Mad World
Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein
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Buy *Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s* by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernsteino nline

Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s
Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein
Harry N. Abrams
320 pages
April 2014
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Think about a mixtape with every rockin' hip song from the early and mid-1980s. Then think about a book that tells you why those songs should be on that cassette. This is that book. New Wave was the softer and gentler response to punk. As the authors describe in their intro,

In America, new wave was an umbrella the size of a circus tent. It covered synth pop, ska, goth, alternative rock, bubblegum, Eurodance, industrial, new romantic, blue-eyed UK soul, and electronic dance music. it was a Tower of Babel populated by American bands who wanted to be British, British bands who wanted to be German, and German bands who wanted to be robots. It was an insane asylum whose patients were predominantly ambiguous, untouchable males with suck-in cheeks, 3-D makeup, and wedding cake hair.
It's a beautiful description. The book is broken up into chapters which each begins with an introductory paragraph explaining where and how that particular artist slots into the bigger cultural context. Following that is personal analysis from the authors, then each chapter is summarized with a fictitious "mixtape" where songs with similar motifs have been suggested by the book's writers.

The 36 artists here include everyone from Adam and the Ants, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode and A Flock of Seagulls to Modern English, Tears For Fears, INXS and Simple Minds. Think about hearing "Girls On Film," "I Ran" and "I Melt With You" on the radio 100 times a day then look those songs up in this handy little digest--you'll love them even more.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Steven Rosen, 2014

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