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Hair Metal
aka: Glam Metal

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Primary Stylistic Influences:
Secondary Stylistic Influences:

Don't need nothing but a good time
How can I resist?
Ain't looking for nothing but a good time
And it don't get better than this
Poison, "Nothin' But a Good Time"

A subset of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, crossed with pop (think of lighters-aloft power ballads), it was popular mainly during The '80s, so-called because of the tendencies of the musicians to sport teased, dyed and moussed '80s Hair. Some bands accentuated this by wearing androgynous clothing, spandex and sometimes makeup as well. While none of this was actually originated by Hair Metal itself, the decade's emphasis on visual presentation and stage spectacle has made the style synonymous with the term (which, today, is commonly used in a decidedly derisive tone). To the ire of fans of other metal sub-genres, hair metal codified the general public's image of metal; when a layperson refers to "heavy metal" (or even "hard rock"), they most likely mean this genre, when they don't think of some weird, heavy Frankenstein of Death Metal, Black Metal, and Slipknot.

This is something of a hard genre to pin down musically, considering its name really refers to fashion more than anything else. Naturally, more bands than just the ones of this designation had '80s Hair at the time, and, also naturally, bands vary heavily. However, a few generalized aspects common across many bands are comparatively high-pitched vocals (compared to other metal, some of which has a noticeable bias for low voices), and a sound that seems to echo. Hair Metal also tends to be more professionally produced and less "raw"-sounding, making full use of studio engineering equipment and audio modification devices such as reverb and other electronica. Alongside the distorted guitars, hair metal bands also used synthesizers to fill out their sound. Virtuoso playing was celebrated, particularly on lead guitar and drums.

It is worth noting that hair metal came into vogue around the same time Arena Rock was on its way out (indeed, Bon Jovi's breakthrough album Slippery When Wet was released in the same year as Raised On Radio, the last Journey album to feature Steve Perry on lead vocals for nearly ten years) and consequently inherited much of that genre's penchant for melodicism which leavened its heavier riffs, vocal harmonies and guitar pyrotechnics, in many ways being its spiritual successor.

Hair Metal bands often became as famous, if not more so, for their hard-partying lifestyles, involving drugs, alcohol and promiscuity, as for their music, as befitting the "decade of excess". The media response was a moral panic about metal's allegedly harmful influences on youth.

The genre pretty much died out by 1993. There were many reasons, but the best remembered one being the success of Seattle Grunge band Nirvana's Nevermind album late 1991 ushering in a sea change in the public's taste for rock music from hair bands to Alternative Rock. Not only that, but fans of hard rock were becoming tired of hair metal, and some felt the genre was leaning too much towards mainstream pop, particularly due to its reliance on big hit power ballads. As with Progressive Rock in the '70s, hair metal bands seemed out of touch with the day-to-day concerns of young people among economic malaise. The metal scene's savior also came in 1991, in the form of Metallica, a Thrash Metal band whose dark, technical style had gained them critical acclaim and a fanbase so large that they could pack stadiums without much in the way of radio hits. Metallica released their self-titled "Black Album" one month before Nevermind, and it too became a monster smash, paving the way for other darker, heavier, faster, technical and/or less glammy bands like Pantera, Slayer, Megadeth, Sepultura and tool to have major success in the 1990s. Hard rock fans looking for a happy medium between alt-rock and the newer metal bands could find that in Alternative Metal, a combination of the two genres, which supplanted hair metal on rock radio in the '90s with the success of artists like Primus, King's X, White Zombie and Faith No More.

As for the hair bands? Some of them gave up the ghost entirely, while others switched their sound to adapt with the times. Bon Jovi was the biggest success in this regard, completely changing their style to adult contemporary while retaining much of their popularity and fanbase. Other big name acts like Mötley Crüe and Ratt, failed in their new, darker 90s guises, which both alienated their old fans and got them mocked relentlessly by grunge and newer metal fans. Some hard rock bands whose sounds were tangentially connected to Hair Metal (either in style, their influence or the public's perception), like Def Leppard and Guns N' Roses, continued to be concert draws without changing their sound for the times.

It should also be mentioned that, while some of these bands are still around, practically none of them these days stick to the Hair Metal sound and image of its glory days. So their newer music may not fall under this label.

Hair Metal may have fallen out of fashion for many people, but it still has a dedicated fanbase. If you meet any of them today, you might not want to risk mentioning grunge. Many American hair metal groups also retained followings in Japan and other Asian markets, where heavy metal music is still extremely popular. American hair bands that were relegated to state fairs and nostalgia package tours in their home country by the early 2000s could rely on playing huge venues in Japan when they went abroad to tour. The genre was also one of the influences on the Japanese genre Visual Kei.

In a recursive way, the hair metal look is actually beginning to come back into style due to a variety of factors, those mostly being that the most rabid hatedom has itself become less respected or calmed down via Enemy Mine when all rock and metal died out in the mainstream, that many people began to realize that the looks weren't the reason for the flood of un-artistic, unoriginal music, and that with the resurgence of metal and hard rock outside of the West and in the underground in the West, many of the artists involved never saw the problem to be looks and/or have influences from Visual Kei or scene or similar.

