11 Classic Rockers Who Went New Wave For One Album

In the uncanny pop valley at the dawn of the ’80s—specifically, after disco and before MTV—the music industry bet big on new wave to be the future of rock. Punk had proven too (ob)noxious for mainstream tastes (and heavy metal was essentially taking care of itself), so the record biz turned to the safety-pin brigade’s arty, quirky, less abrasive offshoot “new wave.” Two forms were most prevalent: peppy power-pop as embodied by the Knack and synthesizer-driven dance weirdness on the order of Devo.

Many other new wave acts fell somewhere in between, with Elvis Costello, Blondie, Talking Heads, Billy Idol, and Duran Duran dominating dawn-of-the-’80s radio airwaves and LP sales. It all seemed to spell doom to a multitude of longhaired, bell-bottomed, meanderingly jamming ’70s rockers that had previously ruled radio and record stores. Some of the previous decade’s arena-packers stood their ground and waited for new wave to get old and dry up. Others, though, adjusted their looks and sounds in an attempt to evolve, embracing the notion of “pogo or perish”—at least for a while.

Aging hippies and limousine libertines suddenly donned skinny ties, asymmetrical haircuts, polka dot cocktail dresses, and geometric makeup so they could more effectively wail in newfangled “music videos” before walls of flickering TV sets and electro-pumping drum machines. Really, how could this not have lasted?

Here now are 10 classic rockers who went new wave for one album—and then back again.

1. The Rolling Stones, Some Girls (1978) – “Shattered”

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