Nouvelle vague, new-school early 60s French cinema: Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Alain Resnais, Eric Rohmer, etc.

The "new thing" in jazz in the 60s, both of the free jazz variety and the often-modal proto-free.

70s/80s pop music genre - punk rock sonically neutered and made safe to sell in mass quantities (at its money-grubbing worst); genuinely good pop classicism (at its best). See new-wave.

Authors for a kinder, less autocratic future.

The mid to late 70's saw the rise of disco - epitomized by the Bee Gees and Saturday Night Fever. The only alternative seemed to be the treacly sweet musings of singers like Leo Sayer, Debbie Boone, or Barbara Streisand. But in England The Sex Pistols, and The Damned, and The Clash were leading a revolt. It was called punk.

Youthful energy could be spent at either the strobe-glittered disco dance floors filled with Angel Flight slacks or amidst the purple mohawk, black leather and safety-pins of the urine-soaked British punk pubs. Post-punk, new wave, power pop -- all of these refer to a wide range of music that became popular in the late 1970's and early 80's to provide an alternative. Sometimes difficult to categorize, it wasn't disco and it wasn't punk. It grew out of the punk revolt, but kept the infectious dance floor rhythms of disco. New-wave (or new wave), was the most popular catch-all phrase used to refer to this music.

Blondie may have been the first band to cash in - they'd have several big dance hits in the early 80's. They first hit the charts and the dance floors with Heart of Glass in 1979. Devo joined them in 1980 with Whip It. Kim Carnes with Bette Davis Eyes in 1981. The Human League, Men At Work, and former punkers The Clash in 1982. Falco, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and New Order all had dance floor hits in 1983. Wham and The Pet Shop Boys in 1984 and Tears for Fears in 1985. By 1986 the dance cycle was nearly over.

Though New Wave was especially suited for the dance floor, it spilled over into popular music in general. Gary Numan, The Pretenders, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers all hit the radio charts in 1980. Greg Kihn and The Police in '81;1982 saw Soft Cell, Tommy Tutone, The Cars, The Go-Go's, The Motels, Men At Work, and A Flock Of Seagulls all have significant hits.

1983 was probably New Wave's crest: The Police again, Men At Work again, The Pretenders again, the Human League, the Eurythmics, Culture Club, Dexy's Midnight Runner's, Greg Kihn, Eddie Grant, Thomas Dolby, After The Fire, Men Without Hats, The Stray Cats, Naked Eyes, Kajagoogoo, Adam Ant, The Clash, Madness, Joe Jackson and Spandau Ballet. Several of these groups had more than one hit song that year - so the top 100 chart for the year is filled with New Wave bands.

1984 again saw multiple hits by some of these bands: Culture Club, Cyndi Lauper, The Romantics, Nena, Billy Idol, The Eurythmics, The Cars, Wang Chung, The Police, The Go-Go's, and Peter Schilling

1985 saw a noticeable dropoff, only Wham, Tears for Fears, A-Ha, Simple Minds, Cyndi Lauper, 'Til Tuesday, and the Eurythmics charted top selling hits.

1986 saw Mr. Mister, Pet Shop Boys, Simple Minds, The Human League, Berlin, The Cars, Cyndi Lauper and Arcadia - but few multiple hits by any of these groups.

Other bands often considered New-Wave:

The Talking Heads, Warren Zevon, 20/20, The Adverts, B-52's, Animotion, Aztec Camera, Big Country, Billy Bragg, Boomtown Rats, Bow Wow Wow, Bram Tchaikovsky, The Buggles, The Busboys, The Buzzcocks, Elvis Costello, The Cult, The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Dickies, Ian Dury, Echo and the Bunnymen, The English Beat, Erasure, Everything But the Girl, Fine Young Cannibals, The Fixx, Flash and the Pan, Flying Lizards, Generation X, Godley and Creme, Ian Gomm, Haircut 100, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, The Hooters, The Jam, Level 42, Lene Lovich, Nick Lowe, Madness, Magazine, Martha and the Muffins, Mi-Sex, Missing Persons, Modern English, Musical Youth, Oingo Boingo, The Only Ones, Graham Parker, Pearl Harbor and the Explosions, Pere Ubu, The Plimsouls, The Pogues, The Psychedelic Furs, Public Image Ltd, REM, The Ramones, The Replacements, Romeo Void, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Skafish, Skids, Patti Smith, The Smiths, The Specials, Split Enz, The Sports, Squeeze, Stiff Little Fingers, The Stranglers, Style Council, The Suburbs, Talk Talk, Timbuk 3, Tin Huey, Ultravox, U2, The Vibrators, The Violent Femmes, The Waitresses, Was (not was), Wire, XTC

