Sunday, April 12, 2020

"Sweet Sixteen" by Billy Idol

Song#:  3101
Date:  04/25/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  20
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Rock

Pop Bits:  Idol's album Whiplash Smile started out with a bang with the lead single "To Be a Lover" reaching #6 Pop/#2 Rock. However, its follow-up, "Don't Need a Gun," was less successful only being able to duck inside the Pop Top 40 at #37 (#10 Rock). Still, it was enough to call for a third single and this track was issued out. While it could only get to #26 at Rock, it did much better at Pop than the previous single reaching the Top 20. In Idol's UK homeland, the song would be the highest charting single from the LP getting to #17. US sales of the album would top the one million mark making it Idol's second platinum disc in a row.

ReduxReview:  This low-key, haunting track was certainly different from the LP's previous two singles. It almost comes off like a cross between Bruce Springsteen and Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game." Radio liked the track and it became one of his bigger hits on the Pop chart, yet the song didn't have much of a life after its initial run. I hear other Idol songs on occasion these days including the ballad "Eyes Without a Face," but this one has all but disappeared. It's a bit more subtle, which doesn't necessarily go with Idol's persona, so I think over time it just had a hard time competing with his more hooky rock tracks. It's still a quality track and should be included among his best efforts.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Idol wrote this song after catching an episode of the Leonard Nimoy-hosted TV show In Search Of... The program Idol saw was about the Coral Castle located near Homestead, Florida. The castle was built by Latvian √©migr√© Edward Leedskalnin over a nearly 30 years period starting around 1923. Leedskalnin supposedly built the castle mainly for a woman back in Latvia whom he was to marry, but she backed out of the impending union a day before the wedding. Leedskalnin apparently called her his "sweet sixteen," which ended up being used for the title of Idol's song. The mystery surrounding Coral Castle was how Leedskalnin build it all. The entire fortress is built out of limestone including the furniture. Many portions of the castle were crafted from huge sections of limestone weighing tons. Legend has it that Leedskalnin carved and assembled the castle and its contents by himself and would not allow anyone to view him or his methods during construction. It has been speculated by some that he used reverse magnetism to build the place while others think he was working with supernatural forces or even a perpetual motion mechanism. Leedskalnin worked on Coral Castle for decades and made money by letting tourists in during the days to view his work. He died in 1951. The Coral Castle remains a popular tourist attraction. In addition to being an inspiration for his song, Idol filmed the video for "Sweet Sixteen" at the castle.


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