Synopsis of Pop Music
“In the midnight hour, she cried ‘more, more, more’
With a rebel yell, she cried ‘more, more, more’!”
Billy Idol is a musician who has the unique ability to score hits and set new trends at the same time. With songs like “White Wedding” and “Dancing With Myself,” he was one of the first musicians to blur the boundaries between punk and hard-rock. He would later popularize his sound in clubs with innovative dance-remixes of his hits and also pioneer the idea of using the internet to communicate with fans. In the process, he scored many influential hits with several different types of listeners.
Like many musicians, Billy Idol got his start as a music fanatic. In fact, Idol dropped out of college to become a member of the ‘Bromley Contingent,’ the original group of Sex Pistols fans. He soon progressed to singing lead for Generation X, one of the most successful English punk bands.
In 1982, Billy Idol released a successful self-titled solo album that stayed on the charts for two years. Songs like “White Wedding” and “Hot In The City” mixed metal guitar riffs and new-wave synthesizers with Idol’s punkish vocals to become Top-40 hits. Idol was also a big success on MTV, where his spiked hair and distinctive sneer added to his bad-boy appeal. “Dancing With Myself” in particular became an MTV hit, thanks to a darkly comic video that depicted Idol making his way through a broken-down apartment building full of creepy tenants.
Idol scored his big breakthrough in 1984 with the Grammy-nominated Rebel Yell album. It gave Idol his first Top-5 hit with a moody, sinister ballad called “Eyes Without A Face.” He scored more hits with “Flesh For Fantasy” and the title track, a fist-pumping rocker that would become his signature song.
Whiplash Smile was released in 1986. “To Be A Lover” was the big hit from this album and went to #6 on the charts. Idol scored another hit from this album with “Sweet Sixteen,” an acoustic ballad. The next year, Idol decided to release a hits collection with a special twist to it. Vital Idol was a dance-remix album of his songs that bridged the gap between hard-rock and dance music to become a Top-10 hit. A remixed version of Tommy James and the Shondells' “Mony Mony,” also included on the album, gave Idol his first #1 single, knocking teen queen Tiffany's version of Tommy James and the Shondells' "I Think We're Alone Now" out of the top spot.
Idol released his next studio album, Charmed Life, in 1990. “Cradle Of Love,” a rocker infused with the trademark Idol sneer, was released as a single and became Idol’s biggest hit. The song’s video, which featured a surprisingly friendly female neighbor visiting a pent-up geek, soon became a much-requested MTV favorite and won an award at the MTV Video Awards. After a successful tour for Charmed Life, Idol decided to take a hiatus from recording.
Billy Idol returned to recording in 1993 with Cyberpunk, an album whose sci-fi-themed lyrics and techno beats added a new edge to his already high-tech sound. Idol used the internet to promote the album to his fans, making him one of the first rock stars to use online technology. He also did several interesting videos for the album that utilized the latest in computer animation technology. In 1994, he wrote and recorded the theme song for the film speed Speed.
Most recently, Idol has done a lot of film-related work. He made a cameo appearance as himself in the Adam Sandler comedy The Wedding Singer and voiced a character for the sequel to the animated hit Heavy Metal. However, he continues to record music and has recently made new songs available to fans via the internet, holding out the hope that Billy Idol will be creating interesting hard-rock hybrids for many years to come.
Artist Release History1981 - Don't Stop
1982 - Billy Idol
1983 - Rebel Yell
1986 - Whiplash Smile
1986 - Vital Idol
1990 - Charmed Life
1993 - Cyberpunk
1993 - L.A. Woman
Pop Sub Categoriesrock
Essential Music AlbumsRebel Yell (Chrysalis)
Vital Idol (Chrysalis)