Why Do People Hate Glam Metal?
Rock and Roll was a musical genre whose qualities were built on the foundation of rebellion against media bias, political correctness and one-dimensional recycled music. Yet, within the growing succession of the genre and the attainment of ‘legendary’ status, rock and roll has simply conformed to the ideologies it had once rejected and sprouted its own subculture media. Turn on the TV and watch a documentary devoted to the history of Rock and it is near impossible to sit through the program without it obviously hinting favoritism. Rock and metal music devoted media have become a monopoly that interjects their own hypocritical, repetitive opinions riddled with bias which in turn influences the moldable minds of the genres’ fans (whether they’re aware or not). At the forefront of this hypocrisy we have Glam/’Hair’ Metal, which is eternally the victim (mostly undeserved). Then we have certain bands that have become ‘safe’ for fans to represent so that the fans are not outcasts among outcasts. And finally, we have Rock and Roll icons who dictate their opinions in the media about which bands were ‘cool’,’ real’, or worth legendary status while their fans are incapable of making their own un-influenced opinion. This mind frame and segregation of music started with the global commercial success of rock in the 1980’s.
Part 1 – Glam Metal: The Eternal Victim – Why do so many people hate ‘Hair’ Metal?
Glam/’Hair’ Metal has been the poster boy and easy target for ridicule within the rock world since the end of the 80’s and early 90’s, and frankly the jokes are getting old, tiresome, flat-out pathetic, and undeserved (yeah I said it). Now within this rant I will divide Glam Metal into two waves; the 1983-85 1st wave referred to as Glam Metal, and the 1986-91 2nd wave referred to as Hair Metal. So the first wave of Glam Metal was led by the success of bands such as: Motley Cure, Quiet Riot, Ratt, WASP, Twisted Sister, and Dokken (There are probably a few more). These bands were, contrary to popular belief, very diverse and were for the most part heavy (I.e.: Shout At The Devil, W.A.S.P., Metal Health.) Some played Heavy Metal while others were more Van Halen/Hard Rock Influenced but non the less talented and unique. Yet the simple fact that these bands not only provided great music, but also an image, show, and theatrics was their greatest ally and unfortunately downfall. People, as they always do, were listening with their eyes first rather than their ears, which allowed them to ignorantly assume that these bands prioritized image before their music (which is by the way completely false, it was only the ‘cherry on top’). Yet at the time (most of the 80’s) these bands still had a shred of respect in the public’s eye before the public spotlight focused on the million copycats and lumped these bands into a false stereotype.
So why is it that bands like Ratt are robed of their glory as hard rock heroes (riffs and solos like Lay It Down, Back For More, Round and Round, Wanted Man the list goes on)? Why isn’t WASP heralded as a revolutionary HEAVY Glam Metal band (no they’re not just shock rock, that’s a term for Dark Glam Metal in Denial)? And why are great guitarists like George Lynch, Warren Demartini, Brad Gillis, Reb Beach etc constantly shunned by average, and low quality guitarists of the same era like Dave Mustaine, and Kerry King respectively? Because of the simple fact of this media bias I’ve been discussing. All these artists are stereotyped as talentless, and constantly pegged in the media in the same vein as some of the lesser talented Hair Metal acts, not because they are actually lacking musically but because our ignorance and biased opinions lumps them all together because of a similar haircut.
Glam Metal’s subject matter is stereotyped to be shallow and not thought provoking only about sex, drugs, partying, and rock and roll. On the surface it does appear that way but has any Glam basher bothered to listen to Ratt’s “Lack Of Communication” or “What You Give Is What You Get” or anything from WASP other than “LOVE Machine” or “Wild Child”? No they haven’t, try to expand your horizon and look deeper into a genre other than the stereotypes that the media feeds to the public and you may realize all of your ignorant assumptions are mostly wrong.
In the entertainment industry an artist is simply a product, and like any successful product the only way it can be distinguished is to categorize and label it; Glam Metal was falsely stamped and portrayed to the public by the media in a one-dimensional way which unfortunately many people have never been able to see past till this day. These bands are victims in the first place because people are always insecure and threatened by a band with an image. To add fuel to the fire, you have ego-maniac, insecure thrash metal bands who felt the need to insult early Glam Metal and spew their opinions to the public for the most part out of jealousy, commercial success of a genre meant to be anti-commercial (which ironically didn’t seem to affect the opinions about countless commercial 70’s and 60’s rock acts), and a lack of understanding that make-up serves as SHOCK value (In the beginning before it became trendy, cool, and regurgitated). Early Glam Metal had more in common with Traditional Heavy Metal then people would like to admit (Fun fact: Stephen Pearcy and Robbin Crosby played in a Judas Priest cover band before forming Ratt).
Then we have the arrival of Hair Metal, and capitalization of the record companies who had no concern for the integrity of the music. Objectively, there’s no denying that there were some truly bad bands in the genre but having been in the focus of the spotlight it is over emphasized especially when other genres of music have just as many if not more terrible bands. Basically, Hair Metal became the derogatory title for any band that played anything other than thrash metal in the 80’s, even though some bands were just pure hard rock, blues rock, traditional heavy metal, etc. (I.e. Whitesnake, Great White, Kix). The labeling of a band as Hair Metal was at first a commercial blessing, but ultimately a death sentence as your name would ultimately get lost in a crowd of stereotyped ridicule and because the genre came collapsing down because of watering down music, repetitive formulas, and eventually media bias (which was the final nail on the coffin).
You also have the exceptions to prove the rule. Bands like Guns N Roses, and Lizzy Borden’s (in the 80’s) fans constantly deny the Hair Metal labeling when all obvious signs point to the exact opposite. Guns N Roses were decked out in girly makeup in the early days, Slash auditioned for Poison and was rejected (funny how he’s a Poison basher now), and GNR was certainly no stranger to the Power Ballad (Sweet Child Of Mine, November Rain, Don’t Cry) or songs about sex/partying/drinking (Anything Goes, Rocket Queen, Nightrain, You Could Be Mine, Think About You, the list goes on). As for Lizzy Borden, the guy is looking like a full on drag-queen tranny (take a good look at the video “Me Against The World”), but some fans claim it as Shock Rock instead of Glam (but makeup was intended for shock value in the first wave of Glam Metal so the genres easily coincide).
The bottom line is that the Hair Metal label is negative because we only associate it with the negative
aspects of the genre that the media makes sure to constantly remind us of and we easily forget about the positive (which actually outweigh the negatives). We forget that bands like Poison, and Cinderella (Cinderella’s a damn talented band with very diverse influences) never claimed to be Heavy Metal, they just played Rock and Roll with flare and were damn good at it, but the record companies packaged them in a way as to insinuate them to the Heavy Metal genre. Poison’s name has been dragged through the dirt by everybody who attempts to fit into the rock world as a non ‘poser’, but Poison never claimed to be heavy, they play Rock and Roll with pop hooks to give people a good time (Sorry they don’t spew their pretentious political opinions in every song they have). Why the fuck is it so hard for people to understand that one band can talk about politics, while another can talk about partying/chicks for a good time? Isn’t a good time the definition of entertainment, and isn’t music a form of entertainment? Pull your heads out of your self-righteous asses and accept that while you may not like a certain band’s songs that there may not be anything inherently wrong with the band but just a simple form of different taste (If you’re taste hasn’t been formed through bias). Thrust any genre into the spotlight like Hair Metal was and the roles would easily be reversed. Plus, how boring would it be if every band was playing pure Heavy metal; Hair metal provided diversification and exploration of rock, metal, pop and blues.