Sunday, April 14, 2013

The 250 Most Archetypical New Wave Songs

As I've mentioned in some previous posts, I've been working a list of the most archetypical new wave songs of all time.  As I started ranking the top of the list, I realized the flaw with the head-to-head comparison ranking method I've used with most of my previous lists.  I realized that I didn't want my top 3 to be the 3 songs that were individually the top contenders for most archetypical new wave song.  I wanted the top 3 to be the set of 3 songs that would be the most archetypical collection of 3 songs, and I wanted the top 10 to be the set of 10 songs that would be the most archetypical collection of 10 songs.

Think of it like this.  If you wanted an archetypical set of 10 average Americans, would you want ten 40-something white women who were all five-foot-four?  Even if we called it an archetypical sample, you'd still want some variety.  The larger the sample, the more variety you would allow, but in a big sample you would still have a lot of 40-something white women.

In the case of new wave, many of the individually most archetypical songs are circa 1982 synth pop, but a top ten of 10 1982 synth pop songs doesn't really describe new wave well, nor would a top 100 of only synth pop and new romantic MTV hits from the early 80s.  Songs that are borderline new wave, and might be better described as goth or ska-revival or pub rock or post-punk or mod-revival or college rock, had virtually no chance of making the top 10, but the term new wave was inclusive enough that many of those songs made the top 100, or at least the top 250.

With all of the above in mind, I won't be posting this as a countdown.  It needs to start at #1.  I'm starting by posting the top 20 today (April 14, 2013).  I've also made a playlist of the songs on Spotify.  Click here to listen.

1) Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) (1983)
2) Duran Duran - Hungry Like The Wolf (1982)
3) Thomas Dolby - She Blinded Me With Science (1983)
4) Split Enz - I Got You (1980)
5) Heaven 17 - (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang (1981)
6) ABC - The Look Of Love, Part One (1982)
7) The B-52's - Rock Lobster (1979)
8) The Human League - Don't You Want Me (1981)
9) Modern English - I Melt With You (1982)
10) Talking Heads - Once In A Lifetime (1980)
11) Martha & The Muffins - Echo Beach (1980)
12) Yaz - Nobody's Diary (1983)
13) The The - This Is The Day (1983)
14) The Style Council - My Ever Changing Moods (1984)
15) Simple Minds - Don't You (Forget About Me) (1985)
16) Soft Cell - Tainted Love (1981)
17) XTC - Making Plans For Nigel (1979)
18) Blondie - Heart Of Glass (1978)
19) Squeeze - Cool For Cats (1979)
20) Gary Numan - Cars (1979)


[added April 18, 2013]

21) The Cure - Boys Don't Cry (1979)
22) Men Without Hats - The Safety Dance (1982)
23) Elvis Costello & the Attractions - (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love & Understanding (1979)
24) The Go-Go's - We Got The Beat (1981)
25) Berlin - Metro (1982)
26) Depeche Mode - Just Can't Get Enough (1981)
27) Tears For Fears - Mothers Talk (1985)
28) Smiths - How Soon Is Now? (1984)
29) Robert Hazard - Escalator of Life (1981)
30) Madness - Our House (1982)
31) Nick Lowe - Cruel to Be Kind (1979)
32) The English Beat - Mirror In The Bathroom (1983)
33) New Order - Blue Monday (1983)
34) Devo - Jocko Homo (1978)
35) Cars - Just What I Needed (1978)
36) Jam - Beat Surrender (1982)
37) David Bowie - Let's Dance (1983)
38) Adam Ant - Goody Two Shoes (1982)
39) Psychedelic Furs - Love My Way (1982)
40) Gang of Four - I Love A Man In Uniform (1982)
41) Romeo Void - Never Say Never (1982)
42) Fun Boy Three - The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum (1982)
43) Talk Talk - It's My Life (1984)
44) Siouxsie & the Banshees - Happy House (1980)
45) Buzzcocks - I Believe (1979)
46) The Thompson Twins - Lies (1982)
47) Prefab Sprout - Don't Sing (1984)
48) Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill (1985)
49) Peter Schilling - Major Tom (Voellig Losgeloest) (1983)
50) Billy Idol With Generation X - Dancing With Myself (1981)


[added April 20, 2013]