As requested in Sylvar’s New Wave Challenge, here follows 108 essential New Wave albums (yeah, it was supposed to be a 100, but people had some really good suggestions). Just a few disclaimers before proceeding:
  1. New-wave, as kt09’s mentioned, arose out of several factors:
    • the implosion of punk’s first wave in the UK and its incursion, adaption and/or dilution (depending on your particular feelings on the subject) in the North American music scene,
    • the effect of disco’s prevalence on other forms of electronic music and its ubiquity in the dance clubs of the time,
    • the declining relative cost and size of synthesizers & drum machines, along with increasing exposure to pioneering 70s European electronic enthusiasts,
    • the rise of a new generation of club go'ers who appreciated moodier, more aggressive, or just less vapid forms of music (this may have been related to changing drug use, as harder narcotics became more fashionable & widely available),
    • the creeping infiltration of the fashion world & art scene on independent music.

  2. As a result, varied and competing streams and styles emerged, making rigid categorization a no go. Ultimately, pop music hair-splitting is historically unhelpful anyway. But let’s mention six major genres which are widely identified:

  3. Popular distinctions should be made between a) album buyers, b) club goers and c) radio listeners when noting levels of interest and influence in music. Each individual group had their own preferences, thus moving styles in quite different directions. Not everyone familiar with a very popular group (like Blondie) would be familiar with the work of a more obscure outfit (like Kraftwerk) despite the number of records each sold around the same time. While many UK youth had early exposure to many of these bands, given most came out of a post-punk era, quite a few North Americans weren’t exposed to any of this until Gary Numan's "Cars," Soft Cell's "Tainted Love," and Human League's "Don't You Want Me" hit commercial radio (I fell into this category, at age 8) . However, it bears repeating that many bands would try to incorporate elements from various styles, depending largely on the popularity of that strain at a particular time (ex. Squeeze’s use of heavy electronics on earlier singles vs. Talk Talk’s abandonment of ambient instrumentals).

  4. Incidentally, there is no clear death knell for new wave - though I think certainly by the late 80s most music on the radio was again moving back to very unimaginative Top 40s material - and most of the interesting figures of the period simply accepted this and went underground (where they were still recording). Certainly the first new wave sounds would be identifiable with the unholy marriage of punk and disco one saw in the last years of the 1970s, and by the mid 1980s, fragmentation into sub-genres (esp. Goth) rendered the term unhelpful and antiquated. The decade between 1977 to 1987 seems reasonably accurate.

  5. Finally, the albums presented here have been selected within the context of a 'New Wave' sound. They may not necessarily be a band’s best album (frequently, in fact, they are not). Rather, they represent best that particular artist’s take on the musical aesthetic and visual fashion. In some cases, to be blunt, they aren’t particularly good records, period. In compiling this list the aim was to select one record (preferably a non-compilation) from the period for each band that was formative or representative in some way of the scene.

With luck, what follow comes close to a useful consensus if you’re interested in forming a record collection, also marking the absolutely essential, totally non-negotiable items- just plain great albums in their own right- with a big fat *. Select, NME, Q & Spin magazines, along with the All Music database ( and innumerable band/fan sites were my primary sources for selecting the core band list & best albums (in cases where there was no agreement, common sense was employed). Lastly, cheers to kto9 & catchpole for catching many of the albums I missed. It's still an open list, so if you think of any important notes or additions, just let me know.


Hunting High and Low * - 1985 (36m 39s) w/ The Sun Always Shines on TV & Take on Me
The Lexicon of Love * - 1982 (37m 25s) w/ Poisoned Arrow & The Look of Love
Adam Ant
Friend or Foe - 1982 (39m 34s) w/ Desperate, But Not Serious & Goody Two Shoes
Forever Young - 1984 (43m 12s) w/ Forever Young & Big in Japan
Altered Images
Happy Birthday* -1981 (38m 45s) w/ Happy Birthday & Leave Me Alone
Laurie Anderson
Big Science * - 1982 (38m 19s) w/ O Superman & Let X=X
Animotion - 1985 (43m 55s) w/ Obsession & Run to Me
Aztec Camera
High Land, Hard Rain - 1983 (45m 25s) w/ The Boy Wonders & We Could Send Letters

