I have not mentioned it in this space before, but I am decidedly fond of rock, specifically those forms of '80s hard rock called Hair Band—at least if it is defined sufficiently loosely to include AC/DC, Ozzy, and Alice Cooper. It's not really very hard to explain why; for all my bitterness I am fundamentally a romantic, and hair band is vastly more romantic than just about any other genre of rock—let alone other styles of pop music. Its reputation is all the other way, but consider: for every "I Just Wanna" or "Seventeen" in hair band, there's about six of "Best I Can" or "Here I Go Again". That's about the reverse of hip hop or post-hip hop pop. Also, I'm pretty sure the society that brought you Lady Gaga gets to shut up about hair band. And everything else. Ever.
Here's a few random thoughts on hair band.
- Whitesnake is a vastly underrated band; they're probably the perfection of '80s rock. The romanticism, the guitar, the oft-neglected drums: all perfect. If "Slide It In" is not at the top of your "Guilty Pleasures" list (it's a gorgeous song, just one that's embarrassing to listen to with other people around), there's something very wrong with you: listen to the percussion! "Judgment Day" is the most intimidating love song ever and, what's more, it's basically the Love Theme From Terminator 3. Think about it.
- Has anyone noticed that the melody in "Sakura Kiss", the opening to the Ouran High Host Club anime, is the same as in "Kiss Me Deadly" by Lita Ford? They both mention kissing without really being about it; it's like Deadly is Sakura's yanki older sister. It's kinda typical for J-pop and J-rock to use melodies from Western rock, though.
- So conservative commentator Diana West wrote a book called The Death of the Grownup. It has a number of valuable points about our society's perpetual adolescence, but when she talks about rock, she plainly speaks from ignorance. She asserts that, unlike singers like Sinatra(!), rock is always purely about brief, meaningless flings, and never about longtime commitment. Aside from Sinatra not really being the guy to base your case on, how about, oh, I dunno, "Spend My Life"? Or "You Are The One"? Or the aforementioned "Judgment Day"? Hell, even KISS has at least one ("Made For Lovin' You"), and consider what their usual output is like. Pretty much refutable simply by two words, actually: Bon Jovi.
- How cool is hair band? Only so cool, it even has Christian rock that doesn't suck. I know, I'm terrified too. Heard Stryper? They're actually good.
- Alice Cooper has, I believe, pointed this out himself, but what's with rockers and wives whose names start with "cher"? His wife is Cheryl, Rob Zombie's is Sherri, and Ozzy's is Sharon. What the Hell?
- Mention of Alice reminds me that he's not really hair band; nor is Ozzy or AC/DC. They just get grandfathered in on the lineups of hair stations (like Hair Nation, on Sirius) because their audiences overlap (that audience being defined as "people whose ears aren't fake"). I'm not complaining. On a side-note, odd gentleman, Alice Cooper—more songs about necrophilia than the average Evangelical, I imagine. Still think the Republicans should run him in 2012 (he is one)—their slogan can be, "You've tried the Messiah, now try the Prince of Darkness."