Often associated with Glam Rock. Post-Grunge could be considered its Spiritual Successor, being a similarly commercialized derivative of a less accessible subgenre and sharing similar lyrical content; Power Metal also has a similar Hard Rock-influenced sound and intentional cheesiness. Almost all of these bands also overlap with both Arena Rock and Hard Rock, as contrary to the name, it is mostly the '80s equivalent of said genres, with few metal elements.

Direct influences

  • Aerosmith had a harder edge to their riffing than many of their other 1970s contemporaries, and Steven Tyler's vocal style and lyrical themes influenced a legion of future glam vocalists. Furthermore, "Dream On" effectively created the template for piano-driven hard rock ballads, and was very likely an influence on a lot of future Power Ballads. The band themselves combined this sound with their signature Blues Rock sound starting with "Done With Mirrors" and continuing until "Get a Grip".
  • KISS created the blend of hard-edged riffing and catchy, anthemic songwriting that was tailored for large venues, while their large, theatrical live productions also inspired the stage shows for many future acts. Additionally, Ace Frehley was a huge influence on many a glam guitarist. KISS themselves would record several albums in the genre throughout the 80s after they removed their makeup for "Lick it Up", with "Crazy Nights" being their most shining example.
    • Ace Frehley after leaving KISS went on to form his own band Frehley's Comet and made multiple albums in the genre.
    • Peter Criss had a brief stint in a short-lived female-fronted rock band called "Balls of Fire".
    • Frehley's replacement Vinnie Vincent, after being fired in the middle of their mid-80's resurgence formed the Vinnie Vincent Invasion - arguably one of the most extreme glam bands in existence with their big hair, makeup and gratuitous shredding.
  • New York Dolls certainly helped create the image, and their combination of trashy glam aesthetics and raw, sloppy, attitude-driven protopunk was a major influence on acts like Hanoi Rocks, Motley Crue, and Guns N' Roses; furthermore, Blackie Lawless was a brief live member near the end of their original run.
  • Ozzy Osbourne (As the forefather of metal music, he had a lot of clout with all the hair bands, who were eager to tour with him. Dabbled with the genre himself on The Ultimate Sin. Also, good luck finding a glam guitarist who wasn't influenced by Randy Rhoads. We'll wait.) Not to mention Randy Rhoads was plucked straight from seminal glam band Quiet Riot, which he was the founder of.
  • Queen in their earliest years (around 1972-74) could be seen as a pioneering example, but did not record any hair metal-style music when the genre was most popular, instead performing their signature arena rock sound.
  • Scorpions created many of the riffing conventions, while Klaus Meine's vocal approach and the flashy leadwork of Uli Jon Roth and (later) Matthias Jabs also proved influential, as did the melodic ideas of their power ballads.
  • Sweet (partial trope maker/codifiers. They were a British bubblegum group in the early seventies, then became heavier without abandoning their pop melodies, and turned into a heavy Power Pop band.)
  • T. Rex, a very adolescent and bubblegummy Glam Rock group from the early 70s which used similar arrangements and plenty of long hair and glitter.
  • UFO, like Scorpions, created a lot of the riffing and vocal style and phrasing conventions, and it's damn hard to find a glam guitarist who wasn't influenced by Michael Schenker. The band would dabble in this genre with "Misdemeanor" in 1985.
  • Van Halen (arguably trope-makers along with Hanoi Rocks, they were at least very influential in its creation, and the brothers in particular influenced virtually every single guitarist and drummer in the genre)
    • David Lee Roth's solo career also qualifies, especially Eat Em And Smile, Skyscraper and A Little Ain't Enough.

Classic hair metal bands and artists (1980s and 90s)

  • 220 Volt (started out as melodic metal before changing to a more commercial sound with Eye to Eye)
  • Alcatrazz (Dangerous Games, notable for having both Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai as guitarists at one point)
  • Aldo Nova (started out as AOR and started going into this territory with "Twitch" before fully embracing it in Blood on the Bricks).
  • Alleycat Scratch (one of the latest entries in the genre, not releasing their debut until 1993)
  • Autograph
  • Babylon A.D. (not to be confused with the Vin Diesel film)
  • Bai Bang
  • Bangalore Choir
  • Bang Tango
  • Banshee
  • Baton Rouge
  • BB Steal
  • Beau Nasty
  • Bitch (as well as vocalist Betsy Bitch's 1988 self-titled solo album)
  • Black-Eyed Susan (fronted by former Britny Fox vocalist Dean Davidson, one of the more bluesy examples of the genre with Dean using a significantly more clean and less raspy voice then the one he used for his former band).
  • Bloodgood
  • Blue Murder
  • Blue Tears
  • Bonfire
  • Bonham (founded and named after their drummer Jason Bonham, son of late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham)
  • Bon Jovi (One of the genre's biggest names, they switched their style to adult contemporary pop-rock in the 1990s, and kept on having hit singles every few years up through the late 2000s)
  • Brighton Rock
  • Britny Fox
  • Bulletboys
  • Cacophony (Late 80's band featuring Jason Becker and Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman)
  • Cats in Boots
  • Child's Play
  • Cinderella (Another big name in the genre. Converted to a more blues-based sound on subsequent albums)
  • Cobra
  • Cold Sweat
  • Cry Wolf (A band who was a temporary hit in Japan, but failed to take off anywhere else)
  • Dagger
  • Damn Yankees (a supergroup featuring Styx's Tommy Shaw, Night Ranger's Jack Blades, Accept's Michael Cartellone and solo-star Ted Nugent)
  • Dare
  • D'Molls
  • Danger Danger (until the mid-90s when Ted Poley left and the band went for a more alternative sound with Dawn then they reunited with Ted and returned to their roots with Revolve)
  • Dangerous Toys
  • Diamond
  • Diamond Rexx
  • Digger (spin-off of Heavy Metal band Grave Digger, who already were moving to a more commercial sound with "War Games")
  • Dillinger
  • Dirty Looks
  • Dokken (plus Don Dokken's solo album and George Lynch's own band "Lynch Mob")
  • Driver (American band, not the Canadian band of the same name)
  • Easy Action
  • Electric Boys (predominately Funk/Psychedelic with elements of this)
  • Eric Steel
  • Enuff Z'Nuff (these guys were actually a slightly hard sounding, Cheap Trick-influenced Power Pop band who were marketed as a Hair Metal band by their record label. The fact that they're remembered as a hair band (mostly because their biggest hit was the Power Ballad "Fly High Michelle") is a particularly sore spot with the members, who would have preferred being categorized alongside power pop bands like The Smithereens instead. As a consolation, they're among the few bands that received the "hair metal" label that critics loved from the start)
  • Erotic Suicide
  • Europe were a shining example during the Final Countdown years, but the album they recorded after that was closer to arena rock than hair metal, though the styling stayed same.
  • Every Mother's Nightmare
  • EZO (A Japanese band whose singer Masaki Yamada later became a pioneer in the Visual Kei metal genre)
  • EZ Livin
  • Faster Pussycat
  • Fastway
  • Fate
  • Femme Fatale (One of the rare hair metal bands which feature a female lead singer)
  • Fiona
  • Firehouse (notable for managing to win the American Music Award for "Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock New Artist" in 1992 over both Nirvana and Alice in Chains. They also actually managed to keep having Top 40 hits as late as 1995.)
  • Lita Ford
  • Giant (notable for featuring the Huff brothers of Whiteheart)
  • Giuffria
  • Great King Rat
  • Great White (started out as straight hard rock similar to Ratt before changing into their signature Blues Rock/Hair Metal sound)
  • Gypsy Rose
  • Hanoi Rocks (generally treated as a trope codifier, but they were musically closer to Cheap Trick, New York Dolls, and The Stooges, who incidentally were among their main influences)
  • Harem Scarem
  • Haywire
  • Heaven's Edge
  • Heavy Bones
  • Hellion
  • Helix (Started out as Blues Rock before changing their sound in "No Rest for the Wicked")
  • Holy Soldier
  • Honeymoon Suite
  • House of Lords
  • Hurricane (notable for featuring the younger brothers of Quiet Riot members Carlos Cavazo and Rudy Sarzo)
  • Icon
  • Idle Cure
  • Ivory Tower
  • Jackyl (Best known for using a chainsaw as an instrument)
  • Jagged Edge (Don't confuse them with the '00s R&B group.)
  • Jetboy
  • Jet Circus
  • Julliet
  • Keel (vocalist Ron Keel became, much to his fans' surprise, a country singer in the 1990s before reuniting the original band members)
  • Kik Tracee
  • Killer Dwarfs
  • Kingdom Come
  • King Kobra (Put together by Carmine Appice once he left Ozzy Osbourne in 1983)