---------B ----------

Bananarama - 1984 (34m 14s) w/ Cruel Summer & Robert DeNiros Waiting
All Over the Place - 1984 (31m 33s) w/ Hero Takes A Fall & Going Down to Liverpool
The Sky's Gone Out * - 1982 (42m 24s) w/ Third Uncle, Silent Hedges & Exquisite Corpse
Tones On Tail (1984) & Love and Rockets (1985) came on not long after, with similar musical leanings, minus the drama
Big Country
The Crossing - 1983 w/ In a Big Country & Fields of Fire
The Birthday Party w/ Nick Cave
Prayers on Fire - 1981 w/ Nick the Stripper & King Ink
Believe You Me - 1985 w/ What’s Your Problem? & Why Don’t They Leave Things Alone?
Parallel Lines * - 1978 (38m 11s) w/ Hanging on the Telephone, One Way or Another & Heart of Glass
Boomtown Rats (w/ Bob Geldof)
The Fine Art of Surfacing * - 1979 (40m 13s) w/ Why I Don’t Like Mondays, Diamond Smiles & Keep it up
Bow Wow Wow
Girl Bites Dog - 1982 ( ) w/ Sex, I Want My Baby On Mars & Sun, Sea and Piracy
Bronski Beat
Age of Consent - 1984 (40m 17s) w/ Why? & Smalltown Boy
The Age Of Plastic - 1980 (36m 16s) w/ Video Killed the Radio Star & Clean, Clean

-------- C --------

The Call
The Reconciled - 1986 (39m 16s) w/ I Still Believe & Everywhere I Go
The Cars
The Cars - 1978 (35m 40s) w/ Let the Good Times Roll & My Best Friend’s Girl
The Church
Of Skins and Hearts * - 1981 (51m 15s) w/ The Unguarded Moment & Tear It All Away
Cocteau Twins
Garlands * - 1982 w/ Blood Bitch & Wax and Wane
Colourbox - 1985 w/ Say You & You Keep Me Hanging On
The Communards
Red - 1987 (45m 11s) w/ Never Can Say Goodbye & Victims
The Comsat Angels
Sleep No More - 1981 w/ Eye Dance & Dark Parade
Elvis Costello
Armed Forces - 1979 w/ Accidents Will Happen, Oliver's Army & Two Little Hitlers
Culture Club
Color By Numbers - 1983 (38m 59s) w/ Church of the Poisoned Mind & Miss Me Blind (and Karma Chameleon)
The Cure
Seventeen Seconds * - 1980 (35m 34s) w/ A Forest, Play for Today, & M

---------- D ----------

Depeche Mode
Some Great Reward * - 1984 (40m 18s) w/ People are People, Somebody & Blasphemous Rumors
Freedom of Choice * - 1980 (32m 14s) w/ Whip It, Snowball & Cold War
Dexy's Midnight Runners
Searching for the Young Soul Rebels - 1980 w/ Burn It Down & Tell Me When My Light Turns to Green
Dolby, Thomas
The Golden Age of Wireless * - 1982 (42m 29s) w/ She Blinded Me With Science, Radio Silence & One of Our Submarines
Duran Duran
Rio * - 1982 (47m 16s ) w/ Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, Save a Prayer & The Chauffeur
Ian Dury
New Boots and Panties!! - 1977 (53m 08s) w/ Sex & Drugs & Rock and Roll, Wake Up and Make Love With Me, & Hit Me With Your Rhythym Stick

------- E ---------

Echo & The Bunnymen
Ocean Rain * - 1984 (36m 53s) w/ Nocturnal Me, Silver & Killing Moon
English Beat
What is Beat? - 1983 (44m 54s) w/ The Mirror in the Bathroom, Tears of A Clown, Save It For Later & I Confess
Sweet Dreams (are made of this) * - 1983 (41m 59s) w/ Love is a Stranger, I’ve Got An Angel, Sweet Dreams & Jennifer

--------- F ---------

Falco 3 -1986 (42m 26s) w/ Rock Me Amadeus & Vienna Calling
Crazy Rhythms -1980 (43m 04s) w/ The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness, Raised Eyebrows & Painted Black
Fixx, The
Reach The Beach - 1983 (41m 10s) w/ One Thing Leads to Another & Saved By Zero
Flock of Seagulls
Flock of Seagulls * - 1982 (38m 08s) w/ Space Age Love Song, I Ran & Telecommunication
Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Welcome to the Pleasuredome * - 1984 (64m 04s ) w/ Relax & Two Tribes

-------- G --------

Peter Gabriel
Melt * - 1980 (45m 32s) w/ Intruder, No Self Control & Games without Frontiers
Granted any album with Phil Collins, Robert Fripp, Paul Weller & Kate Bush is going to come out a little less than coherent...
Gang of Four
Entertainment! - 1979 (52m 40s ) w/ Damaged Goods & At Home He’s A Tourist
General Public
All the Rage - 1984 (40m 48s) w/ Tenderness & Never You Done That
The Glove w/Robert Smith & Siouxsie Sioux
Blue Sunshine - 1983 w/ Like An Animal, Punish Me With Kisses & Perfect Murder
Beauty and the Beat * - 1981 (32m 17s) w/ We Got The Beat, Our Lips Our Sealed & This Town
The Go-Betweens
Before Hollywood* - 1983 (38m 42s) w/ Ask, Dusty In Here & Cattle and Cane

