Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Most Underrated Hair Bands of All Time

Leather, spandex, acid washed jeans, and the scent of Aqua Net will always bring us back to our favorite decade, the hedonistic 1980's. And to the average person, this will evoke the canon of hair bands: Poison, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, and Bon Jovi.

But if you're me, or any person who sewed patches on your jean jacket, copied your favorite songs off the radio on to a mix tape, or owned your favorite album on vinyl, you will remember that there were dozens of hair bands. Yes, some of them were bad and came towards the end of the decade and into the late 90's, churned out by record labels to make a quick buck. However, the most underrated hair bands of all time maybe weren't as commercially successful or didn't quite fit into the hair band mold but got thrown in there anyway.

So here's my list of the most underrated Hair Bands and why, as well as my favorite song by them.


Like many bands that I loved, Cinderella started out more hair band (just look at Eric Brittingham for proof) and evolved into a more blues-rock style that's closer to Aerosmith than Poison. Another awesome New Jersey band with a lead singer with a voice unlike any I've ever heard (Tom Kiefer.) This band is one of the few that continues to rock hard into the new millennium and is still one of the best live bands I've ever seen.

They're probably best known for their upbeat songs like "Shake Me" and "Gypsy Road" and their ultimate power ballad "Don't Know What You've Got (Til It's Gone)" but I'd have to argue their best songs are "Shelter Me", "Coming Home", and "Heartbreak Station."

I had to go with "Heartbreak Station" because someone named thesawgrassraven commented on their YouTube video and made this devastatingly heartbreaking comment "I keep hoping I'll wake up and it'll be 1987 again." Trust me, man, me too.


Tesla didn't have the pretty-boy looks of most hair bands even though they opened for seminal bands of the genre like Motley Crue and Poison. But my god, did they have the musical talent that many (admittedly) lacked. Their cover of Five Man Electrical Band's "Signs" brought something new to a song about the prejudice none of us can escape. (And threw in a few lines about having long hair and rebelling against authority.) Their ultimate power ballad "Love Song" is both epic and awesome. Songs like "The Way It Is" and "What You Give" were unmatched by their peers. And best of all, Tesla continues to make new music which is both relevant and amazing.

Lita Ford

I am pretty sure I still wish I could be Lita Ford. While not technically a "band", although she did have one, Lita is too amazing not to include. She's best known for "Kiss Me Deadly" which not only kicks ass but features the line, "I didn't get laid, I got in a fight" which is too awesome for words. Lita was one of the few ladies who could stand her own in a haze of hair bands. Her duet with Ozzy Osbourne "Close My Eyes Forever" is also one of the canonical power ballads of the era, but her best song is without a doubt "Playin' With Fire".


Between "Up All Night" being my teenage anthem, "The Wild Life" being my college anthem, and Blas Elias's hair, how could I not include Slaughter on this list? They were from Las Vegas, Sin City - which is sort of the brother city of the decade of decadence, Los Angeles.

Slaughter could be tender with their power ballad "Fly To The Angels", and, man could they rock. And come on, Mark Slaughter is so much cuter than that guy with the red hair from Firehouse.

Yeah they could be cheesy, they could put an emphasis on hair over musical talent, but is that really so wrong?

Honorable mentions go to these amazing but forgotten songs:
~ Killer Dwarfs - "Doesn't Matter"
~ London Quireboys - "7 O'Clock"
~ Steelheart ~ "I'll Never Let You Go (Angel Eyes)"
~ Nelson - "(Can't Live Without Your) Love & Affection"
~ Danger Danger ~ "Bang Bang"

This is the kind of music video that makes me believe in music again...especially because it's from my favorite year in all of music history 1989!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Random Thoughts

Everyone says that the best era of KISS was sometime in the mid 1970's, when they released songs like "Rock N Roll All Nite", "Shout It Out Loud", "Detroit Rock City", etc. I would argue that the best - and the most underrated - albums and songs by KISS are from the hair-metal era.

OK, so maybe there isn't ONE cohesive album that inspires musicians like Slash and Tommy Lee to pick up their respective instruments like "Destroyer" or "Love Gun".

But COME ON, "Thrills In The Night", "UH All Night", "Heaven's On Fire", "Let's Put The X In Sex", "I Just Wanna" - these are much better songs than "Shout It Out Loud"!

And then there's my personal favorite hair metal era-KISS song "God Gave Rock N Roll To You II". The lyrics of that song should be burned into the consciousness of anyone who ever threw on a leather jacket and believed.

And as a side note, who can forget the poiwer ballad (co-written by Michael Bolton to the dismay of many KISS purists) "Forever" with that awesome orange-tinted video? Awesome.

Things I wanted to hate but just can't:

~ Slash & Fergie's song - "Beautiful Dangerous". The combination of Black Eyed Peas lead singer Fergie with the greatest guitar player of our time sounds like it's destined to fail. Yet, somehow, this works and it works well. The video is what would have been if old Guns N Roses videos about partying at the Rainbow and the Whisky were combined with Motley Crue's "Girls Girls Girls" video.

~ The Pretty Reckless. Yes the lead singer is 17 year old Gossip Girl actress Taylor Momsen, who more often than not resembles a sort of Gothic Barbie. Their first single "Makes Me Wanna Die" is incredible, so are both versions of the video (official and viral). By selling her sexuality with her music, Momsen isn't doing anything different than any other rock 'n roll singer throughout history. This reminded me a little bit of Courtney Love and Hole, and in a good way.

~ The song "King of Anything" by Sara Bareilles. I could not hate her absymally awful ear-killing song "Love Song" any more than I do, but for some reason, this song gets in your head and is just undeniably appealing. God help us. It also sounds like it should be in an Apple commericial, and maybe it already is.


Things I want to hate (and actually do):

~ The Dr. Luke overproduced and extremely auto-tuned two hit singles by Katy Perry - "California Gurls" and "Teenage Dream". The entire song "Teenage Dream" sounds like Katy is straining to try to bring her voice up an octave and failing. I won't deny that I have both "Hot N Cold" and "I Kissed A Girl" on my iTunes but COME ON Katy, this is absymal. And your next single isn't any better.

~ The fact that "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz set a record for most consecutive weeks by ANY SONG IN HISTORY on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Enough said. This is hideous.

~ The fact that last week's #1 song in the country "Like A G6" by Far East Movement has an entire verse featuring these lyrics:
"Hell Yeaa
Drink it up, drink-drink it up,
When sober girls around me, they be actin like they drunk
They be actin like they drunk, actin-actin like they drunk
When sober girls around me actin-actin like they drunk"