Desert Island MP3s #12

Part of the wildly popular DIMP3s series


Billy Idol – Eyes Without A Face

A recent lifestyle change has once again got me listening to a lot more radio in my daily life. And as that listening is happening at a desk, I’m not limited to actual radio waves but anything on the Internet! I might even check out that spotify thing that the hip kids are cool cat groovin to!

Anyway, this change is likely going to be a great boon to this particular series, because my listening variety just went from ‘ambient electro at home’ + ‘retro pop in the car’ to all sorts of genres! Clearly though, none of that applies today because I picked something I heard on the supermarket run. Que sera sera!

So, on to the song. This is another track I remember fondly from growing up; our house had a copy of Billy Idol’s Greatest Hits CD. It was one of my favourites, I liked almost every track and it had a good mix of up and downtempo stuff. I did and still do like Idol’s punk-pop songs- who doesn’t like White Wedding and Rebel Yell?- but I think I always enjoyed the crooning songs more, and Eyes Without A Face is my personal favourite of those. I really like how the lyrics and melody build off each other to make it such a strongly emotional song, but that theres enough contrasting punk elements weaved in to prevent it ever tipping into sappiness.

It did puzzle me at the time that Idol dressed like a punk and had some punky songs, but most of his best songs were definitely more ballady which I of course associated with the distinctly not punk New Romantic acts of the 80s, like Simple Minds. I get now that punk has always been a bit loose with definitions- punk’s whatever you make it- and I found out just now that the acts were closer associated than I ever thought at the time; Don’t You (Forget About Me) was originally written for Idol before being eventually given to Simple Minds.

Also- and again I’m sharing this because I just found it out while looking up album tracks and it tickles me- in 1993 Idol got really, really into cyberpunk. Convinced computer production and Internet fan engagement were the future, he put out an album based entirely around and called Cyberpunk. The album failed spectacularly, because while we know now that Idol was completely correct in his predictions, unfortunately he forgot to make the songs any good.

There’s probably a moral in that story somewhere.


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