51) Specials - Do The Dog (1980)
52) Television - See No Evil (1977)
53) Bow Wow Wow - I Want Candy (1982)
54) Wall of Voodoo - Mexican Radio (1982)
55) Missing Persons - Walking In L.A. (1982)
56) The Fixx - One Thing Leads to Another (1983)
57) Joe Jackson - Sunday Papers (1979)
58) Men At Work - Who Can It Be Now? (1982)
59) Blondie - Rapture (1984)
60) Yello - Desire (1985)
61) Elvis Costello - Radio, Radio (1978)
62) Wang Chung - Dance Hall Days (1984)
63) The Cure - In Between Days (1985)
64) Howard Jones - What Is Love? (1984)
65) Flock of Seaguls - I Ran (1982)
66) Art of Noise - Close to the Edge (1984)
67) Psychedelic Furs - Pretty In Pink (1981)
68) Falco - Der Kommissar (1982)
69) Japan - Quiet Life (1979)
70) Elvis Costello & the Attractions - I Stand Accused (1980)
71) Ian Dury - Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (1981)
72) Police - De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (1980)
73) Joe Jackson - Breaking Us In Two (1982)
74) Fun Boy Three - Our Lips Are Sealed (1983)
75) Devo - Whip It (1980)
76) The Cure - The Love Cats (1983)
77) Roxy Music - Avalon (1982)
78) Lloyd Cole - Rattlesnakes (1984)
79) The Waitresses - I Know What Boys Like (1982)
80) The Police - Synchronicity II (1983)
81) Naked Eyes - Always Something There to Remind Me (1983)
82) Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Electricity (1979)
83) The Romantics - What I Like About You (1980)
84) Dexy's Midnight Runners - Come on Eileen (1982)
85) Duran Duran - Girls On Film (1981)
86) Trio - Da Da Da I Don't Love You (1982)
87) Kid Creole & The Coconuts - Annie I'm Not Your Daddy (1982)
88) XTC - Generals And Majors (1980)
89) The Knack - My Sharona (1979)
90) David Bowie - Ashes To Ashes (1980)
91) Tommy Tutone - 867-5309/Jenny (1981)
92) Peter Gabriel - Games Without Frontiers (1980)
93) Bananarama - Cruel Summer (1984)
94) Jam - That's Entertainment (1980)
95) Laurie Anderson - O Superman (1982)
96) Suburbs - Love Is The Law (1984)
97) The Buggles - Video Killed the Radio Star (1980)
98) Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want To Have Fun (1984)
99) Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Lovers Walk (1981)
100) The Clash - Rock the
Casbah (1982)


[added April 21, 2013]

101) Talk Talk - The Party's Over (1982)
102) New Order - Bizarre Love Triangle (1986)
103) The Cars - You Might Think (1984)
104) Culture Club - Do You Really Want To Hurt Me (1982)
105) The Boomtown Rats - I Don't Like Mondays (1979)
106) Ultravox - Vienna (1980)
107) Siouxsie & the Banshees - Spellbound (1981)
108) The Cure - Let's Go To Bed (1984)
109) Echo & The Bunnymen - The Killing Moon (1985)
110) Visage - Fade To Grey (1980)
111) Nena - 99 Luftballons (1984)
112) Magazine - Shot By Both Sides (1978)
113) The Thompson Twins - You Take Me Up (1983)
114) Talking Heads - Girlfriend is Better (1983)
115) Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Relax (1984)
116) Graham Parker + The Rumour - Mercury Poisoning (1979)
117) Nails - 88 Lines About 44 Women (1984)
118) Feelies - Crazy Rhythms (1980)
119) The Cure - Just Like Heaven (1987)
120) M - Popmuzik (1979)
121) Josie Cotton - Johnnie Are You Queer? (1982)
122) Marshall Crenshaw - Cynical Girl (1982)
123) Tears For Fears - Mad World (1983)
124) Alphaville - Big In Japan (1984)
125) Frank Zappa - Valley Girl (1982)

[added April 27, 2013]


126) Tin Huey - The Revelations Of Dr. Modesto (1979)
127) Icicle Works - Whisper to A Scream (1984)
128) Midnight Oil - Beds Are Burning (1988)
129) Kajagoogoo - Too Shy (1982)
130) Scandal - Goodbye To You (1982)
131) Stranglers - Skin Deep (1984)
132) Tom Tom Club - Genius of Love (1981)
133) Elvis Costello - Welcome To The Working Week (1977)
134) Psychedelic Furs - The Ghost In You (1984)
135) Haircut 100 - Love Plus One (1982)
136) Mental As Anything - If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too? (1981)
137) Buzzcocks - Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've) (1978)
138) The Selecter - The Selecter (1979)
139) blotto - I Wanna Be a Lifeguard (1980)
140) Squeeze - Take Me I'm Yours (1978)
141) a-ha - Take On Me (1985)
142) Clive Pig - Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen (1983)
143) Depeche Mode - People Are People (1984)
144) David Bowie - Heroes (1977)
145) The Only Ones - Another Girl, Another Planet (1979)
146) Eddy Grant - Electric Avenue (1982)
147) Bauhaus - She's In Parties (Edit) (1983)
148) Greg Kihn Band - The Breakup Song (1981)
149) Kraftwerk - Trans-Europe Express (1977)
150) Katrina & The Waves - Walking On Sunshine (1985)

[added April 28, 2013]


151) Talking Heads - Psycho Killer (1977)
152) The Colourfield - Thinking of You (1985)
153) Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980)
154) Kate Bush - Babooshka (1980)
155) Adam & the Ants - Dog Eat Dog (1980)
156) Stan Ridgeway - The Big Heat (1985)
157) Wham! - Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (1985)
158) Re-Flex - The Politics of Dancing (1985)
159) Madonna - Lucky Star (1983)
160) Kate Bush - The Dreaming (1982)
161) Human Sexual Response - Land of the Glass Pinecones (1981)
162) Steve Forbert - Romeo's Tune (1979)
163) Big Country - In A Big Country (1983)
164) Marc Almond - Untitled (1982)
165) Siouxsie & The Banshees - Cities In Dust (1986)
166) Killing Joke - Love Like Blood (1985)
167) Rick Springfield - Jessie's Girl (1981)
168) Oingo Boingo - Only a Lad (1981)
169) Depeche Mode - Blasphemous Rumours (1985)
170) Difford & Tilbrook - Action Speaks Faster (1984)
171) Pat Benatar - Hit Me With Your Best Shot (1980)
172) Plastic Bertrand - Ca plane pour moi (1978)
173) Wham! - Bad Boys (1983)
174) The B-52's - Strobe Light (1980)
175) The Cars - Shake It Up (1982)


[added April 29, 2013]

176) Time Zone - World Destruction (1984)
177) The Human League - (Keep Feeling) Fascination (1983)
178) Damned - I Just Can't Be Happy Today (1979)
179) Police - Roxanne (1978)
180) Gun Club - Sex Beat (1981)
181) The Cars - Let's Go (1979)
182) Comstat Angels - Independence Day (1980)
183) Vapors - Turning Japanese (1980)
184) Pere Ubu - On The Surface (1979)
185) The Durutti Column - Tomorrow (1985)
186) Animotion - Obsession (1985)
187) Adam Ant - Stand and Deliver (1981)
188) Polecats - Make a Circuit With Me (1983)
189) Billy Idol - White Wedding (1981)
190) Bangles - Hero Takes a Fall (1984)
191) EBN-OZN - AEIOU Sometimes Y (1983)
192) Section 25 - Looking From a Hilltop (1984)
193) The Fixx - Red Skies (Alternate) (1982)
194) Prince And The Revolution - When Doves Cry (1984)
195) R.E.M. - Radio Free Europe (1983)
196) Cyndi Lauper - Money Changes Everything (1984)
197) Talking Heads - Life During Wartime (1979)
198) The Undertones - Teenage Kicks (1979)
199) Magazine - Model Worker (1980)
200) The Stranglers - Golden Brown (1981)

[added May 4, 2013]

201) Warren Zevon - Excitable Boy (1978)
202) Sisters of Mercy - Black Planet (1985)
203) Cheap Trick - Surrender (1978)
204) The Flying Lizards - Money (1979)
205) Spandau Ballet - True (1983)
206) Yello - I Love You (1983)
207) 'Til Tuesday - Voices Carry (1985)
208) The Teardrop Explodes - Reward (1980)
209) Tears For Fears - Shout (1985)
210) Laurie Anderson - Sharkey's Day (1984)
211) Graham Parker + The Rumour - Thunder And Rain (1977)
212) The Pretenders - Brass In Pocket (1980)
213) Bronski Beat - Smalltown Boy (1984)
214) Nick Lowe - So It Goes (1978)
215) Utopia - Hammer In My Heart (Calling Out Trimble) (1982)
216) INXS - What You Need (1985)
217) The Go-Go's - Vacation (1982)
218) Rockpile - Teacher Teacher (1980)
219) Fishbone - Party At Ground Zero (1985)
220) Sheila Chandra - Question the Answer (1985)
221) Elvis Costello & the Attractions - Tears Before Bedtime (1982)
222) Squeeze - Pulling Mussels (From The Shell) (1980)
223) B-Movie - Nowhere Girl (1985)
224) The Specials & The Special A.K.A. - Free Nelson Mandela (1984)
225) Cocteau Twins - Lorelei (1984)

[final addition to list May 5, 2013]


