So why is Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?
It’s kind of fascinating that although Billy Idol is considered something of a “rock guy” (and even a punk or post-punk guy dating back to his Generation X days), two of the best songs on Rebel Yell – “Eyes Without A Face” and “Flesh for Fantasy” – are quieter, softer numbers on the whole.
“Eyes Without A Face” is an unusual song that manages to work out rather well. It starts off almost ballad-like, with a slow synth pop feel, before revving up to much more of a hard rock thing about half way through. It all manages to gel thanks to Idol’s vocal performance and overall charisma.
I’ll admit that I didn’t think much about the lyrics or song construction of Billy Idol records back in the day, but looking closely at them now is pretty fascinating. “Flesh for Fantasy” is a pretty weird song in its own way, albeit one that’s perfectly pleasant and fun to sing along with the chorus to while taking a drive.
Anyway, this one starts out as a mid-tempo synth-pop-y rock tune that’s pretty catchy and memorable, before eventually segueing into a goth-y-meets-church choir-like section. But very synth-y, too. It’s a whole thing.
If you’re curious, SongMeanings quotes Billy Idol’s autobiography as to the meaning behind “Flesh for Fantasy”:
It is strange what mental and chemical processes our minds and bodies go through that send us searching deep into the night for sexual satisfaction. Some people took my advert literally. Mainly, it’s a song that spoke to the audiences of the time, who were in the process of discovering their own sexualities.
The more I listen to both of these songs, I feel that the Top Gun soundtrack was remiss in adding one or both to its compilation as they’d fit into the steamy, synth-y, very 1980s world of that movie perfectly well.
All of that said, the self-titled track, “Rebel Yell,” is the best song on the album, a hard rocking, driving song that perfectly leverages Idol’s expertise in segueing between dark pop crooner and snarling rock… uh, idol I suppose.
Pop culture stuff that’s somehow related to Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell
By far my favorite Billy Idol song as a solo artist that’s not on Rebel Yell is the fantastic and slightly strange and dark (in a great way), “White Wedding.”
Another great moment in pop culture history: Billy Idol showing up near the end of the delightful Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore romcom, The Wedding Singer.
“Even women are possessions to him.” Great line. And complete aside that I love the 1980s-era depiction in this scene that flying first class is nearly as comfortable as flying on a private jet these days.
Also see: Billy’s old band, Generation X, makes the best 1,000 albums ever cut with their self-titled album, coming in at #821.
Some stats & info about Billy Idol – Rebel Yell
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Hard Rock, Rock Music, New Wave, Album Rock, Dance Music
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 4 out of 5 stars
- When was Rebel Yell released? 1983
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #614 out of 1,000
Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell on Spotify
A lyrical snippet from Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe
When you hear the music, you make a dip into someone else’s pocket and then make a slip.
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.