Beware: I am about to open Pandora’s Box.

’80s new wave music is my true love. This is the music of MTV. KROQ. Valley Girl. Martha Quinn. The Atari 2600. Members Only. Friday Night Videos. Nina Blackwood. Ms. Pac-Man. Night Flight. Richard Blade. Sixteen Candles. Alan Hunter. Jam boxes. Revenge Of The Nerds. Cabbage Patch Dolls. Parachute pants. J.J. Jackson. Live Aid. Mark Goodman. Rubik’s Cube. Donkey Kong.

This is the music that still makes me feel like a perpetual teenager.


Ecstatic ’80s New Wave: 1981


New Order_ Singles & B-Sides

New Order: “Ceremony” (Ian Curtis/Bernard Sumner/Peter Hook/Stephen Morris)

From the U.K. 12″ Ceremony

Factory Records, 1981


New Order released two versions of “Ceremony” in 1981– this is the second version. The band decided to re-record their debut single after Gillian Gilbert joined the group, and it was re-released with a new sleeve. “Ceremony” was actually written as a Joy Division song, meaning the late Ian Curtis shares a writing credit. Check out the bonus tracks for the rarer original version!


Altered Images_ Singles & B-Sides

Altered Images: “I Could Be Happy” (Grogan/McElhone/Anderson/McDavid)

From the 12″ single I Could Be Happy

Portrait Records, 1981

I Could Be Happy

Altered Images followed up the success of “Happy Birthday” with “I Could Be Happy,” a song that I have loved ever since I saw it a million times during my first summer with MTV in 1982. “I Could Be Happy” was included on 1982’s Pinky Blue album, but it was first released in December of 1981 in both 7″ and 12″ versions.



The Human League: “The Sound Of The Crowd” (Phillip Oakey/Ian Burden)

From the album Dare!

Virgin Records, 1981

The Sound Of The Crowd

Despite the presence of that song on Dare, the Human League chose “The Sound Of The Crowd” as the album’s first single. The band’s faith was rewarded with their first real hit when “The Sound Of The Crowd” reached #12 in the U.K. The Dare album was produced by Martin Rushent, who I should note also produced the first two songs on this list. Martin had a very good year in 1981.


Only A Lad

Oingo Boingo: “Little Girls” (Danny Elfman)

From the album Only A Lad

A&M  Records, 1981

Little Girls

The first song on the first Oingo Boingo album– talk about announcing your presence with authority (and some minor perversion, of course)! “Little Girls” encapsulates everything that I love about Oingo Boingo in less than four minutes.


Radio Free Europe [Hib-Tone U.S. 7_]

R.E.M.: “Radio Free Europe” (Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe)

From the U.S. 7″ Radio Free Europe

Hib-Tone Records, 1981

Radio Free Europe

The song that started it all for R.E.M. This original version of “Radio Free Europe” caught the attention of I.R.S. Records, and the label asked R.E.M. to re-record the song for their first album. That remade version reached #78 on the Billboard Hot 100 when it was released as the first single from 1983’s Murmur, but bassist Mike Mills still prefers the original: “It crushes the other one like a grape.”


Underneath The Colours

INXS: “Stay Young” (Andrew Farriss/Michael Hutchence)

From the album Underneath The Colours

Deluxe Records, 1981

Stay Young

INXS didn’t release an album in North America until 1982 (Shabooh Shoobah), but by that point they already has two Australian releases under their belts. “So Young” was the first single from Underneath The Colours, the band’s second album. It reached #21 in their native Australia, and you can really hear the developing songwriting skills of Andrew Farriss and Michael Hutchence on this one.


Charlotte Sometimes [U.K. 7_]

The Cure: “Charlotte Sometimes” (Robert Smith/Simon Gallup/Lol Tolhurst)

From the U.K. 7″ Charlotte Sometimes

Fiction Records, 1981

Charlotte Sometimes

“Charlotte Sometimes” was a stand-alone single released by The Cure in October of 1981, about six months after the release of Faith. It reached #44 on the U.K. singles chart, and is perhaps best remembered for its bizarrely creepy (even by Cure standards!) video.


Berlin_ Singles & B-Sides

Berlin: “The Metro” (John Crawford)

From the U.S. 7″ Metro

M.A.O. Records, 1981

The Metro [Original Version]

“The Metro” is my favorite Berlin tune, but I had never heard the original version of the song until about a year ago. This version of “The Metro” appeared on a stand-alone 7″ single on M.A.O. Records in 1981, and was subsequently remixed for inclusion on 1982’s Pleasure Victim.


Apart From The Crowd 1

Great Buildings: “Hold On To Something” (Danny Wilde/Phil Solem/Ian Ainsworth)

From the album Great Buildings

Columbia Records, 1981

Hold On To Something


So no one told you life was gonna be this way

Your band split up, it sucks, your career is D.O.A.

Wrote a new wave classic back in ’81

Now it’s ’94, you’re broke, so you write… a catchy theme song, and


Now we’re so fucking rich (I will cash all the checks)

Now we’re so fucking rich (royalties kick some ass)

Now we’re so fucking rich (syndication ru-uuuuuuulllllllleeeeeeessssss).


