The Best of Adam and the Ants

In 1977, The Ants first performed to a “what was said to be a stunned audience.” One year and several band member exchanges later, the group became known as Adam and the Ants and took hold in the UK. They released three albums before they broke up in 1982, with each member pursuing their own endeavors and singer and founding member Adam Ant still performing music. Even though their existence was short, their legacy and influence were far-reaching. Their sound marked a transition into the new-wave movement, drawing from punk influence to create a sound that triggers 80’s nostalgia without the heavy use of synths associated with the pop rock of the time period. During this time, they also produced several hits and won a BRIT award for their album Kings of the Wild Frontier and a 1982 Grammy nomination for best new artist.

Reminisce in the best of Adam and the Ants below!

“Stand And Deliver” is a personal favorite. Adam Ant’s passionate vocal inflections add a hint of theatrics. From the ever-changing instrumental patterns to the vast range of backing sounds and vocals, the group incorporate an undeniable complexity into the track. As implied by the title, the song attacks with force. The tempo is consistently upbeat yet changes consistently with the instrumentals over the course of three minutes. Coupled with the bizarre video whose scenes and scenarios switch just as often, Adam and the Ants create an engaging experience and unique final product.

“Ant Rap” is notably experimental. Adam and the Ants ditched the smooth vocals and tempo changes associated with the majority of their songs for largely percussion-based instrumentals. Yet, the result is not a disaster but a surprisingly catchy hip hop track. Like the accompanying video, the song should be taken with a bit of humor. The lyrics are a bit ridiculous, as are the small instrumental interludes that break up the drums and raps. “Ant Rap” is a guilty pleasure song that may be more fun to rap, with vocal imitation, than “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”

I would like to draw attention to the Michael Jackson-esque military jacket that Adam Ant proudly sports in the following music videos as well as express my appreciation for his fashion choice.

“Antmusic” is incredibly catchy from the first drum beat. It carries a distinct groove to it that draws inspiration from the preceding punk and post-punk movements. The chanting is fun and lighthearted, and the guitar solos balance the the song well to keep it from becoming repetitive. Ant’s vocals carry enough of a swing to keep the groove then they replace the guitar in the bridge. “Antmusic” encompasses the infectious nature and slightly cheesy 80’s vibe of Adam and the Ants. It’s no wonder the confused disco-goers can’t help but dance along when the band crashes their party.

What makes “Kings of the Wild Frontier” interesting is that it was inspired by the punk movement of the previous decade while still influencing the punk movement of the following decade. The shout and repeated chant style is reminiscent of 70’s gems such as The Ramones classic “Blitzkrieg Bop” while the intro of Green Day’s Longview elaborates upon Kings of the Wild Frontier’s opening instrumentals. The group creates an interesting juxtaposition between the quick drum tempo and the held-out guitar riffs and vocals, which give the song a distinct edge.  The video itself has a punk feel in its simplicity that matches its minimal choice of instruments.

“Dog Eat Dog” has a unique mix of punk and new-wave elements. The shouted vocals and choppy instrumentals of the verses contradict the smooth, overlapping vocals and the more streamlines instrumentals of chorus. Still, the two merge together to form the transition between the two sounds, each showcasing its respective genre, in the pre-chorus. The flow between these sounds is seamless, and this execution makes the song memorable and unique.

Adam and the Ants produced a remarkably diverse and well-executed discography during their short run. They persevered past their initially poor reception and were rewarded with praise later in their career. Their popularity skyrocketed and their audience expanded, and Adam eventually received the highest honor of being interviewed by “Weird Al” Yankovic himself.

Featured Image via Flickr user chris m

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