-------- H --------

Haircut 100
Pelican West - 1982(42m 41s) w/ Love Plus One & Fantastic Day
Heaven 17
Penthouse and Pavement -1981 (50m 30s) w/ Let’s All Make A Bomb & We Are Going to Live For A Very Long Time
Human League
Dare - (40m 30s) w/ Don’t You Want Me & I am the Law

-------- I --------

Billy Idol
Billy Idol - 1982 (42m 12s) w/ White Wedding, Hot in the City & Dancing With Myself
Icicle Works
Icicle Works - 1984 w/ Birds Fly (Whisper to A Scream) & Nirvana

-------- J --------

Joe Jackson
Look Sharp! - 1979 (36m 28s) w/ Is She Really Going Out With Him?, One More Time & Sunday Papers
The Jam
All Mod Cons - 1978 (37m 28s ) w/ English Rose & Down at the Tube Station at Midnight
Japan w/ Ryuchi Sakamato
Gentleman Take Polaroids * - 1980 (53m 51s) w/ Methods of Dance, Gentleman Take Polaroids & Night Porter
The band Duran Duran was just so trying to be - Simon LeBon stole David Sylvian's look right down to the rouge.
Jones, Howard
Dream Into Action * - 1985 (55m 36s ) w/ Things Can Only Get Better, Life in One Day, No One is to Blame & Like To Get To Know You Well
Joy Division
Unknown Pleasures* - 1979 (38m 21s) w/ Disorder, Insight & She’s Lost Control

-------- K --------

Killing Joke
Killing Joke - 1981 (39m 04s) w/ Wardance & The Wait
The Man-Machine* - 1978 (36m 18s) w/ The Robots, Metropolis & The Model
Neu!, though too early to be included, must be mentioned as well. The 1975 eponymous first LP by Neu! is/was incredibly influential.

-------- L --------

Nick Lowe
Labour of Lust * - 1979 (32m 40s) w/ Cruel to be Kind, Cracking Up & Switchboard Susan

-------- M --------

Rise And Fall - 1982 w/ Tomorrow’s Just Another Day & Our House
Real Life * - 1978 (41m 24s) w/ Shot From Both Sides & The Light Pours Out Of Me
Men at Work
Business as Usual - 1981 (38m 37s) w/ Who Can It Be Now? & Down Under
Men Without Hats
Rhythm Of Youth - 1983 (52m 37s) w/ Safety Dance & Ideas for Walls
Missing Persons
Spring Session M -1982 (43m 46s) w/ Destination Unknown & Walking in LA
Modern English
After the Snow - 1982 (38m 09s) w/ Melt With You & Life in the Gladhouse

-------- N --------

Naked Eyes
Naked Eyes - 1983 w/ Always Something There to Remind Me & Promises, Promises
99 LuftBallons - 1984 (40m 55s) w/ 99 Red Balloons, Let Be Your Pirate & 99 Luftballons
New Order
Power, Corruption, and Lies* - 1983 (57m 21s) w/ Age of Consent & Blue Monday
Gary Numan
Telekon * - 1980 w/ This Wreckage, We Are Glass, I Dream of Wires & I Die: You Die

-------- O --------

Oingo Boingo w/Danny Elfman
Dead Man’s Party - 1985 w/ Weird Science & Just Another Day
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Organisation * - 1980 (38m 01s) w/ Enola Gay, The More I See You & Promise

-------- P --------

Graham Parker
Squeezing Out Sparks - 1979 w/ Discovering Japan, Local Girls & Passion is No Ordinary Word
Pere Ubu
Dub Housing - 1979 w/ Navvy, Caligari’s Mirror & Ubu Dance Party
Public Image Ltd.
Flowers of Romance - 1981 (33m 18s) w/ Four Enclosed Walls, Track 8 & Another
Pop Group
Y - 1979 w/ She is Beyond Good and Evil, Thief of Fire & We Are Time
The Police
Zenyatta Mondatta * - 1980 w/ Don't Stand So Close To Me & Voices Inside My Head
The Pretenders
Learning to Crawl * - 1983 (46m 42s) w/ Middle of the Road & Back in the Chain Gang
Psychedelics Furs
Talk Talk Talk * - 1981 (41m 11s) w/ Pretty In Pink, No Tears & Dumb Waiters

