Genre of the Week 5: New Wave (Part 7)

By the 1980’s new wave as a style was beginning to fade as it became quite hard to distinguish it from other styles.

This was especially the case with the arrival of genres such as synth pop and new romantic, which although had direct links to new wave, were not new wave.

In its place rose synth pop, with bands like New Order, OMD and Soft Cell proving very successful.

People confused new romantic with new wave. The simple fact though was that it wasn’t, and was really just a genre where record labels capitalized on the success of new wave by promoting bands they thought were “similar”, as record companies tend to do.

Because of this, bands like Flock of Seagulls, Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran became very popular and pretty much just wiped out new wave.

And of course like the death of all musical movements and styles, pop has to take some of the blame. But in this case there was some actually good pop, which also in fact had links to new wave.

I am of course talking about bands such as the Eurythmics and Human League, both of whom took the visual and quirky aspects of new wave and put them to good use.

And that then is your New Wave week. New wave peaked between 1977 and 1981 before being overtaken and overrun by the commercial side of the industry.

Its legacy can be seen in that it was one of the first independent music scenes and directly went on to influence the alternative and indie scenes that came after it. It was also a refreshing and quirky music scene for a time where the music industry was a money-making zenith. Some of the best music of the late-70’s and early-80’s came out of this scene.

Its influence on modern indie and alt rock is also clearly evident, with bands such as the Strokes, Interpol, Arctic Monkeys, Tame Impala and Arcade Fire all owing a massive debt musically to new wave. The term “new new wave” has also been used in recent years to describe scenes.

And with that it seems fitting to go out with a new wave anthem written by Nick Lowe and performed by Elvis Costello.

 – Sam


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