Adam And The Ants


Spring’s here. Summer’s right around the corner. And you know what that means. Things with wings. Things that crawl. Things that bite and sting. That’s right: insects. Here’s some songs about the nightmarish creatures who share our planet. (To listen to this or any of our other playlists via Spotify, click here.)

“Antmusic,” Adam And The Ants

“Don’t step on an ant, you’ll end up back and blue, you cut off his head, legs come looking for you.” Ugh…

“Insects,” Altered Images

Before they were cute, before they embraced pop stardom, Altered Images were Lil’ Siouxsie and the Banshee Babies. This is them at their most Junior Banshee-esque

“The Butterfly Collector,” The Jam

Lyrically, this song is close kin to “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John. Paul Weller’s loathing of the upper-class dilettante slumming in his milieu is just that bit more visceral. There was time when Weller was writing good enough songs that he could throw this away as a b-side.

“Hey There Little Insect,” Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers

Many artists have attempted to present themselves as wide-eyed naive grown-up children and it generally comes off creepy and uncomfortable. Jonathan Richman just about stayed on the right side of the man-child divide.

“Honey For The Bees,” Alison Moyet

From the debut solo album that was supposed propel her to international mainstream superstardom but ended up convincing her that the last thing she wanted to be was an international mainstream superstar.

“Human Fly,” The Cramps

We will never see their like again. Thankfully.

“Caterpillar,” The Cure

Almost every Cure song sounds like it could be about an insect.

“Dragonfly,” Blondie

From the universally-dismissed The Hunter. Perhaps better than it originally seemed?

“Loco Mosquito,” Iggy Pop

Iggy’s Eighties Arista era was a weird half-hearted attempt to make him MTV famous and radio friendly. Here is evidence as to why that was never going to happen.

New Romance,” Spider

Written by Holly Knight, covered by Lisa Hartman on Knots Landing, should have been a HUGE hit. Still sounds great.

“Love And A Molotov Cocktail,” The Flys

Endearing post-punk anthem with a once—heard-never-forgotten chorus.

“King Of The Flies,” Fad Gadget

More flies. How do they know to get in the house but they never know how to get out?

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MIxtape: Royals 0

Popular music has always anointed its pioneers and stars with such honorific nicknames as the King of Pop, the Godfather of Soul, the Chairman of the Board, and the Queen of Disco. The 80s saw an abundance of songs and group names that wanted to be regal. If we all agree that David Bowie is definitely the Godfather of New Wave, then who is worthy to be crowned the King(s) or Queen(s) of New Wave?  Chris Rooney decides. (To listen to this or follow any of our playlists on Spotify, click here.) 

The Smiths, “The Queen Is Dead” (1985)
Thirty years after Morrissey proclaimed the end of her majesty; stodgy QEII is still kicking. The self-deprecating ditty is loosely based on the real account of a Buckingham Palace intruder who broke into the palace and entered the Queen’s bedroom.

Eurythmics, “The King and Queen of America” (1990)
Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were pretty spot on with their costumes and settings that parodied American culture in the 1980s from game show hosts to the Reagans to Hollywood stars to ordinary folks from the heartland. As part of Eurythmics and a soloist, Annie has earned the title “most successful female British artist in UK music history” and the “Brits Champion of Champions”. How’s that for accolades?

The B-52’s, “Queen of Las Vegas” (1983)
If Annie Lennox wanted to be queen of America, she’d have to put up a fight with Kate and Cindy of The B-52’s in order to rule over “Sin City”.

Generation X, “King Rocker” (1978)
Billy Idol’s first taste of success was with his original pop punk band before he ascended to greater heights going solo in 1981.

The Police, “King Of Pain” (1983)
Written after the separation from his first wife, Sting confessed his feelings in this song: “I conjured up symbols of pain and related them to my soul. A black spot on the sun struck me as being a very painful image.” References to the tragic stories of King Oedipus and King Midas emphasized the solitude of being alone at the top.

Prince, “When You Were Mine” (1980)
His Royal Purpleness dabbled in New Wave with some of his early work including this one. Cyndi Lauper even covered the song in 1984 on her debut album. Since Prince has a beef with YouTube, here’s Cyndi’s version.

Prefab Sprout, “King Of Rock And Roll” (1988)
Sophisti-pop makers Prefab Sprout imagined a washed-up early rock and roll one-hit wonder stuck performing his silly novelty song on the nostalgia circuit. Despite critical praise for their work in the 1980s, this song remains the band’s biggest success in their native UK, where it reached a modest #7.

Echo & The Bunnymen, “My Kingdom” (1984)
Ian McCullough in many ways is the heir apparent to the self-proclaimed “Lizard King”, Jim Morrison. Since their early days, The Bunnymen drew comparisons to The Doors and later went so far as to record a version of “People Are Strange” and employed Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek on their original song, “Bedbugs And Ballyhoo”.

King, “Love & Pride” (1984)
Named after lead singer Paul King, the video for their debut single feels like a corny 1980s Hollywood take on Peter Pan complete with preadolescent “lost boys” breakdancing and spray painting in a remote Neverland dumping ground. Paul went on to work as a VJ for MTV and VH1 in Europe after the band split.

Adam & The Ants, “Prince Charming” (1981)
Adam’s whining at the beginning of the song makes it abundantly clear that he really, really, really wants to be next in line to the throne.

Bow Wow Wow, “Prince of Darkness” (1981)
Maybe Adam Ant’s bandmates turned to the dark side when they jumped ship and formed Bow Wow Wow under then-de facto manager Malcolm McLaren’s auspices?

