If you don’t remember Billy the Squire, probably because you weren’t born yet, he was kind of a big deal for a while. A rising star.
Then this video came out and smooshed him faster than you can say Milli Vanilli.
And yes, he started out by getting creative with the spelling of “tonight,” because that’s the revolutionary rebelliousness of a true rock star, though he didn’t go as far as Prince, who uses an entirely different alphabet.
Let’s ask ourselves, for the sake of history: Why was this music video so deadly?
It’s not the music. This isn’t some 11-minute long art film with a soundtrack that some rock star thought would be a killer idea. And yeah, that happens. Somebody gets famous and they think every idea that pops into their head is brilliant.
Close your eyes and listen to the song. It’s not terrible. A decent rocker with nothing to really complain about.
The lyrics aren’t inspired, but they aren’t completely insipid, either. Let’s go with banal.
Here’s the problem: people didn’t have their eyes closed. If this song simply hit the radio, Billy might have kept on rising up and making scads of money.
The visuals are simply awful.
Billy oozes uncool out of every pore. If there’s matter and anti-matter, there’s cool and uncool. Billy does not come off as cool in this video. He doesn’t seem like a cocky, confident rock star. It feels like he’s trying too hard, and failing.
There aren’t that many rock stars who look good dancing. The smart ones keep it low key. Billy Idol doesn’t dance — he pouts and pumps his fist. Bruce Springsteen never really dances. Bono, Sting, even Mick Jagger doesn’t really dance. He does a funky chicken and that’s about it.
Billy the Squire kept trying aerobic instructor moves, which did not look good on film.
When his band finally showed up, I kept swearing they cloned Billy, or shot multiple takes with him playing all the instruments. Every band member but one dude had the same outfit and over-permed hair. IT WAS CONFUSING, and not in a good way.
So all in all, this is an epic train wreck of a video.
Also: Bonus points to whoever digs up what happens to Billy Squire.
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- ELECTRIC AVENUE, as interpreted by the Red Pen of Doom
- Music Video Deathmatch: Lady Gaga vs Justin Bieber
- ENTER THE NINJA by Die Antwoord
Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller (FREEDOM, ALASKA) that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.