Why New Wave Isn’t Considered Classic Rock

New Wave Band Duran Duran“Classic rock” and classic rock radio is an extension of what was known as AOR radio formatting in the late 70s/early 80s [AOR= album oriented rock].

AOR program directors back then were almost always white men who thought their listeners wanted a radio rotation with a similar demographic, and generally played music by mostly white male artists in the rock n roll vein. They would also seemingly play “Stairway to Heaven” on the hour for no real reason. And were obsessed with the band Boston.

MTV was founded by people who previously worked at top AOR radio stations which is why it was a rock oriented TV station AT FIRST, though once they realized that hardly any classic rock bands had music videos, they were forced to play videos by unknown British art bands who wore makeup and weird outfits to fill the 24 hours in a day.

Which is why new wave/new romantic/synthpop took over in the 80s and things got interesting again.

By 1983 MTV was basically forced into playing music by black artists, mainly because of Michael Jackson and CBS Records. Until then they didn’t play any black music unless it was jazz or rock oriented.

Classic rock radio has gotten slightly better, I occasionally will hear new wave stuff like Blondie, The Pretenders, and Elvis Costello, sometimes the Clash. Never anything with synthesizers unless it’s in the prog-rock vein or maybe “Owner of a Lonely Heart”

Current classic rock radio stations mirror these narrow-minded attitudes of only grouping certain bands in the classic rock genre, leaving out all bands who are synth based, glam rock, funk based, or dance oriented, and that’s fine and dandy.

I think a lot of why these bands [the New York Dolls, Roxy Music, Slade, Sweet, Adam Ant, Duran Duran, Gary Numan, Ultravox, Japan, Spandau Ballet, Simple Minds, and T Rex] aren’t allowed in the classic rock radio world is because the male program directions were not comfortable with the makeup and the femme qualities of many of these musicians, but maybe that’s just me.

[BOWIE DIGRESSION]

We have to remember that even someone like Bowie didn’t become a mega-star in the US until his 1983 album Let’s Dance [his only real ‘hit’ in America in the 70s was “Fame”, which was a disco track basically]. His 70s output was still considered fairly fringe in America. Now obviously, classic rock radio plays Bowie a lot, but I think at a certain point in the 80s, he became so big they kind of had to. But Bowie was not considered classic rock in the 70s in America AT ALL.

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Duran Duran- Planet Earth (1981)

Aw, Duran Duran’s first ever single! I think I just got a Simon Le Boner watching this.

If you want to know what exactly the ‘new romantic’ movement was, just watch this video. It involves a lot of frills, pastels, pirate shirts, and crimped hair. And Simon Le Bon shirtless??? Ok then.

This song is actually quite underrated with fierce bass line and bitchen synth part by the pink haired glamorpuss alien creature known as Nick Rhodes.

As always, John Taylor wins in the babe department. Even if you can’t see his face under all of that hair.

Please enjoy.

Videos Banned from MTV

not a complete list, but some of the interesting cases…

1. Rick James- “Superfreak” (1981). Banned because it “did not fit the rock format of MTV” in the pre-Michael Jackson landscape. Before MJ, only a few black artists were played on MTV. Rick James accused MTV of “blatant racism”.

2. Madonna- “Justify My Love” (1990). Banned because of a sadomasochist scene where a chick pulls up a man by the hair and a briefly nude dominatrix woman. Things were so tame back then! The video was released on VHS and became one of the best selling “video singles” of all time.

3. Nine Inch Nails- “Closer” (1994). This influential video by Mark Romanek was banned for featuring the following:

  • A nude, bald woman with a crucifix mask.
  • A monkey tied to a cross.
  • A severed pig’s head spinning on some type of machine.
  • A diagram of the vulva.
  • Reznor wearing an S&M mask while swinging in shackles.
  • Reznor seated in front of a wall covered in fetish gear, wearing a ball gag.

4. Prodigy- “Smack My Bitch Up” (1997). Banned for nudity, drinking and driving, assault on both sexes, cocaine use, vomiting scenes, violence, sex, and strippers. (spoiler alert: the person causing all of this shit is a woman)

5. Neil Young- “This Note’s For You” (1988). The video made fun of celebrities and corporate sponsorships. It was originally banned by MTV after threats from Michael Jackson’s lawyers (he was heavily mocked in the vid). After the video became a huge hit on MuchMusic, MTV decided to air it. It won the 1989 VMA for video of the year.

6. Queen- “Body Language” (1982). The first ever video banned for MTV, due to homoerotic imagery and sweat. Ha.

7. Motley Crue- “Girls, Girls, Girls” (1987). This video was filmed at a strip club, need I say more?