Thompson Twins, “King For A Day” (1985)
After touring solo for the first time in 2014 after a long absence, lead singer Tom Bailey said, “In a way, ‘King For A Day’ is a song that explains why I’ve been missing for 30 years.  It kind of says the whole fame and fortune game doesn’t ultimately satisfy me, and I got distracted by other things. So although I’m glad to be back and sorry about being away for so long, this is my excuse.”

The Dukes of Stratosphear, “The Mole from the Ministry” (1985)
Taking a cue from The Beatles’ alter ego Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, XTC released a very ‘60s psychedelic-influenced album under the pseudonym The Dukes of Stratosphear.

The Stranglers, “Duchess” (1979)
With a public image anything but choirboys, The Stranglers nevertheless dressed up like them for the song’s banned-by-the-BBC-for-being-blasphemous video. Maybe it also touched a nerve for taking a very downtrodden working class jab at England’s aristocratic pretentiousness.

China Crisis, “King in a Catholic Style (Wake Up)” (1985)
I feel like I was the only American teenager who bought the Liverpudlian band’s 1985 album, Flaunt the Imperfection, which was produced by Walter Becker of Steely Dan jazz rock fame. Just because I was a big Anglophile then doesn’t mean that I thought that the American Revolutionary War wasn’t totally worth it.

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Thanksgiving Mixtape: Planes, Trains & Automobiles 0

With the gluttonous American holiday of Thanksgiving this week and the other holidays right around the corner, the busy traveling season is almost underway. Partially influenced by the ‘80s Thanksgiving movie Planes, Trains And Automobiles, Chris Rooney presents  a really moving selection of songs all involving transportation. (To listen via Spotify, click here.)

KajaGooGoo, “On a Plane” (1984)
The boys from Kaja had less baggage on their flight in 1984 after they had unceremoniously kicked out original vocalist, Limahl the year before.

The Motors, “Airport” (1978)
Back when British Airways and Air France introduced flights on the supersonic Concorde to the United States in the late 1970s, a round trip ticket from London to New York was typically five times the price as flying on a 747. That certainly would have been an expensive way to say goodbye to your girl if you were a member of power pop band, The Motors.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, “Enola Gay” (1980)
OMD vs. The BBC. The duo weren’t allowed to perform the song on a children’s television show called “Swap Shop”, because the BBC ignorantly thought it promoted homosexuality instead of actually addressing the famous warplane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during the final stages of World War II. Silly BBC.

Split Enz, “Six Months in a Leaky Boat” (1982)
The song references the time it took English pioneers to sail to Australia and New Zealand and could be seen a metaphor for lead singer Tim Finn’s nervous breakdown. It also endured some some controversy when some thought the song was a veiled attack on Britain fighting with Argentina over the Falkland Islands. Even though the song was recorded months before the Falklands conflict, the song was removed from radio play lists in the UK.

Erasure, “Ship of Fools” (1988)
The allegory “Ship Of Fools” has long been a fixture in Western literature and art. Th synth duo’s first ballad shared the same title as songs by Echo & the Bunnymen, World Party and Robert Plant all released within the same two-year time period.

Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, “Speedboat” (1984)
Guess that Lloyd is more of a landlubber with lyrics like, “It wasn’t my style to find surf in my eye / It was much more my style to find sand in my eye”.

Thomas Dolby, ”One of Our Submarines” (1982)
The inspiration for the song was Dolby’s late uncle who died in a submarine accident during World War II. Dolby instilled a sense of despair in the song’s lyrics both for the sub and once-mighty British Empire.

The Cure, “Subway Song” (1979)
Robert Smith warned you not to take the subway late at night. A guy with big bushy hair and lipstick might be lurking down there.


The Jam, “Down In The Tube Station At Midnight(1978)

The London Underground, also known as the Tube, was the world’s first underground railway system and has been in operation over 150 years. Again, taking the subway home after hours in the late 70s was probably not the wisest decision based on the song’s unfortunate lyrics.

The Smiths, “The Draize Train” (1985)
One of the few Smiths’ songs that Morrissey didn’t write lyrics to Johnny Marr’s hard-chugging guitar composition. Perhaps Moz was too busy riding his bike around Manchester in preparation for the “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” video made after the group broke up.

Kraftwerk, “Tour De France” (1983)
In the Tour De France’s 111-year history, Kraftwerk’s native Germany has only won the 2,200 mile cycling race once back in 1997. Maybe it was a good thing that Kraftwerk recorded a version of the song both in German and in French.

Gary Numan, “Cars” (1979)
Gary is so synonymous with his biggest hit, but he is first love was always piloting stunt planes, as he once was quoted saying, “Flying made me feel alive more than being Gary Numan the pop star.”

Depeche Mode, “Behind The Wheel” (1987)
Back in their very early days, the blokes from Depeche transported all of their keyboard equipment on the London Tube to their first gigs. So nice to eventually make it and let the roadies handle such matters.

Adam & The Ants, “Cartrouble” (1979)
Poor Adam. His light blue car broke down on the side of the M2 and now his has to hoof it in his goody two shoes to the nearest service station.

It’s Immaterial, “Driving Away From Home (Jim’s Tune)” (1986)
So if Jim and his mates venture further north to Newcastle after their 39 mile drive from Liverpool to Manchester on the M62 motorway it would be another 144 miles along the M62 and AI. The last stretch of the trip after Newcastle would be another 151 miles on the A6 and A74 until you arrive in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city.

Duran Duran, “The Chauffeur” (1982)
Sure, sitting on the bow of yacht in the Carribbean while singing about a woman named Rio is great, but when you have literally hundreds of teenage Duranies chasing after you, it’s best to get away in a stretched limo driven by a chauffeur.

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