Author: Jay Goldberg
I will go back to business topics in 2023. This month, I'll see if everyone here agrees or disagrees with me on how I defined “new wave” to one of my listeners. Starting in January 2022, I established a New Wave Song Hall of Fame for my radio station. Each month, I nominate 12 songs and listeners vote for the five they feel are most deserving of entry into the Hall. The five songs with the most votes get in and then, just like the Baseball Hall of Fame, songs need to get a certain percentage of the vote to continue on the ballot. I do set three times as the maximum any song can appear without being voted in.
One of my loyal listeners/voters commented to me that they were surprised at the variety of music that appears under the umbrella of new wave. Like many, he thought of synth-pop bands such as The Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, Depeche Mode, New Order, etc. as new wave. But people who listened to new wave radio stations knew they played much much more than that; from rock to punk to grunge to goth to techno to industrial and more. He then asked me how I would define new wave.
After some thought, I told him, to me, new wave was more a movement than a specific style of music. New wave was when radio stations took full control of the music they played instead of following the direction of record labels. They didn't stick to singles, they didn't stick to the “hot” group or song, they didn't stick to the established music genres. In fact, they didn't even stick to the major record labels or even to albums released in the U.S. And, yes, album rock stations like WNEW-FM in New York did start this movement, but new wave radio stations like WLIR/WDRE in New York took it to the next level.
Onto the music. I'll stick to new wave for the five songs this month:
“Don't Believe Anymore” by Icehouse
Known for songs such as “No Promises” and “Electric Blue,” this Australian band has a long list of excellent songs that received little to no airplay in the U.S. “Don't Believe Anymore” is one of my favorite pre-”No Promises” tracks. I love the way the song grows in intensity.
“Suicide is Painless” by Manic Street Preachers
A band much better known in the U.K. than the U.S.; I love this cover of the theme song from the movie MASH. Hang in until the end for a hard-edged guitar finish reminiscent to me of the grunge genre out of Seattle, Washington.
“Wild, Wild West” by The Escape Club
Here's one for the U.K. The Escape Club is the only U.K. artist ever that reached #1 in the U.S. that never had a song chart in the U.K. Listening to the lyrics in this song sure does bring back what living in the late 80s was all about.
“Dirty Mind” by Shakespears Sister
Be careful. There are two versions, the album version and a remixed single version. They are different. I love the album version, not so much the single. So if you decide to get this song make sure it's the right version. This is former Bananrama member Siobhan Fahey's band.
“Academic” by New Order
Mondays through Thursdays on my station I play “What If New Wave Never Ended.” This includes classic and forgotten new wave, album cuts from new wave artists that didn't get airplay, and songs post-new-wave era that fit new wave; like this song from 2015 by new wave stalwart New Order.
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