Top Ten Hair Metal Guilty Pleasures

25 April 2011


What’s a philosopher to do, alone late at night, with The Absolute on one hand and The Void on the other hand, wracked by existential despair and feeling just a little bit sorry for himself? Well, of course, he should formulate his top ten list of hair metal guilty pleasures. If you don’t know what hair metal is, then don’t ask. You don’t want to know. But I find that after I have indulged I have usually laughed until I have cried, and possess a better appreciation of the ultimate absurdity of the world. For that select fellowship aware of this particular guilty pleasure, and perhaps themselves guilty of past participation, here is my list, in reverse Lettermanesque fashion:

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No. 10 of the TOP TEN HAIR METAL GUILTY PLEASURES is Vixen’s Edge of a Broken Heart. Girl bands were important in 80s metal, and indeed I saw Girlschool live in Portland, opening for Iron Maiden and the Scorpions. While Girlschool had the music down, they don’t quite qualify as Hair Metal, whereas the girls of Vixen look exactly like the men of Hair Metal bands.

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No. 9 of the TOP TEN HAIR METAL GUILTY PLEASURES is Aldo Nova’s Fantasy. Now, I’m not certain that Aldo Nova counts as hair metal, and Aldo Nova himself has more like a Princess Di bob than the flowing, permed locks we expect from hair metal, but I include him here as exemplifying the spirit of the times — the leopard-print jumpsuit with cowboy boots guarantees that. Watching Aldo Nova is the metal equivalent of being “RickRoll’D.”

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No. 8 of the TOP TEN HAIR METAL GUILTY PLEASURES is Masi’s God Promised a Paradise. Alex Masi is a serious guitar player, so I don’t mean to demean his work by calling it hair metal, but one comment on Youtube nails it: “OK, I really like this song, and I’m not knocking it. If you’re into metal or hard rock, you expect a certain level of cheese. Hilarious: 2:36-2:43. First the hair flip, then the ultra-earnest closeup. It’s great!”

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No. 7 of the TOP TEN HAIR METAL GUILTY PLEASURES is Loverboy’s Turn Me Loose. I must admit that while Loverboy was at the height of their fame I didn’t take them seriously and regarded them as a “puff” band, but this is of course an essential constituent of hair metal. Frontman Mike Reno doesn’t qualify as a hair metal maven, but he does manage a very respectable scream in Turn Me Loose, and the other members of the band sport the requisite hair to qualify.

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No. 6 of the TOP TEN HAIR METAL GUILTY PLEASURES is The Scorpions’ Rock You Like a Hurricane, proving that the Germans, too, can do hair metal, though it must be admitted that their hairdos aren’t quite the glorious bouffant styles that one expects from the genre, and one suspects that they need to use a different brand of shampoo and conditioner, though it can be said that it is a very European look.

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No. 5 of the TOP TEN HAIR METAL GUILTY PLEASURES is Whiteshake’s Still of the Night. If there’s any such thing as a “traditional” hard rock band Deep Purple would have to count as a charter member, and Whitesnake founder and frontman David Coverdale sang for Deep Purple after Ian Gillan, thereby presumably earning his bona fides in pre-hair metal hard rock, but during his Whitesnake years he exemplified the hair metal ethos as perfectly as anyone (despite said previous bona fides).

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No. 4 of the TOP TEN HAIR METAL GUILTY PLEASURES is Motley Crüe’s Dr. Feelgood. While early Motley Crüe isn’t hair metal in my judgment, by the time the Crüe arrived at Dr. Feelgood they were doing pretty much what the other hair metal outfits were doing, although with their own outrageous sense of “style.”

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No. 3 of the TOP TEN HAIR METAL GUILTY PLEASURES is Def Leppard’s Photograph. While Def Leppard started out in the vein of a quasi-traditional hard rock band, as the band’s fortunes improved they came to embody every stereotype of the culture industry, producing musical “entertainment” utterly lacking in any musical value. While the song is ostensibly about an unconsummateable obsession with a photograph of Marilyn Monroe (a potentially poignant theme), the viewer is urged to note that the “prop” girls in the video (i.e., the ones in the cages) look like the prop girls in every hair metal video, which is to say that they look like a Patrick Nagel painting and not in the slightest like Marilyn Monroe.

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No. 2 of the TOP TEN HAIR METAL GUILTY PLEASURES is Guns-n-Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle. Yes, indeed, Guns-n-Roses is hair metal. Although Axl Rose is more like a unkempt version of The Cult’s Ian Astbury’s stick-straight 70s era hair, the other members of the band unquestionably deliver the hair metal goods.

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No. 1 of the TOP TEN HAIR METAL GUILTY PLEASURES is — drumroll please! — Winger’s Madalaine. Now, for the Number One hair metal spot I could have chosen something that exemplified hair metal to the point that nothing counted at all except the hair, but there is enough residual musical value here that I find I can listen to Madalaine with some level of interest. I did, after all, refer to these as “guilty pleasures” (though I had to force myself to watch a lot of less-than-pleasurable videos in order to compile this list). I couldn’t embed the original video here, so I’m putting a different video below, but if you click on the above link it should take you to the unembeddable video. It is always worthwhile to watch the original hair metal videos as they are careful to put on obvious display all the hackneyed elements you expect to find in a hair metal performance.

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Hair metal lives on courtesy Youtube! Who would have have suspected that twenty-first century technology would allow us to re-live a lapsed historical era with such immediacy, and in the comfort of our homes?

Nietzsche wrote that when he discovered Spinoza that his lonesomeness had become a “twosomeness.” It is an interesting coinage, and now applies to all of us whose only companionship is a computer and an internet connection. With that minimal connection to the world, we have an entire historical era at our fingertips.

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3 Responses to “Top Ten Hair Metal Guilty Pleasures”

  1. yollololo said

    but… Guns n Roses is the worst band ever, they suck…

    Scorpions and Whitesnake on the other hand are awesome.

  2. tatezxer said

    I agree man but where’s Cinderella, Poison and Warrant?

    • geopolicraticus said

      I’m surprised you didn’t also mention the absence of Ratt from my list, but of course this is MY list of guilty pleasures, so it excludes a lot.

      My only regret at this point is not including, as honorable mentions, Dokken performing “Breaking the Chains” and House of Lords performing “I Wanna be Loved.”

      Yours in Heavy Metal,


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