15 Essential Hair-Metal Videos – The New York Times


When the creator Susan Orlean wrote about Bon Jovi for Rolling Stone in 1987, she gave the hair of the band’s frontman, Jon Bon Jovi, a number of consideration: “Its color is somewhere between chestnut and auburn, and the frosty streaks in it give it a sizzling golden sheen. When Jon musses it or boosts it with a squirt of hair spray, it flares around his face like a nimbus, a halo — an aura of shiny fuzz. The hair has great body and good texture and a nice, natural wave, and the ends don’t look the least bit split.”

The hair was essential — necessary sufficient style took its identify from it. At its peak, hair-steel model was simply as excessive and particular because the ethos of drag queens lip-syncing disco hits: Whether you achieved voluminous hair by way of a wig or by way of Aqua Net, you offered your self in an exaggerated vogue that prompt much more ardour than the music you had been performing. Some hair-steel bands opted for full-tilt rock vogue and cosmetics, whereas others didn’t, however all of them had the hair — even those who insisted they had been enjoying onerous rock or glam rock.

Hair-metal bands had been often absurd, principally fascinated with ladies as eye sweet and blatantly careerist. Their sound thrived from the early 1980s to the early 1990s, bookended by the success of Van Halen (an inspiration to many hair-steel bands) and Nirvana (grunge served because the style’s demise knell). Its epicenter was only a few metropolis blocks — the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, Calif., which was mainly a hair-steel petting zoo on 1980s weekends — however the ethos unfold world wide, propagated by music movies in heavy rotation on MTV.

A video that mixed a catchy music with over-the-prime visuals might make you well-known, and so the style’s excessive factors have endured. These are 15 of the perfect.

“Rock of Ages” took throbbing rhythms, steel guitars, hip-hop cadences, biblical references and the nonsense German phrase “gunter gleiben glauchen globen,” and blended them into an anthem. The video equally chewed up Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal,” an absurdly phallic glowing broadsword and the shirtless drummer Rick Allen’s Union Jack shorts. “Rock of Ages” outlined the ambitions of the hair-steel style so properly that it later grew to become the title for the hit jukebox musical about ’80s rock in Los Angeles, though the present lacked the precise Def Leppard music. The band, which later reversed course on the show, has repeatedly renounced the term hair metal and pointed out that Def Leppard had nothing to do with Hollywood high jinks: “Literally while everybody else is poncing around Sunset Boulevard doing whatever they did, we were in Holland living next to a windmill recording the ‘Hysteria’ album,” the singer Joe Elliott said last year.

The lyrics “looking at you/looking at me” encapsulate both the electric charge of a new love affair and the fashion interplay between metal bands and their audiences. This clip features Milton Berle, both in drag and with a stogie (his nephew managed the band), and the popular video theme of class warfare, here expressed by the guitarist Warren DeMartini interrupting a snooty upper-crust dinner party by crashing through the ceiling, onto the plates and silverware.

Poison’s first single began with the drumbeat from the girl-group classic “Be My Baby,” released by the Ronettes in 1963, and the band’s members looked like they were sporting more mascara than Ronnie Spector. Although the lead singer Bret Michaels would later became famous for oversexed reality-show exploits on “Rock of Love,” here he tapped into the emotional tone of those girl-group hits: a veneer of confidence that soon cracks to reveal the vulnerability underneath.

An important subgenre of hair metal: the power ballad, full of sensitivity and dramatic crescendos. In this Bon Jovi song, the band told fans how hard life on the road was, and did it with such passion that everyone believed it. Its grainy black-and-white video provided cinéma vérité du cheveux authenticity.

David Coverdale, the lead singer of Deep Purple in the 1970s, remade himself as a hair-metal star with this hit: a new version of a 1982 Whitesnake single, with the line “like a hobo I was born to walk alone” rewritten as “like a drifter” so people wouldn’t think he was singing a homophobic slur. Coverdale outsourced the requirements for rock-star charisma to his girlfriend at the time, the “Bachelor Party” actress Tawny Kitaen: In this video, doing splits and crawling out the window of a moving car, she had far more moxie than he did.

The hair-metal genre could be even more unrelentingly male than rock music in general, but some women succeeded in the idiom, most notably Lita Ford. By 1988, Ford had been in the music business for over 12 years (starting as lead guitarist for the Runaways) and was approaching age 30, but she still knew how to sell a lyric of teenage frustration, even when she was wearing a leather bustier and singing into a wind machine: “I went to a party last Saturday night/I didn’t get laid, I got in a fight.”

Great White had the right look — but it didn’t have the right song. Bands could call in a song doctor like Desmond Child, who co-wrote “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” with Aerosmith and “I Hate Myself for Loving You” with Joan Jett. Or they could take a shortcut and just cover an old song. So Great White’s musical peak turned out to be this version of a 1975 album track on the solo debut of Ian Hunter, formerly of the band Mott the Hoople. Lyrics about a malfunctioning heater on a tour bus and girlfriends who were just as unfaithful as their lead-singer hookups turned out to be rock ’n’ roll verities.

Slaughter was formed by Las Vegas journeymen who had learned the ropes playing with a former Kiss guitarist in the Vinnie Vincent Invasion. This song delivered the crunchy guitars and thumping choruses that the genre required, and its video provided some proto-social media fan outreach: The phone number seen here written on the drum kit (next to the message “This Space for Rent”) was for a Slaughter hotline with band info and tour dates.

It turns out that the adenoidal upper-register screech of many pop-metal vocalists can grab your attention just as effectively when accompanied by a bluesy slide guitar as by power chords. On this 1990 single, Tom Keifer inveighs against hypocrisy, but never sounds vindictive about it. The telethon-themed video features an unlikely array of talent, including Shelley Duvall, Pamela Anderson and Dweezil Zappa. Best of all, it co-stars Little Richard: Rock ’n’ roll showmanship respects its own.



Source link Nytimes.com

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