Your Favorite 80S New Wave Pop

  • Where punk is raw and rebellious, the following trend, new wave pop, retains the DIY approach and critique of social conventions but adds a more melodic and electronic twist, making it more “MTV suited.”
  • On RadioVideo.Music, 1.329 songs are tagged “80s New Wave Pop.” Among them, 58 have over one hundred millions views on YouTube, and 5 have over one billion.
  • Overall, the 5 most popular tracks are a-ha’s “Take On Me,” Rick Astley‘s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” Cyndi Lauper‘s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” George Michael‘s “Careless Whisper,” Bonnie Tyler‘s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
  • The genre is still very much in vogue today. We have selected the 20 “80s New Wave Pop” tracks that have seen the highest growth in “consumption” over the last 6 months.
  • Here they are below in descending order of growth.

Updated on Jul 9,2024

1 . Dollar - Mirror Mirror

Released in 1981, following their single "Hand Held in Black and White" which revived their career, "Mirror Mirror" by the British pop duo Dollar. Co-written and produced by Trevor Horn, known for his work with bands like ABC and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, the track reaches number 4 on the UK charts. A fun fact is that the video features the group members, David Van Day and Thereza Bazar, as wooden dolls coming to life. After one last hit, "Give Me Back My Heart," the group disbands in 1983.

Writer(s) : Bruce Martin Woolley, Trevor Charles Horn Publisher(s) : Universal Island Music Limited, Carlin Music Corp
Genres : Pop,classic uk pop, new wave pop

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website


2 . Thompson Twins - Doctor! Doctor!

"Doctor! Doctor!" is a standout track by the British group Thompson Twins, released in 1984. Written by Tom Bailey, Alannah Currie, and Joe Leeway, this iconic synth-pop song from the 80s reached number 3 on the UK charts and number 11 on the US charts. The band, formed in 1977, gets its name from the detectives in the comic "The Adventures of Tintin". Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie, who lived as squatters in London before finding success, married in 1991 in Las Vegas, later moving to New Zealand, where they lived for several years before separating in 2003.

The music video is directed by Dieter 'Dee' Trattmann.

Writer(s) : Joseph Martin Leeway, Thomas Alexander Bailey, Alannah Joy Currie Publisher(s) : Point Music Ltd
Genres : new romantic, new wave, new wave pop, synthpop,new romantic, new wave, new wave pop, synthpop

Featured on the 1984 album Into the Gap

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'Music For The Dancers' N°123 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


3 . Thompson Twins - Hold Me Now

"Hold Me Now" is one of the Thompson Twins' biggest hits, released in 1983. The track, known for its catchy chorus and signature synths, was written by the three band members. It reached number 4 in the UK and number 3 in the US. "Hold Me Now" was included in the soundtrack of the romantic comedy "The Wedding Singer," directed by Frank Coraci, released in 1998. The song plays in a scene where the main character, Robbie (played by Adam Sandler), walks away from Julia (played by Drew Barrymore) after a failed performance.

The music video is directed by Rupert James.

Writer(s) : Alannah Joy Currie, Joseph Martin Leeway, Thomas Alexander Bailey, Tamas Z Marosi Publisher(s) : Point Music Ltd
Genres : Rock, Pop,new romantic, new wave, new wave pop, synthpop

Featured on the 1984 album Into the Gap

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'L'Amour Toujours' N°289 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


4 . Texas - Every Day Now

"Every Day Now" is a song by the Scottish band Texas, released in 1989. The track showcases Sharleen Spiteri's distinctive voice. Texas, formed in 1986 in Glasgow, quickly gained popularity with their debut album. The video for "Every Day Now" was shot in various locations around Glasgow, adding an authentic local touch to the video.

The music video is directed by Stéphane Clavier, Tony Van den Ende.

