Okay, I agree. Rock Lobster is New Wave, not punk even though I put it in my list of the best punk rock songs for kids. Fine. And I don’t get to be punk if I wasn’t tearing up the mosh pits in some specific location in 1979. Rather than argue about punk rock authenticity, I’m making a list of the best new wave songs for kids. They should be cheerful and danceable. And they should be songs that would get you beat up in middle school in 1982 in Texas especially if you put gel in your hair and had it swoop down over one eye. (They called us “wetheads”.)
Make your kid a “mix tape” themed CD or flash drive with these new wave songs, or play them in the car. They’re good songs for driving or for a kids’ party. This list of songs is also great for watching the original music videos on YouTube with your kids! For each song on the list, I’ll link out to the downloadable Amazon mp3s and for some, will link to their YouTube videos.
The Best New Wave Songs for Kids
A-ha – Take On Me | Take On Me music video (the best!)
Modern English – I Melt With You | music video
XTC – Senses Working Overtime
Howard Jones – Things Can Only Get Better | music video
Bow Wow Wow – I Want Candy | music video (YEAH!!!)
The Cure – The Lovecats
Depeche Mode – People Are People and New Life
Adam Ant – Goody Two Shoes | music video – hilarious!
Nena – 99 Luftballons. I got so sick of this song. But it has aged well! | The music video is so full of drama.
M – Pop Muzik (Devo Remix) I couldn’t find the original, but here’s the original music video and a link to buy a Devo remix.
Devo – Whip It (or Working In The Coal Mine)
New Order – Dream Attack
Pet Shop Boys – I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing
Tom Tom Club – Genius Of Love (Album Version)
Psychedelic Furs – Love My Way
General Public – Tenderness | music video (My… they’re good looking. I had no idea.)
Ash Wednesday – Love by Numbers This song is new wave, velvet-undergroundy, twee, and nerdy all at once. Good for little kids to pogo while chanting random numbers.
Those are all great for little kids. Once your child hits upper middle or high school then you can lay the more depressing moody new wave on them, and the songs with swears in them. These are good if your child is angry, sad, and brooding over great wrongs.
The Best New Wave Songs for Teenagers
The Smiths – These Things Take Time (and the entire Hatful of Hollow album)
Pretty much all other Depeche Mode, Cure, Smiths, and New Order albums
Laibach – The Final Countdown
OMD – If You Leave
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
Echo and the Bunnymen – Killing Moon and Lips Like Sugar
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Dear Prudence
Shriekback – Gunning for the Buddha and All Lined Up
Violent Femmes – Blister in the Sun, Kiss Off, and Add It Up. This (Violent Femmes) is one of the best albums ever.
And here’s the haircut I gave myself this weekend! It’s asymmetrical 80s nostalgia day every day in my head – and on my head… Me and Cyndi Lauper are still totally BFF!
What would you put on this list of new wave music for little kids and teenagers? It’s definitely missing Culture Club, Wham, and other bands and songs that are borderline pop music, like stuff by the Go-Gos or Katrina and the Waves.
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