It’s A Nice Day For A…White Wedding?
“And I put it to you that you HAVE to love Billy Idol. ‘Love’ really is the word. Even if you don’t like his records, there’s something badly wrong with anyone who doesn’t hugely enjoy Billy Idol as a Great Pop Thing. Just witness the way his awesome cameo on the aeroplane in the otherwise-ropey The Wedding Singer lifted the whole film. Billy Idol cheers everyone up, just by existing.”—The Quietus
Now think back to the last time Billy Idol was musically relevant. For most, Idol peaked with the Rebel Yell album. By the time of that release I was fairly immersed in the underground punk scene, listening to bands such as Angry Samoans, Black Flag, The DK’s and the like, and Rebel Yell and the constant MTV exposure was just too much…Idol. It’s not like he sold out; most ‘punks’ with even a cursory knowledge of his history knew his old ’77 punk band, Generation X, were the Monkees of the first wave of British punkers. They were not to be taken seriously. Idol himself looked like a Madison Avenue creation, a “naughty punker” the teenage girls could pin up on their bedroom walls without Mom and Dad having a conniption. Safely dangerous, I guess.
I did, however, have a secret love of the Dancing With Myself EP (or was it the White Wedding 12”? Damn you, Father Time!!). At any rate, I loved Dancing With Myself, White Wedding and even Hot In The City. Call them a guilty pleasure, but I still rate them highly. After the absolute ubiquitous nature of rebel Yell, I moved on and to be honest haven’t really given any thought to old Billy in over 2 decades. Then, while reading the excellent music site The Quietus, I stumble upon this ecstatic review of Billy Idol’s recent gig and start bemoaning the state of our music industry, in particular the lack of characters, of personalities. The only modern example that I can think of that comes close to even having a personality is Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, but even he has turned into a sad parody of his former gloriously weird self, embracing the likes of Miley Cirus (Do I care if I spelt her name incorrectly? What do you think?), Ke$ha, and the like. But that’s another rant for another day.
My point is, are we all so starved of interesting characters that even Billy Idol is held aloft as a giant of the medium? “People are so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.”—Can’t remember where I heard that quote, but I think it fits…
Idol has his place, I’ll give you that. I think everyone will agree he peaked, musically and as a public figure, back in 1983, and has done nothing of artistic consequence since. I’m not denigrating his place in history, I just weep for my daughter’s generation, that’s all, if all she has to get behind are faceless bands such as Iron and Wine, Bon Iver and…shudder…Arcade Fire.
As a matter of fact, now that I think about it, maybe I’ll get her a copy of Rebel Yell.