Billy Idol is underrated and has had a career most rockers only dream of having.
He emerged from London’s punk scene in the ’70s with the band Generation X. The band spilt in 1980, which led Idol to move to New York City the following year to try and make it as a solo artist. (Spoiler: He made it.)
Idol’s solo career and the advent of MTV were certainly kismet. Sure, he was a total babe and had that punk-meets-Elvis sneer, but he also had the songwriting chops to back it up. Simply put, he was far from just a pretty face, even though he benefitted greatly from that face when it came to women. His episode of Behind the Music is proof of that, and it remains one of the best episodes in the entire series.
Between 1982 and 1993, he released five studio albums and sold millions of records. Idol is responsible for some of the most popular songs of that era, from “White Wedding” to “Rebel Yell” to his iconic cover of “Mony Mony” and its equally iconic “special lyrics.”
It’s no secret Idol liked to party a ton. Frankly, it’s amazing neither his wild ways nor his infamous February 1990 motorcycle accident didn’t kill him. For much of the ’90s, Idol took a break from music and really worked on cleaning up his act. Later in that decade, he made an unexpected comeback thanks to his outstanding cameo in the hit 1998 comedy The Wedding Singer, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.
Fortunately, this led to Idol’s return to form. He would later release two new studio albums and two EPs: 2005’s Devil’s Playground; 2014’s Kings & Queens of the Underground; 2021’s The Roadside; and 2022’s The Cage. Truth be told, all four of these releases are really good and warrant revisiting. There are some absolute gems on these releases. In particular, “Bitter Taste” off of The Roadside is a haunting tune where Idol reflects on his near-fatal motorcycle accident.
With all of this in mind, and considering today (Nov. 30) is Idol’s birthday, we thought a fun list was in order. Considering the influence of MTV on his career, here are Idol’s five most-viewed music videos on YouTube. Enjoy!
**Numbers are as of 11/30/2023.