-------- S --------

Scritti Politti
Songs to Remember - 1982 w/ Asylums in Jerusalem, Jacques Derrida, & The Sweetest Girl
Jane Siberry
No Borders Here - 1983 w/ The Waitress & Mimi on the Beach
Soft Cell
Non-stop Erotic Cabaret - 1982 w/ Tainted Love, Seedy Films, & Entertain Me
Siouxsie & the Banshees
Kaleidoscope * - 1981 w/ Happy House, Christine, & Desert Kisses
Spandau Ballet
True - 1983 (35m 36s) w/ Communication, Gold, & True
The Specials
The Specials - 1979 w/ A Message to You Rudy, Concrete Jungle, & Too Much Too Young
Split Enz
True Colors * - 1979 (38m 23s) w/ I Got You, I Hope Never, & Poor Boy
Argybargy * - 1980 w/ Pulling Mussels (From a Shell), If I Didn’t Love You, & Another Nail In My Heart
Stray Cats
Built for Speed - 1982 (36m 15s) w/ Rock This Town & Straycat Strut
Style Council
The Singular Adventures of the Style Council * - 1989 (69m 29s) w/ My Ever Changing Moods, You’re the Best Thing & Long Hot Summer
Suicide - 1980 (31m 15s) w/ Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne, Shadazz & Dream Baby Dream

-------- T --------

Talk Talk
It’s My Life * - 1984 w/ Dum Dum Girl, Such a Shame, & Does Caroline Know
Talking Heads
Speaking In Tongues * - 1983 (46m 50s) w/ Burning Down the House, Girlfriend is Better, & This Must be the Place
The Teardrop Explodes w/ Julian Cope
Kilimanjaro - 1980 w/ Sleeping Gas, Bouncing Baby & Books
Tears For Fears
The Hurting * - 1983 (41m 39s) w/ Mad World, Pale Shelter, & Change
Marquee Moon * - 1977 (45m 49s) w/ See No Evil, Venus, & Prove It
Brian Eno apparently helped them on a few early singles, if you can detect the influence
The Knack
Get The Knack - 1979 (40m 58s) w/ Your Number or Your Name, Good Girls Don’t, & My Sharona
The The
Soul Mining * - 1983 (47m 02s) w/ This Is The Day, Uncertain Smile, Giant & Perfect
Thompson Twins
Into The Gap - 1984 (43m 04s) w/ Doctor! Doctor!, You Take Me Up, & Hold Me Now
'Til Tuesday
Voices Carry - 1985 (41m 52s) w/ Voices Carry & Love In a Vacuum

-------- U --------

Lament - 1984 (37m 38s) w/ White China & Dancing with Tears in My Eyes
Undertones, The
The Undertones - 1979 w/ Teenage Kicks & Get Over You

-------- V --------

The Vapors
New Clear Days - 1980 w/ Turning Japanese & Sixty Second Interval
Violent Femmes
Violent Femmes * - 1983 w/ Add It Up, Kiss Off, & Blister In the Sun

-------- W --------

Chairs Missing* - 1978 (42m 27s) w/ French Film Blurred, Heartbeat, & I am the fly

-------- X--------

Under the Black Sun - 1982 (33m 45s) w/ The Hungry Wolf, Blue Spark, & The Have Nots
Black Sea - 1980 w/ Respectable Street, Generals and Majors, & Towers of London

-------- Y --------

Yazoo (or Yaz)
Upstairs At Eric's * - 1982 (42m 31s) w/ Don’t Go, Bad Connection, In My Room, Bring Your Love Down.

An international resurgence of cinema came about in the 1960s and 1970s, rich in experimentation, contemporary in style and content, intensely personal. Unrelated nations went through social and political upheavals, the death of Josef Stalin loosened the grip on Russian-controlled East European filmmaking and incidentally the old-school studio system, in the United States as well as abroad, was beginning to eat itself alive. The result was that each country sprung its' own New Wave of young and enthusiastic directors, often as a direct reaction to the pre-existing system of filmmaking. Collectively a body of work has been produced that was huge in volume and quality, and probably has not been equaled since. This is an attempt to map out the major (and minor) movements of the era, each with its' major (and minor) players and films.

The influences between the movements can be indirect and mapping them in this way can be downright misleading. The Hollywood filmmakers of the late 1940s and 1950s influenced the French and the Germans, the French influenced the East Europeans, the East Europeans influenced the French, etc, ad infinitum. In their turn the American filmmakers of the late 1960s and early 1970s, listed at the bottom, were influenced by all those who preceded them. The list is also in no way complete, and any feedback is appreciated.

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