  • Kingpin
  • Kix (started out as New Wave before moving firmly into this territory with "Midnite Dynamite" and staying there)
  • L.A. Guns
  • Lillian Axe
  • Lion (Best known for doing the theme song for The Transformers: The Movie)
  • London (a band with constant line-up shifts. At different times, the band included Nikki Sixx and Izzy Stradlin, but neither lasted long enough in the lineup to appear on one of their records.)
  • Lord Tracy
  • Love/Hate (one of the darker and more experimental acts)
  • Love on Ice
  • Mammoth
  • Magdallen
  • McQueen Street
  • Messiah Prophet
  • Mötley Crüe (as well as Vince Neil's solo career)
  • Mr. Big (In particular, "To Be With You" is notable for being arguably the last hair metal song to become a major hit)
  • Nitro, a Stealth Parody band which took all of Hair Metal's aspects to their logical extreme.
  • No Sweat
  • Odin
  • Poison
  • Phantom Blue (one of the heavier examples of the genre, despite looking like other all-female 80s rock groups like Vixen and Rock Goddess they were heavier then most of those bands, going into straight up Heavy Metal on their sophomore release 'Built to Perform'')
  • Pink Cream 69
  • Precious Metal
  • Pretty Boy Floyd
  • Pretty Maids (started off as pure Heavy Metal before moving into this)
  • Princess Pang
  • Quiet Riot
  • Ransom
  • Ratt
  • Razormaid
  • Return
  • Rock Goddess
  • Romeo's Daughter
  • Rough Cutt
  • Roxx Gang
  • Salty Dog
  • Saraya
  • The Scream
  • Sea Hags
  • Seduce
  • Shark Island
  • Shotgun Messiah
  • Shy
  • Signal (Fairly unheard of band from the late 80's, shows the transformation of Marcie (was Mark) Free's voice to more feminine sounding from her time in King Kobra)
  • Silent Rage
  • Skid Row (A heavier, more traditionally metal band, ended up successfully crossing over into Thrash and Speed Metal by their second album, and ended up surviving the emergence of Grunge by their close links to early-90's bands such as Pantera.)
  • Slaughter (not to be confused with the Canadian thrash band)
  • Sleez Beez
  • Sleze (an early band of Layne Staley's and the first band where he sang; also featured Jim Sheppard of later Sanctuary and Nevermore fame around the end of their career)
  • Smashed Gladys
  • Sound Barrier (a rare African-American example)
  • Spitfire (The one from Greece in 1986, not the American band from the 1990's)
  • Spread Eagle
  • Stage Dolls
  • Stan Bush
  • Steelheart
  • Strangeways
  • Southgang
  • Stryper (a Christian-rock variant, famous for giving away Bibles at their shows)
  • Sweet FA
  • Talisman
  • Tangier
  • Tesla (A bluesy band that was characterized by the influential rock magazine Kerrang! as "the thinking man's Van Halen" upon their debut. They were particularly notable for being decidedly un-glam for a hair metal band: They typically performed in their regular street clothes and had an affinity for performing acoustic versions of their songs in concert. Although this meant that they didn't have a defining image back in the genre's heyday, their lack of one resulted in them being relatively unaffected by the rise of grunge. For one, they kept having hits on the Billboard rock charts up through 2008.)
  • Thor
  • Thunder
  • Tigertailz
  • TKO
  • TNT
  • Tobruk
  • Tokyo Blade
  • Tora Tora
  • Treat (As a straight example, only 80s-90s era Treat. In the 2010s reunion, they have opted for a style mixing elements of this with old-school Arena Rock, contemporary rock, and a little melodic Traditional Heavy Metal, among other things, making a very distinctive sound.)
  • Trixter
  • Tuff
  • Twisted Sister (though they personally define themselves as "Hid-Metal")
  • Urgent
  • Vain
  • Valentine
  • Vinnie Vincent Invasion
  • Viper
  • Vixen (A rare example of an all-female Hair Band)
  • Vow Wow
  • Warrant
  • W.A.S.P. (Blurred the line between hair metal and Shock Rock on their first few albums. They began taking a Traditional Heavy Metal turn as time went on, and by the late 80s they had dropped most of what little hair metal influence they had.)
  • Whitecross
  • Whiteheart
  • White Sister
  • White Lion (unlike most—if not all—other bands of the genre, these guys relied a lot on environmentalism as a lyrical theme—though Loudness and EZO were also well known for the occasional Green Aesop)
  • Wigwam
  • Wildside
  • Winger (sold mostly on the strength of lead singer/bass guitarist Kip Winger's looks, which often overshadowed their technical skills—they've been called "the hair band version of Dream Theater"—and eventually went down with the rising popularity of Grunge. Their reputation has improved of late to some degree due to both their musicianship and Pull, which was easily one of the darkest, most mature albums to ever come from a glam act.)
  • XYZ (not to be confused with Minoru Niihara's solo group)
  • Yokosuka Saber Tiger (first band for both hide and Rolly, both of whom would go on to be influential in Visual Kei, hide as X's lead guitarist, Rolly as an image actor and solo vocal.)
  • Zebra

