The Song is a Lie: Billy Idol, Cyberposeur
All week we've been exposing the song titles that don't check out when put against the test of truth. Thus far you've learned:
- 1. George Harrison's guitar did not gently weep. It was actually Eric Clapton's.
- 2. Kiss said we got the best when we wanted it, but mostly we got session musicians and lies.
- 3. Barry Manilow actually did write the songs the whole world sings, just not that one.
Now we've come down to the biggest liar of them all, Mr. Billy Idol.
Idol's lesser-known 1993 album Cyberpunk is my absolute favorite Idol opus because dammit, it has to be somebody's. The album is a mishmash of electric musings and computer wastelands all inspired by William Gibson's acclaimed novel Neuromancera tale of computer hacking, surgical control and dystopian futures with which Idol was obsessed. The highly experimental (for Idol, at least) album reflects all the dark majesty of cyberculture in the late '80s and early '90s.
Cyberpunk pioneered some of the earliest examples of viral marketing, such as press kits on diskettes, seeking to include computer-specific extras at a time when such things were unheard of, allowing fans to access him via a personal email address, and being active on message groups like The WELL. Idol embraced futurism when the world was turning to grunge, and clean electronica when distorted guitars were the new normal.
Nonetheless... yeah, it wasn't cyberpunk at all.
According to Gibson himself, Idol refused to even answer questions from reporters about the album if they hadn't read Gibson's novel, but when one journalist actually did, it became very apparent that Idol himself had never gotten around to actually opening up the book that he said inspired his new album.
He claimed he didn't need to read it, having absorbed the concepts through osmosis.
A lot of the cyberculture called Idol out on his bullshit lie, here in the top spot because not only is every song on the album sort of misleading, the entire album title itself is. Most felt that Idol was trying to cash in on a new underground culture in order to reassert his relevancy as his '80s stardom faded. It's certainly possible, but like the rest of this week's entries, it's still really, really good.
Dishonest perhaps, but genius.
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