They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!
It’s hard to imagine the 1980s music scene without Billy Idol. Just as MTV gained a foothold in the collective consciousness, along came a punk-rock James Dean, all bleach-blonde spikes and hundred-mile snarl. Sure, he’d gained some renown in Generation X and, briefly, Siouxsie and the Banshees, but it wasn’t ‘til “White Wedding” hit television screens in 1982 that Idol catapulted to superstar status. The black latex, gothic cathedral, and weird doctor/necromancer enraptured kids and enraged their parents. No one unwraps a headscarf quite like Billy Idol.
His star may have sunk a little – that holiday album didn’t help – but for a full decade no one bettered Billy Idol. For an artist so tied to his time, though, the songs have aged surprisingly well. So today we celebrate Billy’s 55th with five covers of his hits:
• Herman’s Hermits – yes, that Herman’s Hermits – will blow your mind by covering “White Wedding.” Then they’ll blow it again by doing a damn fine job.
• Despite the name, Tex Perkins & His Ladyboyz sound more electro than country on their thick-as-molasses cover of “Sweet Sixteen.”
• I don’t know why Warren Zevon decided to sing “Dancing with Myself”; I only know that the world is a better place because he did.
• Given that most of what Scandinavian cover vikings Northern Kings spend most of their time hollering, “Rebel Yell” offers an ideal slogan.
• Friday Bridge turns the downbeat “Eyes without a Face” into an indie dance anthem. Might be a good one for Robyn?
Herman’s Hermits – White Wedding
Tex Perkins & His Ladyboyz – Sweet Sixteen
Warren Zevon – Dancing with Myself
Northern Kings – Rebel Yell (Billy Idol cover)
Friday Bridge – Eyes without a Face (Billy Idol cover)
Check out more Billy Idol at his website.