song of the day – “Hot In The City” | BILLY IDOL | 1982 / 1988.

The air temperature in Portland today (7.15.2016) got up to 91 degrees, which (if I recall correctly) is pretty uncommon for the Forest City, located right on Casco Bay (well, some parts anyway).  It doesn’t get above 100 degrees in Portland, Maine very often (maybe just four times ever?).  The hottest day I remember while living in Portland was on July 3, 2002. 

march 2015 wmpg time n temp

A beautiful shot of the Time & Temperature Building at night (with WMPG!), blended in with part of the beautiful Portland, Maine skyline, March 2015.  Photograph by Corey Templeton.

One of the tallest buildings in downtown Portland is called the Time & Temperature Building, as it, appropriately enough, flashes the time and temperature (and a short message in the 4-character space sign) 24 hours a day, while facing three sides of the city.  On that hot July day, the Time & Temperature Building showed either 100 or 102 degrees, while the official temperature at the Portland International Jetport (four miles away) for that day was 95 degrees. 

Why do I remember that particular July day of all days?  Well, that was the day I scored the first big interview for my little retro radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s – with the incomparable Cyndi Lauper.  I also got to meet her in Manchester, New Hampshire that night, where she was opening for Cher.  Truly one of the best days of my life.

billyidolWell, with it being so hot today (or rather, hot for Maine standards, anyway), this Billy Idol gem (from his 1982 self-titled, full-length debut album) just seemed right.  That album was released 34 years and a day ago, on July 16, 1982, and “Hot In The City” was the first single released from the album.  “Hot” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 on July 3, 1982, and just over a month later, found its way into the Top 40.  It would go on to spend 4 weeks at No. 23 in September / October 1982, and finished at No. 90 for all of 1982.  Around the globe, “Hot In The City” was pretty hot in New Zealand, where it reached No. 5, Austria (No. 10) and Australia (No. 18).

hot in the city 82“Hot In The City” wasn’t just the first single from the BILLY IDOL album; it was also his first single to to reach the Hot 100.  It’s hard to believe all these years later, but the original version of “Mony Mony,” his popular cover of the Tommy James classic, just missed the Hot 100, stopping at No. 107 (a live version would reach No. 1 in 1987; his only No. 1 in America).

Fast forward five years, and Billy’s 1985 U.K. remix album, VITAL IDOL, had been re-worked and finally issued stateside.  Plus, “Hot” on the heels of the success of the live version of “Mony Mony” (which was still in the Top 40, and, oddly enough, you never hear on the radio just about anywhere), “Hot In The City” re-entered the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 81, a couple of weeks before Christmas 1987. vital idol 1987

“Hot In The City” attempted to make another run at the Top 40, but stopped short, spending a week at No. 48 in late January 1988.  The 1987 music video of “Hot In The City” (the link to it appears below) was banned by MTV because it shows Billy’s then-girlfriend, Perri Lister, bound to a cross near the end of the video.  Later in 1988, you would hear “Hot In The City” again, as it was featured in the Academy Award-nominated Tom Hanks film, BIG. 

As for the second go-around (the globe), “Hot In The City” fared much better in the U.K., reaching No. 13 (it peaked at No. 58 in 1982), plus Top 30 rankings in Belgium and Canada, and Top 20 rankings in New Zealand (for the second time) and Switzerland.

hot in the city

The 1987 reissue of “Hot In The City.” 

In June 2014, I saw Billy Idol perform (for the first time!) with one of my dear friend(s named) Melissa (in one of only three American dates that year, or that’s what the T-shirt said), and it was well worth the wait.  What an amazingly fun show!  Billy was fit, he was genuinely excited to be there, and he knew exactly how to work that stage and the crowd, not to mention just about all the women in the venue (and with their husbands / boyfriends somehow okay with it).  Steve Stevens was also phenomenal to watch on guitar.

Melissa and I were a little disappointed though – out of the 19 songs Billy Idol performed, “Hot In The City” was the one song we were hoping to hear, but not one he played that night.  Although, when you have 30+ years of material, I know sometimes it’s hard to play everything.  O well.  Would absolutely wholeheartedly love to see him perform again!  Maybe next time he’ll play it, especially if it’s really, truly “hot in the city…”



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