Just got finished reading “MTV Ruled the World,” an oral history of the channel’s origins, controversies and influence, as told by MTV executives, VJs, musicians and writers. It’s very amusing, even if it’s not the most technically well written book ever published (one sentence begins with an ampersand, ow), but the best chapter, by a country mile, is called “When Music Videos Attack,” where musicians talk about the videos that were not just embarrassing but derailed certain artists’ careers. Musician after musician after musician singled out “Rock Me Tonite,” the lead single from Billy Squier’s 1984 album Signs of Life, as the ultimate momentum-killer. And it’s easy to see why.
Wow, look at that dancing. Hell, look at the set. It’s awash in purples and pinks. What rock star sleeps in a room of purples and pinks? God, now he’s crawling on the floor. Someone save him from himself, please. Ironically, this proved to be Squier’s biggest hit, reaching #15 on the singles chart and #1 on the rock chart. It was, however, also Squier’s last Top 40 hit, and after notching two Top 10 albums with his previous efforts, Signs of Life peaked at #11, and its follow-up, 1986’s Enough Is Enough, stalled a whopping 50 spots lower. So if you’ve ever asked yourself why Billy Squier didn’t have a bigger career than he did, here’s Exhibit A.