Writer(s) : Sharleen Spiteri, John McElhone Publisher(s) : Bmg 10 Music Limited
Genres : new romantic, new wave pop, scottish rock,new romantic, new wave pop, scottish rock

Featured on the 1989 album Southside

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'L'Amour Toujours' N°217 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


5 . Kate Bush - Army Dreamers

"Army Dreamers" is a song by Kate Bush released in 1980. It tells the story of a grieving mother for her young adult son, killed during military maneuvers. The song tackles the poignant theme of young soldiers losing their lives in service. Kate Bush, known for her unique style and distinctive voice, often explores complex subjects in her songs. The video for the song features Kate Bush in camouflage, surrounded by soldiers in a wooded setting.

The music video is directed by Keef.

Writer(s) : Catherine Bush Publisher(s) : Kate Bush Music Ltd
Genres : Pop, Rock, Folk/Acoustic,art pop, art rock, baroque pop, new wave pop, permanent wave, piano rock, singer-songwriter

Featured on the 1980 album Never for Ever

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'Vous Avez Dit Bizarre' N°271 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


6 . Men Without Hats - Safety Dance

"Safety Dance" is a global hit from 1983 by the Canadian band Men Without Hats. Written by lead singer Ivan Doroschuk, the track is an anthem for freedom of expression and dance - "We can dance if we want to". The song reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. An interesting fact is that the song was inspired by Doroschuk's refusal to comply with the ban on pogo dancing in Montreal clubs, where bouncers considered it too violent and dangerous for new wave music. The video, shot in an English village, features a surreal medieval setting that contributed to the song's popularity.

The music video is directed by Tim Pope.

Writer(s) : Ivan Doroschuk Publisher(s) : Chapeau Les Editions, Ivan Ltd, Pri Songs Inc
Genres : Rock, Pop,classic canadian rock, new romantic, new wave pop, synthpop

Featured on the 1982 album Rhythm of Youth

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'Vous Avez Dit Bizarre' N°461 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


7 . Yazoo - Don't Go

Characterized by its catchy synth riff and Moyet's powerful voice, "Don't Go" by the British duo Yazoo is their second single released in May 1982 after the success of "Only You". Vince Clarke, who left Depeche Mode in November 1981 after the release of their first album, "Speak & Spell," recruited Alison Moyet through a small ad to form Yazoo. "Don't Go" reached number 3 on the UK charts and remains an 80s classic.

The music video is directed by Chris Gabrin.

Writer(s) : Vincent Clarke Publisher(s) : Musical Moments Ltd, Sony Music Publishing (Uk) Limited
Genres : Rock, Pop,new romantic, new wave, new wave pop, synthpop

Featured on the 1982 album Upstairs at Eric's

>> Yazoo-dont-go-lyrics' target='_blank'>Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'Vous Avez Dit Bizarre' N°434 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


8 . Village People - Can't Stop The Music

"Can't Stop The Music" is a song by the Village People released in 1980. The track was created for the film of the same name directed by Nancy Walker, starring Steve Guttenberg and Valerie Perrine. Although the film did not achieve great commercial success, the song became an iconic disco anthem. The Village People, known for their flamboyant costumes and performances, left a lasting mark on pop culture with this energetic and festive track.

The music video is directed by Nancy Walker.

Writer(s) : Phillip L Hurtt, Jacques Morali, Allen Jr Beauris Whitehead Publisher(s) : Black Scorpio Sarl
Genres : R&B, Pop, Rock,disco, new wave pop, soft rock

Featured on the 1980 album Can't Stop the Music

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'Music For The Dancers' N°569 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


9 . Dexys Midnight Runners - Come On Eileen

Telling the story of a young man trying to woo a girl named (you guessed it) Eileen, "Come On Eileen" is an iconic track from 1982 by the British band Dexys Midnight Runners. The song reached number 1 on both the UK and US charts. Known for its unique blend of pop and Celtic music and its video featuring the band in retro outfits, "Come On Eileen" remains an 80s staple.

The music video is directed by Julien Temple.

Writer(s) : James Samuel Harris II, Ralph Tresvant, Terry Steven Lewis Publisher(s) : Kmr Music Royalties Ii Scsp
Genres : Rock, Pop,new romantic, new wave, new wave pop

Featured on the 1996 album Ralph Tresvant

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'L'Amour Toujours' N°294 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


10 . Scritti Politti - Perfect Way

"Perfect Way" is a 1985 single by the British band Scritti Politti. Written by frontman Green Gartside, the track is a sophisticated blend of pop and funk. "Perfect Way" was a hit in the US, reaching number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. Gartside, known for his intellectual approach to pop music, demonstrates this with the song's opening lines, "I took a backseat, a backhander, I took her back to her room / I better get back to the basics for you, oh yeah".

The music video is directed by Paula Greif and Peter Kagan..

Writer(s) : Gartside Pa Ul Strohmeyer, David H Gamson Publisher(s) : Warner Bros Seven Arts Music, Jouissance Publishing Ltd
Genres : Rock, Pop,new romantic, new wave pop, sophisti-pop, synthpop

Featured on the 1985 album Cupid & Psyche 85

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'Music For The Dancers' N°459 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


11 . Belinda Carlisle - Circle in the Sand

Circle in the Sand, released in 1988, is one of Belinda Carlisle's notable hits. The song was produced by Rick Nowels, who also worked with artists like Stevie Nicks and Lana Del Rey. With lyrics that evoke a timeless romantic story, using the image of a circle in the sand as a metaphor, this track stands out with its synth arrangements and soaring guitars, characteristic of the late '80s pop-rock sound. Naturally, the video features Belinda Carlisle on a beach.

The music video is directed by Peter Care.

Writer(s) : Richard W Nowels Jr, Ellen Shipley Publisher(s) : Spirit Catalogue Holdings S A R L, Bug Music Inc
Genres : Rock, Pop,new romantic, new wave pop, soft rock

Featured on the 1987 album Heaven on Earth

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'L'Amour Toujours' N°194 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


12 . Mike + The Mechanics - Silent Running [On Dangerous Ground]

Silent Running [On Dangerous Ground], released in 1985, is a standout song by Mike + The Mechanics, with lead vocals by Paul Young (not to be confused with the solo artist of the same name). The track tells a story of survival and resistance in a dystopian future, a theme resonant with the Cold War era. Co-written by Mike Rutherford, a founding member of Genesis, and produced by Christopher Neil, known for his work with Sheena Easton, "Silent Running" was used in the film "On Dangerous Ground" (1986) directed by Lawrence D. Foldes.

The music video is directed by James Yukich.

Writer(s) : Michael Rutherford, BA Robertson Publisher(s) : R And Ba Music Limited, Michael Rutherford Publishing Ltd
Genres : Rock, Pop,album rock, mellow gold, new romantic, new wave, new wave pop, soft rock

Featured on the 1985 album Mike + The Mechanics

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'Vous Avez Dit Bizarre' N°347 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


13 . Belinda Carlisle - La Luna

La Luna is a 1989 single by Belinda Carlisle, famous for its mysterious atmosphere and Hispanic influences. Produced by Rick Nowels, who collaborated with artists like Madonna and Celine Dion, the track stands out with its acoustic guitar arrangements and Latin percussion. The accompanying video, directed by Andy Morahan, features Belinda Carlisle lying nude in bed, dreaming of a Cinderella-like night, probably with more debauchery.

The music video is directed by Andy Morahan.

Writer(s) : Rick Nowels, Ellen Shipley Publisher(s) : Shipwreck Music, Future Furniture
Genres : Rock, Pop,new romantic, new wave pop, soft rock

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'L'Amour Toujours' N°280 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


14 . Yazoo - Nobody's Diary

Nobody's Diary is a 1983 single by the British duo Yazoo, formed by Alison Moyet and Vince Clarke. Clarke, also a founding member of Depeche Mode and Erasure, brought his synthesizer expertise to this poignant track about a relationship ending. The song reached number three on the UK charts and is often cited as one of Moyet's best vocal performances. Yazoo split shortly afterward.

The music video is directed by Chris Gabrin.

