"Hair Metal" vs Grunge

BikerDude

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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.

I'm well aware of where it goes back to.
The NY dolls come to mind.
They dressed like women.
I love Bowie. His music was great.
But he often did dress like a woman. Or a whatever you want to call it? It's hair splitting.
And again. I don't get it.
What's the point?
Other than being a provocateur. Which for me is a cop out.
And I just don't buy the whole thing that if some guy paints himself silver and walks around in assless chaps I'm the one with a hang up for finding that strange. So don't bother with the typical finger wagging nonsense.
People can push boundaries in a million ways. They are artists. I get that. It's great. And everyone gets to chime in on the merits of it.
The dolls made great music. But they dressed like a bunch of drag queens. That's a minus for me.
Or if they dressed up like aliens. Or monkeys or whatever. For me it's a shtick. And it makes it all less relevant.
More nonsense, less substance.

If hair bands were as good as Bowie I guess I'd give some slack.
It's just that personally I never really found any substance to any of the music.
It seemed like unoriginal cliched regurgitation of tired rock and themes.
Bowie was genius. And he expanded the definition of music.


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BikerDude

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Actually this all gets me thinking and comments about where the Hair Spandex etc goes back to.
Here's my take in the large.
Rock and Roll (and the beats and folk etc) began in response to a supremely overly oppressive climate in the Post WW2 era of total paranoia.
The paranoia and fear resulted in extreme repression. The fake "father knows best" time of the
House Un-American Activities Committee

and McCarthy. The effects of this climate altered every corner of society. Everyone was paranoid about anything that deviated from the norm. Doing so could end your career. People could point their fingers at you and frame you as the villain.(Sound familiar?)
Naturally young people found this climate restrictive and rebelled. (They had nothing to lose so naturally the job fell to them)
We got Elvis daring to shake his leg around and as expected the squares lost their minds and raged about how rock and roll would lead to all sorts of bad stuff.
This really was the glory time of Rock and Roll. Not that it was the best music ever made called rock and roll, but it was exactly the right thing for that time and place.

Let freedom ring! All around the world things went from black and white to color. People in Britain stumbling through the rubble woke up. Everywhere rock and roll was something glorious. It really was. You just had the sense that it was exactly what was needed. It changed everything and people loosened up. It led to the spirit of the 60's where people had the sense that anything was possible and change was a good thing.

Fast forward and an interesting thing happened as time went on. The whole endeavor started being entirely about pushing the boundaries as far as possible just for the sake of doing so. It stopped being in any way IMO a healthy and much needed change to a situation where the people doing the pushing managed to totally disembowel themselves publicly of all sense and purpose and to become every sort of public spectacle just for the kick of it. It went from "lets shake things up and have some fun" to "who is anyone to criticize some guy marching up and down the street in a wedding dress with a beach umbrella up his butt?"

And here we are.
It seems clear to me that things overshot the target by a lot. Several dozen bridges too far. But this is typical. The pendulum never just stops. It has to swing back and forth for a while.
Just one guys take.

Oh and by the way.
I think Hair and Grunge will be a tiny foot note in the overall story compared to whatever is coming next.
Just not sure how or when that will play out. But rock and roll is like fungus. It rains for a while and like magic it pops up all over. A zillion little mushrooms. The spores are in the soil no matter what happens. Nothing can ever kill them all. It's everywhere. Just waiting for the right conditions.
 
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Marla 1976

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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!
GNR at their peak from Appetite and for about 6 years later, they were unbelievably huge... maybe people forget but they were the biggest band in the world... they had like two albums in the top 5 at one point...they pretty much ruled MTV/Rolling Stone/media..
GNR may have been the last gasp of real rock and roll....Nirvana rock and roll?? I don't think so.
Grunge was pretty much over by 1996, Soundgarden's last album, Screaming Trees Dust 1996, AiC 1995, Pearl Jam has soldiered on but their last classic grunge album was Vitalogy and that was 1994. The genre withered out quickly, you could feel it after Down On the Upside came out, the enthusiasm for the genre just waned. So given that I'm not sure Nirvana is exactly that influential outside of its own genre which was short lived. You could argue Pearl Jam or AiC or Soundgarden were just as influential but on what I'm not sure, the terrible generic clone bands that followed? What did Nirvana do in benefit of rock culture? I think Kurt turned out to be a martyr because he took his own life. What is Nirvana's clame to fame? The grunge era? Ripping off The Pixies and Sonic Youth? Nirvana is no match for G N R, which is arguably the greatest band in the last 30 years.
More than make changes themselves, Nirvana just brought those changes to the mainstream. The true innovators were the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Lou Reed, Metallica, Van Halen, Def Leppard, ect.
 
