Pick of the Week: Billy Idol “Bitter Taste”

Billy Idol "Bitter Taste"
Graphics by Ainsley Basic

By Nora Onanian, Web Services Coordinator

Few people have been through near-death experiences and not come out on the other side with a changed perspective on life. In Billy Idol’s latest single, “Bitter Taste,” he opens up about the serious motorcycle accident he had in 1990. Backed by soft rockabilly instrumentation, the deeply reflective lyrics he sings have a powerful effect. The song and accompanying video are his first in nearly seven years.
 

DIVING INTO THE MEANING AND SOUND OF “BITTER TASTE”

“Bitter Taste” sees Idol more introspective than ever before. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he said he was encouraged by seeing many other artists open up during the pandemic. Idol goes on to call the motorcycle accident he was in a wake-up call. “Maybe on that roadside I left behind the irreverent youthful Billy and opened the door for a more attentive father and a more sensitive musician,” he said. 

This sensitivity is certainly felt through the song. “Broken leg, born again” he sings, grasping at both the physical and emotional repercussions of the accident. Sonically, acoustic guitar gives the song a country twang while piano and drums give it a percussive almost rock-influenced sound. Together, a soft, moody soundscape is built up, paving the way for Idol’s distinctive vocals to take charge.

For the outro, the instrumentation strips back to a few gentle strums as Idol sings. He almost whispers, “hello, goodbye. There's a million ways to die. Should've left me way back, should've left me way back by the roadside. It's a bitter taste.” These emotional final lines show that even two decades after the accident, Idol still hasn’t completely come to terms with the fact that he was able to walk away from it alive.
 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR BILLY IDOL?

Other than last year’s collaboration with Miley Cyrus for “Night Crawling,” a track on Cyrus’ album Plastic Hearts, Billy Idol has been relatively quiet since his eighth studio album and memoir both came out in 2014. But with the release of “Bitter Taste,” the esteemed rock-musician promised more to come. 

Three additional songs will join the single as an EP titled The Roadside. The EP comes out on September 17th via Dark Horse Records, the label initially founded by George Harrison and revived by his son Dhani. Idol also has plans for a small U.S. tour including a local stop at The Big E venue in West Springfield on September 18th.

It may have been a long wait for his return, but it was well worth it. The first glimpse into the EP shows off a Billy Idol that is older and wiser - and still knows how to make a good tune.

 

Every Monday, our music staff brings you a new Pick of The Week, detailing some of our favorite songs. Check out our previous Picks of the Week here, and make sure to tune in to WERS 88.9FM!

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