The term “New Wave” was first uttered in the mid-late 1970’s as another way of describing Punk music. Punk originated as a way of countering the self-indulgent, blood, machinations of the big progressive rock groups with a short but uber-successful shelf life. The U.S.A. saw New Wave as being something of a fad.
The term later became a way of describing bands that bore similarities to the punk ethos while not itself belonging to the punk genre. Author Vernon Joynson asserted that New Wave first reared its head in 1976 in the UK when a number of bands distanced themselves from punk. New Wave became something that was lyrically complex, musical, experimental, and with a more polished production. So New Wave grew alongside punk. Punk wasn’t even really about music from a technical standpoint. People started to move away from it as it had achieved what it had set out to do i.e. giving people a chance to rebel through art and to escape the norms of life. As punk died off, bands and musicians started to create music that could again be called musical.
The same but different
In some ways, New Wave and Punk were similar. Punk featured only basic musical and instrumental ability while focusing more on the bands’ presence and attitude. New Wave went back to being more about music and expanded from the definition of Punk. The idea behind the two genres were the same but with New Wave, anyone could start their own band. The other major difference was that New Wave was more acceptable in the mainstream. New Wave grew more popular as more bands were defined by the term. One Manhattan music venue, CBGB, which was among the primary pioneers of emerging punk acts, started to use the term when describing new Punk bands. The popularity of Punk began to wane, and New Wave was on the rise, not just in musical complexity, but culturally and artistically, with artistic acts like The Taken Heads and the music of the Buzzcocks. New Wave was also responsible for the fashion that we saw in the New Romantics. These days, New Wave describes any music style that includes catchy lyrics or synthesiser melodies. The term has grown from the days when it was interchangeable with Punk.
New Wave appeared in 1976 Britain when the term, along with the music it described, was still somewhat hazy. Journalist and artist Caroline Coon used the term ‘New Wave’ in a Melody Maker article in ’76 when it was being used to describe a genre of music that was part of the same musical scene as punk, while being somewhat of a genre in itself.
New Wave became a bona fide genre when it emerged in the U.S. shortly thereafter. This gave rise to a whole host of new bands. Many of these bands that were previously associated with punk began to be more experimental, mixing different musical styles in a bid to establish their own sound.