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

By Theodore Cateforis

“Are We now not New Wave? is destined to develop into the definitive research of recent wave music.”
—Mark Spicer, coeditor of Sounding Out Pop

New wave emerged on the flip of the Nineteen Eighties as a pop tune stream forged within the photo of punk rock’s sneering demeanor, but rendered extra available and complex. Artists reminiscent of the automobiles, Devo, the conversing Heads, and the Human League leapt into the head forty with a unique sound that broke with the staid rock clichés of the Seventies and pointed the right way to a extra glossy pop style.

In Are We now not New Wave? Theo Cateforis presents the 1st musical and cultural background of the hot wave stream, charting its upward thrust out of mid-1970s punk to its ubiquitous early Nineteen Eighties MTV presence and downfall within the mid-1980s. The booklet additionally explores the meanings in the back of the music’s specific traits—its attribute whiteness and anxiety; its playful irony, digital melodies, and crossover experimentations. Cateforis lines new wave’s sleek sensibilities again to the space-age client tradition of the past due 1950s/early 1960s.

Three a long time after its upward push and fall, new wave’s effect 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 song of artists as diversified as Rihanna, girl Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and the Killers.

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For one, new wave’s relationship to punk was much more in the foreground in England than in the United States. British punk had in‹ltrated the British pop charts and been a topic of seemingly endless scandal in the mainstream press in 1977; the new wave that survived its collapse was thus doomed to exist in the shadow of the Sex Pistols and their ilk. Punk in the United States, however, had always been a more vague threat, one that the major labels had assiduously avoided, and one that rarely if ever penetrated the news headlines.

Typical of such Billboard features, the magazine also surveyed radio, record distributors, and key retailers whose testimonials served as evidence of the new wave’s vitality. ’”34 Rather, new wave was by his estimation an industry-changing movement whose impact would approach and perhaps equal that of 1950s rock and roll and the 1960s British Invasion. Most of all, the Billboard feature made clear that new wave had a solid infrastructure in place, and thus its chances of success were virtually guaranteed.

Most stations were easing (sometimes reluctantly) new wave artists into their rotations, but some, such as KROQ Los Angeles and WPIX New York, were now devoting roughly half their programming to the new genre. Other AOR stations relegated their new wave programming largely to late-night shows, with appropriate titles such as KSJO San Jose’s Modern Humans or KZEW Dallas’s Rock and Roll Alternative that indicated the genre’s progressive status. New wave’s in‹ltration into AOR programming was complemented by its expanded coverage in the rock press, and not just in small-scale East Coast publications such as New York Rocker and Trouser Press that had been linked with the music ever since punk’s emergence in 1976 and 1977.

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