It was hard to choose, but I’ve narrowed it down to 11.
Unless you don’t know what hair metal means, it’s a term that refers to a particular genre of awesome metal, particularly, but not limited to, the 80s.
It’s also often referred to as sleaze metal or glam metal. Think tight, leopard-print lycra, many many belts, ripped t-shirts, colourful make-up, bandanas and as much hairspray as possible. Mix this into a gorgeous hot-pot of sex, drugs, rock n roll and the best dude duck-faces (y’all just badly imitating, IMO) and you have hair metal. Now, let me introduce you to our very favourite hair metal tunes for this Music Monday’s playlist.
1 Poison — Unskinny Bop (1990)
Poison, for me, encapsulate all that is glorious about pop-hair metal. They have a pretty strong selection of tunes that will put you right in the mood to shake your hips and flip your locks. Unskinny Bop is one of my favourite tunes to get me in the dancing mood. Another feel good pop-metal tune is Fallen Angel. There are so many I could choose from, I also love Talk Dirty to Me, but this is one of my faves from the band.
2 Bon Jovi — Livin’ On a Prayer (1986)
Yes, it’s cheese. But it’s also great cheese. The opening scene and accompanying music rings iconic with hair metal — and this classic is bound to get everyone singing along. In fact, I wouldn’t trust anyone who doesn’t sing along to this. Far too much fun to be had.
3 Motley Crue — You’re All I Need (1987)
Motley Crue, as far as I’m concerned, are the cream of the crop when it comes to hair metal. Absolutely epitomising everything it means to be an 80s glam metal band. You’re All I Need is one of my favourite tunes from the band, cited by Bon Jovi as “the best ballad Mötley Crüe have ever written”. One would think the song shows a softer side to the wild 80s group. In fact, Nikki Sixx wrote the song as a sinister way to get back at his girlfriend, who he believed had had an affair with Jack Wagner, who at the time had a single out called “All I Need”. Nikki wrote the song and sent it to his girlfriend, with no intention of recording, but the band loved it (The Heroin Diaries, Nikki Sixx). Coupled with the video, it’s a pretty gruesome track — but also, as our Bon Jovi says, a great ballad.
4 Skid Row — Youth Gone Wild (1989)
The hair thrashing in the opening scene is all you need to clarify Skid Row’s hair metal status, although they are slightly on the grungier side. The band, named after the area in downtown L.A, were one of my first introductions to the genre as a teenager and I’ll forever love this song because of it.
5 Cinderella — Heartbreak Station (1990)
Normally I can only withstand Tom Keifer’s voice for a short while but I love the natural sound of his vocals in this heartfelt track. Nothing like a bit of an emotional hair metal ballad.
6 W.A.S.P — I Wanna Be Somebody (1984)
Let’s get back to the more thrashing side of hair metal. You may recognise the chorus of this tune by early 80s metal band W.A.S.P. Perfect for windmilling to! (Windmilling: a move in which a person with long hair flails their head in a circular motion thus creating a windmill of hair).
7 Motley Crue — Too Fast For Love (1981)
Here they are again with a more upbeat track this time. This very early 80s tune is my ultimate Crue song, the intro and ongoing riff throughout the track is so hard not to dance to — it’s easy to see why so many regard them as one of the most talented bands in metal history. Best played loud.
8 Twisted Sister — We’re Not Gonna Take It (1984)
Now, if you want an anthem for rebellion it’s got to be this tune by Twisted Sister. Perfect for bashing pots and pans in the kitchen while cooking, or just if you fancy telling someone what’s for, channel Dee Snider’s fierce but glam snarl and you won’t go wrong. Maybe.
9 Def Leppard — Animal (1987)
One of my all time favourite feel-good bands, with my top tunes being of course, Animal, Hysteria and Pour Some Sugar on Me (hands-down the best 80s song to dance to). Love them! Representing the British side of hair metal very well as one of the top selling rock bands of all time.
10 Ratt — You’re in Love (1985)
Another gloriously glam metal tune from Ratt, a slightly similar sound to Twisted Sister actually — I hear a slightly 70s vibe in both of them. Not too heavy, definitely feel-good. Ratt were amongst the bands to shape the early 80s glam/hair metal scene.
11 Van Halen — Runnin’ with the Devil (1978)
So this one is a little earlier than the main hair metal scene, but it still goes into my list. As soon as you hear the opening intro you’re hooked. What a tune!