[Editor's Note: Hi, Noisey readers! Meet Eli. Eli is a teen from New Jersey who emailed us asking if he could write for us. We said yes, and now we're giving him his very own column called Teen Time! For the second installment of Teen Time!, we had him listen to a bunch of new wave music on his snow day.]
Is there anything better than a snow day for a teen? Well yeah, tons of things, but snow days are definitely up there on the list of things that are dope. You get to sleep, devour Netflix, catch up on homework, and listen to hours of new wave.
Yes, new wave. For ten hours, I spent my snow day this past Tuesday (1/27) binge-listening to Rhino Records’ Just Can’t Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the 80’s compilation set. I loved Tears For Fears, Crowded House, Dexys Midnight Runners, and h—la [Editor’s Note: In the interest of keeping Eli out of trouble in school, we decided to bleep all of his swear words.] other new wavers when I was younger—and I still do! It’s a colorful genre that embraced many styles like goth, dance, power pop, and ska. To commemorate my admiration for new wave, I decided to ingest Just Can’t Get Enough’s first ten volumes (it’s all I had the mental stamina for), and it was super shway:
It’s 8:40 a.m. My feet are a little itchy and I’m wondering if my goal of listening to ten hours of new wave is a good idea or not. This volume encapsulates the genre’s booming early days, featuring power pop artists like Blondie, The Knack, and Nick Lowe. I really enjoy Graham Parker’s “Local Girls.” It’s a terrifically structured and executed pop song. Whenever artists on the disc gear towards electronica, it sounds like Throbbing Gristle doing surf pop—specifically The Normal’s “Warm Leatherette” and The Flying Lizards’ rendition of “Money (That’s What I Want).”
I sit on the floor eating Fairway tortilla chips and cold bacon while taking in the “Shooby dooby doowops” of M’s indelible “Pop Muzik.” This album also features “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division, unfortunately now known as a band that Urban Outfitters sells shirts of, Ian Dury’s pounding “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”, and Devo’s surprisingly complex “Whip It.” There’s also “I Got You” by Split Enz, which is a hands-down perfect song.
There’s more deviating from new wave’s rock roots. The Selector’s “Too Much Pressure” is blazing ska, and “Stool Pigeon” by Kid Creole and The Coconuts locks into an acidic funk groove. Even with all the wicked tunes, though, I’m still pondering if listening to ten hours of new wave will be worthwhile.
I love XTC’s “Generals and Majors” and “What Do All the People Know” by The Monroes. The latter takes new wave’s independent-thinking mindset and disguises it as a love song: “Could you be the one I'm thinking of? / Could you be the girl I really love? / All the people tell me so / But what do all the people know?” sings Tony Ortiz during the chorus. I loathe The Motors’ “Love and Loneliness,” a bombastic dud that sounds like Wendy Carlos attempting “Bat Out Of Hell.” By now, I’m relaxing and working on some Qigong exercises. I hear that my other chums are playing GTA, shoveling snow, and watching Parks and Recreation.
There are classics like “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow and “Kids In America” by Kim Wilde, which were deplorably covered in the 2000’s by teen superstars Aaron Carter and The Jonas Brothers, respectively. I always get a kick out of Frank Zappa’s “Valley Girl,” and Haircut One Hundred’s oh-so-catchy “Love Plus One” is fantastic.
OK, now I’m confident that I’ll be able to last all ten hours. Jim Carroll’s grimly comedic “People Who Died” cracks me up with lines like, ”Herbie pushed Tony from the boys' club roof / Tony thought that his rage was just some goof / But Herbie sure gave Tony some b—chin’ proof /‘Hey,’ Herbie said, ‘Tony, can you fly?’ / But Tony couldn't fly...Tony died.” ABC’s “Look of Love” funks hard, but the video’s evil puppets, loads of spaghetti, and Tim Burton-like setting creep me out a little.
I decide to finish up some of the Newtons law-related problems in my physics study guide done during hour seven. This is probably one of my least favorite discs because 1) most of the material was shoddy and 2) I was becoming a bit irritable. Tracks like Wide Boy Awake’s “Chicken Outlaw” and Trio’s “Da Da Da...” sound like the laziest, most inane s—ts ever dumped. The only two cuts that I really like are Split Enz’ “Six Months In A Leaky Boat” and Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman (For Massenet).” Actually, “O Superman” is the best track I’ve heard during the ten hours. It’s a phone conversation morphed into a transcendental sonic collage, and sounds just as fresh as Anderson’s avant-garde descendants Andy Stott and Oneohtrix Point Never. Speaking of physics, Oneohtrix actually released an album called R Plus Seven, and I think we learned about the title this past semester (or maybe we learned the F=mxa equation, whatever idk).
I’m eating a hamburger in total awe with Dexys Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen” playing in the background. A great discovery was Heaven 17’s “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang,” which has a MEAN bass solo. Thanks to these outstanding tracks, I know I’ll happily get through this new wave binge.
The English Beat’s “Save It For Later,” Marshall Crenshaw’s “Whenever You’re on My Mind,” and Violent Femmes’ “Blister In The Sun” are all on this one. It’s so amazing that I literally #canteven.
Bow Wow Wow’s “Do You Wanna Hold Me?” has great percussive rhythms and harmonies (s/o to Purity Ring for ripping off its chorus melody on “Fineshrine”). Madness’ “Our House” is also killer. As the campy “Puttin’ On The Ritz” by Taco fades into the abyss, I feel accomplished with my intense, yet enlightening new wave adventure.
This new wave snow day was awesome. I got to listen to tracks that I love and experience 80’s gems that I’d never heard before. My advice on new wave binging: relax, do it!