‘Ridicule is nothing to be scared of‘. Perhaps this is an obvious statement from a man sporting an Antplaster from cheek to blushered cheek, a man who proudly dances in a bizarre Vogue-like fashion with Diana Dors. But apart from being a great bold lyric, that line is a manifesto for the best pop music, the best art, culture and everything else that means anything. I realise that now. In 1981, it was just a line in a catchy song that made me shake my various limbs in the random manner that children attempting to dance do.
It would be churlish to dismiss the importance of the visual impact of Adam and the Ants. I still remember being confused but strangely drawn to the swashbuckling dandy pirate highwayman. This was an era where Top of The Pops was a weekly appointment and the singular way of seeing what your favourite pop stars looked like. And Adam & The Ants looked odd and otherworldly – an enigmatic vision from a long forgotten past yet also somehow strangely futuristic. At least to a five year old who also enjoyed the music of Shakin’ Stevens and Bucks Fizz.
Adam Ant was aware of the power of the music video (still a novel way of promoting records) and took advantage of using those three minutes to create his own epic mini-films. That is a large part of why Adam & The Ants have left an indelible impression on people of a certain age. However, it wouldn’t have worked if Adam & his Antfriends didn’t have the songs to back it up. And fortunately, the songs were poptastically magnificent – perfect nuggets of pop that shone amidst the shit filling up the charts. –Antmusic‘, ‘Zerox‘, –Stand & Deliver‘, –Prince Charming‘, ‘Dog Eat Dog‘ – all worthy evidence to prove that nothing beats pop at its ludicrous best.
There are so few names in the pantheon of pop music that successfully created stupidly brilliant hit records while looking idiotically tremendous – David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Adam Ant, Prince but little since then. Artists now are too smart, too controlled, too afraid of ridicule and failure to dress up and ignore the naysayers.
Forget the later mentalism, the dodgy Live Aid appearance, the slick Nineties records and the terrible films. Instead, remember Adam Ant freeze-framed, revolvers aloft, all cheekbone and cheeky charm, demanding you hand over your gold and silver.