The story of how two very different bands came to define the boundaries of New Wave rock from the college town of Athens, Georgia.
Listen to Episode 14 of Slate’s Hit Parade:
The B-52s and R.E.M. don’t sound all that much like each other. One group were avatars of kitsch, fusing punk, girl-group and garage rock—even Yoko Ono—into a retro-nuevo style all their own. The other group were mysterious, elliptical, often indecipherable, but they reinvented jangly guitar and classic-rock influences to make a new kind of New Wave. Together, this pair of distinctive bands helped make Athens, Georgia the epicenter of alternative cool in the ’80s and ’90s. In Part 1 of this two-part episode of Hit Parade, we present the story of how the B-52s and R.E.M. created a scene out of a college town—and became the most prominent queer-friendly, gender-fluid bands of their era.