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Breeze33

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People act like in retrospect "Hair Metal" was this cringeworthy, horrid thing that NEEDED to die.

But I grew up on "Hair Metal". I was a metalhead as a teenage girl. From early 1988 until early 1994. My favorite bands were Cinderella, Poison,Guns N Roses, Warrant, Winger, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Slaughter, Skid Row, Ratt, FireHouse, Motley Crue and Aerosmith. My older sister( 4 years older than me) was into hard rock and Heavy Metal so i always heard things around the house like Ratt , Motley Crue , Def Leppard, Quiet Riot , Dokken , Judas Priest , W.A.S.P., etc. .

So i started listening to bands like aforementeioned , as well as bands like Bon Jovi, Poison , Cinderella , Whitesnake ( i absolutely loved Jon Bon Jovi when i was 11 year old). Alot of teenagers were into Heavy Metal back than so it wasn't hard to turned onto new bands all the time. I went to my 1st Motley Crue concert with my older sister when I was 14. You can call me old all you want but these kids today will never know what it's like to see your favorite band for 11bucks in a sold out stadium or the thrill of buying your favorite album. loved Sebastian Bach and still do he’s a bombshell, and had a life like poster on my door in the bedroom yummy, I also was in love with Vince Neil, Bret Michaels , Axl Rose, Mark Slaughter , Jon Bon Jovi , Kip Winger , Tom Keifer , Jani Lane ... .

Grunge didn't just lead to the death of hair metal. It led to the death of melodic hard rock and heavy metal in general, and took hard rock from a widely popular and diverse fanbase to a niche market. Today, in 2019, rock songs almost never get anywhere close to the top 10, whereas from the 70s to about 1993, hard rock regularly topped the charts. Rock music in the 80's/early 90s was awesome! There were great bands with awesome talent like Guns n Roses, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, etc. The music was fun and full of energy! Bands actually knew how to play their instruments well.


The "Hair Metal" era, roughly '83 to '92 or so, represents the last time Heavy Metal was truly relevant. It represents the last time rock was culturally 'dangerous' and also fun as a genre - when rockstars still roamed the Earth. I can see the negative thoughts you have about it - being too corporate and gimmicky. But It was a period when rock was good (for me anyway) and then by like 93 and on rock became depressing sounding with snarling growling singers who were depressed. I honestly think Kurt Cobain was a pretentious, overrated asshole with some real drug issues, and that Nirvana and the grunge scene as a whole buried a lot of talented, 90’s metal act that were keeping the genre alive at a time when it's popularity was fading. I was alive and rocking during all of this. It was grunge fans that thought it was cool to hate metal bands because hair metal bands, not nirvana were the mainstream. Grunge was very pesimistic.



Cobain's image was based on sort of anti-fashion stance, but he ended up being somewhat fashionable and glam in spite of himself. In the 90s, you didn't hire Anton Corbijn to direct your video without having some concern for putting across an image. I thought Soundgarden sounded like a million other bands, and I just never got the infatuation with Pearl Jam. They actually sounded to me like a bunch of wannabe folkies, or maybe a bunch of folkies who had jumped on the grunge bandwagon. I can't even be bothered verifying whether that is historically accurate, except that I know a couple of them came from Green River. There's an anecdote about Def Leppard doing an unplugged performance at a radio station in the post-grunge era in which they played several unplugged numbers with three-part harmonies. When the DJ commented, “That was incredible,” Joe Elliot replied, “You must be a product of the nineties. There is nothing incredible about three guys singing in tune.” I remember grunge was identified as a movement and game-changer almost as soon as it hit, whereas hair metal wasn't even a term used for that music until many years later. Most of the bands in that genre probably saw themselves in the same harmless fun, hard rocking/pop tradition started by Van Halen. When I think of 1992, I remember "Let's Get Rocked"-era Def Leppard and Slaughter alongside Nirvana on MTV. It's not like September 1991 hit and Bret Michaels suddenly had to go get a job at IHOP. What really makes this time special I think is it's the last time young people were all bonded together by a common music culture. This was pre-internet, and everyone still watched the same videos on MTV, whether it was Dr. Dre, Def Leppard or Metallica. .







