Saturday, January 19, 2008

Video Killed the Radio Star

While driving the other day, My Kinda Lover came on the radio and I thought, "Damn, this song rocks. What ever happened to Billy Squier?" So I looked him up on Wikipedia and found out that after the amazing success of his album Don't Say No which spawned hits with The Stroke, In the Dark as well as My Kinda Lover, Billy followed up with another hit album Emotions in Motion. Then he recorded Signs of Life--which may as well have been titled "D.O.A." since his promising career pretty much ended after its release in 1984.

Not that there was a problem with the album. The first single, Rock Me Tonite, released off the album was Squier's biggest pop hit. But the video for that song effectively killed his career. According to Wikipedia:

Squier revealed that his career as a chart-topping rocker came to a stunningly rapid and sudden end with the release of the music video for "Rock Me Tonite", universally derided by his fans (who saw him as a guitar hero) for its effeminate set (a bedroom dressed in soft, pastel fabrics) and Squier's bizarre, homoerotic prancing and ripping of his clothing, reminiscent of Jennifer Beals' performance in the film "Flashdance". The video was a devastating blow to Squier's image among his fans, who deserted him virtually overnight. Billy confirmed that his career didn't recover after that video. Ironically the same medium (music video) that ruined Squier's career took his former opening act from a year earlier (Def Leppard) to the top of the music world.
Wow. I love the song Rock Me Tonite. And I remember loving the video as well. Was it really that bad?

So I went to YouTube to check it out. I don't know what I was thinking in 1984, but I must have been smoking crack. It's horrendous. Forget the wardrobe--it was the 80s. Everyone was a fashion disaster. And yes, there is an awful lot of pink. But in addition to "prancing," Squier is also writhing on the floor at one point (ala Madonna, who may very have been inspired by his performance) and there's a portion of the video I like to refer to as the Jane Fonda "Feel the Burn!" sequence. The video was directed by Kenny Ortega who went on the choreograph Dirty Dancing. Dirty Dancing was a breakthrough role for Patrick Swayze catapulting him to stardom.

Rock Me Tonite frequently appears on "Worst Video Ever" lists.

Poor Billy.


  1. Hi Stella,

    I came across your blog while looking for commentray on "Rock Me Tonite." I knew that Squier fell off the map faster than CA after an earthquake, but I never knew why. In the process of my "In Search Of" Billy's demise quest, I discovered you. You are very witty and you remind me of me. ;)

    I plan on reading you more. You're "My Kinda Writa."

  2. I meant "commentary!" I guess I was typing "In The Dark." (Ok, Squier references OFF.)

  3. Thanks for the compliment, Ralph! I've been very sporadic lately (I edit and write for the blog...), but I'll have to step up my game so I can continue to keep you entertained. ;)