Poppy Read-Pitt picks her ten favourite songs in the New Wave genre for Impact’s Music Essentials.
Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence
The youngest song on the list, Enjoy the Silence was released in 1990, which puts it at the very end of the New Wave era. Rolling Stone included this song in their 500 best songs of all time in 2021, ranking the song 415th.
New Order – Age of Consent
A song about the desire to end a relationship but being unable to leave it, Age of Consent is the opening track on New Order’s second album ‘Power, Corruption and Lies’. A fun fact: Stephen Morris’s drums for the song were recycled from Love Will Tear Us Apart with slight subtle alterations.
The Police – Message in a Bottle
Message in a Bottle exemplifies the reggae elements that can be found in early new wave styles. Rolling Stone ranked it number 65 on its list of the “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time” but Sting had initially intended the guitar riff that Message in a Bottle is centred around for a different song.
Blondie – Heart of Glass
A more upbeat track than most on this list, Heart of Glass brings a disco feel to the new wave sound and is probably Blondie’s best-known hit. It’s one of the highest selling singles of all time and frontman Debby Harry stated that it was, along with Rapture, the song she was proudest of having written.
Tears For Fears – Head Over Heels
Head Over Heels had its resurgence on TikTok recently, but even before that it’s been one of Tears for Fears most well-known and iconic songs. Vocalist and other half of the duo that is Tears for Fears Roland Orzabal called it “basically a romantic love song and one of the most simple tracks that Tears for Fears have ever recorded.”
The Cure – Inbetween Days
1985’s Inbetween Days helped popularise The Cure in Europe, but it’s probably most notable for its music video due to an incident that happened during filming. The bands frontman Robert Smith is rumoured to regard it as the most dangerous video The Cure had made to date of publication, as a flying camera missed hitting Smith in the head by about an inch.
Talking Heads – Psycho Killer
Psycho Killer was the Talking Heads first hit single and, unfortunately for the band, its release coincided with the arrest of David Berkowitz, AKA the Son of Sam, who shot eight people between 1976 and 77. Despite David Byrne continuously denying links between the two, the similarities in content and the eerie timing between the arrest of Berkowitz and the single’s release a few months later were enough for the public to forever associate the two together.
The Psychedelic Furs – Pretty in Pink
This Psychedelic Furs songs was rerecorded 5 years after its release initial release to be included on the soundtrack of the John Hughes film it lends its name to. Because of the film and the song being so culturally intertwined, people often think this song is about high school girls, whereas in reality it’s said to be about two women lead singer Richard Butler knew while living in Muswell Hill.
Siouxsie and the Banshees – The Passenger
A cover of Iggy Pop’s originals song, Siouxsie and the Banshees covered The Passenger in 1987 for their album ‘Through the Looking Glass’- an album made up entirely of covers. They switched up the song by adding brass arrangements, and Iggy Pop praised their version, saying : “She sings it well and she threw a little note in when she sings it, that I wish I had thought of, it’s kind of improved it.”
The Beat – Save It for Later
Despite Save It for Later undoubtably being one of The Beat’s most well-known tracks, the song nearly went unreleased due to opposition from bassist David Steele for -ironically, given this songs feature on this list- being “too ‘rock,’ too ‘old wave'”.
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