Billy Idol - Eyes Without A Face (1984)
- 80's score: 1.81
“Eyes Without a Face” is a song by English rock musician Billy Idol, from his second album Rebel Yell (1983). It ...
“Eyes Without a Face” is a song by English rock musician Billy Idol, from his second album Rebel Yell (1983). It was released in 1984 as the second single from the album. The song is softer and more ballad-like than most of the album’s other singles. It reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Idol’s first Top 10 hit in the USA. The song is notable for the female voice of Perri Lister—she appeared in the banned video for “Hot in the City”—who sings “Les yeux sans visage” (French for “Eyes without a face”) as a background chorus. The title of the song refers to the English title of French director Georges Franju’s 1960 film Les yeux sans visage.
In a retrospective review of the single, AllMusic journalist Donald A. Guarisco praised the song and wrote: “The music plays against the dark tone of the lyrics with a ballad-styled melody comprised of yearning verses that slowly build emotion and a quietly wrenching chorus that relieves the emotional tension in a cathartic manner.”
The video was directed by David Mallet. Set in a hellish underworld, the video begins with a verse-long shot of Idol’s face, which appears to be disembodied, illuminated by flames and floating out of the dark towards the viewer. The second verse focuses on Idol having a violent fit while lying on his back and partially submerged in a shroud of white smoke. During the song’s bridge, the scene changes to Steve Stevens soloing on guitar while Idol poses dancing in a flaming hexagon surrounded by hooded acolytes. The video’s highly aggressive imagery, illustrated with sets that are accented by flame, shadow, and smoke, contrasts strongly with the relative slowness and restraint of the song.
The video was released in June 1984 and subsequently nominated for MTV Video Music Awards for “Best Editing” and “Best Cinematography”. It was shot over an exhausting three-day period on a set with fog machines, lighting, and fire sources. Immediately after the shoot, Idol flew to perform in Arizona, where he discovered that his contact lenses had fused to his eyeballs, attributing it to the harsh video shoot and dry plane air. He was taken to a hospital where the lenses were removed, his eyes bandaged for three days, and his scraped corneas grew back.