How much musical merit in hair metal?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mtvgeneration, Apr 7, 2021.

  1. mtvgeneration

    mtvgeneration Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Hair metal, mostly mid-eighties to early nineties. Motley Crue, Trixter, Winger, etc. I think it's better to skip the likes of Alice Cooper and Guns 'N Roses, who clearly did music at times that was not hair metal.

    This is not a call to attack the genre, which I'm fond of. The visual style, I don't know, but that's not part of musical merit. Evaluate on talent, melody, originality, etc.
    Crimson Witch likes this.
  2. Johnny Rock N' Roll

    Johnny Rock N' Roll Forum Resident

    I'm a long-time fan anyway, so biased I guess, but I think there is a lot of merit.

    The aesthetic is just fun, to begin with.

    But just in the three bands you named, between Kip Winger, Reb Beach and Mick Mars there is a boatload of chops, whether some people want to admit it or not.

    That is, not to say it requires talent to play "hair metal"-- I don't know about that. But a lot of them had a lot of talent.
    Hermes, poe_man, LitHum05 and 15 others like this.
  3. Evethingandnothing

    Evethingandnothing Forum Resident

    It has it's own sound. That's merit enough I guess. Not that I'm a fan. Maybe a few tracks I like here and there.
  4. Andrew J

    Andrew J Forum Resident

    South East England
    If you were to line it up against volume of hair spray used, doubt it would fair well. However, musical merit isn't going to give you all the memories you want.

    Hair metal was never my thing, but at least it seemed like a bit of fun and sort of ridiculous. Need more of that.
  5. tonyballz

    tonyballz Roogalator

    Not much. Thank Jah I discovered SST/ Dischord / TwinTone Records, Mission Of Burma, Gang Of Four, X, Pere Ubu, etc etc right about that time.
  6. CHIP72

    CHIP72 Forum Resident

    Silver Spring, MD
    I personally never liked hair metal, but to me the question about its merit really comes back to how much edge it had/how much it rocked, as well as how well-constructed the songs were. Some hair metal bands, like IMO Poison, Warrant, and Bon Jovi, had/have little merit because they didn't have that great of songs and didn't really rock that hard. Other hair metal bands, like IMO Def Leppard, were also more pop-oriented but actually had a few songs that were solid, well-constructed songs that could have been hits even if they weren't played as hair metal songs. And still other hair metal bands, like IMO Mötley Crüe (especially in their early days) and Guns N' Roses, DID have at least some songs that genuinely had an edge and were real hard rock.

    Stated more simply, hair metal, like most other genres of rock music or music in general, has merit when you focus on the better bands/songs within the genre but less merit when you focus on the genre as a whole.
  7. Lands End Drums

    Lands End Drums Forum Resident

    Like any genre of it brings you enjoyment then it has merit. It had a sense of fun that rock music has been sorely missing for decades.
  8. Terrapin Station

    Terrapin Station Forum Resident

    NYC Man
    Hair metal? I Remember You. It was a Dr. Feelgood genre. Give It to Me Good. Something to Believe In. Not only would it keep you Up All Night, where you could Feel the Shake and it would take you High Enough, but you could Fly to the Angels with it.
  9. Teach your Children

    Teach your Children Well-Known Member

    It has more merit than some people want to give credit for.
  10. quicksrt

    quicksrt Senior Member

    City of Angels
    It was interesting when one day the local Los Angeles music rag BAM reported that the LA Club scene was finished with so-called hair metal bands. The switch was thrown off overnight. It was weird, the Roxy, Whiskey A-Go-Go, Troubadour, and all the smaller clubs as well decided that the fad had passed, and just stopped booking any band connected to that movement.

    The alt. rock and Seattle sound had arrived officially.
  11. mtvgeneration

    mtvgeneration Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I think it's easy to find musical positives in Winger and Motley Crue. I included Trixter because that was a lower-tier band. Even so and despite a lack of originality and good songs in my opinion, its guitarist was good, its singer probably had a better voice than most of his peers, and the backing vocals were done well. I struggle with something like Britny Fox, but even there I can praise something, the "Dream On" song (not an Aerosmith cover), featuring high-grade harmonies.

    I'm not going to get into unsuccessful bands that few people have ever heard of and that I probably never came across. Most of them didn't make because they just didn't have musical chops.
  12. Many of the bands that were labeled as "hair metal" are much better than they get credit for. Motley Crue had some pretty solid albums, as well as a few that weren't that good. Skid Row was good. Poison gets ragged on a lot, but they were pretty good, especially their first three albums. Some people just can't get past the style, they tend to go along with what everyone tells them is "good" or "cool", instead of finding or developing their own tastes.
    After 70s rock or "classic rock", the 80s "hair metal" is my favorite music.
    Hermes, bootbox, Vincent3 and 7 others like this.
  13. Curveboy

    Curveboy Forum Resident

    New York City
    First, there is no such thing as hair's called HEAVY METAL.
    It's like calling The Rolling Stones 'dirty hippy music'.

    Second, heavy metal of the 80's has some of the greatest musicians in the history of music. Period.
  14. Musician95616

    Musician95616 Forum Resident

    Davis, CA
    Fact of the matter is many of these bands wrote some and recorded some very catchy songs that were played with strong musicianship.
    bootbox, tkl7, bataclan2002 and 14 others like this.
  15. Teach your Children

    Teach your Children Well-Known Member

    I think there’s a resentment from the Classic Rock fanboy group that their pet favorites weren’t making the better albums in the 80s. The “hair metal” groups were showing them up and making the Classic Rock musicians look washed up and has beens.
    CAP, Hermes, Weirwolfe and 8 others like this.
  16. speedracer

    speedracer Forum Resident

    Was Def Leppard hair metal? Ratt? Girlschool? If so then yes, great stuff! Yes they looked funny, never will get the bandana around the knee for example, but these cats had the hooks.
    DaverJ, Hermes, Weirwolfe and 5 others like this.
  17. mtvgeneration

    mtvgeneration Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I think it was very difficult for a band to make it in that genre without a singer with power, a good guitarist, and at least a solid drummer. Bass didn't seem to matter much in the production process and probably some bassists from the era only had jobs because they looked good. Some "resentment" from peers and the public probably stemmed from how many of the hair metal guys were pretty boys, with the talented Kip Winger the literal poster boy for that.
    KngCrmsn22 likes this.
  18. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident

    Essex, UK
    Originality was practically zero when it comes down to it. In fact, it's sometimes easier to ponder how rock became so homogenized. But as for talent and songwriting - for what it is, it was as good as any other era, imo. I mean there were catching melodies, after all. Talent, generally, is over-rated. For example, Bob Dylan isn't what I'd call a talented guitarist, but he's a great song writer.
    Pouchkine likes this.
  19. smoke

    smoke Forum Resident

    GrayMouser, moodyxadi, ronm and 2 others like this.
  20. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product

    Racer X ....

    I believe these guys were under the "hair" metal umbrella....
    You can say you don't like it. You can say it isn't to your taste, but you can't with a straight face say they weren't talented.
    If you like neo-classical ideas and melodies put forward on the stage of the hair metal platform, these guys were awesome.


    Last edited: Apr 7, 2021
  21. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product

    Racer X - Gone Too Far

    Lynivevoli likes this.
  22. mtvgeneration

    mtvgeneration Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yes, originality was lacking. Winger and Mr. Big had a few creative moments, and maybe Motley Crue gets a little credit for "originating" the genre. Writing in the genre I'd call weak, but comparing to other types of rock and pop, who knows. Poison did know how to write ballads.
    BA Baracus likes this.
  23. MaybeI'mMrsVandebilt

    MaybeI'mMrsVandebilt Just Spinning On My Axis

    Sorry, can't help myself here. No 'at times' about it. Guns N' Roses was never hair metal. Their sound was very different to what was going on at the time which was what set them apart. Their sound was blues infused rock and punk. They were very bass driven thanks to Duff. And absolutely nobody sounded like Axl Rose. They briefly dressed up in the new wave style when they first formed but quickly ditched this in favour of their sleazy, unwashed, uncombed trademark look which was another thing that set them apart - because it wasn't a 'look' it was just what they wore every day.
    ronm, MikeMig, enro99 and 9 others like this.
  24. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product

    If being in LA, having big hair, and playing some form of metal makes a band Hair metal, what about these guys

    Cacophony - Desert Island
    Plenty of chops, plenty of good writing

  25. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product

    Taking it to the next level Speed Metal Symphony


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