Writer(s) : Genevieve Moyet Publisher(s) : Mega Music Ltd
Genres : Rock, Pop,new romantic, new wave, new wave pop, synthpop

Featured on the 1983 album You and Me Both

>> Yazoo-nobodys-diary-lyrics' target='_blank'>Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'Vous Avez Dit Bizarre' N°178 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


15 . Belinda Carlisle - Heaven Is A Place On Earth

Released in 1987, "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" is Belinda Carlisle's biggest hit, reaching number one in several countries. The song was produced by Rick Nowels and Ellen Shipley, who also wrote hits for artists like Celine Dion and Fleetwood Mac. The track is known for its catchy chorus and optimistic lyrics, making it an '80s staple. The video, directed by actress and director Diane Keaton, adds a cinematic touch to the song.

The music video is directed by Diane Keaton.

Writer(s) : Richard W Nowels Jr, Ellen Shipley Publisher(s) : Bmg Bumblebee, Spirit Catalogue Holdings S A R L
Genres : Rock, Pop,new romantic, new wave pop, soft rock

Featured on the 1983 album Heaven on Earth

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'Vous Avez Dit Bizarre' N°301 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


16 . Belinda Carlisle - I Get Weak

I Get Weak, released in 1988, is another major hit by Belinda Carlisle. The song was written by Diane Warren, known for her numerous successful ballads for artists like Aerosmith and Whitney Houston. The track is distinguished by its orchestral arrangements and Carlisle's powerful vocal performance. The video, directed by Diane Keaton, features model and actor Tony Ward.

The music video is directed by Diane Keaton.

Writer(s) : Diane Eve Warren Publisher(s) : Realsongs
Genres : Rock, Pop,new romantic, new wave pop, soft rock

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'L'Amour Toujours' N°115 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


17 . Squeeze - Tempted

Tempted is a 1981 single by the British band Squeeze. The song is notable for featuring lead vocals by Paul Carrack, former member of Ace and future member of Mike + The Mechanics. Produced by Roger Bechirian and Elvis Costello, the track blends elements of pop and soul, creating a distinctive sound. "Tempted" has been used in TV shows, video games, commercials, and the 1994 film "Reality Bites."

Writer(s) : Glenn Martin Tilbrook, Christopher Henry Difford Publisher(s) : Emi Music Publishing Ltd
Genres : Folk/Acoustic, Rock, Pop,beatlesque, new romantic, new wave, new wave pop, power pop, sophisti-pop

Featured on the 1981 album East Side Story

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'We Are Live' N°73 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


18 . Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes

Initially released in 1975 on Jackie DeShannon's album "New Arrangements" in a more jazz style, "Bette Davis Eyes" is a 1981 hit performed by Kim Carnes. Known for its characteristic synthesizer riffs composed by keyboardist Bill Cuomo, the song was transformed into a new wave track by Carnes and her producer Val Garay. The song topped the charts for several weeks and won two Grammy Awards. A fun fact: actress Bette Davis wrote a letter to Carnes thanking her for immortalizing her eyes in a song and "rejuvenating" her in the eyes of her grandson.

The music video is directed by Russell Mulcahy.

Writer(s) : Jackie De Shannon, Donna T Weiss Publisher(s) : Donna Weiss Music Inc, Plain And Simple Music
Genres : Rock, Pop,new romantic, new wave pop, soft rock

Featured on the 1981 album Mistaken Identity

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'Vous Avez Dit Bizarre' N°384 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


19 . Johnny Hates Jazz - Shattered Dreams

Shattered Dreams is a 1987 single by the British band Johnny Hates Jazz. Produced by Mike Nocito, the track reached the Top 10 in several countries. The band, formed by Clark Datchler, Calvin Hayes, and Mike Nocito, found instant success with this track thanks to its catchy melody and introspective lyrics. "Shattered Dreams" remains one of the most iconic songs of the '80s. The success of "Shattered Dreams" helped the band secure hits with other tracks like "I Don't Want to Be a Hero" and "Turn Back the Clock.

The music video is directed by David Fincher.