Artists whose music included hair metal elements but were not primarily part of the genre

  • Badlands (mostly Blues Rock, though their singles like "Dreams in the Dark" showed hints of this)
  • Candlebox (Showed elements of this on their self-titled 1993 debut which was a mix of glam and grunge before the band later moved more into Alternative Rock territory)
  • Crush 40 (Their riffing and songwriting style borrows a lot from this genre but they have faster tempos and more elaborate rhythms borrowed from Punk Rock)
  • Gilby Clarke (The former lead guitarist for the obscure band Candy, who got a big break in 1991 when he replaced Izzy Stradlin in Guns N' Roses. He was fired in 1994, but has continued to maintain a high profile. His 1994 solo album Pawnshop Guitars is a mix between alt-rock and glam metal)
  • Extreme (influenced by funk metal; attempted to become a deconstructive parody in the early 90s. Todd in the Shadows referred to them as "Bill & Ted Rock" instead of hair metal due to their funk and alternative influences, and grouped them with Faith No More and Primus instead of the hair bands.)
  • Living Colour (plays Genre Roulette with Hair Metal, Funk Metal, Funk, Hip-Hop and Punk Rock)
  • Manic Street Preachers (the Welsh band started out as this along with a fusion of Glam Rock and Punk Rock for their first album Generation Terrorists, before going a more Grunge sound with their follow up Gold Against The Soul along with a Goth Rock / Post-Punk influenced sound for The Holy Bible before having their biggest success in the 90s Britpop scene for Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours and has remained a successful British Alternative Rock band)
  • Mother Love Bone (along with grunge; like Alice in Chains, they were a bridge between glam and the more metallic side of grunge. Split up when their lead singer Andrew Wood died of a drug overdose just before their debut album was to be released. Just a few months later, band members Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard formed Pearl Jam.)
  • Nelson (led by the twin sons of 1950s teen idol Ricky Nelson. Their sound often bordered on straight-up pop music. The twins mentioned that their sound was too heavy for pop radio yet too light for rock radio, which resulted in their success being short-lived)
  • Saigon Kick (similar to Enuff Z'Nuff, they were never really Hair Metal but marketed as such, they had a myriad of different styles including Heavy Metal, but most people assumed they were Hair Metal since their one big hit happened to be the Power Ballad "Love is on the Way". Saigon Kick were also possibly the least glammy of any band associated with this genre; Vintage photos show them looking more like a long-haired alt-rock band than anything to do with metal.)
  • Ugly Kid Joe (crossed this with Grunge and Funk Metal)

Older artists that underwent a Genre Shift to hair metal during its heydey

  • .38 Special (Started out as a Southern Rock band and had several Top 40 hits in the late 70s and early 80s in that style. They changed their style with the times, and in 1988, they had their first hit in years with the Hair Metal-styled ballad "Second Chance". Interestingly, they didn't update their look to accommodate for their slight Genre Shift, and still looked like an aging Southern rock band, long beards and all.)
  • Accept (Eat The Heat though they quickly went back to heavy metal once David Reece left and Udo returned to the group)
  • Andy Taylor (having grown dissatisfied with Duran Duran's New Wave style, the guitarist tried a kind of hair metal sound during his solo career in the late 1980s).
  • Annihilator (one of the rare Thrash Metal examples of this trope. "Set the World on Fire" was considerably more commercial then the band's previous two albums, with it being more Hard Rock then Thrash, particularly songs like "No Zone", "Don't Bother Me" and the Power Ballad "Phoenix Rising")
  • Bad English (A supergroup that included solo star John Waite as the lead vocalist and two members of Journey. Best known for their #1 hit "When I See You Smile")
  • Blackfoot (started out as Southern Rock, then went into this starting with Siogo and continuing on until Medicine Man)
  • Black N Blue (Started out as Heavy Metal, then went into this with Without Love)
  • Celtic Frost (The Cold Lake album, considered an Old Shame by the band)
  • Cheap Trick (on their albums The Doctor, Lap of Luxury, and Busted)
  • Alice Cooper (Constrictor, Raise Your Fist And Yell, Trash and Hey Stoopid)
  • Deep Purple (on the four albums they released between 1984 and 1993)
  • Def Leppard (originally a NWOBHM band influenced by glam rock and arena rock, the melodic hard rock of their breakthrough album Pyromania in 1983 - not to mention its immensely popular music videos - influenced virtually every successive band in this genre)
  • Discharge (started out as Hardcore Punk before moving into this with their second release "Grave New World", they would later go on to become a mixture of Thrash Metal and Heavy Metal)
  • Fifth Angel(started out as a cross between Heavy Metal and Power Metal on their debut and then incorporated elements of this into their sound for "Time Will Tell" and then went back to their heavier roots for their third album)
  • Girlschool (Started out as a female version of Motorhead, then went for more of a Hair Metal sound starting with 1983's Play Dirty and continuing until their self-titled 1992 album, where they went back to their punk-metal roots. Today they're mostly notable for being the longest lasting all-female band of all time)
  • Heart (starting with their self-titled album in 1985 and continuing until Desire Walks On in 1993)
  • Heavy Pettin (started out as Heavy Metal and then went into this with "Rock Ain't Dead", best known for entering the 1987 Eurovision Song Contest with "Romeo")
  • Joan Jett (some examples in her mid- and late-80s releases, though mostly punk rock or straight hard rock)
  • Judas Priest (Turbo, though it was heavier than most examples)
  • KISS (during their 1983-1996 unmasked phase, With "Crazy Nights" being the most notable example)
  • Krokus (The Blitz, Change of Address and Heart Attack as well as Marc Storace's side project "Blue")
  • Leatherwolf(started out as Heavy Metal for the first two albums then went into this with "Street Ready")
  • Music/Loverboy (started out as New Wave then started incorporating this into their sound with "Lovin Every Minute Of It" and have done so ever since).
  • Michael Schenker Group (Became this when Robin McAuley joined the band in 1989 and their name was changed to McAuley Schenker Group from 1989-1992)
  • Molly Hatchet (like Blackfoot, they began as a Southern Rock group before changing styles with The Deed is Done and continuing on until returning to their old style with Devil's Canyon)
  • Night Ranger (had most of their success - including their hit single "Sister Christian" - as an arena rock band, and are often incorrectly labeled as a hair metal band because they happened to be performing hard rock music at the same time the genre was popular. Only recorded a single album in the genre, 1988's Man in Motion, long after their success had waned.)
  • Petra (one of the earliest Christian Rock bands, having recorded since the early 70s. Their mid and late-80s albums featured a hair metal-inspired sound that they dropped by 1991.)
  • Queensrÿche (Rage for Order, largely went back to Progressive Metal)
  • Raven (during the mid-80s with "Stay Hard" and "The Pack is Back" Otherwise a straight-up metal band.)
  • The Rods (went into this with Hollywood)
  • Sammy Hagar (went into this with VOA and I Never Said Goodbye)
  • Savatage (only on Fight for the Rock)
  • Saxon (Started out as Heavy Metal then started showing traces of this on Crusader before going more commercial with Innocence is No Excuse and continuing until Forever Free)
  • Scorpions (went into this starting with Love at First Sting up until Face the Heat, mostly known for being the most successful intercontinental band of all time and one of the longest lasting bands ever, having formed in 1965! As mentioned above, the later Uli Jon Roth and early Matthias Jabs-era material was also a massive influence on the genre.)
  • Triumph (started out as Progressive Rock, then became Hair Metal starting with Thunder Seven and retained that sound for the rest of their career)
  • T.S.O.L. (They made their name for themselves as a gothic hardcore punk band, but changed their style a few times in the late 1980s; First to hard rock with Revenge, and then to hair metal for Hit and Run and Strange Love. By the time that last album was released, the band was without any original members. When the band's next album came out in 2001, they were back to a lineup that included original members and had returned to their punk sound)
  • Ted Nugent (went into this with Penetrator, his most commercial album, he then went into a slightly harder version of this sound with Little Miss Dangerous and then combined with with his old sound for If You Can't Lick Em Lick Em)
  • Tygers of Pan Tang (like Def Leppard they started out as NWOBHM band before changing their sound with The Cage)
  • UFO (Band) (went into this with Obsession)
  • Uriah Heep (Equator, Raging Silence, Different World)
  • Whitesnake (lead singer David Coverdale is one of the rare singers associated with hair metal who has a baritone voice; they jumped on the hair bandwagon in the late 1980s when Coverdale recruited a succession of flashy guitarists, including John Sykes, Adrian Vandenberg, Vivian Campbell and Steve Vai, but they'd been around for years as the successor band to Deep Purple, the band Coverdale had been singing with in the late 1970s, and had performed as Whitesnake for a number of years playing a style of blues rock which Coverdale characterised as "progressive R&B").
  • Y&T (started out as Heavy Metal and started showing traces of this on "In Rock We Trust" and went completely into it in Down for the Count, Contagious and Ten, eventually they went back to their old sound in "Musically Incorrect).
  • Yngwie Malmsteen (for his albums Odyssey, Eclipse and Fire and Ice)

