Are We Not New Wave?: Modern Pop at the Turn of the 1980s by Theodore Cateforis

By Theodore Cateforis

“Are We no longer New Wave? is destined to develop into the definitive learn of recent wave music.”
—Mark Spicer, coeditor of Sounding Out Pop

New wave emerged on the flip of the Nineteen Eighties as a pop track circulate forged within the photo of punk rock’s sneering demeanor, but rendered extra obtainable and complex. Artists equivalent to the vehicles, Devo, the speaking Heads, and the Human League leapt into the head forty with a singular sound that broke with the staid rock clichés of the Seventies and pointed how you can a extra smooth pop style.

In Are We no longer New Wave? Theo Cateforis presents the 1st musical and cultural historical past of the recent wave stream, charting its upward push out of mid-1970s punk to its ubiquitous early Eighties MTV presence and downfall within the mid-1980s. The publication additionally explores the meanings at the back of the music’s unique traits—its attribute whiteness and anxiousness; its playful irony, digital melodies, and crossover experimentations. Cateforis lines new wave’s smooth sensibilities again to the space-age buyer tradition of the overdue 1950s/early 1960s.

Three many years after its upward thrust and fall, new wave’s impression looms huge over the modern pop scene, recycled and celebrated not just in reunion excursions,  VH1 nostalgia specials, and “80s evening” dance golf equipment yet within the track of artists as assorted as Rihanna, woman Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and the Killers.

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Sample text

Heatwave’s failure to match its advance billing as the new wave “Woodstock of the Eighties” was not lost on the industry. While rock critics were wringing their hands over the genre’s dance with the big-business devil, the major labels were noticing that the majority of bands that they had signed in their post-Knack moment of infatuation were managing only modest returns on their investments and in many cases were complete stiffs. Worst of all, the Knack itself, like the bands that were intended to follow in its footsteps, was faltering badly.

In August, however, there was a hint that the new wave’s fortunes might be changing. The Cars’ debut single, “Just What I Needed,” became the ‹rst song speci‹cally marketed as new wave to crack the Top 40 singles chart, a rare feat for a genre whose most serious inroads had thus far been on the AOR radio format. The album produced a further Top 40 single with “My Best Friend’s Girl” and would eventually go on to achieve multiple platinum sales, providing proof that a new wave group could successfully navigate the mainstream.

Listening to the stack of seventy-eight vocal tracks that blare out the title of “Good Times Roll,” for example, one easily hears the similarities between the Cars and other 1978 AOR favorites like Boston and Van Halen, who liberally peppered their recordings with comparably thick vocal arrangements. Roy Thomas Baker, who had risen to fame with his work on Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” was particularly well known for his powerful ornate vocal productions. But as he explained in a 1982 interview with Trouser Press magazine, with the Cars he sought to emphasize the space in between these vocal ›ourishes: “The thing that was appropriate for The Cars, and not at the time appropriate for those other bands, was a thing called air.

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