New Pop was a British-centric pop music movement consisting of
ambitious, DIY-minded artists who achieved commercial success in the
early 1980s through sources such as MTV. Rooted in the post-punk
movement of the late 1970s, the movement spanned a wide variety of
styles and artists, including acts such as
The Human League
The Human League and
"New Music" is a roughly equivalent but slightly more expansive
umbrella term used by the music industry and by American music
journalists during the 1980s to characterize the "new" movements like
New Pop and New Romanticism. New Music was a pop music and cultural
phenomenon in the US associated with the Second British
4 Criticism and decline
7 Further reading
New Pop artists created music that sweetened less commercial and
experimental aspects with a pop coating.
Entryism became a popular
concept for groups at the time. New Music acts were danceable, had
an androgynous look, emphasized the synthesizer and drum machines,
wrote about the darker side of romance, and were British. They
rediscovered rockabilly, Motown, ska, reggae and merged it with
African rhythms to produce what was described as a "fertile, stylistic
Simon Reynolds noted that the New Pop
movement "involved a conscious and brave attempt to bridge the
separation between 'progressive' pop and mass/chart pop – a divide
which has existed since 1967, and is also, broadly, one between boys
and girls, middle-class and working-class."
The term "New Music" or "New Pop" was used loosely to describe
synthpop groups such as the Human League, soul-disco acts such as ABC,
new wave acts such as
Elvis Costello and the
Pretenders,[page needed] jangle pop bands such as Orange
Juice, and American
MTV stars such as Michael Jackson. Stephen
Holden of the
New York Times
New York Times wrote at the time that New Music was more
about its practitioners than their sound. Teenage girls and males that
had grown tired of traditional "phallic" guitar driven rock embraced
New Music.[page needed] New Music was a singles oriented (both
7 inch and the then new 12 inch) phenomenon, reverting the 1970s rock
music album orientation.
During the late 1970s, "New Musick" [sic] was one of the labels that
was applied to certain post-punk groups. The term "post-punk" was
also deployed interchangeably with "new wave". In the New Rolling
Stone Encyclopedia of Rock (2001), "new wave" is described as a
"virtually meaningless" term. By the early 1980s, British
journalists had largely abandoned "new wave" in favor of other terms
such as "synthpop", and in 1983, the term of choice for the US
music industry had become "new music".
New Musical Express
New Musical Express writer
Paul Morley (left), a pivotal
figure in New Pop
In the wake of the punk rock explosion of the late 1970s, the new wave
and post-punk genres emerged, informed by a desire for
experimentation, creativity and forward movement. Music journalist
Paul Morley, whose writing in British music magazine the NME
championed the post-punk movement in late 1970s, has been credited as
an influential voice in the development of
New Pop following the
dissipation of post-punk, advocating "overground brightness" over
underground sensibilities. Around this time, the term "rockist"
would gain popularity to disparagingly describe music that privileged
traditionalist rock styles. According to Pitchfork's Jess Harvel:
"If new pop had an architect, it was [the writer] Paul Morley."
As the 1980s began, a number of musicians desired to broaden these
movements to reach a more mainstream audience. In 1980, the New Music
Seminar made its debut. It was designed to help young new wave artists
gain entrance into the American music industry. The event grew rapidly
in popularity and encouraged the shift away from the use of "new wave"
to "New Music" in the United States. A similar shift occurred in
Great Britain where "new wave" was replaced with "New Romantic" and
"New Pop". Unlike in Great Britain, attempts prior to 1982 to
bring new wave and the music video to American audiences had brought
mixed results. During 1982, New Music acts began to appear on the
charts in the United States, and clubs there that played them were
"I hated the phrase 'new wave'. It sounded too trendy and could be
gone in a year"
—Dennis McNamara, program director who oversaw Long Island, New York
radio station WLIR's 1982 change to a New Music format.
In reaction to New Music, album-oriented rock radio stations doubled
the amount of new acts they played and the format "Hot Hits"
emerged.[page needed] By 1983, in a year when half of the
new artists came out of New Music, acts such as Duran Duran,
Culture Club and
Men at Work
Men at Work were dominating the charts and creating
an alternate music and cultural mainstream.
Annie Lennox and Boy
George were the two figures most associated with New
Criticism and decline
New Pop emerged from both supporters of traditional rock
and newer experimental rock. These critics looked at
New Pop as pro
corporate at expense of rock music's anti-authoritarian tradition.
Critics believed New Pop's embrace of synths and videos were ways of
covering in many cases lack of talent. The heavy metal magazine Hit
Parader regularly used the homophobic slur "faggot" to describe New
Music musicians. The 1985
Dire Straits song "Money for Nothing", which
hit number 1 in the United States, contained the line "The little
faggot with the earring and the make-up" and used the term "faggot"
several other times. The lyrics were taken verbatim from the language
of a New York appliance store worker whom lead singer Mark Knopfler
had observed watching MTV. Assistant professor/author/musician Theo
Cateforis stated these are examples of homophobia used in the defense
of "real rock" against new music.[page needed]
Richard Blade, a disc jockey at Los Angeles radio station KROQ-FM,
speaking of the late 1980s said, "You felt there was a winding-down of
music. Thomas Dolby's album had bombed, Duran had gone through a
series of breakups,
The Smiths had broken up,
Spandau Ballet had gone
away, and people were just shaking their heads going, 'What happened
to all this new music?' ". Theo Cateforis contends that the New
Music evolved into modern rock that while different, retained New
Music's uptempo feel and still came from the rock disco/club
^ a b c Reynolds 2006, p. 398.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k Harvel, Jess. "Now That's What I Call New
Pop!". Pitchfork Media. 12 September 2005.
^ Reynolds 2005, p. 338.
^ Cateforis 2011, pp. 12, 56.
^ a b c d e Triumph of the New
Newsweek on Campus reprinted by the
Michigan Daily March 2, 1984
^ a b c Tarnished gold: the record industry revisited" Von R. Serge
Denisoff, William L. Schurk, p. 441
^ a b c d e Reynolds 2005.
^ Cateforis 2011, pp. 56–57.
^ Cateforis 2011, p. 26.
^ Jackson, Josh (8 September 2016). "The 50 Best New Wave Albums".
^ Cateforis 2011, p. 11.
^ Cateforis 2011, p. 254.
^ Cateforis 2011, p. 56
^ Cateforis pp. 43-44
^ The Death of New Wave Theo Canteforis Syracuse University 2009
^ WLIR, Denis McNamara ushered a wave of new music, Newsday, November
^ Cateforis p. 57
^ CANADIAN BROADCAST STANDARDS COUNCIL,ad hoc NATIONAL PANEL,Review of
the Atlantic Regional Panel decision in CHOZ-FM re the song "Money for
Dire Straits Archived 2014-08-10 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Cateforis p. 233 reference number 28
^ KROQ: An Oral History
^ Cateforis pp. 65-67
Cateforis, Theo (2011). Are We Not New Wave?: Modern Pop at the Turn
of the 1980s. University of Michigan Press.
Reynolds, Simon (2005). Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984.
Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-303672-2.
Reynolds, Simon (2006), "
New Pop and its Aftermath", On Record: Rock,
Pop and the Written Word, Routledge, ISBN 978-1-134-93951-0
Rimmer, Dave. Like Punk Never Happened:
Culture Club and the New Pop.
Faber and Faber, 2011, ISBN 978-0571280261.
New wave and post-punk
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