Nirvana created depressing music, and they made it cool to be depressed or sad or whatever. The post-grunge landscape (late 90s) was so depressing in terms of rock. The grunge movement really started in 1992, but it wasn't a "shock" or something, and it actually COEXISTED with the successful hair/heavy metal bands. The hype was huge, but no one took the music seriously. Nevermind, elevated that scene and gave it pop credibility, but that is all. Grunge was a marketing term that lead to an early death for a bunch of music. This will sound stupid, but I honestly think Weird Al was responsible for getting more kids into Nirvana than Nirvana themselves were. Mostly I remember kids making fun of them for the lyrics being "impossible" to understand when "Teen Spirit" first came out, and those of us who were into music were still too wrapped up in our Poison and Motley Crue or Guns n Roses or whatever albums to care much for a while. But I'd wager that Weird Al's record sold way more copies to kids at that time than Nevermind did, and I actually knew kids who didn't like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" at first but started liking it after "Smells Like Nirvana" broke.


For me I remember just not "getting" SLTP at all when it came out. Why is MTV playing this crap and not the new Slaughter video!? But as for the other kids? I don't think you really saw the changeover take place until at least late 1992. I'd bet everything I own that more kids in my area bought Def Leppard's Adrenalize than bought Alice in Chains' Dirt that year. Plus, I don't think I ever really saw any of the huge backlash against metal/hair-metal like you read about - all the kids I knew who loved grunge also still liked Guns 'N' Roses and Bon Jovi and Metallica and whatnot. You'd probably get made fun of if you were still a huge Winger fan or something, but it seemed like most kids just went along with the "alternative revolution" because that was what was happening at the time, not because they suddenly woke up and hated metal one day. I remember many people around me then still loving the same bands they had for a while, but were just getting into these new bands that were coming along as well. No one was dropping bands they had long standing fandom with.... I still viewed Nirvana as a new band when they found Kurt dead! I remember thinking to myself when it was announced, "That's it??" Because, it had only really been three albums and a compilation up to then. In my mind at the time, they were just getting started. I didn't really notice people turning on 80's bands until closer to '94/'95. Whenever I read things regarding the way things changed in the early 90's, it seems like a lot of people either think or convince themselves that it all happened in an instant. The way I remember it was more like a snake shedding its skin. Not a snail's pace, but like a flash of lightning either. Just gradual. Hair metal was still pretty popular until late 1992, even mid-1993. Warrant's Dog Eat Dog (1992) went Gold, Leppard's Adrenalize (1992) went triple platinum, Scorpions Face the Heat (1993) went to #21 and probably close to Gold, Winger's Pull went to #41 in early 1993. Etc.



I would say, 1994-1999 was really the dead period. Cinderella's Still Climbing (1994) is good; but went mostly unnoticed. The vast majority of these bands had little real commercial success after late 1993 at the last. Anything that even remotely resembled hair metal didn't really have a chance to have a hit after 1993.



Bon Jovi was still huge but their sound moved away from pop rock to quadi-adult contemporary. They had to distance themselves from hair metal in order to survive the 90's. For me the best albums of that period 1992-1996 in the genre were Bon Jovi's Keep the Faith, Motley Crue s/t, Aerosmith's Get a Grip and Slang by Def Leppard. I always thought Motley Crue's s/t was really underrated and failed simply because it had the name Motley Crue attached to it, which wasn't "cool" in 1994. I bet had they changed the name for the new lead singer, the album could've gone over bigger. Hooligan's Holiday did get a bit of radio/MTV airplay but at that point in time, the name Motley Crue carried baggage of 1980s excess... a different band name could've led to a bigger album. I remember people who mostly listened to grunge and the sort who were actually shocked at how good that album was, but were hesitant to actually buy the album simply because they were teens and owning a "Motley Crue" cd to them would've been like owning Vanilla Ice or Tiffany. Bon Jovi weathered the Grunge takeover quite well. Keep The Faith was still a huge album that spawned some big hits. The Crossroads compilation was also a huge success, and Always was one of their biggest hits ever. They were still one of the biggest bands in the world in the early 90s. It didn't change overnight and both genres coexisted for quite awhile. I think the two bands that most successfully weathered grunge, artistically if not commercially, are Warrant and Motley Crue. The grunge/alternative take-over didn't happen overnight and was gradual. Several bands still had popular singles/albums through '92/93 (Skid Row, Mr. Big, Extreme, Ugly Kid Joe, Saigon Kick, Damn Yankees, Jackyl) and the more established hard rock / hair bands still had big album sales through '93 (Kiss, Def Leppard, G n R, Alice Cooper, Coverdale/Page, Scorpions, Aerosmith, AC/DC)..



