The anticipation is beginning to hit fever pitch as the next to last blog in our top 50 Most Generic Hair Metal Bands Countdown list hits the ground running with a lot of groups that we’ll happily listen to, but none we’d claim are original at all. The real question remains though, after 40 of the most generic hair metal bands ever are listed, who could be left for the final 10 when it’s announced? And can any of them actually be more generic than the ones we’re listing here? Feel free to let us know on the We Talk Podcasts Twitter!
Brett – EMN fills the southern rock quota of hair metal for our list. Their songs are a little more mature than a lot of bands on this list, but at the same time still ultra-generic. But they do put a lot of energy into their performances. I’m a little surprised they are still going as it looks like their vocalist Rick Ruhl is going to have his head explode.
Mo – So we capped this list at the 50 most generic hair metal bands, even though we could easily have listed twice that many. The “Walls Come Down” video, a song title used about 419, 268 times by Hair Metal bands according to my last count, is a good example of why so many of these groups existed. In it you see the band in front of an adoring crowd and surrounded by hot chicks backstage who want to get with them, and they weren’t even anything close to famous when it was shot. What red blooded American male wouldn’t want that?
So we move onto the “Love Can Make You Blind” video, because having an acoustic based power ballad in your arsenal is just what you do. Way to stand out EMN. It’s at this point that I notice Rick Ruhl’s voice sounds less like a metal singer and more like a guy trying to imitate a metal singer, poorly, causing a shrill sound that bugs the hell out of me as he sings.
Finally we get to the best part of talking about every Mother’s Nightmare, the song and video “House of Pain”, which is a title only used for 219,863 songs during the glam metal era, a huge improvement from “Walls Come Down”. This, from their 2nd album in 1993 is where the band wants you to know “hey man, we got a serious side” and “look at us, we’re intense and disturbed by the issues of the world and have lots to say about it”. And Ruhl in particular is selling his intensity and pain. Did you ever watch an old black and white movie shortly after the sound era started, where the actors were still way overplaying to the camera because they didn’t understand and thought they still needed to over act? That’s what Rick Ruhl reminds me of in this video, causing me to laugh my ass off during their serious song. Epic fail.
19 – Vixen
Brett – Vixen looks like a lot of the bands that came out of this era, the big difference is that they ARE girls. Richard Marx was heavily involved in their song “Edge of a Broken Heart” in an attempt to get Vixen a hit. I’d like to say that they got harder with their second album, but they didn’t. I think Vixen is a good band, but they still sound like everyone else.
Mo – Was the marketing of an all girl Glam Metal band a gimmick? Sure it was, it would be wrong to say that wasn’t the case, but that doesn’t disqualify the hard work the members of Vixen put in or the quality of the music.
Coming out of Minnesota and spending years honing their craft playing clubs in Los Angeles meant they certainly paid there dues and deserved a shot as much as anyone, and they got airplay with the catchy “Edge of a Broken Heart” and “Cryin” before going out on tour with acts like Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Scorpions and Ozzy Osbourne they push for them to be the poster childs for female metal was on.
The problem was they never crossed over into the level of success the record labels hoped, and largely because they were, of course, pretty generic. The other problem is that they weren’t a generic Hair Metal band like they were marketed. They were a copy of another group who was already identified as girls who rocked… Heart.
Still not enough?
Then I challenge you to tell me any real difference between this…
Brett – One could argue that VVI should be higher on this list. With song titles like “Boyz Are Gonna Rock” and “Shoot U Full of Love”, they probably deserve it. The reason they aren’t higher on the list for me is because the first album includes no ballads, and Vinnie Vincent just shreds on the guitar. But as much as I love guitar shredding, Vincent sounds more like he is a guitar wanker than a guy like Steve Vai does… But Vinnie liked his screaming guitars and high pitched vocals, so that’s what you get.
Funny story, Robert Fleischman (who was the original lead singer of Journey as well) sang “Boyz Are Gonna Rock” on the first album, but he had left the band by the time, so the Invasion’s new singer Mark Slaughter had to lip synch the song on the video. In fairness, Slaughter was way better than VVI in my opinion.
Mo – Well then this story will interest you Brett. When the Vinnie Vincent Invasion was being put together they had received a demo from a singer that impressed them. Unfortunately the demo also contained no forwarding address or other contact information. So after a desperate attempt to find who he was the band was left with no singer as they were about to enter the studio, so they contacted Robert Fleischman who Vincent had worked with years earlier in a band called Warrior, and asked him to recreate the singer on the demo as best as he could, since he had the sound they wanted.
Fleischman though never really fit in with the sound of the band, or the look and personality of the Glam Metal scene. Of course no one really gets along with Vinnie Vincent personality wise, and Fleischman left the group as Brett described. By this time the band had once again been contacted by the mysterious singer on the demo, who of course was Mark Slaughter.
