Billy Squier, take me in your arms
Not everybody hated the profession killing video for “Rock Me Tonite”
Whereas I used to be more than pleased to undertake MTV as my private god, overlord and surrogate parent within the early ’80s, I fully understood why some musicians hated it, particularly those who have been now not within the bloom of youth. The garish, shiny movies they confirmed 24/7 grew to become as essential to an artist’s success as radio airplay, the visuals and visages as vital if no more than the songs themselves. And when you needed to compete within the market, to remain related and guarantee “the kids” knew who you have been, you needed to play the sport. It was non-negotiable; new single meant new video, whether or not you needed to make one or not.
In these aforementioned early ’80s Billy Squier was the considering woman’s AOR heartthrob of selection. He was a collector of Japanese artwork, an inside design and structure fanatic, and an energetic participant in what he referred to as in a 1983 radio interview “man against nature sports like scuba diving and skiing”. He was culture-savvy sufficient to ask Andy Warhol to design the duvet of his 1982 album Feelings In Movement which finally featured Billy’s handsomely weathered face awash in daring swaths of Warholian colour. “He’s the consummate American commercial artist, he’s combined his sense of aesthetics with commercialism” sayeth Billy about Andy in 1982. Esoteric pursuits apart, Billy appealed to the fellows too. He might shred and scream with real talent and conviction. He was answerable for a few of the most infectious and beloved AOR anthems of the period. “The Stroke”. “In The Dark”. “My Kinda Lover”. “Lonely Is The Night”. “Everybody Wants You’. He was a total rock star.
And so there was a lot of love in the world for Billy…or at least there was until the video for “Rock Me Tonite”, the lead single off of Billy’s 1984 Indicators Of Life album hit the MTV rotation. It was then that every part imploded when Billy Squier discovered himself forged because the unintentional lead in a live-action model of “Video Killed the Radio Star”.
The legend is that the 1984 video for “Rock Me Tonite” singlehandedly killed Billy Squier’s profession (particularly based on the artist himself). And although his chart success did start to wane in its wake (as did ticket gross sales to his exhibits based on Billy), the music itself was really the largest hit of his profession reaching #15 on the Billboard Scorching 100 Chart and #1 on the Rock Chart.
And make no mistake, the music guidelines, from the squelchy opening finger snaps proper on by way of to the sugar-coated shredding within the coda, it sashays and rocks and is eminently crushable. The “problem” was not the music. What bought everybody in a tizzy was the character of Billy’s dance efficiency inside the video. See, he didn’t actually dance. What he did was prance…in a most brazen, and uninhibited style. Full on, hardcore, in-your-face prancing.
He additionally discovered time inside the video to face up on his satin-sheeted mattress, flop face down and roll off, fluff his hair within the mirror, crawl throughout the ground on his elbows and tear his shirt open ( as seen within the pic above). Yup, he did an entire lotta possibly cringe-y stuff in “Rock Me Tonite”. Now whereas artists doing ridiculous shit in movies was fairly commonplace at the moment (without end and all the time), Billy’s presentation appeared to hit a nerve. Folks have been aghast, the document firm, the rocker boys who’d thought Billy was cool, different musicians, and even though he was the one making the strikes, Billy himself. All have been universally horrified on the outrageous, off-the-charts feyness on show.
Within the ebook I Need My MTV, a complete historical past of the channel by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, there’s a whole chapter dedicated to the video and its aftermath entitled “A Whopping Steaming Turd; The Worst Video Ever Made”. Billy mentioned he felt deceived when he noticed it, that it didn’t comply with the agreed-upon storyboard, that he was misled by choreographer Kenny Ortega who’d stepped in to direct it on the final minute simply so they may end it in time for its scheduled premiere on MTV.
“It was diabolical,” mentioned Billy, “The video misrepresents who I am as an artist. I was a good-looking sexy guy. That certainly didn’t hurt in promoting my music. But in this video, I’m kind of a pretty boy. And I’m preening around a room. People said ‘He’s gay,’ or ‘He’s on drugs’. It was traumatizing to me.”
Okay, I get it. And I do kind of perceive although I kinda wished you’d simply determined to personal it (Billy). However simply so you recognize, teenage me liked the video and was pleased each time it shimmied throughout the display. It was unquestionably what motivated me to buy my first ever Billy Squier album. And that’s a superb factor proper?
And chances are you’ll be shocked (or okay, aghast) to know I used to be/am not remotely alone in my demented appreciation of this video. Actually, each music nerd woman I’ve spoken to about it through the years (such as you do), it doesn’t matter what the age demographic, reacts the identical approach when “Rock Me Tonite” is talked about. The sentiment is all the time the identical, it’s oh my god I really like that video. I swear. And I’m not speaking about two or three individuals. There appears to be a good inhabitants of people who assume Billy seemed tremendous sizzling romping round in his soft-focus neon-lit condo in “Rock Me Tonite”, who liked the pink tank prime over white tee ensemble, have been awed by his prancing method.
Whereas it could be thought to be a mistake by these accountable ( Billy even fired his administration group within the aftermath) and is now the recipient of some significantly hilarious brutality inside its YouTube feedback, there stays a bunch of us who look upon it with no irony however with sick and everlasting reverence, with never-ending appreciation, for whom it is going to by no means get outdated. And on the finish of the day, who was the video for anyway?
It was constructed for attractive teenage rock chicks. And so to the perpetrators, mission completed y’all, try to be proud.
Rock me tonite? You higher freakin’ imagine it.
Watch under when you dare: