I have given you the titles and artists of 280 New Wave songs that I love. While I was compiling this list, I had around 430 songs listed. After much contemplation, I decided that if I could not stretch this list to 500, then I could reduce the list to 300 songs.
Initially, I had trouble eliminating songs due to my completist tendencies. Yet, after I got through my psychosis-induced shakes, I started to remove some of the songs. Then, it became easier to eliminate songs until I reached the magic number of 300. Once I got to that arbitrary number, then I knew I was ready. Unfortunately, there are truly great songs that I marked off the list while probably keeping a few songs that really should have been left off. Oh well, such are the perils of undertaking such an endeavor.
So, let’s take a look at the bottom ten songs of My Top Twenty Favorite New Wave Songs.
20. Cheap Trick – “Surrender” (1978). This song is about that teenage moment when you realize your parents are really sexually active and actually listen to the same music as the teenagers in the house. It is a scary moment of life on both sides of the story.
19. Dexys Midnight Runners – “Come on Eileen” (1982). Unfortunately, this band was a one-hit wonder here in the States. If you delve into their catalog you will discover strong songwriting and the ability to cover a plethora of sounds, for Celtic folk to blue-eyed soul. I love this song and it really is one of the band’s best songs.
18. The Cars – “My Best Friend’s Girl” (1978). Between The Cars and Cheap Trick, we were given two New Wave artists whose sounds were smooth enough to gain airplay on AOR radio. They were the entry way into New Wave for me.
17. Peter Gabriel – “Games Without Frontiers” (1980). This haunting anti-war song immediately jumped into my consciousness and stayed there forever. Only Gabriel would be able to harness Phil Collins’ Eighties drum sound and meld it with musical instrumentation found throughout the world and make the resulting sound so commercial that his music remains vital to this very day.
16. The Police – “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” (1980). Sure, “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” hit the Top 10 first, but this song marked that The Police were on their way to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world.
15. Duran Duran – “Hungry like the Wolf” (1982). For the teens and twenty-somethings in the Midwest, this song was our introduction to “The Beatles of the Eighties.” And, to me, what a fantastic way to learn about the “Duranies”.
14. Soft Cell – “Tainted Cell” (1982). Take an obscure ’70s soul song and give it an icy synth-pop arrangement and you get a slow-burning song on the American Pop Charts. At one time, this song had the record for most weeks spent in the Top 40 and even the Top 100 in Billboard magazine. And, have you heard Marilyn Manson’s version? Scary!
13. Talking Heads – “Once in a Lifetime” (1980). Nearly 40 years ago, I was complaining how horrible it was that the radio stations around me were not playing this classic song. But now? You can hear it anywhere, which is great now, but we are experiencing a little revisionist history. The video is a flat-out classic.
12. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – “Everyday I Write the Book” (1983). With this song, Elvis and the guys found themselves in the unlikely position of a song in the US Top 40. It was a surprise that Elvis could not duplicate until he got a little help from Sir Paul McCartney on his biggest hit song “Veronica”.
11. DEVO – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (1978). There I am, a Saturday night in 1978, waiting for Saturday Night Live to start, mainly because this weird band from Akron, Ohio, DEVO, was going to play. Man, did I ever get my mind blown by their performance. And, I wasn’t the only one at school. Several of my friends, most of whom were in my second-year chemistry class, so the nerds had found their rock group. And once you’ve been bitten by the DEVO bug, you will NEVER let go.
Folks! You have it! We are ready for the Top Ten. So, as always, let’s be careful out there.