But as I said no one gets along with Vincent for long, and bassist Dana Strum would eventually get into it with Vincent too. With Strum leaving the band was falling apart, and Vincent asked Slaughter if he was staying with him or going with Strum. Slaughter found Vincent so unbearable he told him he’d rather be in the gutter with Strum than in a band with Vincent, and they left to form Slaughter and release the multi platinum album “Stick It To Ya” through Chrysalis, the same label that had now cut base with VVI, thanks in part to the 4 song demo they submitted including this song.
Meanwhile, despite all this, the music from VVI is generally very well regarded for the era, especially that first album. I just can’t get into it myself though, it doesn’t seem as though Vincent is ever playing the same song as the other band members to me. Perhaps it’s because he would go into the mix and turn up the guitars at the expense of the vocals and other instruments during the producing of the albums. In fact he is regarded by his peers in the industry as a remarkable talent who doesn’t get the credit he deserves because he just wanted to play generic hair metal to sell albums and shred on the guitar during it to show off. Not a recipe for respect.
But VVI still had a chance for some serious success as they were, like seemingly every other band on this list, chosen to do a song for an 80’s slasher film soundtrack. This time it was for A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, and likely highly influenced by the great success that was had with Dokken on A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, when the song Dream Warriors reached #22 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. Of course that was because it was a better song by a better band with a better video IMO. I especially like the part where George Lynch bursts through a wall almost falling down for the solo. He stated that they didn’t do another take because he was too messed up from doing cocaine on the set with Freddy Krueger, AKA Robert Englund.
Brett – Dokken > VVI, George Lynch > Vinnie Vincent. And Vinnie Vincent is a loon. But that’s just my opinion.
17 – Britny Fox
Brett – Britny Fox is a band that featured ex-Cinderella guitarist Michael Kelly Smith, and Tom Keifer soundalike ‘Dizzy’ Dean Davidson. They released 2 albums of Cinderella sounding music before ‘Dizzy’ Dean went on his own and formed the vastly underrated Blackeyed Susan. Tommy Paris joined Britny Fox and they went from being a Cinderella clone to a clone of every other band of the era. They have reformed without Michael Kelly Smith and are said to be working on a new album to be released this year.
Can you tell the difference? I can’t tell the difference… Oh wait, one band is much better than the other.
Mo – Yeah, Brett pretty much nailed it with this one, as I knew he would being the huge Cinderella fan he is. But there can be no doubt this is one of the most blatant copies of one bands sound by another during the era. They both even came from Philadelphia. Yeah it’s true that was no longer the case once Tommy Paris joined but that stuff is still not that good, and it may be less of a Cinderella sound also because Cinderella’s own sound had greatly evolved from their early days, but in a natural progression, unlike Britny Fox. Still, I do seem to remember hearing that back in the day they used to tailor their touring schedule around the NFL season so they wouldn’t miss any games, and I can appreciate that. Of course I have no proof of that, just something I may have heard from 25 years ago… Likely from Brett.
To me the interesting thing is that after “Dizzy” Dean Davidson left they lost the Cinderella sound but not the generic. Meanwhile Davidson’s group Blackeyed Susan also had Rick Criniti as the guitarist, who had worked as a keyboardist for Cinderella when they toured, so they had every excuse to continuing to sound like a clone. But they didn’t, as Blackeyed Susan has a 70’s rock blues sound, closer to the Black Crowes than any Hair Metal band, but with their own twist, and I think they were great. Check them out!
16 – Alias
Brett – Alias is a supergroup of sorts featuring vocalist Freddy Curci from Sheriff, and several founding members of Heart. Alias is a little more AOR than a lot of bands on our list, but they had the cliché lyrics down pat.
Mo – “More Than Words Can Say” is the power ballad to end all power ballads, syrupy sweet enough to rot your teeth and give you diabetes if you listen to it more than once, and I’ll admit Alias is so high on this list for the remarkable suck-i-tude that is that song, and I’m not changing my mind regarding that.
But if you think of Alias as just an AOR band that we’re wrongly lumping into the Hair Metal pile I’ll counter you with the video trying to show them as hard rockers for “Haunted Heart”. Amazingly the video kind of starts off cool, before getting boring. The song though remains boring the whole time.
15 – Roughhouse
Brett – Roughhouse originally started out as Teeze, which is one of my favourite original band names from the list. I actually think they would have been better off sticking with Teeze rather than going with Roughhouse… They were produced by Max Norman who also produced some Ozzy Osbourne, but they never had the success of Ozzy, I wonder why…
They do sound like Motley Crue though, and they never had the success of Motley Crue, I wonder why…
Mo – Yes. Teeze.
Roughhouse started as Teeze.
And describing Teeze isn’t easy.
I wish I could show you a video of them, or a good concert footage, but all I can find is still photos from their 1984 self titled album. It was released by them on their own label SMC Records in 1984. The SMC part stood for “Suck My Cock”.
As Teeze their look was similar to W.A.S.P., and was perhaps more over the top than even them and Motley Crue. The music meanwhile sounded like Motley Crue meets the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack, and I got to admit I do like it. But they were around for years, and no one would touch them.
2 years after their self released independent they switched out guitarist Brian Stover for the Tod Rex Salvador, who went by the name Rich Eisen. With this and the desire to be signed they toned down their image and sound, leaving them as just a more plain group doing music like early Crue.
It worked, and they signed with Colombia/CBS International, but it came with a catch, they had to change their name since there was already a funk band named Tease, and a Canadian rock band named Teaze. They fought it, but eventually relented, though they kept a reference to the old name with the song “Teeze Me Pleeze Me ” on the album.
So the album gets released, and to say they got no label support is understating it, this was at a whole new level. It took months of hounding to get someone at the label to agree to give them money to shoot the video for tonite, and as you can tell it wasn’t much. Talk about done on the cheap, and coming out weeks after the initial release left any chances they had of success dead in the water.
Of course the fact the song also contains the lyric “Show me your vertical smile”, a common saying of the Sunset Strip bands, also made them about as original as the 3rd slice of bread in a loaf.
The lack of success of course caused the break up of the band. Afterward Salvador had the most notoriety. He renamed and reinvented himself again, this time as Nu Metal guitarist Tripp Eisen, and found some chart success with bands like Dope, Static-X and The Murderdolls. His career though was largely stalled once it came out what a true scumbag he is during 2 arrests in February 2005. The first was for banging an underage girl, bad enough. The 2nd was for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 14 year old girl. He got a slap on the wrist and a few months in jail for this, but in 2008 violated his parole and spent another 10 months in the clink. Now a days he’s still trying to get his career back on track while going around spreading his libertarian political views.
I probably should have talked more about the fact they called their own label “Suck My Cock Records”.
Brett – 3rd slice of bread in a loaf??? What if the third slice of bread was a little more browned on top? Doesn’t that mean it’s more original? I get that it’s all bread, but really…
Mo – OK, it’s no more original than the 3rd cup of milk from the carton, happy Brett?
14 – King Kobra
Mo – I’m going to try and figure out just how it went so wrong for the great Carmine Appice in this era.
He started out drumming for the hard rock psychedelic group Vanilla Fudge, and no matter what you thought of their re-workings of classic songs there’s no denying that they did groundbreaking work and the musicianship was phenomenal.
From there his influence continued in bands like Cactus and Beck, Bogart & Appice before joining up with Rod Stewart where he contributed to such hit songs as “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy“. In 1981 he then released a great self titled debut, with the tracks “Have You Heard”, “Sweet Senorita” and “Drums, Drums, Drums” standing out, but it’s the instrumental version of The Rolling Stones “Paint It Black” that really floors me, it’s among the greatest versions of one of the best songs ever crafted.
But the cracks seem to start showing with Vanilla Fudge’s 1984 return album Mystery. Much of the blame on the album was placed on producer Spencer Proffer, who had also produced the first ever Heavy Metal album to reach #1 on the charts the year before, Quiet Riot’s Metal Health. But no matter who was at fault, Mystery is a cliched AOR rock album, not worthy of the Vanilla Fudge legacy.
So I guess it’s no surprise King Kobra had such a boring, bland sound, given that Appice brought Proffer on to produce the band’s first 2 albums.
Brett – Carmine Appice is one of my favourite rock drummers, his work on Blue Murder is amazing, his solo album is even more amazing, which makes King Kobra stand out to me. As a band, they are as generic as possible, and that includes his drumming… Mark/Marcie Free sang on the first couple of albums which are as wussy as they come. I really wanted to like them, but all you have to do is look at the video for Hunger and you get a sense of why they are so high on this list.
King Kobra covered Hunger by the Canadian band Kick Axe, who performed the song on the Transformers animated movie soundtrack as Spectre General (whew). I ‘d say that the Kick Axe original is better than the cover, but you make the call.
Mo – No question the music from King Kobra’s first 2 albums is as forgettable as they come, but listening to the 3rd album from 1988, King Kobra III, with one time Foreigner singer Johnny ‘Boy’ Edwards will have you longing nostalgically for the good old days of King Kobra in a hurry.
Now also seems like a good time to mention there’s no seeming logic behind the album titles for King Kobra and the release dates, as it goes:
Ready to Strike (1985)
Thrill of a Lifetime (1986)
King Kobra III (1988)
The Lost Years (1999) (compilation)
Hollywood Trash (2001)
Number One (2005)
King Kobra (2011)
King Kobra II (2013)
Yeah I don’t get it either.
Brett – Thankfully they reformed for a couple of recent albums with Paul Shortino, and those albums rock.
13 – Signal
Mo – With 2 appearances in a row as lead singer of a band so high on this list it may seem as though we’re picking on Mark/Marcie Free.
Marcie Free is a very interesting figure. Born Mark Edward Free she suffered from GID before becoming Marcie in 1993, long before other current celebrity figures came out in recent times, but was not as loudly lauded for bravely making the decision. Perhaps that was by choice, as for most it certainly would be a private decision.
And it certainly was the right decision, as Marcie is a much happier person and able to find some stability and love in her life, which we all deserve.
But we’re not here to judge Marcie Free’s personal life, we’re hear to state our opinion about the most generic Hair Metal bands, and both King Kobra and now Signal are more than deserving.
Produced by Kevin Elson who did most of Journey’s albums, as well as some Night Ranger, Europe and plenty of Mr. Big, the AOR influences are evident in the music but the band was undoubtedly marketed in the Hair Metal genre anyway. And as a singer Free is merely good, but not great. Furthermore as evidenced by this album, as well as Unruly Child and her solo efforts she’s just a poor songwriter. No songs that stand out as great or original, placing Signal solidly at #13 on the list.
Brett – When Mark/Marcie Free left King Kobra she formed Signal, who released one album called “Loud and Clear”. The industry pronounced loud and clear that they weren’t interested in Signal, so they broke up and moved on.
12 – Treat
Brett – Treat has some of the best videos of the genre. They do all the tricks, have all the right song lyrics and basically are just great ways to put attractive women on video. Their original name was The Boys (which wasn’t even original enough to be called The Boyz or something), so they were better off as Treat. In a world of clichés, they have all of them… Absolutely every single one. I’m surprised there was enough left for the other bands on the list.
Mo – Ah Treat, it’s really hard to not see why they aren’t #1.
In the 80’s Europe (who likely only avoided a spot on this list thanks to the unforgettable “Final Countdown“) ruled the roost in Sweden as the Hair Metal kings. The biggest challengers to their crown though came from these guys, who proudly trumpeted their influences as Journey, Foreigner, Def Leppard, Boston, KISS, Whitesnake and Van Halen. Certainly you can hear that when listening.
I don’t know what it is about Sweden but it’s always had a strong Glam Metal scene, and is where many of the best acts of the genre have come from the last few years, and in that way Treat’s legacy lives on as an influence. The 80’s were a party decade and Treat was a party band. As deep as a puddle sure, but it’s a fun puddle to play in. And looking at this video for “Conspiracy”, a song from 1989 not originally released as a single proves they’d still be a good show. Hell I’d go see them, I just doubt I’d have much to say about it after, but I doubt a big tour is ever coming since guitarist Anders “Gary” Wikstrom has gone on to success producing and writing songs with Jimmy Fun Music in his native Sweden.
11 – Steelheart
Brett – Mike Matijevic is an amazing singer, and really, without him Steelheart wouldn’t even be on this list. They certainly had some high points in their career, but their songs were incredibly generic and mostly saved by Matijevic’s fantastic range. They tried to follow the trends with their albums as “Tangled In Reins” is a fair bit heavier than their first album, but to no avail. Matijevic provided some of the vocals in the movie Rock Star, but I won’t hold that against him. But I will hold this song against him:
Mo – Psst…
Over there in the corner…
Are you Steelheart?
I thought so…
So you sucked…
Alright, in fairness that’s a little harsh. I like “Everybody Loves Eileen”, and kudos to them for using that title years before Raymond. In fact most of their songs are catchy with good energy. While I’m not as big a fan of Mike Matijevic as Brett it isn’t his talent in question, just his willingness to sing along with the music instead of over power it. If Vinnie Vincent is accused of wanting to be a shredder more than a musician because he got mastubatory during the songs then it’s fair to call Matijevic a vocal wanker, singing over the melody instead of with it.
But my biggest problem is with their lyrics and song themes. Again, just boring Hair Metal stuff. About sex, partying and heartache. Or to mix it up about heartache, partying and sex.
“Rock’n Roll (I Just Wanna)”
I don’t wanna go to school
Read and learn the golden rule
I don’t wanna work all day
Break my back for a little pay
I don’t like doing what I’m told
I just want to rock ‘n roll, yeah, yeah
Rock ‘n roll
Awful. Or how about this one:
“Like Never Before”
It ain’t no crime, baby, oh that you’re so fine
But for your love I’d walk the line
I don’t want to hurt you baby, or break your heart
I don’t wanna leave you lonely, or tear your world apart
I wanna love you like you’ve never loved before
I wanna love you, then come crawling back for more
Yeah I want more, like never before, yeah
Brett – Sure, they lyrics are boring when you list them like that, but when they are vocally wanked, then they get Steelheart’ed!