Leaving behind the punk and hard rock of the 1970s, Gary Numan established the new wave song with his hit “Cars“.
During the late 1970s, Numan was known as Tubeway Army and had released four singles, an LP and an album, as well as garnering a hit with the song “Are Friends Electric?”.
In 1979, he released the single Cars, ahead of his next album The Pleasure Principle in August. The single immediately went to the top of the British charts with its catchy new wave rhythms, which Numan accentuated with the extensive use of keyboards in the production.
The song was written after Numan experienced a road rage episode while driving in London, when another driver threatened him.
The accompanying video, showing Numan emotionless and like a robot also added to his allure. Suffering from stage fright and bad skin before a live performance, Numan had gone onstage with lots of makeup and acted very stiff, which then became his persona.
Hitting the top of the charts in Canada, US, Belgium, Ireland and Germany, the single and its video was in heavy rotation on MTV and MuchMusic as well.
Cars became the first single that led to the many new wave hits of the 1980s and was the hot one hit wonder of Numan’s career in the decade.