#TBTXPN: DJ Robert Drake's 10 best New Wave videos - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Scene from a-ha’s “Take on Me” video | via EW.com

It almost goes without saying that without video there would be no music – – at least in regards to new wave music.

It took a perfect storm to create the new wave genre; frustration over the arena-rock icons of the 70s and the more-established industry artists of the day, mixed with the introduction of technology that gave the world the Casio (et al) and cable television (hello MTV) – toss in an young, artsy generation to embrace all of this and create … a culture club.

While there are hundreds of music videos that stand out when one thinks of ‘new wave/80s’ … there are some that really shook the walls and reached into the hearts and souls of the fans. These are what I consider to be MY Ten Best New Wave Music Videos (in no order).

We start with the almost obvious choice.

Duran Duran / Rio

This video brought EVERYTHING to the front of the line; modern music, fashion, money, sex … or as I like to call it “The Eighties”. Who didn’t want to be skipping waves with not a care in the world?!


DEVO / Whip It

While many of us were already fans of Akron’s favorite sons, when this video was put into rotation – or should we say orbit – on MTV, DEVO became an iconic part of the new wave scene and demonstrated just how artsy you can get when making a music video.

A Flock of Seagulls / I Ran (So Far Away)

With the music came the fashion – but let’s not forget the hair. Oh, the hair. A Flock of Seagulls showed that it’s not just what comes out of the mouth – but what sits on the head that helps make a statement. Of course, they also showed that, in a pinch, a trash bag makes a mighty fine dress.

a-ha / Take On Me

Any worthy list of Top Videos from this genre MUST include this ground-breaking video from a-ha. It took storytelling to a whole new visual level. It’s a video that has inspired a generation of computer artists.

Toni Basil / Mickey

While this song haunts me in my sleep – having heard it a zillion times – the video deserves attention. It was the nonstop rotation of this video that tossed the welcome mat down for thousands of teenage girls coast-to-coast to come into Club New Wave and enjoy. For better or worse.

The Buggles / Video Killed the Radio Star

Of course this has to be on the list. As the first video MTV played (albeit to a tiny viewing audience), it forecasted what was about to happen to the industry – and few believed it. Why I bet even Trevor Horn and Geoffrey Downes had no idea just how prolific their video’s message would be. While not one of the most popular songs of the genre, it’s one of the most important.

Pat Benatar / Love Is a Battlefield

This video had it all. To this day whenever I play this song at a dance party, folks will mimic the dance moves from Pat and her girlfriends. The song speaks of the timeless woes of isolation, teen angst and more – but really, in a sea of Casio keyboards, it was that that friggin’ catchy drum that roped you in…

Human League / Don’t You Want Me     

This was one of the many music videos that showcased just how advanced UK video producers were over US folks. While this video isn’t OMG amazing, it stands the test of time as a great piece of work – and a song that is a (not so) guilty pleasure for all of us. You know you gotta sing that chorus out loud!

Blondie / Heart of Glass

The ultimate mashup video – without even trying. Here you have a punk band, performing a disco track (in a discotheque no less) on the verge of embracing their new wave spirit. I loved this video because it came out at a time (1978) when new wave music was just an embryo. You’d watch this on some late-night TV show (Night Flight, etc) and look deep into Debbie’s eyes and think to yourself … ‘is that all there is?’  A classic.

Time Zone / World Destruction

I wrap this list with a twist. While this video isn’t one of the obvious best videos of the genre – to me, it represents EVERYTHING that was happening with music in the early/mid 80s. The grit of the underground and the clash of the titans: John Lydon representing the first wave of Punk (as Johnny Rotten) and the then-current new wave underbelly (PIL) with Afrika Bambaataa representing the future of the industry with rap/hip-hop/sampling and more… to me, THIS is the video that says it all in three minutes and fifty three seconds.

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