I would argue that the most influential person in the New Wave movement was David Bowie. His late 70’s work was keyboard heavy and the affected voice he used weighs heavy in almost every New Wave song which followed in the 80’s. His first record of the decade featured the song Fashion, which had to be an influence for many synth-pop and indie bands that followed. Bowie’s fashion choices might have even been a bigger influence on the bands that followed-up.
Let’s Dance was Bowie’s most successful record. Typical of Bowie, right when society had caught up with his style, he dressed up in suits, got a tan, and re-packaged himself with more of a rock edge which was aided by guitar player Stevie Ray Vaughn. Modern Love’s drumbeat is one of my all-time favs, as I can’t help but turn this one up when it comes on.
His next 3 releases of the decade were not as good, but they did feature some interesting songs. Here are my favorites, Blue Jean, his cover of Iggy Pop’s Neighborhood Threat, and Day-In, Day-Out.
At the end of the decade, Bowie went a completely different direction and created the hard rock band, Tin Machine. Check out Under the God.