"Hair Metal" vs Grunge

Bonham'ssqueakypedal

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I was in high school 1990-94, and we called it Metal. It was always good to have a few trash metal albums around for when boys would come around. But if they weren't around it was Poison, Winger, Bon Jovi, Guns n Roses, Cinderella, Warrant, Slaughter, Def Leppard, etc. Hair metal was popular as soon as Metal Health and, to a slightly lesser extent, Pyromania were released - that was early 1983. Hair metal reigned for a decade or more. Glam metal is a subgenre of heavy metal, but still metal. As i said many times, the term 'Hair Metal' only came about as a derogatory term so people could put down a band, a sound, or a look they didn't like or understand. In the "definitive metal family tree" of his documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, anthropologist Sam Dunn differentiates pop metal, which includes bands like Def Leppard, Europe, and Whitesnake, from glam metal bands that include Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister and Poison.
Hair metal is another of those stupid terms that was applied to the genre YEARS after the fact, most likely by hipster journalists. In the 80s/ early 90s it was METAL. All hair metal is heavy metal.
Judas Priest was really the first band to define heavy metal, in both music and image. Rob Halford basically invented the image of what people would equate with heavy metal, and musically, Priest was the first to pretty much disregard blues influences for the most part, which separates them from Sabbath, Zeppelin etc. And nobody could credibly say that Judas Priest is not a real Heavy Metal band. In the '70s there was no distinction made between heavy metal and hard rock and any band that featured any aggressive guitar riffs could get hit with the tag. Bands like Heart and Queen were getting called metal, which is kinda ridiculous in retrospect.

That said, it is unfair to say that the difference is that Hair Metal is about image and Heavy Metal is not. Just different images.


The emphasis was more on image with hair metal though. Style over substance. That was my point.

I guess we will also have to agree to disagree about it being "heavy metal." Imo, for the most part it is not true heavy metal. Melodic hard rock yes, heavy metal no, not really. Too soft. If those hair bands were metal then I can name at least a dozen hard rock bands who would qualify as metal. Plus if Eddie Trunk says it's not metal trust me it's not metal. But everyone will have a different opinion on this. I have heard people say Ghost isn't metal. They aren't the heaviest most metal band in the world but based on what I have heard I would at least still call them heavy metal.
 
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SanguineRemedy

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Hair metal certainly does not sound like... real or traditional heavy metal to me. I am a fan of some of the groups with this label, but it's more like melodic hard rock, as @Bonham'ssqueakypedal stated.

Granted, some groups like Ratt had some awesome shredders like Jake E. Lee...

There was plenty of great metal music in the 80s AND 90s.

And... If you want to find good music, the last place you want to tune in is the radio. You will find nothing but overproduced, poppified garbage on the radio. Thankfully, the internet exists so we can expose ourselves to a world of music ripe for exploration and... exploitation.

Some great heavy metal from the 80s:

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Maybe you have already heard some of these in your youth?
 
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Southern Comfort

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Did this thread start off with.. Hair Metal Vs. Grunge.. Why is it taking on a Metal band lifeform..? Metalheads.. Go back to your own thread.. Ya.. no need to try to sell it here.. Rock is rock.. Why jump on someone for liking a different rock style?
It's all rock and roll..
 

SanguineRemedy

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Who is jumping on her? It's called exposing someone to new tastes... Nobody has to like it, it's just there.

Yeah, it's all rock and roll, but it ain't all doing justice to itself lol.

Metalhead for sure but good music can be found anywhere... jazz, classical rock, metal, etc. :)

I read her posts and respect her passion and opinions. No disrespect here.

And check this out... Formed in 2010.

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Marla 1976

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Nikki Sixx once said that a lot bands playing the clubs in the early 80's (eg: Motley, Dokken and Ratt) considered bands like Led Zeppelin, The Who and Pink Floyd to be dinosaurs, and it was time for a change. Although I wouldn't have agreed with his comment had he said it in the early 80's, I can't say in retrospect he was entirely wrong either. What he was saying was that all those classic rock bands sounded tired and boring, and it was time for a new generation of fresh rock bands with high energy that didn't sound like the classic rock bands of the 60's and 70's. So depending on your age in the early 80's, he was either right-on in his assessment if you were in your teens, or you were in your early 20's and were still listening to those dinosaur rock bands from the 60's and 70's.

But be careful what you wish for as the very same thing would happen roughly a decade later. Because by the late 80's/early 90's, all the "Hair Bands" (everyone from Motley, Whitesnake and Metallica) would also begin to look the same (eh, give or take), sound the same, and oversaturate the marketplace (ie: radio and MTV).

Enter Grunge. The record companies seemed to flock to these new bands because they were new and fresh, and their market was untapped. What happened ten years earlier between the dinosaur bands and the hair bands was the very thing that was now happening to the Hair Bands.

So now that I'm older now, I just see it as the cycle of rock music. Every band has an expiration date. Some sooner, some later, but they will all eventually be passed over for newer music. Unless you're The Stones and can continue to tour as a nostalgia act (because they haven't recorded a decent album in nealry 40 years!).

So, Marla, I know in the early-to-mid 90's you were still clinging to your rock bands, but you were still young and you weren't done with them yet. Me? I was older and ready for a change, and Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, LIVE and Candlebox were perfect replacements for all the "tired and boring" 80's bands. Nirvana, not so much imo, but I think you get the idea.
It's ironic that the grunge guys gave to people lyrics painting pictures of how depressing and miserable life is while they were out buying multi-million dollar homes IN CASH! In that wake of Grunge there were a lot of Heavy Metal bands that didn't deserve to be thrown by the wayside. I believe Cobain was a one trick pony and he was aware of it. It tortured him to the point of taking himself out to end the risk of being found out. They did to Heavy Metal and Rock music in the early 90s what Limp Bizkit would do in the late 90s, and you can thank them for abominations like Seether and Creed.
Nirvana in the rock class was the same as color me bad in the hip hop class. No talent and pushed on you by mtv.... they sucked...
 

Marla 1976

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The emphasis was more on image with hair metal though. Style over substance. That was my point.

I guess we will also have to agree to disagree about it being "heavy metal." Imo, for the most part it is not true heavy metal. Melodic hard rock yes, heavy metal no, not really. Too soft. If those hair bands were metal then I can name at least a dozen hard rock bands who would qualify as metal. Plus if Eddie Trunk says it's not metal trust me it's not metal. But everyone will have a different opinion on this. I have heard people say Ghost isn't metal. They aren't the heaviest most metal band in the world but based on what I have heard I would at least still call them heavy metal.
"Hair Metal' breathed new life into metal. Disco and new wave were massive at the time(early 80s) and then a lot of glam metal bands started breaking out into the mainstream and reintroducing metal to a whole new generation. "Hair" metal also gave us bands like Alice in Chains and Pantera. If it wasn't for "hair" metal band W.A.S.P. influence, you wouldn't have black metal as we know it today. A lot of people got into metal via the power ballads of the glam/hair metal bands. "Hair" metal is one of, if not the, most glorious periods of metal both musically and visually. The makeup and feminine clothes were cool at the time because they were shocking; they are still cool today if you look at them from that point of view. The songs were great - party anthems and heartbreaking love ballads. It was great, and the only time Metal was truly mainstream. Judas Priest also has an over the top look and I don't see metalheads whining about that. Thrash Metal bands have their denim jackets full of patches. Black Metal bands have their war paint. I find it stupid to pick on glam metal bands just because they went for the make up and colorful clothes. "Hair" metal actually got lots of people interested in Metal back in the day. "Hair" metal was a party and everyone was invited. Songs were shallow, never getting deeper than basic juvenile emotions other than wanting fun, living in the present, falling in love or the pain of being alone. The guitars were beautiful and designed to allow you to play the majestic notes in your head, and the big players of the day were all heroes. If those bands never put on makeup or spandex where would metal be? I think that is the bigger question. Not if it ruined it but if it would have survived at all. And if so where would it be without the decadent era. Glam is just an offshoot of punk I think. Same attitude different uniform.

Grunge was nothing more than a corporate music and fashion industry term used to create another subculture ripe for marketing purposes. It wasn't until Nirvana hit big time that the term got picked up by commercial entities and was thrown at bands outside of Seattle like Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins to cash in on their alt-rock sound, and it just expanded from there into fashion, cultural attitude, and language. There was nothing Metal about what they called grunge.
 

ballroomblitz69

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I've always been a glam guy.

Hell, I even still *look* like one haha!


I come from a pretty different (Japanese) cultural background where Glam metal never really died, it just evolved within itself and started incorporating more influence from thrash (bizarrely enough), goth and new wave. We still had plenty of what could be called hair metal in the 90s!

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(Japanese glam, circa 1996)

One can argue it's dead or dying today though. But glam and its successors did last much longer in Japan than it did in the west, because the grunge scene didn't really resonate as well with us as it did with the west. We needed the extravagant androgyny and hedonism of glam as a sort of rebellion against strict societal norms.


Music is subjective though and there's always gonna be those who prefer one style over the other.

I think Marla summarised the arguement for glam metal pretty well.
I like her inclusion of what I was gonna say about their wide influence on non-glam bands such as Alice in Chains (who's Guns n Roses inspired roots can sometimes even be heard on their grunge records).
However the same could probably be said about grunge band's influence on the Nu Metal scene for instance.

I'll argue against her point about Wasp being influential on Black Metal though as I've never heard this before, their influences lie with bands like Venom, whose influences include Kiss, who were also influential on Wasp.

I'd consider Kiss more an ancestor of hair metal, along with bands like Sweet and Slade, than a direct part of it even if they became heavily entwined with that scene later.

Shock Rock acts like Alice Cooper were also an influence on both Wasp and Venom.

Anyways.
I'll add a little addendum about the legacy of glam:

Recently there's been a revival of hair metal in places like Sweden and Finland. Can't say for grunge. The revival movement for glam metal nowadays is much much stronger while grunge seems to me comparitively stuck in the 90s.

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(modern glam band Crashdiet, Sweden)

Taking into account the Japanese scene as well, I think glam had a more worldwide impact on rock and metal music as a whole than grunge ever did!
 

BikerDude

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I never understood Hair Metal.
I just can't understand the urge to raid you girlfriend's closet and dress like a woman.
Anywhere I hung out it would have earned an ass whooping.

Grunge had a few good bands but it quickly got pretty phony with a lot of bands that were just copying the style.
Early Soundgarden was great. The Screaming Trees and TAD. A few others. Skinyard, Pond and a lot of the Subpop thing.
What started as a semi diverse landscape of very different and very creative artists got quickly reduced to a caricature.
So it died pretty much as soon as it got popular. Some of the best stuff from that scene fell outside the "grunge" thing anyway.
The Posies for instance. They were the best distillation of the Big Star / post Beatles pop thing ever.

I guess I'd take grunge because they just looked and acted like all the dudes I knew and grew up and partied with. It wasn't fake posing BS until it was reduced to a new costume for the new posers.

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ballroomblitz69

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I never understood Hair Metal.
I just can't understand the urge to raid you girlfriend's closet and dress like a woman.

Breaking gender rules and showing that doing your hair and makeup does not equal "dressing like a woman". Or wanting to be a woman.

Goes back to the early 70s glam rock movement with artists like David Bowie sporting an androgynous look.
 

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