Depeche Mode – New Life
Let’s jump back exactly forty years. We are on June 13, 1981. In hindsight, the 80s have not even started yet, we know. MTV doesn’t exist yet, it hasn’t even started broadcasting. In England, Charles and Diana have not yet married, and a great part of the world wass still struggling with the worst news stories, like terrorism or the attack to Pope John Paul II that took place exactly one month before.
In short, we were in that limbo that lasted a year and a half when the calendar already reported the number 8 in the digit of the decades, but history kept us in an uncomfortable and rough extension of the seventies. I remember a comic where, due to a strange story of the absurd, at the end of a year, after December 31, the following year did not arrive, but the calendars began to mark Dec 32, Dec 33, and so on. As in that period: the 80s did not want to start yet.
Yet everything was ready. Above all, the music was ready. Depeche Mode were absolutely an emerging group: under the guidance of founder Vince Clarke, the genius of Basildon who later also created Yazoo and Erasure, they launched their first hit, Dreaming of me in February. They were working on their first album (due out in October), and they had some other great songs ready. Dreaming of me didn’t make it to the Speak & Spell album, so technically the first single from their first album was exactly New Life, which came out on June 13, 1981.
The title was spot on: the music, the world were ready for a new life. A life made of new sounds, which from the world of the new wave began to move towards pop, with faster beats, elaborate electronic sounds (and we are in 1981!), Lyrics that are not simple, but not dark and dramatic either.
In short, the sounds, rhythms and lyrics of the 80s were ready. New Life was more successful than Dreaming of Me, and a few weeks after its release, Depeche were able to present it on Top of the Pops. And in fact this performance became the video of the song, because in fact a real video did not exist. And MTV didn’t even exist yet, even if some videos already existed in 1981 (think of Buggles’ Video Killed The Radio Star, or Planet Earth by Duran Duran, for example).
Their performance at Top of the Pops was sensational, and pushed the song to the top of the hit parade. In the next two months they performed two more times in the same show, and this effectively launched the career of this great group. But doesn’t it give you a little emotion to review these images and listen to these sounds again, and think that we are seeing a postcard from forty years ago?
Depeche Mode on Wikipedia