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New Romantic Genre Profile

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New Romantic Genre Profile
Album Cover Image Courtesy of Island Def Jam

Origins in British Culture:

At its core, New Romanticism emerged as a sort of alternative reaction to punk rock and its generally anti-fashion approach tied closely to aggression, anger and nihilism. In contrast, groups of young adults and musicians drawn to the movement took their inspiration from several chief figures of the '70s glam rock era in England, including David Bowie and Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music. In this way, sophisticated visuals dominated the movement in the form of makeup and often flamboyant costumes even before a particular style of music began to pervade.

Emergence of Successful Pop Music Artists:

As an appropriate match for a style-conscious focus on sensuality, many early New Romantic acts often opted for sumptuous keyboard and synthesizer textures as foundations for hook-laden, epic melodies. The musical peak of New Romanticism coincided quite neatly with the launch of MTV in 1981, introducing a series of new wave and synth pop bands that would dominate the charts in both the U.K. and U.S. for years to come. For this reason, groups like Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, ABC and Culture Club swiftly built careers that transcended generic labels and gained wide commercial favor.

Ongoing Influence on Music Landscape:

Although the active New Romantic movement itself fizzled rather quickly in England just a couple of years into the '80s, its influence stretched deep into the decade and beyond in terms of pop music attitude. In fact, 1983 witnessed a bevy of British artists essentially taking over the pop charts in America, a development that led some to label that year as a sort of Second British Invasion. The androgynous, exhilarating styles of figures like Boy George of Culture Club and Annie Lennox of Eurythmics helped create major pop music icons for a new age. Even when synth pop began to give way to guitar-oriented styles like hair metal, roots rock and heartland rock, the New Romantics had claimed an '80s niche for all time.

Nostalgia & Staying Power:

More than 30 years after the New Romantics burst onto the pop music scene on both sides of the Atlantic, pop and rock music continues to feel the effects of the genre on current music artists. Recent popular rock bands like The Killers and Arcade Fire have drawn from New Romanticism to generate a fresh but nevertheless nostalgic take on modern pop/rock. Stylish clothing, flamboyant visuals and androgyny continue to inform the current success of pop stars like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, even if not all artists take every one of their cues from New Romantic ideals.
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