Heirs of Antmusic

May 4, 1979 is the date Margaret Thatcher took power. Punk music is said to have been officially pronounced dead on this day, and so it was the birthday of New Wave music.

The term "New Wave" is such an amorphous umbrella that it has been used to include anything from Wham! to The Ramones. It was coined by Malcolm MacLaren, the Sex Pistols' controversial manager, in 1976; however, the common conception of New Wave changed from being interchangeable with punk to being post punk music. Where punk by its very nature never could garner much financial success, the New Wave acts instantly started scoring big hits.

Who was the first? Well, you could argue that question all day long, but Adam Ant (album Kings of the Wild Frontier) was surely among the first big successes (interestingly enough, Ant's mother was a house cleaner for Paul McCartney).

Antmusic pocketed loads of cash and danced on the grave of punk, and thus a new brand of music was unleashed upon the world. It was perfect timing too, because MTV happened to come along at that time and the two were a match made in heaven.

Here's a few great tunes from this era that perhaps went under the radar in the US. There was such a great influx of musicians getting in on the New Wave gravy train, that I think a lot of great music got missed.

"Runaways" by XTC

I remember reading in a magazine in 1982 that the best album of the year was English Settlement by XTC. I thought to myself, "Who the hell is XTC?"
Of course, my favorite record at that time was Eye of the Tiger by Survivor, if that gives you an idea of my musical tastes in 1982.

"Seven Seas" by Echo & the Bunnymen

Everyone from Hall & Oates to Wall of Voodoo found a home somewhere on MTV in the early days. Unfortunately, I think a lot of the more "alternative" New Wave bands were relegated to the fringes and only shown at odd hours on The Cutting Edge or later on 120 Minutes. Thus, many bands like Siouxie and the Banshees, Echo & the Bunnymen and The Cure went largely unnoticed by the mainstream in The States (unless you happened to have KROQ on your radio dial).

"Working Girl" by The Members

This song starts slow but has a great hook and is the perfect example of a 1970s punk band morphing into a 1980s New Wave band. The Members didn't last long after this hit single, but it was interesting to see these raunchy 70s punkers putting out pop friendly songs with videos sandwiched between Duran Duran and Men Without Hats.

Issue 15 of Tops comic, January 16th, 1982


  1. Ha! Those Adam Ant comics are great!

  2. Hey Gil. Wow! Just a cool post. New Wave was some of the first music I bought on my own. I was really too young for punk. Plus it never really took off around here. I can remember seeing MTV for the first time at my aunt's house. We didn't have cable in my area at the time. It really opened my eyes. I was exposed to a lot of music I never would have. My friends and I were all hooked. Adam Ant is definitely one of the first artists I remember.

  3. My daughter was a huge Antmusic fan back in the 80s and by osmosis I came to like it, too.

  4. In spite of my longtime Anglophile status, I discovered Antmusic after the fact but enjoy it immensely. He went on to be a passable character actor before having apparently some kind of mental health issues.

  5. Zaius- Well they beat the Men Without Hats comics for sure.

    Keith- I love seeing how one style of music evolves into another. The transformation from punk to new wave is an interesting one. The New Wave music became less and less similar to punk very quickly, till bands like ABC and Duran Duran bore basically no resemblance to their punk forebears.

    Buzz- Your daughter has good taste - heaven forbid, she could've been a Christopher Cross fan.

    Booksteve- "Kings of the Wild Frontier" is my favorite. Mental health issues I can handle - at least he didn't turn out like that perv Gary Glitter.

  6. I can remember having an argument with someone in my 8th grade gymnasium about whether The Cars were "rock and roll" or "New Wave." It came down to the fact I misunderstood both at the time - for example, I thought The Go-Gos (they sort of were) were New Wave, and I too liked "Eye of the Tiger."

  7. ANTMUSIC wasn't new, it was just Gary Glitter's "Burundi beat" from 4 or 5 years earlier but with a new coat of paint, sung by a tenor instead of a baritone, plus schoolboy novel characterisation, ie pirate, highwaymen, etc.

  8. Excronimuss if you think that is all Antmusic was you need a slap.