Hair metal is most certainly a genre of music which arouses some very mixed emotions from people. It is both a very well-loved.and very well hated category, called everything from fun to cheesy and plastic and irrelevant. Overall, I really did like it... Some of it. It's definite though, that not all hair metal bands were created equally, and so, in my humble opinion, I rank them as follows, from great to... Not so much.
1. Def Leppard
Besides being pretty boys, these guys made great albums, awesome songs, and a great live act. It wasn't just hair metal. It was good. Gods Of War one of the most underrated rock songs ever in my opinion.
2. Guns N' Roses
They didn't last long or do many albums, but what they gave us was goldwn, high energy, and very substantial. I'd say it really is a toss-up between them and Def Leppard for first, but I gave Lep the nod because they lasted longer and survived some of the worst hardships to ever hit a rock band.
Whitesnake only really went Hair Metal after 1987. In 1978 they were formed as a blues rock band, and although they never lost their blues roots entirely, they drifted farther and farther away from them as each album grew poppier.and poppier. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing though. In the late 80s, they gave us songs like Now You're Gone, Is This Love, Still of the Night, and, of course, Here I Go Again.
4. Motley Crue
I don't know where to begin here. Motley Crue, in my opinion, were quite an amazing band in many ways. They wrote really, really good songs and put out five of the best albums. They were gritty and real, (Dr. Feelgood) but happy and fun (Girls, Girls, Girls) and sometimes even terribly sad and insightful (You're All I Need.) It's been said that they were incompetent musicians (not true), that they were all wasted (true) assholes (not true) and that everybody who knows Vince Neil has a problem with him, but I can't find anything in my heart for these guys except for love, respect, and absolute admiration.
Don't laugh because I put them so high. Cinderella were good. Really, really good. Tom Keifer had an awesome voice, and their music always stayed original.
My top 5 are the bands who I say are "more than just hair metal" as a general thing. After that, there is a decline in quality and more cheesiness associated to the bands here, but there are still quite a few very good bands here. Dokken had lots and lots of good songs, very talented members, and some of the greatest, most colorful videos I've ever seen. I love It's Not Love, In My Dreams, Burning Like A Flame and Alone Again especially.
Band featuring two of the most underrated guitarists ever, Frank Hannon and Tommy Skeoch, this group from Sacramento made music which really wasn't hair metal so much as it was rock and roll. Modern Day Cowboy is one of the sickest rock tunes from the 80s, as Love Song was one of, if not the, greatest ballads.
The Kings of the Sunset Strip had a sound that was very reminiscent of the early 70s glam rock scene. The songwriting ability wasn't always all there, but the sound and the spirit sure was.
9. Skid Row
Fronted by one of rock and roll's most exciting characters, Sebastian Bach, Skid Row could be a bit noisy at times, and a bit sappy at others, but always kept a great attitude and sense of humour about life and about themselves.
10. Hanoi Rocks
Bad boys from Finland who started it all... And never got the credit. Favorite band of Guns N' Roses, particularly Izzy Stradlin'.
11. Bon Jovi
Most people would rank them higher than I did, probably, I put them here because they just did so many bad songs and too many ballads.
Sense of humor for miles, these guys had. Attitude and swagger to the 11 level and their tough-but-fun image made them well-loved stars. Very distinguishable sound and some terrific anthems like "I Want a Woman" and "Round and Round."
A good example of a "launching-pad" kind of band (QR produced Rudy Sarzo and Randy Rhoads), QR were sometimes flawed and didn't see the spotlight long (one huge album, Metal Health, and then completely forgotten about) but they were definitely one of the founding fathers of their genre. Fabulous guitar work from Randy Rhoads and, in turn, Carlos Cavazo, and some great songs, like the classic Bang Your Head.
Possibly the cheesiest of the bands of their time, Warrant did seem to be in it, more or less, for the money. However, they were very talented musicians and performers, and some of their songs, like Down Boys, are ACTUALLY pretty good.
Another good example of a hair metal band with a strong blues influence, Great White had to work very hard for a long time to make some recognition, and from there it didn't last long. A shame that they're now best known for a crappy cover of Ian Hunter's Once Bitten Twice Shy and the bar fire incident, when they were quite talented. House of Broken Love is.easily one of the best guitar songs ever.
One of the only two hair metal bands from New York City (White Lion being the other) and possibly the five most gorgeous guys to ever.make music together, Danger Danger lost a lot of respect from critics by calling their first two singles "Bang Bang" and "Naughty.Naughty." Those were good songa though, and the band's premature split due to legal issues was a crying shame. Singer Ted Poley went on to record music for Sega video games, and guitarist Andy Timmons is still very active in the music industry to this day.
More of a farce than anything else, W.A.S.P. were never meant to be taken seriously. Neither was everything Chris Holmes did in hid whole life, ever. One of the best stage acts ever.
"Turn Up The Radio" is definitely a contender for Best Hair Metal Song, and their two records were very good. I'd put them higher if they were around longer.
19. Lizzy Borden
Their music is pretty sick and outrageous. Met Lizzy at a bar in LA a while ago too, he's a fantastic guy. Personal favourite is "Love You To Pieces."
One thing I really like about Kix is that they are extremely non pretentious. They were simply a very good band with a lot of original songs and pretty solid albums. Don't Close Your Eyes is a killer anti-suicide song.
Tracii Guns gets some credit from me for being able to look so sexy with such a goofy hairstyle. The band most often known for being the launching pad for Guns N' Roses (Steven Adler, Duff McKagan and Slash were all former members) never became known for much more than the ballad "The Ballad of Jayne," but if you dig a little deeper into their music you'll find some excellent rock tunes. I love the end solo in "Rip and Tear."
22. Faster Pussycat
These guys were a lot of fun, above all else, they were fun. House of Pain is a contended for one of the best hair metal ballads, a touching song about having a poor relationship with your father. Killer chorus in that one.
Personally I thought that Mark Slaughter had a very cool voice, a little bit like Jon Bon Jovi and a little bit like Tom Keifer. I remember hearing "Fly to the Angels" for the first time and just thinking to myself, Man, who is that guy singing? "Angels" was a very well-written song and I'm glad for them that they had a shining moment, but sadly they didn't really have much else going for them. Some of the opening tracks on "The Wild Life" had a good bite to them though.
I won't start going on about Stryper now cause I have been talking about them a lot lately, so if you want to read something about them, scroll down and find my article "God Bless Stryper."
All the songs you probably know by Mr. Big- "To Be With You," "Just Take My Heart," and a cover of "Wild World," suck pretty hard. I'm sorry. So why are they occupying a decent spot still on this list? Because they were really quite good, again, underneath the surface. "Daddy, Lover, Brother, Little Boy" and "The Whole World Is Gonna Know" were half decent. Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert were undeniable masters of their instruments, and although Eric Martin's voice is not to everyone's liking, it does justice to their style.
26. Vinny Vincent Invasion
What I have to say about VVI is a little bit like my opinion on Autograph, they were good, they just didn't last long and have many good songs. Bassist Dana Strum and Mark Slaughter went on to form, of course, Slaughter, and guitarist Vinny played for KISS for a while.
White Lion weren't all bad... Mike Tramp wasn't bad at all... But they just wasted a lot of time being sappy to new levels. "Lights and Thunder" and "Little Fighter" were cool enough, and Vito Bratta was an exceptionally talented guitarist, but "When the Children Cry" and "Till Death Do Us Part" are the kind of thing that make me run from the room screaming.
Wildside weren't bad at all, but they blew what would have been success with bad timing. Their first album came out in 1992, when hair metal was practically dead, and they never really saw the limelight despite working with Andy Johns and Jim Valance. Singer Drew Hanna was slightly reminiscent of Sebastian Bach, and came up with some decent hooks, but overall his voice had a bit of an annoying quality.
I didn't include Van Halen in this list because although they definitely helped define the sound of hair metal, they really are a straightforward rock band to me. When David Lee Roth quit and wad replaced by *choke, gag* Sammy Hagar, they became an entirely different band. I can't call the music they made Van Halen because it was so far removed from their classic sound. So this new band I call Van Hagar, who were, ultimately, forgettable enough to make them the second lowest-ranking band on this list. So who's at the bottom then?...
The fact that there is a hair metal band ranked below Van Hagar is cause for great alarm. As a musician and lover of musicians, I strongly dislike it when musicians trash-talk other musicians. So it is with no regret that I trash-talk Extreme, because I do not consider these rude, boring bozos to be musicians so much as they are disgraces. Get The Funk Out is rude and annoying, Hole Hearted gives lame a whole new meaning, and More Than Words can put Keith Richards and Ron Woods to sleep in the middle of a joking session while snorting exceptionnally large amounts of coke.