In this song, Idol sings about enjoying a sexual relationship with a much younger girl. The song title is based on the saying "robbing the cradle."
When performing this song live, Idol often made it clear what he thinks of it. The studio version has these lyrics:
It's easy I know how to please me
Live, Idol often changed it to:
It's cheesy This song is so cheesy
He would also change "It burns like a ball of fire" to "It burns like my ball's on fire."
Idol had split up with guitarist Steve Stevens when Charmed Life was released. Billy was having hard times with drugs and alcohol, and eventually wound up in a horrible motorcycle accident when he ran a stop sign on his Harley late one night in Los Angeles (February of 1990). A steel rod was inserted into his right leg, and against his doctor's wishes, Billy went on tour to promote the album, which got it's unfortunate title before the crash. The accident caused Billy to walk with a cane for most of the tour - he had a large gauntlet made to go over his arm while he sang onstage. The wreck also cost Billy his major role in The Doors film by Oliver Stone. Billy's part was largely cut down since he couldn't walk.
The song was used in the 1990 film The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane, starring Andrew "Dice" Clay, and features on the soundtrack.
Since Idol couldn't walk, the video for the song had to be shot differently. Billy appeared on large screens singing from the chest up on the walls of an apartment. The video, which David Fincher directed, featured the hot model Betsy Lynn George, who comes over to an older man's apartment to, "Play this tape," and proceeds to dance seductively for the older man. The idea worked, and the song quickly shot up the charts as the video got lots of airplay on MTV. And to answer a common question, Geroge was born June 4, 1971, which makes her 18 when the video was shot.
Idol performed this song at the Grammy Awards in 1991, where it was nominated for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance (it lost to "Bad Love" by Eric Clapton). He opened by re-creating the video in a skit with Besty Lynn George reprising her role, then he hammed it up with lots of crotch grabs and posturing. True to his punk roots, he sang, "It burns like my balls' on fire" and did the "cheesy" line.
Jere from OhioThe song seems to have components that also appear in Cordwainer Smith's great science fiction story, "The Ballad of Lost C'Mell." In the story, a girl by the name of C'Mell, who was created with cat rather than human DNA (this is one of the conceits of the entire series, the creation of people from animal dna) meets a rather strait-laced, buttoned down administrator by the name of Jestecost. Together, they infiltrate a bank of secret information called the Bell. A white haired being, derived from Eagle DNA, and called EteliKeli, is thelepathically linked to C'Mell and, when she touches Jestecost, to him as well. Through Jestecost's eyes, Etelikeli receives information showing the plans for persecution of the underpeople and good places where they may hide. The government is unable to shut the Bell down while it is releasing information to Etekeli through C'Mell and Jestecost.
Looking at the video, we have the Jestecost figure in the apartment. The catlike girl comes in, does her dancing, and, at the end, shares a kiss with the apartment dweller, as she does in the story with Jestecost. And we also have a machine that, once activated, cannot be shut down. And presiding over all this chaos is a white haired being, wearing a cross (when he opens his shirt), who more or less directs the entire story of the video (not literally, but as a character within in), just as Etelikil, representing Cordwainer Smith's Christian faith, directs much of the action in this story. I think the plates falling off the artwork symbolize that part of Smith's story that shows the Underpeople (those derived from animal DNA) have shattered the hegemony of the government that wants to persecute them.
When I first saw the video, shortly after its premiere on MTV, my first response, literally, was "This is about C'Mell." I had been reading the story quite intently for scholarly purposes some time before, and it was still uppermost in my mind. I cannot prove that Smith's story was the source of the video, or even of its pattern of components, but there sure does seem to be some parallels.
Marc from -, MdFirst-ever interview with the girl in this video, including what she's doing now and never-published pics: http://noblemania.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-girl-in-video-cradle-of-love-1990.html
Camille from Toronto, OhI loved the song and video at the time of its popularity, although I could swear it came out way before 1990. I never thought twice about the words, but these kinds of lyrics would never make it in today's society because of its subject matter and that's a good thing.
Stormy from Northport, MiWhen I first heard this song I thought it was about a brother that had a thing for his sister. eew.
Sarah from Gloversville, Nythis has got to be my fav idol song. During an interview billy said that he had "rocked the cradle" i thought that was interesting. oh well. i still love billy idol!