226) Dead or Alive - You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) (1987)
227) Todd Rundgren - Bang the Drum All Day (1983)
228) Bauhaus - The Passion Of Lovers (1981)
229) Sniff 'n' the Tears - Driver's Seat (1978)
230) Billy Bragg - The Busy Girl Buys Beauty (1983)
231) Bongos - Glow in the Dark (1982)
232) The Rumour - Frozen Years (1979)
233) Fad Gadget - Collapsing New People (1984)
234) Josef K - Sense Of Guilt (1980)
235) Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Enola Gay (1980)
236) Violent Femmes - Blister In The Sun (1983)
237) Lou Reed - New Sensations (1984)
238) The Style Council - Walls Come Tumbing Down (1985)
239) Martha & The Muffins - Black Stations/White Stations (1984)
240) Iggy Pop - Nightclubbing (1977)
241) Dire Straits - Twisting By the Pool (1982)
242) Big Sound Authority - This House (1985)
243) Ian Gomm - Hold On (1978)
244) Alarm - Sixty Eight Guns (1984)
245) Matthew Wilder - Break My Stride (1983)
246) Pylon - Crazy (1983)
247) Bangles - How Is The Air Up There (1982)
248) Tones on Tail - Twist (1984)
249) Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Every Day I Write the Book (1983)
250) Culture Club - Karma Chameleon (1983)

The spotify playlist I made is missing about 10% of these songs, but I was pleased I was able to make it fairly complete.






14 comments:

  1. Some of these artists I wouldn't list as New Wave.It seems you
    add songs that everybody else adds to their lists.Some good songs
    listed,but nothing special.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wouldn't list a lot of these artists as new wave either. It's a song list. One of the most striking examples is The Clash's "Rockin' the Casbah". The Clash were in no way shape or form a new wave band, but that one song was definitely new wave enough that it came it at #100 on my list. It's new-wave-ish-ness was definitely enhanced by the video which was huge on MTV at the same time as a number of other songs on this list.

    Regarding being something special, that would run counter to the concept of an archetype in my opinion. If you're looking for something more obscure, there are plenty of other lists on this site where you can find that.

    ReplyDelete
  3. No Cramps? No Television? Most of this list is electronic music .. the music that killed off New Wave, not actually New Wave itself. Heart of Glass is pure disco.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Okay, Television is there. Whew (they probably are the purest form of post-punk New Wave).

      Delete
    2. No. No Cramps. That wasn't an oversight. A certain about of rockabilly revival made it onto this list, but I associate psychobilly more strongly with garage rock and punk. I was curious what others thought, so I posted a poll on rateyourmusic about whether or not the Cramps were new wave. The preliminary verdict is a clear "no". https://rateyourmusic.com/board_message?message_id=5171304

      Delete
    3. What defines new wave? New wave started in the late 70's. If you look at the songs on the list from the late 70's you find more real new wave. It had a rockier edge than 80's synth pop and was a more refined version of punk with some 50's, back to the basics, rockabilly aspects. Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, earlier Police and Cars had this edge. A few Blondie songs like One Way or Another also had this edge. The other side of the coin in new wave were the experimental bands like the Talking Heads which later lead to 80's synth pop.
      New Wave died out around 1981 as new wave bands became more pop oriented.

      Delete
  4. Roxy Music..Both Ends Burning, Thrill of It All, Love is the Drug..Damn..The list goes on and on..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm comfortable with just Avalon at #77. Love is the Drug was too early to be archetypical new wave. I'll include it if I ever make a list of prototypical new wave.

      Delete
  5. also , it seems you've omitted 85-89 for some reason ? lots of good choices there as well

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good question. For my money, new wave was basically over after about 1985. That's partly my own evolving musical tastes, which veered more towards punk, avant-garde, and obscure underground rock in the late 80s, but I also think archetypical new wave truly had a mid-80s expiration date as new wave bands blended fully into mainstream top 40. In other words, a list of the best new wave songs might extend to the late 80s, but the late 80s are intentionally mostly absent from this list of archetypical new wave.

      Delete
  6. Given it's punk rock roots new wave bands almost by definition require a guitarist, I would actually classify many of those tracks as synthpop.

    Unlike a previous poster, I agree with your inclusion of Rock the Casbah for the reasons I just outlined.

    Anyway still a great list of tunes thanks for taking the time to compile it. I'm going to check a handful of the songs on there that I'm not familiar with.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I get what you're doing here and I appreciate it! New Wave wasn't a specific sound, as some seem to think -- it was a different way of writing recording thinking and representing. And a lot falls under that blanket. Everyone was inspiring everyone and the creative juices were insane. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  8. The Clash's "Rockin' the Casbah not punk very New wave by then

    ReplyDelete