Poison also put out quality stuff. Although, Native Tongue was a commercial flop it contained some pretty solid tunes. Until You Suffer (Fire and Ice) is one of my favorite Poison songs.


Def Leppard is another one who put out pretty decent stuff at the time as well. Adrenalize had some pretty cool stuff and so did Euphoria. I think the song Promises can stand on its own with anything from Pyromania or Hysteria. Winger's "Pull" is a Helluva album. The narrative, largely created and driven hard by rock critics, that grunge killed hair metal is a complete myth. Many of those bands were already on their death bed, and bands like Guns N' Roses, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi still did well after grunge exploded.
 

Breeze33

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Crikey, some real red lines drawn. At 57, and discovering the brilliance that is YouTube, I am a NWOBHM creation with punk and quo(frantic four) added. Nobody is the best. All rock music, to me that’s guitar based raised to max, is great. I’ve learned that every day is different moods and all genres of rock cater for them. Ultimately I love my maiden, AC/DC, Saxon, on through the night leopard, UFO, Motörhead because I know my record sales and concert going made them. White snake and gillan etc already had the cash. Never trash another, they all try to do it for you. Just pick the songs and artists that grab your insides and make you that demented member of the family they are ashamed of!! That’s when you know you’re following your heart and soul. Zeppelin, purple, foo fighters,skynyrd, scorpions, sabbath, prince (some epic fret burning), queen, gnr and a host of others Kansas, Aerosmith, Styx, Uriah heep, even gun, electric six and fall out boy all have brilliant tracks to die for. Original van halen, sammy Hagar, molly hatchet and Metallica - they’ve all got it. Some more often and tremendous than others. Yep even Twisted Sister. I was so happy to see their set from reading 82 is recorded for all time on YouTube because I was there. I hadn’t realised what I witnessed until recently. Only seeing it did I realise more than Lemmy was on stage!! And the audio of me singing along to the hedgehog song will always stay with me until I die. God love Jackie lynton. All I’m saying is rock has a place for everybody.Enjoy your likes and respect, don’t have to like, all the rest. Tommy Vance was sent to us all for a reason. Love you all.
 

Aero

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What is Nirvana's clame to fame? The grunge era? Ripping off The Pixies and Sonic Youth? Nirvana is no match for G N R, which is arguably the greatest band in the last 30 years.

I'm curious as to why you think Nirvana ripped off Sonic Youth. I always thought SY was completely overrated and couldn't even play their instruments. Never did understand why they had such a cult following.

Nirvana meanwhile at least made catchy songs with infectious melodies.
 

ballroomblitz69

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GNR at their peak from Appetite and for about 6 years later, they were unbelievably huge... maybe people forget but they were the biggest band in the world... they had like two albums in the top 5 at one point...they pretty much ruled MTV/Rolling Stone/media..
GNR may have been the last gasp of real rock and roll....Nirvana rock and roll?? I don't think so.
Grunge was pretty much over by 1996, Soundgarden's last album, Screaming Trees Dust 1996, AiC 1995, Pearl Jam has soldiered on but their last classic grunge album was Vitalogy and that was 1994. The genre withered out quickly, you could feel it after Down On the Upside came out, the enthusiasm for the genre just waned. So given that I'm not sure Nirvana is exactly that influential outside of its own genre which was short lived. You could argue Pearl Jam or AiC or Soundgarden were just as influential but on what I'm not sure, the terrible generic clone bands that followed? What did Nirvana do in benefit of rock culture? I think Kurt turned out to be a martyr because he took his own life. What is Nirvana's clame to fame? The grunge era? Ripping off The Pixies and Sonic Youth? Nirvana is no match for G N R, which is arguably the greatest band in the last 30 years.
More than make changes themselves, Nirvana just brought those changes to the mainstream. The true innovators were the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Lou Reed, Metallica, Van Halen, Def Leppard, ect.
Honey, I think you missed the fact that I'm agreeing with your stance!

