The Sex Pistols had an endearing way of taking something austere and palatable and spitting on it — ransacking the object to make it feel filthy and ominous while injecting an anti-establishment attitude into it. The Sex Pistols were downright perverse and too rock and roll for rock and roll; they did things their way.
Or, in the case of Sid Vicious, he did things his way. But unfortunately, when your way is steeped in nihilism to the point of no redemption or optimism, then the only conclusion therein is timely destruction.
There was nothing more timely than when Sid Vicious overdosed during the six months while he was being charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. His life trajectory was headed that way regardless of whether it was the catalyst or not.
Sid Vicious had a real disdain for anything that reeked of authority or pretentiousness, as was the way of The Sex Pistols, and still is for those who keep the band’s legacy alive.
But Vicious’s way was not always destruction for the sake of destruction, but as a way of being noticed; Vicious wanted so desperately to be a star. So, he sought to combine the two: he mixed his penchant for violence and his craving for star-power in a potent cocktail.
The fusion of the two would find its apex in one of the greatest punk infiltrations of the bourgeoisie in the history of rock and roll. Sid Vicious performed Paul Anka’s ‘My Way’, a song that Anka wrote specifically for Frank Sinatra.
The music video for Sid Vicious’ version of ‘My Way’ appeared in Julien Temple’s mockumentary, The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle, a film centred on The Sex Pistols and their manager, Malcolm McClaren.
In the music video, Vicious, dressed as a punk version of an astute lounge singer, such as the likes of Frank Sinatra or Paul Anka, descends a staircase to the stage where an adoring audience awaits him and showers him with praise.
Vicious mocks the song, making his voice sound like a bad imitation of Sinatra’s. Then Vicious’ version kicks into the punk take, which also sees the punk idol change a lot of the lyrics to profane language.
If you type into any search engine, ‘the most shocking music video of all time’, you will probably find plenty of gory and gruesome videos that depict horror quite well. What makes Vicious’ music video the most shocking one of them all is the implication of him firing his gun into the audience at the end of his performance. The message is heard loud and clear: ‘the youth are here, and we are sick and tired of your rules, and we will kill you if we have to.’ There is no limit to the realist horror of this music video.
Whereas most videos you can shut off at the end and (hopefully) reality will kick in again, Vicious’ video has a way of sticking with you for a long time. It is an insensitive video, which, coupled with Vicious’ murder charge, basically made him one of the first alleged murderers to become idolised.
Now that is very scary.
You decide for yourself, watch the music video below: