An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s

By Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein

Foreword by Nick Rhodes Afterword by Moby

“The eighties have had a massive revival. . . . It took a good 20 years for people to go, ‘You know, those records were great, and that was a fantastic time for pop music.’” —Kim Wilde (“Kids in America”)

Remember the first time you saw Duran Duran’s X-rated “Girls On Film” video? Painted a white stripe across your face like Adam Ant in “Kings of the Wild Frontier”? Cried when they played “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” at graduation? Sang along to “Come On Eileen,” even though you couldn’t make out any of the words apart from the chorus?

How could you forget?! This was last golden age of pop. This was the new-wave era.

New wave is the defining music movement of the 1980s, encompassing everything from synth pop, new romantic, and goth, to industrial, electronic, and alternative rock. It began as the brainchild of a bunch of British punks who hated guitars but who were enamored of Bowie, disco, and Kraftwerk. It exploded all over America with the help of MTV, and lives on via radio, karaoke bars, and as an influence on today’s hit makers. Now there is finally an authoritative volume on the colorful and popular music that defined a generation: Mad World (Abrams Image; $19.95; ISBN: 978-1-4197-1097-1; April 15, 2014) by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein.

The book is a highly entertaining and completely original oral history that celebrates new wave through all-new interviews with 35 of the most notable artists of the period, alongside a parade of vintage photographs. The stars of the decade discuss their breakthrough songs, as well as their histories and place in the scene, ultimately painting a vivid picture of this exciting, genre-bending, idiosyncratic time. Mixtape suggestions and fashion sidebars help fill out the fun. Participants include: Duran Duran, New Order, Tears for Fears, Adam and the Ants, Depeche Mode, INXS, Simple Minds, Soft Cell, Yaz, A-ha, Berlin, Psychedelic Furs, Joy Division, ABC, Echo and the Bunnymen, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, The Waitresses, and more!

Plus, in Mad World, you’ll learn about:

  • The near-death experience that inspired Gary Numan’s “Cars.”
  • The classic novel and pop-star crush behind Spandau Ballet’s “True.”
  • Morrissey’s belief that the other Smiths were embarrassed by his lyrics for “How Soon is Now?”
  • How Modern English romanticized death by nuclear holocaust in “I Melt With You.” –Why Bow Wow Wow’s teenage singer, Annabella Lwin, was fired after “I Want Candy.” –Why DJs thought Devo were singing about masturbation in “Whip It.”

…and much more!

About the Authors

A veteran magazine editor and writer, Lori Majewski was a cofounder and editor in chief of Teen People, and an executive editor of Entertainment Weekly and Us Weekly. She has contributed to the Guardian, Women’s Health, Rollingstone.com, and more.

Jonathan Bernstein is the author of, among other titles, Pretty in Pink: The Golden Age of Eighties Teenage Movies. He has contributed to the Guardian, Spin, Rolling Stone, and the Face and is also a screenwriter of the feature films Just My Luck, The Spy Next Door, Max Keeble’s Big Move, and Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector.

About the Book

Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s

By Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein; Foreword by Nick Rhodes; Afterword by Moby April 15, 2014
Abrams Image
US $19.95

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1097-1
320 Pages; 6 x 8″; 42 color and 28 black-and-white Illustrations

Founded by Harry N. Abrams in 1949, ABRAMS is the preeminent publisher of high quality art and illustrated books. Now a subsidiary of La Martinière Groupe, ABRAMS is the publisher of bestsellers such as the wildly popular The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney, the award-winning cookbooks of Alton Brown, and the stunning photography of Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s Earth from Above. ABRAMS publishes books in the areas of art, photography, cooking, interior design, craft, fashion, sports, pop culture, as well as children’s books and general interest. The company’s imprints include Abrams; Abrams Appleseed; Abrams ComicArts; Abrams Image; Abrams Books for Young Readers; Amulet Books; Stewart, Tabori & Chang; and STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books.



  1. JP.M
    Apr 15, 2014 @ 17:51:58

    Thank you for this book and your website.
    It is a pleasure for me to share the release of “Mad World” on my blog dedicated to Kim Wilde I am a fan since 1981, soon JPaul of France


  2. Steve
    Apr 16, 2014 @ 00:33:47

    Let me know when it’s available in hardback and I’ll buy a copy.


    • Jonathan Bernstein
      Apr 16, 2014 @ 21:55:19

      It will never be available in hardback. Paperback only- the people’s format!


  3. DP
    Jul 24, 2014 @ 09:02:01

    No Pet Shop Boys?!

    Loved the book either way…


    • Jonathan Bernstein
      Jul 26, 2014 @ 16:05:53

      We tried!


      • DP
        Jul 26, 2014 @ 22:48:36

        I’m already looking forward to Part 2! My fingers are crossed.


        • Jonathan Bernstein
          Jul 27, 2014 @ 15:07:14

          Ours too!


  4. John Archbell
    Sep 19, 2014 @ 16:48:46

    Hi, I do fancy this actually but I would prefer a signed copy….please? If it’s possible let me know where to pay. I’m in the UK. Thanks


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