Artists that started out as hair metal before finding success in another genre

  • Lee Aaron (changed musical styles multiple times since 1991, first to Grunge, then Jazz, then Pop and finally back to Rock)
  • Alice N' Chainz (Yep, that Alice in Chains. Facelift is SLIGHTLY less dark than their later albums and has noticeable traces of their glam era, particularly on the second half. The box set has a few demos from before they found their own sound)
  • Michael Bolton (Yes, THAT Michael Bolton, before he went adult contemporary)
  • Guns N' Roses (According to Slash, the band went through a "glam period" that was short-lived because the band got tired of borrowing stuff from a carousel of girlfriends. By the time Appetite for Destruction came out, only trace elements remained. The group actually made themselves staunch opponents of the Hollywood glam scene, particularly Poison, who ironically Slash himself had auditioned for after the band's original guitarist Matt Smith left. Appetite for Destruction (1987), the band's wildly-acclaimed debut, was a darker and edgier take emphasizing punk and blues influences. The followup Use Your Illusion (1991) instead hewed toward arena-sized bombast, contrasting all the more with the incoming grunge craze. The band would have probably retained their massive popularity well into the alternative-era if they didn't implode on themselves in 1993.)
  • Hardline (their first album was their only straight example. Their second album had traces of this, but by their third album, they had successfully transitioned away from that)
  • Lizzy Borden (Started out as straightforward Heavy Metal then later went into more commercial territory with "Master of Disguise" and afterwards became straight Power Metal that just so happens to place heavy emphasis on Alice Cooper-style theatrics)
  • Loudness (from around 1985 until 1992, see Minoru Niihara below. In 1992 they dropped Hair Metal for a heavily thrash-inspired sound...)
  • Luna Sea (they soon evolved into goth rock)
  • Minoru Niihara
  • Pantera (yes, that Pantera. Their first three albums with singer Terry Glaze are pure glam, while their first outing with Phil Anselmo straddles the line between heavy metal and glam. Since the release of their massive breakout album Cowboys From Hell in 1990, the band completely disowned their glam era, treating it as Old Shame until way after their official breakup)
  • SEIKIMA-II (at least early on, being much like KISS. They became Visual Kei pretty fast)
  • Sex Machineguns (They began as this and eventually shifted to straight-up thrash, but kept the hair and costuming as part of their Visual Kei image)
  • Show-Ya (All-female Hair Metal band that eventually became Visual Kei)
  • TNT (Have dropped in and out of the genre's purview. In the band's beginning they were a very bluesy Traditional Metal group. When they actually began to fall into this, they kept prog-rock elementsnote . By the mid-90s the band slipped into an almost "Alice In Chains-meets-The Beatles" style of music, and the band themselves have denied actually being glam)
  • X Japan (at the very beginning as "X". Combining thrash metal and a heavy punk sensibility and far darker lyrics, it became one of the founding bands of Visual Kei at the same time as a truly genre-busting act encompassing everything, eventually, from thrash metal and speed metal and power metal to goth rock to classical-inspired piano ballads and more.)
  • XYZ-A (Minoru Niihara's solo band. Was a recursive combination of this and Visual Kei. The guitarist was actually Visual Kei and the band was formed way after Hair Metal had crashed and burned, but the singer was Hair Metal trying to be Visual Kei, until the end of the 1990s and the reformation of his old band, Loudness, when he dropped the vestiges of the style.)

