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Intro to new wave: 5 bands to start with

Collegian | Charles Cohen

New wave as a genre was very exciting and innovative when it first came into the mainstream. Bands during the late ’70s and early ’80s were blending punk-style music — for example, lyrics and exciting instrumentals that encompass traditional punk sound — while also embracing a more forward approach of using pop-style sound and song structure. The new wave genre as a whole is a real treat for people looking to expand their taste in music. Here are five bands to check out who fall under the new wave genre.

1. Talking Heads

The Talking Heads were truly innovators of their craft. They excellently blend fun, post-punk-style music with funky and lively world music. A great example of seeing them in their element is by watching the live concert film “Stop Making Sense.” Talking Heads’ track list is quite dense and has plenty of unique songs that can resonate with anybody. David Byrne’s imagery shown through lyrics paired with the band’s funky and fun instrumentation makes Talking Heads an essential band to not only the new wave genre but music as a whole.


Recommended tracks: “Pulled Up,” “Once in a Lifetime,” “And She Was,” “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On),” “Burning Down the House,” “The Book I Read,” “Psycho Killer.”

2. Blondie

Blondie’s music is a staple of the early ’80s. With hit songs like “Call Me” and “Heart of Glass,” it was inevitable that they would carve out their place in new wave history. Debbie Harry, the lead singer of Blondie, has an impressive voice that complements her equally impressive style. Harry, along with the other members of Blondie, has brushed shoulders with iconic bands and artists like the Ramones, Iggy Pop and David Bowie, which undoubtedly influenced their sound in one way or another. Their music takes a little bit of punk, pop and disco. All of these genres combined make Blondie an essential new wave listen.

Recommended tracks: “Call Me,” “Heart Of Glass,” “Hanging On The Telephone,” “Atomic,” “Rapture.”

3. Devo

Devo is about as artsy as they come. Their live performances consist of all members wearing matching jumpsuits and red cones for hats and running on treadmills. Devo’s approach to new wave is undeniably very unique. Although their music may be pretty all over the place, their lyrics always dive into more serious issues. For example, their own name, Devo, is derived from their ideology that humans are actually “de-evolving” due to technological developments. Devo lays more into the punk aspect of new wave, but their use of synths and catchy pop style makes them a cornerstone of one of new wave’s greats.

Recommended tracks: “Girl U Want,” “Gut Feeling,” “Gates of Steel,” “Planet Earth,” “Jocko Homo,” “Freedom of Choice,” “Gut Feeling / (Slap Your Mammy).”

4. New Order

New Order had an unfortunate history as a group. Before New Order, all of the members were initially in Joy Division, a band that bridged the gap between post-punk and new wave. However, after the passing of the lead singer, Ian Curtis, the band members decided to come together once more to make music under the name New Order. What resulted is consistently fleshed-out tracks, hit songs and a massive dedicated fanbase. New Order is a must-listen for anyone wanting to dive into this genre.

Recommended tracks: “Bizarre Love Triangle,” “Ceremony,” “Crystal,” “The Perfect Kiss,” “Temptation,” “Age of Consent,” “Dreams Never End.”

5. The Cars

It is hard to mention the new wave genre without bringing up the iconic band The Cars. The Cars have put out numerous classics, such as “Drive” and “Good Times Roll.” More likely than not, you have probably heard one of their songs playing on the radio, at the roller rink or perhaps at an ’80s-themed event. They are the absolute poster child of new wave music and have plenty of good tracks anyone can enjoy. 

Recommended tracks: “Drive,” “Good Times Roll,” “Just What I Needed,” “Let’s Go,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “Since You’re Gone,” “Candy-O.”


Check out RMCollegian on Spotify to find our new wave playlist.

Reach Christian Arndt at or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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About the Contributor
Christian Arndt
Christian Arndt, Life & Culture Editor
Christian Arndt is this year's editor for the life and culture desk at The Collegian. Arndt joined The Collegian in the winter of 2023, when he started as an arts and entertainment writer, primarily focusing on movie reviews, local art installations and music-curated lists. Arndt is the second life and culture editor and is proud to step into this position. He is focusing on providing the best local coverage in the Fort Collins area with a focus on unique business profiles, important cultural events and fun local happenings. Arndt comes from Silverthorne, Colorado, and came to Colorado State University in the fall of 2021. He is a third-year and is majoring in journalism and media communication with a minor in English. He found his passion for writing during his English classes in high school, and eventually with the style he chose to pursue, he ended up finding a passion within journalism. Because he had no prior experience with journalism, he was adamant to join The Collegian and build up his experience and reputation there. Aside from writing for the paper, you can find him at the cinema, watching basketball, playing video games with friends, walking his adorable dog Penny Lane, snowboarding and listening to plenty of music. Arndt finds his role as an editor thrilling and looks forward to providing the utmost care and consistency with the content that comes out for the life and culture desk.

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  • K

    KirkDec 10, 2023 at 5:44 pm

    I’d like to include Berlin, The Eurythmics, Depeche Mode and Missing Persons for those looking for more early electro New Wave. Lots of synth used properly.