Cyberpunk: Billy Idol

March 4, 2007

Music Review By: Rover

Year: 1993

Artist: Billy Idol

Written by: Billy Idol

Label: EMI Special Products

Cyberpunk Album Screen Capture



SFAM NOTE: We welcome new reviewer “Rover,” who uploaded this music album review into the Review Forum. If others are interested in joining the review team, please post a message in the review forum.


Overview: I guess that everybody has heard about this album? It was released in 93, under the title Cyberpunk by a guy who had until here made only rock’n roll stuff. Some said that Billy used the Cyberpunk thing only for the hype effect, some cyberpunks enjoy this album…Personally, this is how I discovered CP, so I’ll always cherish this album Razz

Well, the question is, is this album CP or not?
Let’s analyze each of the songs…


1) Wasteland: ~lyrics~ a few lines are clearly CP, and promote hacking: “In VR law, computer crime, so sublime…” but the rest of the song has a lot of possible interpretations. It’s about a sort of missionary who wants to bring religion and hope into ‘the wasteland’…This reminds me of this street preacher in the movie Johnny Mnemonic. Perhaps the wasteland is supposed to be a futuristic shanty town, or to symbolize the fall of human relations because of the rise of technology? Anyway, I don’t really think that religion and CP have a lot of things in common. Here, I have the feeling that Billy wants to bring back to human life the cyberpunks??

Tune: not CP…maybe a few elcetronical sounds.

2) Shock to the System : ~lyrics~ Yeah, Billy wants to make a revolution! Don’t forget that in cyberpunk there’s punk…

Tune: Billy added some sounds (flamethrower, police sirens…) to a guitar tune, and this sounds inventive enough to be CP to me.

Music Video: if this is not CP, then what the hell is CP? Machines, riot, cops, special effects made by Stan Winston (he worked on the Terminator movies)…


3) Tomorrow People: ~lyrics~ this song evokes to me a post-apocalyptic future (World War III, a scifi story/a dirt colored sky…), but it could also be about video games: “I like to fight, I kill global oppression, if I quit, no hope of redemption”…Anyway, the sadness and the despair are CP: “blue eyes crying in the rain”, “I lost my love, lost my hold, I lost my heaven too”…I can picture a replicant from Blade Runner saying that.

Tune: Some strange sounds and voices in the beginning which could be considered CP…


4) Adam in Chains: ~lyrics~ The long intro of the song reminds me of zen philosophy, and the rest doesn’t make much sense…

Music video: Sorry, I can’t find any links anymore, but there was a music video where you saw a guy jacked into virtual reality: that’s CP, but this doesn’t explain the lyrics ^^

Tune: The sounds fit with the music video, and it’s appropriated to listen while surfing


5) Neuromancer: ~lyrics~ The song is a reference to Gibson’t book…the lyrics deliver the same message, so, yep, that’s CP.

Tune: Some strange voice (that remind me of Deus Ex Machina in Matrix), and some electronical sounds…yes, this could be CP, but it sounds less CP than any techno song.


6) Power Junkie: ~lyrics~ A song about drugs…Drugs are important in CP, most of the characters are addicted. But to make a true CP song, I think that Billy should have mixed drugs and technology for example.

Tune: it doesn’t really sound CP. Billy made a big creativity effort toward the end, where you hear a very strange voice, and he also played with the right-left effect (gotta listen to this with headphones)


7) Love Labours On: ~lyrics~ Title says it all, it’s a song about love….I tried really hard, but I can’t see the link with CP

Tune: it sounds like an emo songs…I dunno many Cp guys who are emos, though.

8 ) Heroin: ~lyrics~ Another song about drugs. The line “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine” matches with the Cp philosophy, and near the end of the song you can hear Billy say something like “VR hell heroin”: what if he wasn’t talking about drug addiction, but about computer addiction?

Tune: Some parts of it have a strong techno influence


9) Shangrila: ~lyrics~ A song full of hope and love: somewhere there’s a magic place where we can live and love forever. That’s not CP. But….maybe this magic place is supposed to be cyberspace? If Billy’s seeking this heaven, maybe that’s because his real life is an urban hell?

Tune: a strong oriental influence, but it doesn’t sound CP


10) Concrete Kingdom: ~lyrics~ No hope, no love in our modern world…This is CP. Plus, at one moment, Billy sings “what’s for my son?”: it means that he fears the future, because he knows it’ll be even darker than our world…
tune: Billy worked with the voices once again, making them sound like in a techno song by moments


11) Venus: ~lyrics~ Venus was a goddess…well, how is this supposed to be CP? It’s a personal interpretation, but from a CP point of view, Venus could be an A.I.

Tune: this sounds too classic to be CP


12) Then the Night Comes: ~lyrics~ Err…I can’t see any clear link with CP. Maybe with the underground thing? You know, CP have fun at night and go crazy because they don’t give a damn about authority…I’m not sure that it was what Billy meant however^^

Tune: strange rock’n roll…it sounds cool, but not CP


13) Mother Dawn: ~lyrics~ A sort of hymn to the Nature…this sounds more like a Disney movie than anything CP related.

Tune: a soft song, nothing related with any form of CP music…


Is it Cyberpunk? In the end, 8 songs out of 13 could be considered as CP…that’s more than half, so for me, this album is CP. But I agree that this conception mainly depend on the personal interpretation: I think that some songs unintentionally sounded CP (Venus for example). A few musical elements could be CP, but when you listen to the whole album, the feeling that remain toward the tune isn’t really CP. I don’t think that Billy used the word cyberpunk for the commercial effect because of the Shock to the system music video, which is the proof that he had understood and believed in cyberpunk.

Any opinions about this album? I know that a lot of people hate it.

This post has been filed under Cyberpunk Music by SFAM.

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