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Music / KISS

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The current line-up since March 2004. From left to right: Gene Simmons, Eric Singer, Paul Stanley and Tommy Thayer.

"Alright, TV Tropes! You wanted the best, you got the best! The hottest band in the world, KISS!"

Kiss (usually stylized in all caps as KISS) is an American heavy metal rock band, formed in 1973 in New York City. It is well known for the face paint and complex costumes worn by the band-members, and its theatrical concerts, which involve, among other things, fire breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, and lots of pyrotechnics. The most well-known members are front-man Paul Stanley (rhythm guitar; his stage persona is "Starchild", due to being a "starry-eyed lover" and "hopeless romantic", a little ironic as he's now Happily Married) and of course Gene Simmons (bass; the "Demon", cynical and fan of dark elements, and also known for his enormous tongue). The two other founding members are the guitarist Ace Frehley (the "Spaceman", a reflection of his fondness for science fiction and supposedly being from another planet) and drummer Peter Criss (the "Catman", in accordance with the belief that he had nine lives because of his rough childhood in Brooklyn.), whose make-ups are still worn by their current replacements, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer (respectively).

The band also made movies: first, a made-for-TV flick, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978). They don't like to talk about it, or at least two still don't like to. Two decades later, they tried again with Detroit Rock City, a nostalgia film about The '70s sometimes compared to Dazed and Confused. In DRC, the band is simultaneously the focus of the action and limited in appearance to one song in concert (guess which). It was initially a bigger flop than the 1978 picture, but has found a niche as a Cult Classic. All of the original four have written biographies giving their perspectives on their time with the band, as well. Gene (of course) goes even further, having written three self-help books based on his own success: Me, Inc., On Power, and Sex Money Kiss.

Not to be confused with kissing, a song by Prince, the book Kiss (2007), or the KISS principle.

Principal members (founding members in bold, current members in italic):

  • Paul Caravello (Eric Carr) – drums, percussion, guitar, backing and lead vocals, bass (1980–1991, died 1991)
  • George Criscuola (Peter Criss) – drums, percussion, backing and lead vocals (1972–1980, 1996–2001, 2002–2004)
  • Vincent Cusano (Vinnie Vincent) – guitar, vocals (1982–1984)
  • Stanley Eisen (Paul Stanley) – lead and backing vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard (1972–Present)
  • Paul "Ace" Frehley – guitar, bass, backing and lead vocals (1972–1982, 1996–2002)
  • Bruce Kulick – guitar, bass, backing and lead vocals (1984–1996)
  • Eric Mensinger (Eric Singer) – drums, backing and lead vocals (1991–1996, 2001–2002, 2004–Present)
  • Mark Norton (Mark St. John) – guitar (1984, died 2007)
  • Tommy Thayer – guitar, backing and lead vocals (2002–Present)
  • Chaim Witz/Eugene Klein (Gene Simmons) – lead and backing vocals, bass, guitar (1972–Present)


Studio albums

Live albums

  • 1975 – Alive
  • 1977 – Alive II
  • 1993 – Alive III
  • 1996 – KISS Unplugged
  • 1996 – You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best !!
  • 2003 – Kiss Symphony: Alive IV
  • 2004 – Kiss Instant Live
  • 2006 – Alive! The Millennium Concert
  • 2008 – KISS Alive 35
  • 2010 – Kiss Sonic Boom Over Europe
  • 2016 - KISS Rocks Vegas


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  • All Drummers Are Animals: In a more literal sense, with the Catman (Criss, then Singer) and the Fox (Carr).
    • Both would be subversions, though, as Criss is pretty jazzy; after all, he's the man behind "Beth", and Carr was always known to be a sweet natured, down-to-earth guy...
  • The Alcoholic:
    • Ace is known for this. Just (re)watch the infamous Tom Snyder interview.
    • During the Hotter Than Hell photo session, everyone but Gene got drunk. Paul was drunk enough that he got locked inside his own car!
    • Gene, who is The Teetotaler, is an aversion.
  • Arch-Enemy: Pretty much every music critic of the last 40 years, especially at Rolling Stone. note 
    "Fuck Gene Simmons, you make me sick
    Psycho Circus, you stole my shit!"
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: On their infamous 1979 appearance on Tom Snyder, we have this:
    Tom Snyder: (to Ace) But you're kind of like a spaceman, huh?
    Ace: No, actually I'm a plumber. (laughs)
  • Audience Participation Song: Several, but especially "Rock and Roll All Nite". In a live show, the chorus can stretch the song out by several minutes from loops of the band and the crowd taking turns.
  • Badass Boast: See the page quote, from the opening of Alive II.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie:
    • It's widely accepted that their breakthrough live album Alive! was overdubbed in studio; to what extent, exactly, is unknown because all the band members have told different stories.