Writer(s) : Clark Datchler Publisher(s) : Stage Three Music Limited
Genres : Rock, Pop,new romantic, new wave pop, sophisti-pop, synthpop

Featured on the 1988 album Turn Back the Clock

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'Vous Avez Dit Bizarre' N°357 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


20 . Pretenders - Talk Of The Town

Recorded in Paris at Pathé Marconi studios, "Talk of the Town" was inspired by a young fan Chrissie Hynde noticed during the band's first tour. Hynde revealed that this fan often waited outside during soundchecks, but she never spoke to him. The last time she saw him, she left him standing in the snow, which led her to write this song. In their song "Special" from the 1998 album "Version 2.0", Shirley Manson and Garbage directly quote "We were the talk of the town" as a tribute to Chrissie Hynde.

The music video is directed by David Mallet.

Writer(s) : Diane Eve Warren Publisher(s) : Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited
Genres : Rock, Pop,album rock, classic rock, mellow gold, new romantic, new wave, new wave pop, permanent wave, rock, soft rock

Featured on the 1981 album Pretenders II

>> Lyrics >> More by the same : Website

Featured on : 'L'Amour Toujours' N°341 - Vintage 80s Music Videos


ABOUT 80S NEW WAVE POP

What Is 80S New Wave Pop ?

The term “new wave pop” refers to a musical genre that emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s, characterized by a fusion of pop music and innovative electronic sounds. “New wave” was coined to differentiate this style from other musical genres of the time, particularly punk rock. The “pop” part indicates catchy melodies and more accessible song structures.

Launched in 1981, MTV plays a crucial role in popularizing new wave pop by looping music videos from bands like Duran Duran, A-ha, and The Human League. Music videos become an essential way for artists to connect with their audience.

New Wave Pop: Instruments & Songs

Technological advances spur the rise of synthesizers and other electronic instruments, opening new sonic possibilities. The genre synth-pop—think Kraftwerk or Gary Numan—plays a crucial role by integrating electronic instruments and exploring rich, varied sound textures. New wave pop makes intensive use of these synthesizers, treats guitars with effects, and employs drum machines for precise, mechanical rhythms.

The sonic aesthetic of new wave pop benefits from polished production and effects like reverb and delay. Advanced recording techniques of the time, such as multitrack recording and sampling, create complex and immersive soundscapes. Vocals can be treated with electronic effects, reinforcing the music’s futuristic aspect.

New wave pop songs generally follow a classic pop structure with verses, choruses, and bridges but incorporate surprising and innovative elements in the arrangements. Rhythms are often danceable and catchy, melodies infectious, and harmonies can be both simple and sophisticated, striking a balance between familiarity and novelty.

New Wave Pop And Fashion

New wave pop comes with a distinctive and bold visual style that defines the 1980s. It mixes bright colors and bold or geometric patterns, reflecting the influence of pop art and modernism, or adopts clean and quirky looks with oversized costumes and minimalist accessories. Makeup can be dramatic, characterized by heavily accented eyes, while hairstyles are elaborate, sometimes embracing a kitschy and playful approach.

New Wave Pop In Culture

New wave pop significantly influences the media and popular culture of the 1980s and beyond.

Soundtracks of movies like “Valley Girl” (1983), “The Breakfast Club” (1985), and “Pretty in Pink” (1986) feature artists like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), The Psychedelic Furs, and Simple Minds.

The same goes for TV shows like “Miami Vice” (1984-1990), known for its extensive use of new wave pop music and visual aesthetic, with vibrant colors and avant-garde looks influenced by the new wave style.

In advertising, the futuristic and technological sounds of new wave pop are used to attract a young and trendy audience, whether for Sony, Casio, or Coca-Cola.

ADJACENT GENRES

  • new romantic
  • synthpop
  • soft rock
  • sophisti-pop
  • album rock
  • dance rock
  • permanent wave
  • mellow gold
  • rock
  • singer-songwriter
  • hi-nrg
  • classic rock
  • scottish new wave
  • zolo
  • heartland rock
  • solo wave
  • disco
  • hard rock

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