Chart Week: June 9, 1984
Song: “Eyes Without a Face” – Billy Idol
Chart Position: #18, 6th week on the chart. Peaked at #4 for two weeks in July.
As I said, I’ve been sitting on a couple of these posts. And since Spotify and WordPress appear to be fighting again, I’ll knock this one out in place of a Friday playlist.
This entry is also less about the specific song than something broader. I noticed sometime last summer that I hear Billy Idol songs pretty regularly. I would guess that I hear a Billy Idol song on SiriusXM 5–6 times a week when I’m in the car a lot. When we were still lake goers, the radio station we listened to down there would throw at least a couple of his songs into their eclectic playlist each weekend. I swear I hear “Eyes Without a Face” twice a week, every week.
Which, I don’t know, seems like a lot. Billy was a big artist there for a few years in the mid–80s. But he has a relatively small list of hit songs and I guess I’m a little surprised that they have endured as well as they seem to have done.
To a certain portion of the modern radio audience, though, I wonder if he is the ultimate representation of the 80s. He had a punk rock look, although his biggest hits were far removed from his punk roots. He had an iconic MTV commercial. His VH1 Behind the Music episode was legendary. And his songs were pretty good, too.
This one was his biggest hit until the unfortunate “Mony Mony” remake came along three years later. It’s a real good representation of rock music in 1984. It begins as a slower, ballady track and explodes in the middle with Steve Stevens fantastic guitar solo before calming down again. I have no idea how I didn’t know recently that the female voice in the chorus of the song was singing a French translation of the title, “Les yeux sans visage.” It’s almost embarrassing to me, an 80s music connoisseur and lover of all things 1984, that I never knew that. I think my friends should taunt me with that each time they see me.
Another Billy Idol memory. At our high school dances my buddy who DJed them all would always play “Dancing With Myself.” I don’t know if we requested it, or just loved it because it was so different than the other, standard high school dance fare he played, but that was always the highlight of those dances. Another friend of mine, Steve, and I decided that we would slam dance, as it was called back then, to the track. We did a pretty tame, suburban version of slam dancing and loved every second of it. It kind of became out thing; people looked forward to seeing us awkwardly jump into each other for three minutes.
At a dance our senior year “Dancing With Myself” came on and Steve and I found each other from across the dance floor. After connecting on a couple, um, slams I guess?, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I was spun around to see the school principal looking at me. He said, sternly, “We don’t have slam dancing at Raytown,” and walked away.
As you would expect this became a highlight that is talked about to this day by everyone who attended that fateful night. We would repeat it to each other in class the next week and just roll. We also appreciated that we, two guys never got in trouble, had been labeled as potential social misfits and instigators of anarchy at our sleepy school.
- “Mony Mony” hit #1. “Cradle of Love” hit #2 in 1990. ↩