In the late 70s and early 80s, radio changed from the same ol' boring 1970s classic rock and disco to music that was a reaction to punk. New Wave was born and we should be thankful it was. But the term New Wave has now become mistermed and lost its original meaning.
In the early 1960s, Americans were listening to people like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. Both artists were fine in their own right, but Americans were also missing out on a groundswell of great music in England. When the Beatles played the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, everything changed. Soon there would be lots of bands from the UK being played on American radio and topping the charts. This was the first wave of English music to most Americans.
New Wave from the last 1970s and early 1980s was termed that because music had lost its way a bit. There was a lot of bad music from the 1970s (disco was and is bad music, sorry) and radio had become more Americanized once again. But then suddenly we had a lot of good music beginning from overseas in the late 1970s and hence, the second wave - or New Wave - of new UK bands arrived.
The five New Wave albums you must go out and buy today
I bring all this up because the bands I have on the list that follows will not include performers such as The Talking Heads, or The Cars, or Blondie. The reason is that those bands weren't English so while they were making some fine music themselves, they weren't part of an English wave. I see these bands show up on a lot of best-of New Wave albums and I think grouping them in with the subgenre is just wrong. Just because they were making music in the early '80s shouldn't make them New Wave.
I also don't have artists like Elvis Costello, or The Police, or The Clash on here either. They are all English, but they were making their bones before New Wave and listing them all in a best-of New Wave does a disservice to their earlier music (especially The Clash who weren't anywhere close to New Wave).
New Wave is almost by definition, rock bands that were synth-driven. So which five New Wave albums should you own? The five that follow.