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Episode 0 – What is New Wave, Inspiration for this Podcast

Episode 0 is now up! This is a brief episode explaining what new wave music is, what the New Wave Beat podcast is about, and what inspired me to open up to everyone about my love of new wave music. Enjoy!

Below is a transcript of the episode, if you prefer the written format:

Welcome to New Wave Beat, I am your host Jason D’Orazio! Let me start the festivities by explaining what this podcast, and new wave music, are about. New Wave evolved from punk in the late 1970s. Punk largely broke the rules of rock music of the ‘60s and ‘70s, which had at times become quite complex. Indeed, punk relied on simple guitar chords, lyrical themes, and such. In a sense, punk has a similarity with rock music of the ‘50s and early ‘60s, while adding to that a healthy dose of anger. While punk bands like the Sex Pistols and the Ramones employed simple song structures, some of their contemporaries and followers expanded the sound to include synthesizers, varied instrumentation, extra guitar chords, and the like. This sound started to dent the music charts in 1978 with groundbreaking bands like Blondie and the Elvis Costello and the Attractions, and really broke through in the subsequent years with more polished acts like Eurythmics and Thompson Twins. There was room for experimentation with new wave music. Indeed, you had the reggae leanings of the Police, synth-pop of Human League, pop-oriented sound of Squeeze, ska revivalists like the English Beat, etc. Many new wave artists also took advantage of the burgeoning music video format, thanks to the new MTV, to support their singles and albums. Examples of early videos include “Stand and Deliver” by Adam Ant and the appropriately-named “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles. Soon the video ante was raised with slick productions by Duran Duran and A-Ha, with videos like “Rio” and “Take On Me”. In 1985 some artists organized a huge music festival called Live Aid in order to raise money for famine-stricken Ethiopia. Some consider this festival to be the end of New Wave, as bands and artists soon retired or reconfigured their lineups and/or sounds. Coincidentally, pop and rock music were changing past the New Wave paradigm. Still, established new wave acts were still making music, and some survived even in 2017. And there were plenty of new wave-influenced bands or new wave revivalists, such as No Doubt, the Killers, and the Bravery that helped keep the new wave flame alive.

I came of age in the ‘90s, when grunge and alternative music were dominating the rock landscape. Think bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead. Being the contrarian that I am, I was not always crazy about these sometimes gloomy styles and preferred the more melodic, eclectic, and sometimes eccentric music of the ‘80s. A lot of this music fell under the rubric of New Wave. Perhaps I liked New Wave because I was a video game fan. Yes, I would play a lot of the original Nintendo and Super Nintendo games, and as a result got hooked on these games’ music. Such music is synthesized, and the synthesizer was also put to good use in new wave music. Another factor to my liking of new wave is that I had 2 older sisters who had a lot of new wave and other ‘80s music in their collections. I borrowed their old music and thought it was cool, despite it not being in vogue at the time (no pun intended, please don’t strike a pose). When I entered college in the late ‘90s, I bought more new wave albums, more so than releases by contemporary artists.  further cementing my like for the music. A couple of years ago I got married, and our wedding music repertoire included lots of new wave and other ‘80s classics. In fact, our string quartet played Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf”! My sister remarked that, while it was a great set of music, it was not really indicative of when I came of age. Yeah, you can say I am a New Wave anachronism. Though to be fair to me, Pearl Jam is not exactly wedding music material.

In the upcoming episodes, I plan to discuss some great songs to come out of the new wave era, as well as have more detailed reviews of albums by New Wave artists. On occasion I may delve into an influencer or follower of New Wave. In addition I will talk about the latest happenings of new wave artists. This would include touring, new album releases, and other tidbits. If you are currently into New Wave music or are curious about it, this podcast is for you! Feel free to visit New Wave Beat’s Facebook page to chime in with your thoughts regarding the podcast and New Wave music in general!

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