Beauty And The Beat

The Go-Go’s: “This Town” (Charlotte Caffey/Jane Wiedlin)

From the album Beauty And The Beat

I.R.S. Records, 1981

This Town

I can still remember the first time I heard The Go-Go’s. There was kind of a dorky kid at my school named Paul (and believe me, you had to be super-dorky to be called a dork by me in 1981), and we lived in the same Plano neighborhood. Occasionally we would find ourselves walking home from school along the same bike path (under the giant power lines that probably caused my leukemia, but I digress! ), and we eventually struck up a friendship. We both loved music, and one day Paul told me that I had to stop by and listen to this new album from a band called The Go-Go’s. It was at Paul’s house that I first heard Beauty And The Beat.

“They’re all girls, and they all play their own instruments!” Paul said. “And they’re all hot!”

After all of these years, I finally understand why the Go-Go’s covered their faces with Noxzema on the album cover. I would eventually find out that Belinda & Gina & Jane & Charlotte & Kathy were, in fact, hot. But on that day, I didn’t care about the faces on the sleeve. I only cared about the music inside, and it was absolutely fantastic.

“This Town” wasn’t released as a single, but it’s always been one of my favorite cuts from Beauty And The Beat. If you want to hear some of the album’s bigger singles, you can use this blog’s helpful search tool to find them!

One other side note about Paul: he lent me his copy of Van Halen’s Women And Children first that same day, and I never gave it back to him. I’ve been carrying around that guilt for thirty five years now, and I’d really like to tell Paul that I’m sorry. Hey, at least you got to keep the poster!



Bonus Tracks!

The first rule of The Analog Kid blog is that if you write about a song on the Analog Kid blog, you share the song on the Analog Kid blog.


New Order_ Singles & B-Sides 1

New Order: “Ceremony” [Original Version] (Ian Curtis/Bernard Sumner/Peter Hook/Stephen Morris)

From the U.K. 7″ Ceremony

Factory Records, 1981

Ceremony [Original 7″ Version]


Happy Birthday 4

Altered Images: “Happy Birthday” (Grogan/McElhone/Anderson/McDavid)

From the album Happy Birthday

Portrait Records, 1981

Happy Birthday



Altered Images: “I Could Be happy” [7″ Version] (Grogan/McElhone/Anderson/McDavid)

From the U.K. 7″ I Could Be Happy

Epic Records, 1981

I Could Be Happy [Single Version]



The Human League: “Don’t You Want Me” (Jo Callis/Phillip Oakey/Philip Adrian Wright)

From the album Dare!

Virgin Records, 1981

Don’t You Want Me


Radio Free Europe [I.R.S. U.S. 7_]

R.E.M.: “Radio Free Europe” [7″ Edit] (Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe)

From the U.S. 7″ Radio Free Europe

I.R.S. Records, 1983

Radio Free Europe [Edit]


Shabooh Shoobah

INXS: “The One Thing” (Andrew Farriss/Michael Hutchence)

From the album Shabooh Shoobah

Atco Records, 1982

The One Thing



The Cure: “Primary” (Robert Smith/Simon Gallup/Lol Tolhurst)

From the album Faith

Fiction Records, 1982



Pleasure Victim

Berlin: “The Metro” (John Crawford)

From the album Pleasure Victim

Geffen Records, 1982

The Metro



The Rembrandts: “I’ll Be There for You” (Crane/Kauffman/Skloff/Willis/Solem/Wilde)

From the album L.P.

East/West Records, 1995

I’ll Be There For You (Theme From Friends)


Women And Children First

Van Halen: “Everybody Wants Some!!) (Eddie Van Halen/Alex Van Halen/David Lee Roth/Michael Anthony)

From the album Women And Children First

Warner Bros. Records, 1980

Everybody Wants Some!!


About The Analog Kid

"I'm 5-foot-8, 123 pounds. I have, uh, brown hair, blue eyes. I enjoy surfing, backgammon and men who aren't afraid to cry."

2 responses »

  1. What a great post! For some reason, I was never that into New Order. I didn’t dislike them, they just never made it into my mixed-tape world. “Charlotte Sometimes” is such a great song. I’m afraid that Berlin was ruined for me with the double whammy of “Take My Breath Away” and “I Touch Myself”. Oingo Boingo! R.E.M. – I know Mike Mills likes the original release better, but it would not have fit on Murmur. “This Town” is a great song! The Go-Go’s were so, so, so good! Thanks for a great memory trip!

  2. Leo says:

    Since this is my favorite music website – by miles – it’s time for me to fess up, or in this case blaspheme (and my apologies.) I couldn’t stand New Wave music when I was younger. I avoided most of it like the bubonic plague back in the day because I couldn’t get behind the synth driven tunes and guitar bands were being pushed out the door. And even though sheer nostalgia for my youth has made me add many classic New Wave tunes to my playlists, I’m still not a big fan. But some bands were so damn good that they got under my skin even back then. The Cure in particular blew my mind. Friends of mine who hated New Wave more than I did (because THEY were obsessing about Van Halen, which I definitely was not) looked at me like I had two heads when I’d play “Boys Don’t Cry” or “In Between Days”. But God, those songs were so damn good! PS: Ultravox’s “One Small Day” and Icicle Works “Whisper To A Scream” were in that sublime category too. Some songs won the hearts of even dinosaur rockers like me. Great list again!

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