New Wave makes return to mainstream media

What type of music do you listen to? For many, this can be a make-or-break question. From indie to rap songs, the 21st century individual has developed a large range of musical interests. With the increase of the variety of genres, McLean students have recovered a genre listened to by the older generation of parents and teachers: new wave. 

“A lot more people are listening to this type of music,” junior Maxwell Mlatisuma said. “If you look at the most listened to songs on Spotify and Apple Music, total listeners for artists of this genre have gone up in the past couple of months.”

New wave music was first popular during the late ‘70s and ‘80s, including bands such as The Smiths, The Cure, The Police and Joy Division. Punk rock was a heavy inspiration for new wave music, as its outlandish style of body piercings and torn clothing symbolized individual expression and rebellion against societal norms. 

“The music during the time was influenced by social, economic downturns, high unemployment, and people wondering where they’re headed to next,” social studies teacher Ian Howell said.

The resurgence of new wave music can be attributed to the influence of social media on pop culture. 

“TikTok is how a lot of people discover new music,” Mlatisuma said. “People hear a song [on TikTok], listen to it and sometimes listen to more of the same genre.”

A few new wave songs that gained popularity on TikTok are “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths, “Heart of Glass” by Blondie, “Head Over Heels” by Tears For Fears and “This Charming Man” by The Smiths.

Today, teachers notice the resurgence of the genre in their classrooms.

“Listening to that stuff back then, it was all underground, which is kind of funny now because it’s coming back, and people are listening to that older stuff,” ceramics teacher Christina Carroll said.

Math teacher Crissie Ricketts, who graduated from McLean in the ‘80s, was a fan of new wave music.

“From McLean we used to listen to WHFS, a radio station from Annapolis with a very poor signal,” Ricketts said. “We would also buy cassette tapes and pause them to try and understand what the lyrics said.” 

Resurrection of new wave music in McLean resonates with the school’s teachers, who are supportive of the music’s comeback.

“I think that music has influenced me more growing up than it did now,” Carroll said. “Music is like art. If you have a connection with it, you can’t explain why.”

Find a full playlist of some of McLean’s favorite new wave songs: