Easy New Wave Favorites: Volume 2 Songbook

Rock out to killer selections of iconic New Wave hits from the 70s and 80s, all thoughtfully arranged for easy piano by Jennifer Eklund. From synth-pop jams to power ballads, this songbook's got it all including hits like: "Shout," "One Way or Another," "Boys Don't Cry," and "The Metro."

This post is part three of the Easy New Wave Favorites Songbook Series.
Easy New Wave Favorites: Volume 2 Songbook

🎹 What is New Wave music?

New Wave music spanned the late 1970s through the 1980s and emerged as a more melodic and light-hearted extension of punk culture. It embraced various pop-oriented styles and prominently featured the use of synthesizers. Initially a catch-all term for post-punk musical expressions, New Wave later evolved into a broader umbrella encompassing power pop, synth-pop, alternative dance, and milder forms of punk. It also can be perceived as a more accessible counterpart to post-punk.

Characterized by its distinctive attributes, New Wave music exhibited a playful and humorous pop sensibility, characterized by angular guitar riffs and unconventional rhythms, often enhanced by electronic elements, especially the use of synthesizers. A visually appealing fashion sense and distinctive music videos were crucial to the genre’s success. The movement’s roots lie in Britain, where British New Wave artists initially gained prominence and subsequently captured American audiences through platforms like MTV. The genre is sometimes referred to as the second British invasion.

New Wave’s initial peak occurred from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, supported by major musicians and a proliferation of one-hit wonders. MTV’s launch in 1981 played a pivotal role in amplifying the genre’s popularity by heavily featuring new wave acts. While New Wave experienced a decline in the mid-1980s due to the ascent of other genres, it has resurged intermittently since the 1990s, fueled by nostalgia for its influences. Additionally, new wave’s musical characteristics, including choppy rhythms, quirky pop sensibilities, and electronic incorporation, continue to have a lasting influence on subsequent generations of artists.

🎶 Easy New Wave Favorites: Volume 2 Songbook

The following songs are included in the Easy New Wave Favorites: Volume 2 songbook. These are all available as separate singles, but you get the most value by purchasing the whole collection. All of these arrangements are appropriate for late beginners and early intermediates.

  1. Boys Don’t Cry (The Cure)
  2. California Sun (Ramones)
  3. Cars (Gary Numan)
  4. Hit Me With Your Best Shot (Pat Benatar)
  5. Hold Me Now (Thompson Twins)
  6. Kids in America (Kim Wilde)
  7. More Than This (Roxy Music)
  8. One Way or Another (Blondie)
  9. Rebel Yell (Billy Idol)
  10. Shout (Tears for Fears)
  11. The Metro (Berlin)
  12. Twilight Zone (Golden Earring)

🎹 Watch a performance of the entire songbook:

There’s so many great videos from this era that it’s hard to narrow down the best ones, but these personal favorites from Easy New Wave Favorites: Volume 2! made the cut!

“Hold Me Now” (Thompson Twins) (1983)

“Hold Me Now” is a mid-tempo new wave song by the British band the Thompson Twins. Released in November 1983 as the lead single from their fourth album “Into the Gap,” the song was both written and produced by the band’s lead vocalist Tom Bailey. It features a mix of instruments like keyboards, xylophone, piano, and Latin percussion, creating a unique sound. The song’s emotional content was inspired by the resolution of an argument between Bailey and Alannah Currie, leading to a theme of reuniting after separation. Despite its success, the hit put pressure on the band to replicate its formulaic appeal, which the members were not entirely comfortable with.

“Hold Me Now” achieved significant chart success in both the United Kingdom and the United States. In the UK, it reached number four on the singles chart and earned a gold certification. In the US, it peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and even topped the Hot Dance Club Play chart for a week. The song’s music video featured innovative editing techniques, while its composition combined pop, new wave, and synthpop elements. Critics’ opinions on the song varied over time, with some initially describing it as a departure from the band’s dance-oriented style, but later reviews celebrating its timeless quality and emotional resonance. The success of “Hold Me Now” propelled the Thompson Twins to new heights, though it also led to external pressures that challenged their artistic direction.

“Boys Don’t Cry” (The Cure) (1979)

“Boys Don’t Cry” is a song by the English rock band The Cure, initially released as a standalone single in June 1979 and later included as the title track on the American version of their album “Three Imaginary Boys.” Written by Michael Dempsey, Robert Smith, and Lol Tolhurst, the song’s lyrics portray a man who has given up on regaining lost love and conceals his true emotions. Smith’s emotional singing contrasted with societal expectations of emotional restraint. The track was re-released in 1986 with a remixed version titled “New Voice · New Mix,” featuring re-recorded vocals. The accompanying music video, also from 1986, features children miming the song while the band’s shadows with red eyes are projected behind a curtain. The song’s legacy includes appearances in films like “Boys Don’t Cry,” “The Wedding Singer,” and “The Crown,” as well as various covers by other artists.

