5 Night Ranger
One of the earliest pioneers of what would eventually become hair metal, Night Ranger initially avoided the cheese of the genre-defining “Sister Christian” — though it was complete in time for their first album Dawn Patrol, the left it off, fearing that it would alienate their hard rock fans. By the time they did release it on Midnight Madness, they had given birth to the blue print for glam metal: long hair, power ballad, fast car, hot chick, repeat. Even if they never quite replicated the success of “Sister Christian,” they still managed to maintain regular MTV rotation with their squeaky-clean image, underlining themes like patriotism and chastity that were ever popular among Reaganites. MOTORIN’!
Originally a hard rocking vehicle for former Deep Purple frontman David Coverdale, Whitesnake mutated into an unstoppable arena behemoth in the mid-80’s. Truth be told, Coverdale got some reputable musicians to back him, including rising guitar virtuoso Steve Vai. And he managed to marry Tawny Kitaen from the “Here I Go” music video. (That’s her writhing around on the front of David’s Ferrari.) As ’91 dawned, the marriage split up (“Is This Love?”) and so did this top-notch cheesy band. In the bonus: Coverdale declined the lead singing job for Black Sabbath following the departure of Ronnie James Dio, presumably so he could continue to bite with Whitesnake.
How do you out strip (or out stripe, buh-dum-che!) the least threatening genre in music? Why not make it about Jesus? We’re pretty sure that Christ died so that Stryper could preen in matching outfits and play wanky guitar solos. Hell, we kind of want to end it all, too. Wait, wait… it gets worse. Their drummer created a Stryper backronym (an acronym, which assigns words to correspond with the letters of word already in use): “salvation through redemption, yielding peace, encouragement and righteousness.” Yeah, rock out with that on a t-shirt! But their second album To Hell With the Devil achieved platinum status, and secured the laughably ill-conceived Stryper a place on our list.
The last great hair metal band was cheesier than the nachos for sale at 7-Eleven. Want proof? In their VH1 Behind the Music (actually a great episode of that show, FYI) guitarist C.C. DeVille complained about having to borrow eyeliner and hair spray before the band broke through. Yeah, that’s rough, bro. The band executed the Sunset Strip-scene blue print to perfection, authoring three consecutive multi-platinum albums and six top 10 singles in the mid-to-late-80s. Of course, they’ll be remembered for the number one power ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” More dubious is their claim that every night has its dawn. Doesn’t morning dawn? Not night? Somewhere, Brett Michaels’ semantics professor is cringing. Just kidding. Brett Michaels could never get into college.
How bad are the leather-clad rockers in Winger? So bad that Beavis and Butthead’s Stuart always wears a Winger shirt. In the word of those immortal ne’er-do-wells, “Uh, Winger sucks!” And we understand their incisive criticism: Winger does little except strut around stage with exposed (hairy) chests singing about predictable topics (re: “Easy Come Easy Go,” “Can’t Get Enuff,” etc.). Yes, this band is the ultimate in vanilla. Winger hopped on the hair band train late in the game, and never got a chance to develop more sophisticated writing. (Not that they would have done much with that chance.) If you’re looking for a good laugh, and a good encapsulation of everything that’s awful and awesome about glam metal, Winger’s your safest bet.
We had a lot of fun (mostly of the secretive, guilty pleasure type) busting out our cassettes and goofing on these bands a couple of decades after their heyday. Even though they’re cheesy as hell, we have to take a step back and realize these guys played in front of more sold-out stadiums and banged more super models than any of us ever will. And, for those two reasons alone (what other reasons could there be?), we salute you hair metal! Now, perhaps you think we forgot the cheesiest and sleaziest. Or maybe you just want to talk dirty to us. Either way, leave your suggestions below. But first, take a look at more in the world of substance less glitz, in case you can’t get enuff..
Ratt — The video for “Round and Round” features Milton Berle. Not the only reason we’re laughing.
Damn Yankees — Made Ted Nugent (more of) a joke.
Quiet Riot — Come on feel the noise! And your brain atrophy!