In college during the ’80s, the great fashion accessory you added to your wardrobe wear the buttons of your favorite bands that had safety pins on the back so you could wear them on your coat, sports jacket over a concert t-shirt, or anything you might be wearing. I once wore a Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungen button on my “punk” version of a toga to frat toga party. Needless to say, my fashion statement was either cool or stupid. Regardless, I had fun.
Now, I have many of them in a shadow box on the wall of my music room. Elvis Costello, The Jam, Prince, Cheap Trick, The B-52’s, R.E.M., among many others are immortalized on my wall, along with ticket stubs from a couple of recent concerts, as well as some other memorabilia. The buttons, along with my collection of Cheap Trick guitar picks, some bobbleheads of Cheap Trick, a couple of those Funko Pop Rocks figures of rock stars like KISS and Lemmy and some Beatles plush dolls from the 80s can be found in this small room. I have some old concert poster reprints hanging on the wall, in addition to some small posters of some artists. But, my favorite things to hang on the walls are the few picture disc albums and 7″ singles; they make for fantastic artwork. This place has become my man-cave.
Anyway, the main reason we are here to to see what songs are in My Top 10 Favorite New Wave Songs. Break!
10. Billy Idol – “Dancing with Myself” (1982). If you were to take a poll of my college friends they would probably say this song was my all-time favorite. And, if New Wave had ended in 1983, not simply peaked, then they might have been closer. But, this high energy ode to self-love is still a classic
9. The Style Council – “You’re the Best Thing” (1984). Arguably the greatest love song of the New Wave era, this song happens to my wife’s and my song. This song happens to be the first of three Top Ten songs for Paul Weller.
8. The Jam – “Going Underground” (1980). Lyrically and musically, this song is just as true and vital as it was the day it was released 37 years ago. I constantly refer back to this song’s lyrics whenever the actions of certain political people around the country speak too loud. By the way, if you are counting, this is the second song written and performed by a Paul Weller-led band.
7. Ramones – “I Wanna Be Sedated” (1978). This hyperactive ode to the sedate life is the Ramones’ musical blitzkrieg at its best and most fully realize. The video for this classic song is a slice of heaven.
6. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” (1979). First, let’s get this straightened out: Elvis did NOT write this song; Nick Lowe (“Cruel to Be Kind”) wrote the song. Unfortunately, the band that Lowe was in at the time, Brinley Schwarz, did not possess the passion that the song required. So, in steps Elvis and his backing band, full of piss and vinegar, that added the necessary punk snarl to make the song the classic it is today.
5. Tom Tom Club – “Genius of Love” (1981). In 1981, the members of Talking Heads were taking a break from each other in order to follow their own musical muses. The married rhythm section of the band, bassist & Tom Tom Club vocalist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz produced this super-fun song that was meant for the dance floor. This song was bigger than nearly anything their day job ever released. This song has gone on to become one of the most sampled songs of all time.
4. Talking Heads – “Life During Wartime” (1979). For me, this song is the perfect example of Talking Heads. Everything about this song is nearly perfect. And then you throw in the lyrics, “This ain’t no party! This ain’t no disco! This ain’t no foolin’ around!” You know its time to take this band serious.
3. The Style Council – “My Ever Changing Moods” (1984). Welcome back Mr. Weller! You have totally nailed my life attitude in one hit song. Thank you Paul Weller!
2. Cheap Trick – “I Want You to Want Me” (1979). I prefer the original live version found on the At Budokan to any other that the band has released and their are several, both live and studio. This song introduced Cheap Trick to the world, and Cheap Trick made New Wave music more palatable to American ears.
1. The Clash – “Train in Vain (Stand by Me)” (1979). In late 1979, The Clash quietly released a double album that was to be sold at a single album’s price. The album is now considered to be an all-time classic called London Calling. And, this song, the first single, had its title totally left off the album’s track list on the back of the album cover. Regardless, the song became a Top Thirty hit and opened up the American market to the ever-expanding sounds of The Clash.
Well, there you have it! Those were My 300 Favorite New Wave Songs. I hope you enjoyed the list. Go ahead and let me know what I left off. I can think of a couple right now, but that’s half the fun of a list like this. Anyway, have a great weekend! See you all on Monday as I continue my New Wave journey.