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Ska: 3rd Wave

A guide to the history of ska and how to find recordings of and information about ska music

Third Wave Ska

In the late 1980s the third ska revival began to emerge in America and in other parts of the world. Playing a more aggressive form of Two-Tone, the New York City based Toasters helped usher in the third wave of ska in the United States. The Toasters and other third wave ska musicians infused Two-Tone with elements of punk and hardcore. 

The Toasters

The Toasters - Third wave ska pioneers. 

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, 3rd wave ska was based primarily in California, but the genre soon spread all over the country and eventually to other parts of the world. No Doubt, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Reel Big Fish brought ska to the mainstream. With these bands, ska achieved its highest level of popularity in the late 1990s.

There are several subgenres housed under the label of third wave ska: ska-core, ska metal, ska punk, and acid ska. Additionally, several bands such as the Slackers and the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra play a style of ska that resembles the first wave Jamaican sound.

Unlike first and second wave ska, third wave ska has endured for close to 20 years. The genre has always been supported by a wealth of independent musicians and record labels. While not currently in the national spotlight, third wave ska bands continue to appear and perform all over the world. Countries such as Spain, Japan, Turkey, and Indonesia have all gone through own unique ska crazes. Dr. Jeremy Wallach has written extensively about Indonesian popular music and has written a paper specifically about the Indonesian ska movement.

Plague of Happiness - Malaysian ska punk. 

Music critics, fans, and musicians have argued when (or if) the next ska phase will take place. Experimental bands, such as King Prawn have begun incorporating elements of hip hop and ska to create something entirely new, but this band is relatively unknown. For the fourth wave of ska to take place, the genre needs to once again attain a level of mainstream popularity. 

Regardless, independent musicians from all corners of the globe are keeping the ska spirit alive. Many music critics claim that ska is dead. These musicians would have you think otherwise.

* Click on the links from the pull down menu for a list of influential artists, an annotated discography, and a selected discography of 3rd wave Christian ska artists.

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