Monday, May 18, 2009

New Wave Genre

New Wave is a rock genre that originated in the late 1970s and continued in the 1980s. It emerged from punk rock as a reaction against the popular music of the 1970s. New Wave was basically the reinvention of rock 'n' roll of the 1960s but it also incorporated various influences as well as aspects of mod subculture, electronic music, disco, and funk.


The term New Wave itself is a source of much confusion. It was introduced in 1976 in Great Britain by Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren as an alternative label for what was also being called "punk". The term referenced the avant-garde, stylish French New Wave film movement of the 1960s. The label was soon picked up by British punk fanzines such as Sniffin' Glue and then the professional music press. For a period of time in 1976 and 1977 the two terms were interchangeable. By the end of 1977, "New Wave" had replaced "Punk" as the definition for new underground music in the United Kingdom.
In the United States, Sire Records needed a term by which it could market its newly signed bands, who had frequently played the club CBGB. Because radio consultants in the U.S. had advised their clients that punk rock was a fad (and because many stations that had embraced disco had been hurt by the backlash), they settled on the term "New Wave". Like those film makers, its new artists, such as The Ramones and Talking Heads, were anti-corporate, experimental, and from a generation that had grown up as critical consumers of the art they now practiced. At first most American writers exclusively used the term "New Wave" to describe British Punk acts. Starting in December 1976 The New York Rocker which was suspicious of the term "Punk" became the first American journal to enthusiastically use the term starting with British acts, and later appropriating it to acts associated with the CBGB scene.

Soon, listeners began to differentiate some of these musicians from "true punks". The music journalist Charles Shaar Murray, in writing about the Boomtown Rats, has indicated that the term New Wave became an industry catch-all for musicians affiliated with the punk movement, but in some way different from it:

The Rats didn’t conform precisely to the notional orthodoxies of punk, but then neither did many other bands at the forefront of what those who were scared of the uncompromising term 'punk' later bowdlerized to New Wave. You weren’t allowed to have long hair! The Ramones did. Guitar solos verboten! The defence calls Television. Facial hair a capital offence! Two members of The Stranglers are in mortal danger. Age police on the prowl for wrinklies on the run! Cells await Ian Dury, Knox from The Vibrators and most of The Stranglers. Pedal steel guitars and country music too inextricably linked with Laurel Canyon coke-hippies and snooze-inducing Mellow Mafia singer/songwriterismo. Elvis Costello, you’re busted.

Music that followed the anarchic garage band ethos of the Sex Pistols was distinguished as "punk", while music that tended toward experimentation, lyrical complexity, or more polished production, was categorized as "New Wave". This came to include musicians who had come to prominence in the British pub rock scene of the mid-1970s, such as Ian Dury, Nick Lowe, Eddie and the Hot Rods and Dr Feelgood; acts associated with the New York club CBGBs, such as Television, Patti Smith, Mink DeVille and Blondie; and singer-songwriters who were noted for their barbed lyrical wit, such as Elvis Costello, Tom Robinson and Joe Jackson. Furthermore, many artists who would have originally been classified as punk were also termed New Wave. A 1977 Phonogram Records compilation album of the same name (New Wave) features US artists including the Dead Boys, Ramones, Talking Heads and The Runaways.

Later still, "New Wave" came to imply a less noisy, more pop sound, and to include acts manufactured by record labels, while the term post-punk was coined to describe the darker, less pop-influenced groups, such as Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Cure, and The Psychedelic Furs. Although distinct, punk, New Wave, and post-punk all shared common ground: an energetic reaction to the supposedly overproduced, uninspired popular music of the 1970s.

The term fell out of favour in The United Kingdom during the early 1980s because its usage had become too general.

Reception in The United States

In the summer of 1977 both Time and Newsweek magazines wrote favorable lead stories on the "Punk/new wave" movement. Rock critics had mixed opinions. Acts associated with the movement received little or no radio airplay or music industry support. Small scenes developed in major cities. Continuing into the next year public support remained limited to select elements of the artistic, bohemian and intellectual population as arena rock and disco dominated the charts.

Around 1979, acts associated with punk and acts that mixed punk with other genres began to make chart appearances. Blondie, Talking Heads, The Knack and The Cars would chart that year. The release during this period of Gary Numan's album The Pleasure Principle would be the pop chart breakthrough for gender bending synthpop acts with a cool detached stage presence[8]. New Wave music scenes developed in Ohio and Athens, Georgia.

The arrival of MTV in the early 1980s would usher in New Wave's most successful era and one of the most democratic periods in American Pop history. British artists unlike many of their American counterparts had learned how to use video early on. Several British acts signed to independent labels were able to outmarket and outsell American artists that were signed with major labels. Journalists labeled this phenomenon a "Second British Invasion".

The music had strayed far from New Wave's punk roots. Starting in this period and continuing until around 1988, the term "New Wave" was used in America to describe nearly every new pop or pop rock artist that largely used synthesizers or who did not have long hair. New Wave is still used today to describe these acts. Fans and artists would rebel against this catchall definition by inventing dozens of genre names. Synthpop was a broad subgenre that saw groups such as The Human League, Depeche Mode, a-ha ,Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark , and the Pet Shop Boys. chart. The period saw a number of one hit wonders. "New Wave" soundtracks were used in Brat Pack films such as Valley Girl, Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club. Critics would describe the MTV acts as shallow or vapid, but the danceable quality of the music and quirky fashion sense associated with New Wave artists appealed to audiences.

The use of synthesizers by New Wave acts influenced the development of the House music in Chicago and Techno in Detroit. New Wave’s indie spirit would be crucial to the development college rock and grunge/alternative rock in the latter half of the 1980s and beyond.

Post 1980's influence

During the 1990s, in the aftermath of grunge rock, the British Music press launched a campaign to promote New wave of new wave. This campaign involved overtly punk and new wave influenced acts such as Elastica and Smash. This movement would be eclipsed by Britpop. No Doubt an American act that arrived in 1996 as well as Gwen Stefani in her solo career have been described as New Wave influenced.

In 2004 a number of acts with a new wave influenced sound were popular. Some of these were Scissor Sisters, Franz Ferdinand , The Killers, Interpol, The Faint, and Bloc Party. The Ting Tings and Santogold are more recent acts of note.



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