What kept people horny in the 80s? What completes a great sports movie montage? What did your dad use to listen to with his frat buddies? What’s the most feminine masculine music of all time? The answer to all of these questions is, for better or for worse, hair metal.
Hair metal was dad rock’s last stand, the apex of traditional popular rock and roll before complete overhaul in the 90s. It was a complete double down, full indulgence, jumping the shark. The sheer talent of the musicians hadn’t changed, but the focus in hair metal was all in the aesthetics, the smoke and mirrors. The phrase “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” was an outsider’s dismissal statement in the 60s, but an insider mantra in the 80s.
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Hair metal exists in a precarious space between metal and pop, taking chugging guitars, heavy distortion, and wailing vocals and managing to make them extremely palatable. This stadium approach to what was originally a polarizing genre brought a tasteful edge to the mainstream, giving your everyday schmuck a chance to feel dangerous. It’s hard not to jam along to good hair metal; the guitar riffs are undeniably catchy, the drums boom like a fireworks show, and the hooks are truly anthemic. Just listen to “Love Bites.” It could raise the dead.
We could go on and list some of the greats of hair metal and their big moments, but you know them all. The highlights of the genre are still massive pieces of popular music history, far from being forgotten. If you want to learn more about hair metal, go to your local dive bar’s karaoke night, go to a backyard barbecue, or go on literally any boat ever. Hell, go to a college pregame and play “Thunderstruck” with the kiddos, it’s a classic. The music nerds and keyboard warriors will say what they want about the cheetah-clad champions of the 80s, but hair metal is far too loud and proud to falter from naysayers. Its support system and reverence is simply too strong. You can’t bring it down, the dads will just turn it back up.
Guns N’ Roses – Welcome To The Jungle
Alice Cooper – Freedom
Def Leppard- Love Bites
Dokken- Kiss of Death
Aerosmith- Rag Doll
TNT- Tell No Tales
Faster Pussycat- Bathroom Wall
Motley Crue- Girls Girls Girls
White Lion- When the Children Cry
Whitesnake- Here I Go Again
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