Top 3 New Wave Artists to Stream Right Now

This week’s Top 3 post is brought to you by Jennifer, the Teen Librarian at our Mill Creek community library. Jennifer, what do you suggest our local teens put in their ears this week?

“When I was a teenager in the 1980s, New Wave music was the coolest music. A fizzy blend of disco and punk, New Wave is stylized and colorful and danceable. Sometimes it pairs bubbly uptempo rhythms with surprisingly grim lyrics. Like disco, it first gained prominence in dance clubs before bursting into the mainstream. New Wave is electronic, vaguely European-seeming, and frequently queer.

These are the three* best New Wave artists available on Sno-Isle Library’s music streaming service, Hoopla:**

Pet Shop Boys

This British duo is among the most boundlessly creative New Wave acts. Their songs swing from gleefully campy at one extreme, to snarling and cynical at the other. I love lead singer Neil Tennant’s distinctive tenor. Pet Shop Boys are best known for their hit “West End Girls,” but trust me, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Dig into the collection Popart: The Hits to get all their best songs. I like the bleak dystopian “Suburbia,” and the giddy U2 sendup “Where The Streets Have No Name (Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You).” Their cover of the Village People hit “Go West” may be the most infectious gay anthem ever written.

New Order

Once upon a time, there was a British pun quartet called Joy Division. They formed in the 1970s, discovered synthesizers, and laid claim to the angsty end of the New Wave spectrum. Their lead singer killed himself in 1980, and the surviving members of the band re-formed into New Order. They couple thick electronic textures with sad, sad lyrics, now sung by guitarist Bernard Sumner.

The album to check out is Brotherhood [Collector’s Edition].  This has most of New Order’s best songs, including “Bizarre Love Triangle” and “True Faith.” Please don’t miss my own personal favorite New Order track, the dancy-yet-heartbreaking domestic violence lament “1963.”

Duran Duran

Duran Duran is the New Wave act that really caught on with the mainstream public. Their blend of hooky songs and sex appeal rocketed them out of the underground dance scene and onto the covers of teen magazines. Like many phenomenally popular acts, they’ve had to endure a certain lack of respect.  Are they artistes? Do they bare the pain in their souls? No. But they’ve been making creative, infectious pop since forever.

*Three? Why did I think I could only name three? Here are some other New Wave acts you should definitely seek out. They’re all on Hoopla, too:

**Oh, are you not familiar with Hoopla? It’s fabulous. Go to www.hoopladigital.com, click “Get Started,” and create an account with your Sno-Isle Library Card and PIN. You can check out and listen to nine albums per month (without having to listen to an ad per song like you would on YouTube). If you get the free app, you can listen on your phone or other portable device.

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