“I wanna be just like you. I figure all I need is a lobotomy and some tights.”

hughesThe “New Wave” that most people associate with the 1980’s usually conjures up notions of tinny drum machines, silly haircuts and John Hughes soundtracks.

And synthesizers.

LOTS of synthesizers.

And drum machines. Did I mention drum machines?

LOTS of drum machines.

And Hair.

LOTS of…well, you get the point.

A quick troll through the Amazon.com archives and you’ll find there are probably close to 1000 new wave compilations available, and pretty much everything contained in those compilations are definitely not representative of the best that decade had to offer. As a matter of fact I’d wager that the songs that take up the space in these comps are the very reason why the ‘80’s gets a bad rap.

During the late 70’s and through the late 80’s artists such as Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Joe Jackson, Blondie, The Talking Heads, Squeeze, Split Enz, XTC, Tom Petty (!) and many others were (mis)labeled “New Wave” by record companies looking to categorize and subsequently exploit for profit these bands that were experimenting with new sounds and styles, taking the medium in yet another direction. The term “New Wave” was an over simplistic way of saying “sounds different than Led Zeppelin”.

As I hope I’m proving with this here little blog ‘o mine, a lot of the bands that came of age during the 1980’s were fantastic. Some were disposable, sure, and some were artsy and some had longevity, but “New Wave” is such a terrible corporate term (like Punk). I’ll just refer to the 1980’s as the “Diversity Decade”. Yes, there were failed experiments, of course there was, in addition to many, many bandwagon jumpers, but name me a decade that didn’t have their share and I’ll buy you a vintage Atari game console (Heck, I’ll even throw in Asteroids and Space Invaders cartridges). But the successes far outweigh the failures.

What’s your opinion?

Advertisements