New Wave music

This article is about the 1980s U.S. musical movement New Wave, for the 1950s and 60s French film movement, see French new wave.

New Wave is a term that has been used to describe many developments in music, but is most commonly associated with a movement in American, Australian and British popular music, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, growing out of the New York City punk rock scene, itself centered around the club CBGB.

The term itself is a source of much confusion. Originally, Seymour Stein, the head of Sire Records needed a term by which he could market his newly signed CBGB's veteran bands. Because radio consultants in the US had advised their clients that punk rock was a fad (and because many stations that had embraced Disco had been hurt by backlash), he settled on the term "new wave". He felt that the music was the aural equivalent of the French new wave film movement of the 1960s. Like those film makers, his new artists (most notably Talking Heads) were anti-corporate, experimental, and a generation that had grown up as critical consumers of the art they now practiced. Thus, the term "new wave" was interchangeable with punk rock.

Very soon, listeners themselves began to see these musicians as different from their compatriots. Music that followed on from The Ramones (The Sex Pistols and all who followed them) was distinguished as "punk", while music that followed from the artistic and poetic experimentation of Television, Talking Heads, Patti Smith and Blondie were called "new wave". It is important to remember, however, that those artists themselves were all originally classified as punk.

Eventually, the term was applied indiscriminately to any punk band that did not embrace the loud-fast ethos, whether they were reggae, ska, or experimental. Thus, The (English) Beat, R.E.M., and The Police were equally "new wave", even though these bands would have as little in common with each other as they would with nominally "punk" bands such as The Clash.

Later still, New Wave came to imply a less noisy, poppier sound, and to include acts manufactured by record labels, while the term post punk was coined to describe the darker, less pop influenced groups. Although distinct, punk, new wave and post punk all shared common ground, as an energetic reaction to overproduced, uninspired popular music of the 1970s, and many groups fit easily into two or all three of the categories over their lifespan.

New wave is also commonly used to describe the style and fashion associated with new wave music. Examples include hairstyles of the band A Flock of Seagulls and Elvis Costello's bi-colored glasses poster.

As fashion, there were two major components of "New wave" dress. First, there was an eclectic revivalism. Paisley prints (from the 1960s), very thin neckties and pleats (from the 1940s), and simple colors were one part. The other part was a desire to embrace contemporary synthetic materials as a protest and celebration of "plastic". This involved the use of spandex, shocking colors, and mass-produced (or apparently mass-produced) and tawdry ornaments. Men's and women's fashions thus split from one another dramatically, and men wearing spandex and bright colors were ridiculed (and became emblematic of the mass marketing of "new wave" in department stores). As a fashion movement, then, New Wave was both a post-modern belief in creative pastiche and a continuation of Pop Art's satire and fascination with manufacturing.

New Wave is generally considered to have died by 1985 or 1986, although it still had a presence in popular music as late as 1992.

New Wave bands and artists (past & present)

New Wave music styles

Punk rock | Punk genres
Anarcho-punk - Anti-folk - Crust punk - Gothic rock - Hardcore - Horror punk - New Wave - No Wave - Oi - Pop punk - Post-hardcore - Post punk - Riot grrrl - Ska punk - Death rock - Psychobilly - Two Tone
Other topics
DIY - Punk pioneers - First wave - Second wave - Punk cities - Punk movies - Skinhead - Skinhead films - Ska

Alternative rock
Britpop - College rock - Dream pop - Gothic rock - Grunge - Indie - Jam band - Madchester - New Wave - Twee
Bands - History

de:New Wave (Musik) fr:New wave fy:New Wave hu:jhullm (zene) it:Musica New Wave nl:New Wave pl:Nowa fala (muzyka) sv:Nya Vgen ja:ニューウェーブ


  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools