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