Where did I say Nirvana was even close to GnR? I said Alice n Chains was influenced by them. Listen to their demos and you'll see they started out as a glam band.
 

Aero

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Let freedom ring! All around the world things went from black and white to color. People in Britain stumbling through the rubble woke up. Everywhere rock and roll was something glorious. It really was. You just had the sense that it was exactly what was needed. It changed everything and people loosened up. It led to the spirit of the 60's where people had the sense that anything was possible and change was a good thing.

Fast forward and an interesting thing happened as time went on. The whole endeavor started being entirely about pushing the boundaries as far as possible just for the sake of doing so. It stopped being in any way IMO a healthy and much needed change to a situation where the people doing the pushing managed to totally disembowel themselves publicly of all sense and purpose and to become every sort of public spectacle just for the kick of it. It went from "lets shake things up and have some fun" to "who is anyone to criticize some guy marching up and down the street in a wedding dress with a beach umbrella up his butt?"

And here we are.
It seems clear to me that things overshot the target by a lot. Several dozen bridges too far. But this is typical. The pendulum never just stops. It has to swing back and forth for a while.
Just one guys take.

As much as I love it, I think rock and roll was a slippery slope. And yes, people have gone too far. I don't like the gender bending stuff at all and guys like Bowie are so good, they don't need those kind of cheap stunts to attract a crowd.
 

BikerDude

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As much as I love it, I think rock and roll was a slippery slope. And yes, people have gone too far. I don't like the gender bending stuff at all and guys like Bowie are so good, they don't need those kind of cheap stunts to attract a crowd.

Yeah and he moved past it.
It was always just meant to "get a rise" out of people to shock.
Which is a cheap trick IMO.
"Look at me, Look at me, Look at me!"
Good marketing but bad art.
 

Magic

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I like how everyone is debating this topic. And everyone has valid points, too!!!

However, I have to weigh in on this topic. As a music lover, where music has been a huge part of my entire life, I don't pay much attention anymore to the "Labels" (meaning genres) that are placed on music. I like an extremely eclectic variety of music, from classical to extreme death metal and everything in between....except maybe Rap. I never could wrap my head and ears around Rap. I do hear Rap on the daily because I have a young boy who likes it, and that is ok....it's what he is into.

I have enjoyed listening to Grunge bands as well as Hair bands. I love the guitar driven music of the 80's along with all the sappy love ballads. I love all the AOR bands. That music period was fun. (and so was disco but that's another topic). I love Grunge bands just as much. I really like the gritty, murky guitars. If you are a true music aficionado, you would KNOW that all these music styles evolved from something prior and they led to the evolution of something in the future.....

Do I honestly believe that Grunge destroyed rock n roll? NO. Music has always been and always will be an ever evolving entity. What will our great grandchildren be listening to? Who knows there may be a disco revival...lol.

Music taste is subjective........I like what I like and I don't give a rats ass if you like it or not!!! Every day I discover new music. It is out there if you take the time to search and give new things a try. Bands of today take inspiration from bands of the past because they liked those bands.

If you want to hear Rock n Roll, which is a long way from being dead, use this as a search #rockaintdead. You will be surprised how much rock music is out there.

It is no secret that Aerosmith is my favorite band. Aerosmith is a band that changed like a chameleon with each decade. Some like the Aerosmith of the 70's, some like Aerosmith of the 90's. It's all a matter of what you like to listen to.

As far as Grunge bands go, I would say my favorite is Alice in Chains, but I also like Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Stone Temple Pilots, Bush, Foo Fighters, Silverchair, Dinosaur Jr., Audioslave, Puddle of Mud, Everclear, Nickelback, Creed....and the list continues. Some of these bands you might argue are not grunge. Well, I feel they are and they led to the evolution of other alternative rock bands.

Hair Metal bands I like: the list is HUGE. I will get the obvious out of the way, bands like Guns n Roses, Motley Crue, Poison, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Dokken, Whitesnake, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Scorpions, Night Ranger, Pantera. Those are some of the big names and you could argue they are just good ole rock n roll, and I would agree.

I honestly cant choose between grunge vs hair metal. All those bands were good. I have many many memories locked up in their music. I wouldn't trade those memories off just because someone says "Hair Metal Sucks".............
 

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