21st Century Boy will not be heard today

While nobody said it publicly, I’m sure after reading last Monday’s post, you were all thinking, “But t, what about Tony?”

Yes, what about Tony? Tony James, the Yin to Billy Idol’s Yang (or vice versa. I’ve hardly the desire to put forth the effort figuring out which is supposed to be which in this instance) during his Generation X days. Well we all know that when Gen X went bust, and Billy stole “Dancing…” Tony was pretty much left without a pot to piss in, creatively speaking. So he decided to form a new band, with a new sound.

Now, Idol must have been a very taxing musician to work with, because when Tony started up his next venture, he hand-picked a band with very little prior musicianship, opting instead to choose individuals who “looked like rock stars” rather than actually being so. He went about it this way, because the whole idea to this new group was to be a total and one hundred percent sell-out, from top to bottom. The songs were constructed in such a fashion as to maximize their chart-ability, the wardrobes and hairstyles were created to garner attention – good or bad, it mattered not. The press – well, the press was almost ridiculous. I recall way back when listening to CFNY (the coolest New Wave radio station ever. Out of Canada, of course. The coolest New Wave nation ever) on my little radio; hearing that they even gone so far as to create a billboard wherein the lead singer was hanging from a cross, touting themselves as the “Second Coming of Rock & Roll” – pretty damned crass, right? But that was the whole point. Long before the world ever knew of Marilyn Manson, Tony James presumably tried to highlight mankind’s sheep like tendencies and gullibility in the knee-jerk reaction department, all while making a boatload of cash at the same time.

Quick side note – how is it, that every time we speak ill of our species, it’s OK to say “mankind,” but when we’re speaking highly of ourselves, we have to use the genderless “humankind?”

Anywho, where was I again? Oh yeah, Tony and the boys were attempting to show us all what sell-outs we were, by being sell-outs themselves (they even went so far as to sell commercial space in between the tracks on their debut album). The problem was, their plan didn’t work. Turns out, merely putting out lots of flash and thunder wasn’t enough to secure you a career. Turns out, we felt you needed some sort of talent as well (odd we felt that way then, when you consider all the talent-less and void “celebrities” we blatantly lust after today).

So in the final analysis, I feel that while Tony may have had a good idea, he applied a little bit too much shtick. The real DJ’s rebelled as a result (God bless you, Chris Sheppard!), and the resulting lack of airplay was deafening. Their second album was merely a plink in a pool already overflowing with 80’s style creativity. And while I believe Sigue Sigue Sputnik (did I even mention the band name yet?)  just recently got back together, the fact that I can’t even find the energy to verify that last tidbit of info, is telling as to how much long-term interest they’ve maintained.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like Mr. Idol faired much better. Why it was only a couple of years ago that he went so far as to release a Christmas album. CHRISTMAS! My brother burned me a copy, but I’ve yet worked up the courage to give it a listen. Hey, I need my ears for the rest of my life, I can’t risk them becoming damaged.

So, why won’t we be listening to “21st Century Boy” today? Well, for two reasons. First off, I can’t find the version I like on Youtube (did I forget to mention? They made – on average – seventeen hundred different mixes of each and every song they recorded). Secondly, as I’m assuming most-to all of you at one point in time have seen “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the song I chose may be the only one you’ve ever heard from Tony and the boys.

Similar to “Dancing With Myself,” it’s still good for steering wheel beat-downs, just not nearly as heartfelt.

•••

Now, for a much more informed take on both the band and their first album, I would invite you to jump over to superstition is all we have left‘s bloggie (where I “fleeced” today’s picture from) – in the words of the best Doctor Who ever, Mr. David Tennant, their post on the subject is simply “Brilliant!”

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9 thoughts on “21st Century Boy will not be heard today

  1. They sure were pretty, but they kinda sucked. I always loved a man that had bigger hair and wore more eyeliner than me. Of course I was the girl with the crew cut, mini skirt and combat boots. ;-) Ah those were the days.

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