Post-1990s bands

  • 69 Eyes
  • Ayron Jones (also has elements, of Grunge, Soul and Hip-Hop)
  • Black Veil Brides (They started as metalcore but switched to this and made it their signature style; also another rare example where the singer has a low voice)
  • Buckcherry (Had a couple hits in the late 90s, where they were one of the few rock bands of the era openly declaring an influence of hair metal bands. Broke up a few years later, but later reunited and scored a top 10 hit in 2007 with "Sorry".)
  • Crashdiet (One of the premier bands of the mostly Europe-based "sleaze metal" movement that attempted to resurrect the genre)
  • Crazy Lixx
  • Crucified Barbara
  • The Darkness
  • Dirty Honey: Quickly become famous for being the first ever unsigned band to have a top 10 hit in the hot 100.
  • Electric Six (Mixes this with Garage Rock, Disco, New Wave, Punk Rock and several other styles)
  • Enforcer (Zenith, though they started incorporating glam elements on Death by Fire)
  • Halestorm
  • Hinder: Mixed this with Post-Grunge for their first album Extreme Behavior. They later emphasized this more than post-grunge on Take It to the Limit and further installments).
  • Nickelback: Started out as Alternative Rock then combined this with post-grunge, with "Dark Horse" being the most noteworthy example as it was produced by none other then Mutt Lange.
  • Orianthi
  • Santa Cruz
  • Steel Panther
  • Vains of Jenna
  • Wayland

Fictional bands

Tropes associated with the genre:

