Friday, October 4, 2013

Billy Squier, "The Stroke"

There have been more annoying hard rock singles than "The Stroke," but it's hard to think of any.

Plenty of hit songs have equally awful lyrics (Billy says "The Stroke" is about the music business, but nobody believes him) or that generic snare backbeat. But what relegates "The Stroke" even lower than the worst of W.A.S.P. or Jackyl is that once you hear "The Stroke," it stays in your head for usually at least four hours. Loathsome as it may be, anyone with a working pair of ears can tell why "The Stroke" was a hit.

Yet over 30 years later, "The Stroke" has found its purpose, thanks to Rick Rubin and Marshall Mathers.

I don't know who decided to sample "The Stroke" for Eminem's new single, "Bezerk," but it was an absolutely brilliant choice. That infectious riff finally gets the song it deserves, worked in with a few Beastie Boys samples and Slim Shady's best hook in ages. Still, the real winner is Squier, whose song becomes relatively tolerable by assosiation. To paraphrase Bob Dylan on Dylan Thomas, Eminem did more for Billy Squier than Billy Squier ever did for Eminem.

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