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8EEZ Playlist: Billy Idol

A Punk Rocker...with a Sweet Side

Photo unknown

"On the floors of Tokyo

A-down in London town's a go go

A-with the record selection,

And the mirror's reflection,

I'm a dancin' with myself"

Hello, out there. I begin this entry with a lyrical quote from one of this artist's biggest, well-known hits "Dancing With Myself"; pretty much an easy bet on knowing who it is. His birth name was William Albert Broad in Stanmore, Middlesex, UK. Still...as a lover of the popular British comedy troupe, Monty Python, he was extremely close to changing his name to Billy Idle. After a thought, he went with "Idol" and the rest — history.

Having begun his musical career at an early age, Broad (now taking the name, Billy Idol), played in two bands: Chelsea, then Generation X. Generation X was part of the burgeoning punk music movement, but had the distinction of playing music that was more mainstream than most other bands in the movement. After departing the band, Idol moved to New York City, signed to the Chrysalis record label and teamed up with electro-guitar wunderkind, Steve Stevens. His first effort was an EP with tracks he recorded with Generation X, which included "Dancing With Myself" and a cover of the Tommy James and the Shondells standard, "Mony Mony."

His 1982 self-titled debut yielded two hits: "Hot In The City" and "White Wedding" and his platinum blond, handsome, chiseled face and Elvis lip-curl made him a darling of the MTV video set. His followup album Rebel Yell would be his biggest seller and gave him a Top-5 smash in "Eyes Without a Face," a mid-tempo, bluesy, rock/new wave ballad that gave Idol a much sweeter side, but didn't kill his rock credibility adding Steven's raw guitar solo in the bridge. The video would add religious and sexual imagery and gave the very definition of the word cheeky a whole new name.

Hits continued to pour in 1986 with Whiplash Smile as "To Be a Lover" was a Top-10 hit, but one year later — paydirt! A live recording of his smash "Mony Mony" cover would shoot to Number 1, making it his biggest hit to date. Two years later, his final Top-3 smash "Cradle of Love," from the Andrew Dice Clay movie bomb The Adventures of Ford Farlaine would be his final Top-40 appearance. The video would be his face superimposed on video screens as he was recovering from a motorcycle accident at the time of filming — along with a sexy hot vixen vs. computer nerd concept. It was directed by Se7en and Gone Girl filmmaker David Fincher.

Fun fact. It was Idol who was approached to do the Breakfast Club theme song "Don't You (Forget About Me)" (popularized by the Scottish band, Simple Minds), but turned it down. He has stated that it was a mistake he regretted. He even recorded a new version for his 2001 Greatest Hits compilation.

Now, here's my good buddy Oates' 'list.

Cherry's Picks:

5. "Eyes Without a Face" (1984)

The title came from a French 1960 thriller called Les Jeux sans Visage which was also sang by the female backup singers. The tempo changes considerably when Steve Stevens' guitar tears into the song. On my list, too. How high? Read on.

4. "Rebel Yell" (1984)

Balls-to-the-wall rocker with Idol showing off his leather-spiked-hair-sexy-swagger in his concert music video.

3. "White Wedding" (1982)

Another patented Idol rock/new wave classic with plenty of religio-sexual imagery in the very "wedding-like" video, complete with the black leather-clad "booty shakers."

2. "Mony Mony" – Live (1987)

His first and only Number 1 smash; only a handful of "live" recordings to go to number one in the 1980s. Loud, raucous version differs from the dancier Tommy James & the Shondells cover from 1981.

1. "Dancing With Myself" (1981)

His signature smash hit with Generation X, debated to be about...masturbation.

My Picks:

5. "Dancing With Myself" (1981)

Yep, it made my list as well. It's a dance-y rock/new wave song that could make you head-bop, gyrate like a gargoyle in heat! As for the self-love connotation? Yeah...maybe.

4. "Mony Mony" (1981)

Snappy Tommy James cover gave Idol a nicer image and made him able to cover mainstream pop hits without losing his rock edge.

3. "To Be a Lover" (1986)

The closest to an R&B/rock track he's ever recorded. A very Elvis-like sound makes this a very distinctive track, along with some sexy 60s girl-group harmonies.

2. "Cradle of Love" (1990)

Another I-don't-give-a-shit rocker that gave Idol his last, most memorable smash hit — and video.

1. "Eyes Without a Face" (1984)

It made the top of my list. A memorable pastiche of blues, rock/new wave; killer guitar virtuosity and the closest thing to a "rap" Idol has ever done vocally. Went to Number 4 on the Hot 100, but should've gone even higher.

An interesting 'list indeed as we both have our first and last song reversed.

That's all she wrote for today, music buffs. Next up: our first Heavy Metal 'list!