Big hair, tight trousers and suspicious make-up – how on earth did heavy metal become one of the most fashionable and memorable genres of the 80s?
Born from the unholy combination of glam rock, 80s commercialism and the tough, leather-clad image of bands like Judas Priest and Motorhead, ‘Hair Metal’ (aka ‘Glam Metal’) was an anthem spewing, sequined beast embraced and scorned with equal fervour.
Like it or not it was a huge commercial success with bands like Motley Crue, WhiteSnake and Twisted Sister perfecting a terrifying blend of androgyny, catchy choruses and heavy riffs.
As the 80’s came to a close “Hair Metal” died a death at the hands of faster and more brutal bands playing a heavier, grungier sound.
Heavy music was torn away from the mainstream and back in a darker and moodier direction.
Yet the songs still linger in the backs of minds the world over. They bridge generational gaps and reveal themselves at college bops and drunken wedding parties where everyone rallies together for another chorus of ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’.
As a result, the late 2000’s brought a hair-metal revival with a host of younger bands like Steel Panther and Blessed by a Broken Heart renewing interest in the genre.
Many older bands found the incentive to reform like Whitesnake and Motley Crue.
It is strange that a genre known for its commercialism and criticised for its soullessness has been resurrected on the appeal of its music and style.
Somehow they regularly turn up in film soundtracks, in adverts and on party playlists.
It’s precisely this wide-reaching appeal that makes “Hair Metal” a hidden (albeit cheesy) treasure.