80’s hair bands were always slammed for their big budget, polished, mainstream appeal. Metal fans slammed their effeminate teased out hairstyles and their upbeat party vibe in their over-produced music videos. Critics argued Hair Metal lyrics were shallow, sexist, and demonstrated a lack of true musicianship. By the early 90’s, Nirvana takes credit for putting the nail in the coffin of hair metal. Is the criticism fair? Did Nirvana kill hair metal or was it suicide? Look no further than Warrant’s legacy for the final verdict here.
Digging deeper, is it fair to criticize a band or genre simply becomes the public loves it? Yes, sheeple will often follow some of the worst of our generation (Kardashians, Bieber, McDonalds ….) but some of the greatest artists of all-time had huge pop appeal including the Beatles, Elvis, and Michael Jackson. No one will ever deny the musical talent of guitarists like George Lynch (Dokken) or Steve Vai (Whitesnake). Name 5 metal vocalists better than David Coverdale or Joe Elliott (Def Leppard)? As for the lyrics, 80’s hair metal shared a lot in common with country music. Sexual metaphors, silly puns, and irony are standard for both genres. Early 80’s hair metal brought the fun back to metal and opened up the fan base to younger fans including many new female fans.
“WHAT KILLED HAIR METAL?” (Hilarous!!)
Did Nirvana kill hair metal? I’m going with the suicide notion that Dee Snider of Twisted Sister hypothesizes. Listen to this video about 90’s hair metal. Everything went unplugged, what’s metal about that? The energy of early Motley Crue, heck even Bon Jovi’s Runaway was so much more exciting that their purified 90’s work. Videos were now big productions. Jani Lane of Warrant described wanting to release the hard rock gem, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but his label forced them to go with the slick, pop ditty, Cherry Pie. “I’m not Cherry Pie guy…I f***ing hate I ever wrote that song!” Moves like this ultimately doomed hair metal’s death. Grunge rock just happened to be the next best replacement at the time.
“UNCLE TOM’S CABIN” WARRANT
“CHERRY PIE” WARRANT