  • Ambiguous Gender: Many artists early on. Some of them would eventually change into a less androgynous appearance as they matured. This aspect of these groups was widely credited with increasing the amount of female fans in attendance at rock concerts.
  • Bar Brawl: Unfortunately, the genre became almost synonymous with these both in the US and Japan. Band rivalries were common, and when rival bands or fans of rival bands met, the result was so often one of these that some bars and venues banned specific bands, specific people (Axl Rose and Yoshiki were both frequent ban targets), a characteristic look of the worst troublemakers ("no blondes," "no all leather outfits," "no spikes"), or even imposed a ban on people discussing or promoting bands known to cause brawls in a variant of Ban on Politics.
  • Black Sheep Hit: Almost all hair bands have at least one, usually a Power Ballad (see below).
  • The Beautiful Elite: The most popular bands were these.
  • Camp Straight: Most bands consisted of men with very feminine appearances, teased hair, tight jeans, lipstick, mascara, eye-liner, but then so many hair metal songs are about women or sex.
  • Costume Porn: Almost all hair metal bands provided this in one form or another.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Apparently the trope namer was written about the guys in Mötley Crüe (specifically, Vince Neil), and Poison pulled out an issue of Cosmo on their first photoshoot and told the makeup artist to "Make us look like this".
  • Fanservice: The band members were made to look very hot.
  • Groupie Brigade: Because hair metal was a genre of music with a lot of female fans, groupies were often found backstage at shows. In Motley Crue's autobiography, Vince Neil mentions that when they were on tour he would frequently have sex with several different women in a single night. Nor were/are all of the groupies Always Female - one of the rumors/stories about Michael Monroe's bisexuality involved a male groupie.
  • Ho Yay: Not as much as in Glam Rock but you know in Poison's Talk Dirty To Me when Brett yells to C.C. "C.C. pick up that guitar and talk to me" yeah, that happened.
    • A few of the artists from Michael Monroe to Minoru Niihara have been rumored to be gay or bisexual. This has led to an actual slash fandom subset in Hair Metal (or pairing up Hair Metal artists with early Visual Kei artists in crossover Fan Fic.)
    • And of course, pretty much any of the early Visual Kei bands that began as Hair Metal. X and SEIKIMA-II, for example, once had thriving slash fandoms that only died out with time, newer visual kei bands becoming more popular for Yaoi Fangirl attention leading to attrition, and Flame War over whether it was "okay" to write slash or not. The bands that would become Visual Kei also happened to attract far more gay or bisexual male fans/groupies/roadies than most US Hair Metal bands did, both from the Japanese metal scene of the time's higher population of out gay and bisexual men, from the perceived availability of some of the bandmen, and from the Visual Shock scene's open acceptance of male bisexuality as it developed. As in where US Hair Metal tried to downplay Glam Rock Ho Yay, the Japanese scene that would become Visual Shock and then Visual Kei took it and ran with it.
  • Intercourse with You: Unskinny Bop by Poison, Slice of Your Pie by Motley Crue, Hell On High Heels by Crue, Lick Summer Love by Hanoi Rocks, Tragedy by Hanoi Rocks, Rattlesnake Shake by Skid Row... basically the favorite theme of this genre.
    • Stab Me In The Back by X Japan fused Intercourse with You and Ho Yay in a way few other bands of the era would have even dared to approach, being a blatant song about male/male sex. It's arguable that Lick Summer Love by Hanoi Rocks could be another fusion of Ho Yay with Intercourse with You in hair metal, though heavily disguised by the female backing vocals and far less blatant than Stab Me In The Back - the rumored bisexuality of the lead singer and that the lyrics are just vague enough that they could describe man on man sex as well as man on woman are the main argument there.
  • Improbable Hairstyle: Young C.C. Deville's physics defying do' for one. Toshi when he wore the "french fries" hairdo - a common joke being his hair was half his height.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to other metal genres like thrash, this one is not as dark.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: How the genre got its name.
  • Power Ballad: A staple of the genre. During the hair metal era it was common for an album to contain at least one power ballad, the reason being that ballads often became mainstream radio hits and sold a lot of singles.
  • Pretty Boy: Young Poison, young Motley Crue, young Hanoi Rocks, young X (and arguably most everyone there still is)
  • Outlaw: Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead Or Alive plays with this archetype and even Skid Row's 18 and Life references it. Ratt's "Wanted Man" plays it straight.
    • X was literally a band featuring three real outlaws (in a certain sense of the word) in its early days, as were most of the first round of Extasy Records bands. Yoshiki, Taiji, and Toshi were all bosozoku at one point (Japanese Delinquents and bikers). Music/Tokyo Yankees and Grand Slam were also bosozoku/yankii heavy bands, with Tokyo Yankees even naming themselves after yankii. This actually led to major problems in X's and the label's early days, as they (and some of their rougher fans) would get into repeated Bar Brawl with rival bands, and even outright threaten their critics or haters with actual violence, going as far as to mail them bloody knives and harass them at their homes. It was officially ended as a practice by the bands and label around 1988-89 when X signed major with Sony and the realization that it could do more harm than good to their image, but some of the fans still continue it against everyone's wishes.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: The musicians who played in hair metal bands were often infamous for the debauchery of their personal lives.
  • Speed Metal: Heavier hair metal bands often overlap with this.
  • Spiritual Successor: Visual Shock, as pioneered by X, SEIKIMA-II, EZO/Masaki Yamada, and Loudness, which would later evolve to the Visual Kei phenomenon.
    • In a very real way, Hair Metal is the 80s version of Hard Rock.
  • Stage Names: Rikki Rocket, Nikki Sixx, Michael Monroe, His Excellency Demon Kogure, and many, many others.
  • Stripperiffic: The costumes for both the bands and their groupies.
  • Trope Codifier: Either Mötley Crüe or Poison.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Ride the Wind by Poison features the unforgettable "Taste the fire, lick the wind" and keeps bringing up "The Midnight Sun" (which is something that's usually tied to references to Alaska) in a song that seems to be about riding motorcycles.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Glam Metal


Motley Crue

Motley Crue are a Hard Rock/Hair Metal band formed in and popular in The '80s by drummer Tommy Lee and bassist Nikki Sixx, joined by guitarist Mick Mars and lastly by singer Vince Neil. Like most of their contemporaries from the Glam era, they were probably more well known for their sleazy, sordid antics than their music: during their first tour in Canada they were banned from Edmonton for carrying "dangerous weapons" (their stage spikes) and "indecent material" (Neil's porn) through customs, got accused of a bomb threat and threw a TV out the window of their hotel (all publicity stunts). They rose to international fame on the release of Shout At The Devil, Theater of Pain and Girls, Girls, Girls, receiving heavy rotation on MTV and selling millions of copies. Sixx has overdosed on heroin over a dozen times, three times near-fatal (the first of these in which he was declared dead for a minute, inspired the song "Kickstart My Heart").<br><br>The song used as an example is "Dr. Feelgood".

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / HairMetal

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