soundstreamsunday: “Candy-O” by the Cars

the-cars-candy-o-button-b3064(2)It’s been forty-ish years since their first record but it’s not difficult to remember how important the Cars were to American music.  Punk really broke with the Cars and maybe also with Devo, because until these bands hit the radio, and they did so in a big way in 1978-79, punk music and its influence was just a news story for those of us not living on America’s coasts.  The Cars weren’t a punk band really at all but they brought a toughness to their pop music that defined American new wave, even as they were being played, say, between the Doobies and AC/DC on the radio (as they still are today).  They represented a slew of less commercially fortunate American underground bands: Big Star, NRBQ, Flamin’ Groovies, the kind of groups who extended 60s garage rock post Beatles.  That is, they saw the art in what they did.  They opened ears.  Ric Ocasek’s and Benjamin Orr’s lyrics were smart, un-fussy, their singing had the odd effect of creating emotional distance even while containing heartbreak, and Elliott Easton’s guitar kept the band on course — they were never not a rock band.  Here on “Candy-O,” the title track of their second album,  the Cars throw down a power pop gauntlet elevated by this raw live peformance.  Bookended by a monster debut album and outsized 1980s success, “Candy-O” is nonetheless the band’s peak as new wave game changer.

soundstreamsunday presents one song or live set by an artist each week, and in theory wants to be an infinite linear mix tape where the songs relate and progress as a whole. For the complete playlist, go here: soundstreamsunday archive and playlist, or check related articles by clicking on”soundstreamsunday” in the tags section above.

2 thoughts on “soundstreamsunday: “Candy-O” by the Cars

  1. Sheesh, Craig, I’ve not thought about the Cars in years. Great memory. And, nice historical connections. I’d be curious to know how you define “new wave.” Always seems like something more easily identified than defined. Anyway, excellent post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “New wave” is so slippery and convenient. I think it can mean a lot of different things, like post punk pop, Beatles-inspired pop heavy on the synths, a specific era say 1977-1985 or so, a mostly British style including the “new romantics.” I think there were very different manifestations of this in America and Britain and some that broke bounds, like Elvis Costello and the Cars. If you were to press me I’d say an era and a sound that came on the heels or concurrently with punk that adopted a pop, often romantic and danceable musicality that leaned heavy on synths.

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