In 2018, the BBC Radio 4 series Soul Music dedicated an episode to the song, featuring an interview with Lol Tolhurst about its history. The post-grunge band Oleander covered the song in 1999, and in 2021, the American band I Dont Know How But They Found Me released a cover of it. The song’s impact extends to television, with its appearance in shows like “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Crown.” The song’s live performance history is also notable, reaching its 1000th live performance milestone in December 2022. “Boys Don’t Cry” stands as a testament to The Cure’s enduring influence on music and popular culture.

“Kids in America” (Kim Wilde) (1981)

“Kids in America” is a song recorded by English pop singer Kim Wilde. It was her debut single, released in January 1981 in the UK and spring 1982 in the US. Inspired by synth-pop artists like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) and Gary Numan, the song reached number two on the UK Singles Chart and number one in Finland and South Africa. It gained popularity across Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, charting in the top 10. The song’s synth-driven sound and catchy melody contributed to its success. It achieved gold certifications in various countries and has sold over three million copies worldwide. “Kids in America” has been covered by multiple artists from different genres.

Written by Kim Wilde’s brother Ricky Wilde and father Marty Wilde, the song was influenced by the synth-pop style of OMD’s “Messages” and Gary Numan’s sound. The lyrics portray the tough attitude of American teenagers, and the song’s intro synth line was inspired by Numan’s style. Despite early shelving, the song’s success was immediate upon release, selling over half a million copies in its first eight weeks in the UK. It also reached number 25 on the US Billboard Hot 100, receiving heavy airplay on radio and MTV. The song’s impact led to further collaboration between Kim and her family in songwriting and production. The song’s legacy includes covers and appearances in various media.

“One Way or Another” (Blondie) (1979)

Live performance from Midnight Special:

“One Way or Another” is a song by American new wave band Blondie from their 1978 album “Parallel Lines.” Written by Debbie Harry and Nigel Harrison, the song was inspired by Harry’s personal experience with a stalker that led her to move away from New Jersey. Musically, the track was influenced by Ventures-style surf music and was introduced to keyboardist Jimmy Destri by bassist Nigel Harrison. The song’s energetic and aggressive style, coupled with Harry’s powerful vocals, has garnered critical acclaim and is considered one of Blondie’s best songs.

Released as the fourth single from “Parallel Lines,” following their chart-topping hit “Heart of Glass,” “One Way or Another” reached number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 7 on the RPM 100 Singles in Canada. While not officially released as a single in the UK, it charted there in 2013 due to the popularity of One Direction’s cover version. The song has been included in various Blondie compilations and live versions, and it remains a fan favorite in their live performances. “One Way or Another” has been praised for its gritty guitar work, engaging bass line, and Harry’s spirited vocals, earning recognition as one of the greatest songs in rock history.

“More Than This” (Roxy Music) (1981)

This is a hidden gem in this collection:

“More Than This” is a song by the English rock band Roxy Music. Released in April 1982, it served as the lead single from their final studio album, “Avalon” (1982). The song reached No. 6 on the UK Singles Chart, marking Roxy Music’s last top-10 hit in the UK, and also charted in the US, reaching No. 58 on the Billboard Rock Top Tracks chart.

Written by lead vocalist Bryan Ferry, “More Than This” is known for its melancholic yet hopeful tone. Ferry began writing the songs for “Avalon” while on the western coast of Ireland, and this setting is believed to have influenced the album’s overall mood. The song’s lyrics express a sense of longing for something more, and its structure is unique in that Ferry’s vocals conclude around 2:45 minutes, leaving the remainder of the track as a synthesizer-driven instrumental outro.

The song’s popularity endured over the years, and it has become one of Roxy Music’s most well-known tracks. In 1997, American alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs covered “More Than This,” and their version reached No. 25 on the charts. Additionally, British singer Emmie released a cover that achieved No. 5 in the UK in January 1999. The single’s cover artwork features the painting “Veronica Veronese” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, completed in 1872, with the model Alexa Wilding.

😎 Ready for more radical New Wave tunes? We’ve got you covered!

👋 Did I miss one of your favorites? I’m always open to requests so drop me a comment!

Jennifer Eklund
Written by Jennifer Eklund
Jennifer Eklund holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in music from California State University, Long Beach. She is an avid arranger, composer, and author of the Piano Pronto® method books series as well as a wide variety of supplemental songbooks. She is also a Signature Artist with Musicnotes.com with a large catalog of popular music titles for musicians of all levels.


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