Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980sby Lori Majewski, Jonathan Bernstein
Mad World is a highly entertaining oral history that celebrates the New Wave music phenomenon of the 1980s via new interviews with 35 of the most notable artists of the period. Each chapter begins with a discussion of their most popular song but leads to stories of their history and place in the scene, ultimately painting a vivid picture of this colorful,/i>
Mad World is a highly entertaining oral history that celebrates the New Wave music phenomenon of the 1980s via new interviews with 35 of the most notable artists of the period. Each chapter begins with a discussion of their most popular song but leads to stories of their history and place in the scene, ultimately painting a vivid picture of this colorful, idiosyncratic time. Mixtape suggestions, fashion sidebars, and quotes from famous contemporary admirers help fill out the fun. Participants include members of Duran Duran, New Order, The Smiths, Tears for Fears, Adam Ant, Echo and the Bunnymen, Devo, ABC, Spandau Ballet, A Flock of Seagulls, Thompson Twins, and INXS.
“Co-authors Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein interviewed all of the bands and uncovered many tidbits that blew my mind. I called Lori to reminisce about the ’80s—and dang, I’d love to have 12 more conversations with her, because we didn't even touch upon INXS or Depeche Mode.”
“I want to plug a book that I have nothing to do with but that I’m reading and loving and recommending to friends. It’s called Mad World. If you’re a big fan of 80s new wave music, they take all of those songs, and each chapter is a behind-the-scenes about the song, like “Come On Eileen,” “Take on Me,” [“True” by] Spandau Ballet. I am fascinated by this book.”
Writing an oral history of new wave music is an appreciably tall order given its sheer breadth and lack of distinct genre boundaries. Clearly recognizing this, coauthors Majewski and Bernstein (Pretty in Pink) have taken a generally sound approach in this book. Eschewing a comprehensive take, they instead focus on one song per artist included and use introductory descriptions, interviews, and where-are-they-now updates to provide a snapshot of where the song (and artist) fit within the movement. Their selections lean more toward new wave's pop-heavy and audience-friendly period in the early 1980s, which means that bands closer to the post-punk spectrum, goth rock groups in particular, receive less attention. Yet they demonstrate a strong knowledge of their subject without (mercifully) being overly glib or snarky in tone. Fans looking for juicy specifics likely won't be disappointed with the detail-laden interviews, particularly with verbal grenades lobbed between A Flock of Seagulls and many other artists. VERDICT As a good overview of new wave, this title should appeal to a wide audience of pop music lovers.—Chris Martin, North Dakota State Univ. Libs., Fargo
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Meet the Author
Lori Majewski was a cofounder and editor-in-chief of Teen People. She was also an executive editor of Entertainment Weekly and Us Weekly. She lives in Weehawken, New Jersey.
Jonathan Bernstein is a Los Angeles–based writer. He is the author of, among other titles, Pretty In Pink: The Golden Age of Teenage Movies, and has contributed to publications such as The Guardian, Spin, Rolling Stone, and The Face.
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This book was an easy read - each song had just enough pages dedicated to it to keep your attention and not drag on too long. Anyone who loved the 80's and it's music will enjoy this book.