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:
I know how to please me
Live, Idol often changed it to:
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.