to outmarket and outsell American artists that were signed with major labels. Journalists labeled this phenomenon a "Second British Invasion".[71][72] MTV continued its heavy rotation of videos by New Wave-oriented acts until 1987, when it changed to a heavy metal and rock dominated format.[73]

Martha Davis of The Motels performs at Hollywood Park.

In a December 1982 Gallup poll, 14% of teenagers rated New Wave music as their favorite type of music, making it the third most popular.[74] New Wave had its greatest popularity on the West Coast. Unlike other genres, race was not a factor in the popularity of New Wave music, according to the poll. [74] Urban Contemporary radio stations were the first to play dance-oriented New Wave artists such as the B-52's, Culture Club, Duran Duran and ABC.[75]

New Wave soundtracks were used in mainstream "Brat Pack" films such as Valley Girl, Sixteen Candles, Pretty In Pink, and The Breakfast Club.[55][76] John Hughes, a director of several of these films, was enthralled with British New Wave Music and put music from acts such as The Psychedelic Furs, Simple Minds, and Echo and The Bunnymen into his films, helping put New Wave into the mainstream. Several of these songs remain standards of the era.[77] Critics described the MTV acts as shallow or vapid,.[55][71] The homophobic slurs "faggot" and "Art Fag" were openly used to describe New Wave musicians[78][79] Despite the criticism the danceable quality of the music and quirky fashion sense associated with New Wave artists appealed to audiences.[55]

The use of synthesizers by New Wave acts influenced the development of house music in Chicago and techno in Detroit. In September 1988 Billboard launched their Modern Rock chart. While the acts on the reflected a wide variety of stylistic influences, New Wave's legacy remained in the large influx of acts from Great Britain and acts that were popular in Rock Discos, as well as the charts name itself which reflected how New Wave had been marketed as "modern".[80] New Wave’s indie spirit would be crucial to the development of college rock and grunge/alternative rock in the latter half of the 1980s and beyond.[55] New Wave is considered part of alternative rock today.[3]

Post-1980s revivals and influence

Franz Ferdinand performing in 2006.

In 1991 retro futurist acts such as Stereolab and Saint Etienne mixed New Wave and kitschy 1960s pop.[81] In the aftermath of grunge, the British music press launched a campaign to promote the New Wave of New Wave. This campaign involved overtly punk and New Wave influenced acts such as Elastica but was eclipsed by Britpop.[17] Other acts of note during the 1990s included No Doubt, Metric,[82] Six Finger Satellite, and Brainiac.[18][83] During that decade the synthesizer-heavy dance sounds of British and European New Wave acts influenced various incarnations of Eurodisco and trance.[21][55] Chris Martin was inspired to start Coldplay by a-ha.[84]

During the 2000s a number of acts emerged that mined from a diversity of New Wave and post-punk influences. Among these were The Strokes, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Franz Ferdinand, The Epoxies, She Wants Revenge, Bloc Party, Foals,[85] Kaiser Chiefs, and The Killers. These acts were sometimes labeled "New New Wave". By 2004 these acts were described as "hot".[19] New Wave became revived during the mid-2000s with acts such as The Sounds, The Ting Tings, Hot Chip,[86][87] Passion Pit,[88] The Presets,[89] La Roux, Ladytron,[90] Shiny Toy Guns,[91] Hockey,[92] Gwen Stefani and Ladyhawke.[18][19][93][94][95][96][97][98][99] While some journalists and fans regarded this as a revival, others argued that the phenomenon was a continuation of the original movements.[18][100][101][102].

The Drums are an example of the trend in the United States indie pop scene that mines both the sounds and attitudes of the British New Wave Era.[20][21][22][103] In addition, in the late 2000s a New Wave influenced genre called Chillwave developed. Notable artists are Toro Y Moi, Neon Indian, Twin Shadow and Washed Out.[104][105][106]

Disney Channel stars such as Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana have been described as embracing New Wave sounds,[23] as have acts like Marina and the Diamonds.[107][108] Hip-hop artists commonly sample 1980s synthpop and R&B artists such as Rihanna have also embraced that subgenre.[23]

Since the late 1990s nostalgia for the original 1980s incarnations of New Wave have become popular. These have taken the form of Hollywood movies with soundtracks using New Wave Music, 1980s nights at dance clubs, reunion tours featuring several 1980s acts and the Classic alternative radio format. Late 1970s New Wave acts such as The Pretenders and The Cars are more likely to be found on Classic rock playlists then on New Wave playlists and Power Pop's association with the genre has largely been forgotten.[109][110][111]

Parallel movements

See also

References

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Bibliography

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