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Billy Squier As a Revolutionary?

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Wednesday, Jan 13, 2010

Billy Squier was a worldwide megastar until the day he decided it was a good idea to show the world that uber-macho guitar gods could… dance around in a pink tank top and white satin sheets in a video directed by choreographer Kenny Ortega. Ortega of course went on to make such iconic paeans to testosterone as the High School Musical franchise and Miley Cyrus’s Best of Both Worlds concert film, but Squier could not have known that this would be his legacy, considering he’d only been known for Olivia Newton-John’s “Let’s Get Physical” video and Xanadu choreography at that point. Wait… what? OK, so Squier already knew full well what he was getting into by hitching his wagon to Ortega’s star.


Which, in my book, makes him a revolutionary! I mean, this video lays it on thick. He starts out waking up in the nude, shaking on a jaunty pair of pegged white drawstring pants and Flashdance-approved white muscle shirt featuring his quintessentially ‘80s Emotions in Motion color blocked logo (despite the fact that the song is from the album Signs of Life). And when that drum (machine?) kicks in, Billy goes to TOWN with the dancing. He’s finger-popping, he’s high-kicking, he’s floor-slithering—hell, he even throws in a stripper-shimmy down a fire-engine red poll. This is not the listless swaying or ham-shouldered jerkiness of your average rock frontman—Squier is so full-bore Bob Fosse in this performance that one half expects a sequined top hat to emerge from behind his perm.
  
At around the 1:26 mark, Billy decides to Hulk out and rips the first shirt right off his perfectly hairless chest, then, as if to say, “that one just wasn’t nearly girly enough”, slips into the now-immortal pink tank top. His wanton gyrations continue, with some air-guitar and air-microphone thrown in for good measure, before he boards the elevator of his bitchin’ loft for the video’s grand finale—the full band sequence. He wields a pink axe to match the tank top now, along with the de rigueur accessory of Loverboy fans everywhere, the neckerchief. Squier’s band makes a valiant effort to match his camp quotient, with lots of open shirts, exposed chest hair and sexy side-eyes to the camera. He and his drummer even break into an impromptu Rockette impression, to ensure that no gay stone is left unturned. Truly, all that’s missing here is a Tom of Finland poster in the background.


I mean, really. Can we all please do our part to bring Billy Squier back to the heights of stardom he previously occupied? In our post-Will & Grace, Adam Lambert-worshipping landscape of 2010, can we call bullshit on the fact that this 110% awesome video proved to be the undoing of such a tremendous talent? Look at the list of hits created by Squier: “Everybody Wants You”, “The Stroke”, “My Kinda Lover”, “Lonely Is the Night”, “In the Dark”... these are the songs from the soundtrack of my childhood that I actually want to keep around. Go dust off a copy of Don’t Say No or Emotions in Motion, and see if it doesn’t make you want to dance around the room yourself.

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12 Jan 2011
Thirty years on, Don’t Say No holds up as one of the great rock record from the '80s, one that established Billy Squier as an artist who has played a seminal role in defining the American guitar rock (and hip-hop) of today.
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