      In his autobiography, Gene Simmons claimed that the album's budget was too low to afford overdubs, as the band was in poor shape financially and Casablanca Records was in dire straits because their The Tonight Show compilation Here's Johnny had flopped; Peter Criss (in his autobiography) claimed that his drums were the only thing remaining from the original live recordings; Paul Stanley said on the Talk Is Jericho podcast that overdubs were only used to correct live mistakes and sound levels; and producer Eddie Kramer has agreed with Criss and Stanley's stories at different points.
    • Peter Criss was credited with drums, percussion, and vocals across Dynasty and Unmasked, while also appearing on the albums' cover art and music videos. In reality, he only played drums on his Dynasty track "Dirty Livin'", and the rest of the drum parts were recorded by longtime David Letterman house drummer Anton Fig.
    • Creatures of the Night put Ace Frehley in a similar situation to Criss above: he was credited for lead guitar and appeared on the cover art and the "I Love It Loud" video, but all of his guitar parts were recorded by Robben Ford, Steve Ferris of Mr. Mister, and Vinnie Vincent — the last of whom officially replaced Frehley on the album's tour.
    • Psycho Circus was widely hyped as the first studio album recorded by the original KISS lineup in over a decade. In reality, "Into the Void" was the only song recorded with all four band members with Criss on drums; "You Wanted the Best" had the four sharing lead vocals but Criss did not drum, while Frehley played lead guitar on three songs and vocals on three others. The rest of the album was recorded with session drummer Kevin Valentine and guitarist Tommy Thayer, who would later inherit the Spaceman make-up.
  • Berserk Button: If this video is anything to go by, lasers are one for Paul Stanley.
    • In later years, Ace's substance problems have become this for him, especially when it's Gene or Paul passing judgement on him, since he's been over a decade sober at this point.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Eric Singer (5'6") as the little guy and Tommy Thayer (6'2"), Gene Simmons (6'2") and Paul Stanley (6') as the big guys.
    • In the 80s Eric Carr (5'7") was the smallest guy in the band, and shared the title with Vinnie Vincent (also 5'7") for a while.
  • Big Applesauce: The band was formed in Brooklyn, and at times their Noo Yawk accents are a bit obvious.
    • Gene told Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine that he was heavily inspired by the channel in New York City that always played King Kong (1933).
    • Ace has said that, as a kid growing up in New York, the best moment of his career was playing at the Madison Square Garden.
    • Also the song "New York Groove" from Ace's solo album.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Ace, so very much. For all bad things Gene and Paul have said about him, both have admitted that he was an incredibly talented musician, despite apparently skipping practice, drinking constantly and his refusal to help with out with the gear, or anything not related to the stage show.
  • Bigger Is Better: EVERYTHING. This is Spın̈al Tap may have been the Trope Namer for up to eleven, but KISS got there a decade early. Gene told Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine that he was inspired by how much bigger everything in America was compared to Israel. He mentioned "the abundance of food, the idea of markets being supermarkets. In other countries, you have Charlemagne or someone like that, but in America you have Superman. And he's from another planet. How perfect." He also compared the idea of Kiss performing only in small clubs to having an elephant in your kitchen.
    • That said, the MTV Unplugged show worked surprisingly well.
  • Blank White Eyes: Gene does them in "Unholy".
  • Camp Straight: Do not be fooled by Paul Stanley's campy poses and outfits. He's actually pretty much a ladies' man.
  • The Comically Serious: Gene. He's basically made it his mission in life to be taken seriously as a business man, while dressed as a kabuki demon and spitting blood in platform boots.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Dear god, Ace! That Spaceman concept is probably half truth.
  • Carpet of Virility: Simmons, Criss, Thayer, and especially Stanley.
  • Colour-Coded Characters: Since the solo albums: Red - Gene, Green - Peter/Eric, Blue - Ace/Tommy, Purple - Paul.
  • Concept Album: Music from "The Elder", a big and ambitious project that even involved a big-budget movie and a world-wide tour for a while, but...
  • Costume Porn/Impossibly Cool Clothes/Unlimited Wardrobe: The band is infamous for this.
  • Consummate Liar: According to Paul in his autobiography, Gene was like this throughout the 1980s, sometimes bordering towards compulsive liar.
  • Contagious Laughter: If Ace laughs, everyone around laughs (sometimes even Gene).
  • Cover Version:
    • "Kissin' Time" by Bobby Rydell on their self-titled debut album.
    • "Then She Kissed Me" (a Gender Flip version of the original song by The Crystals) on Love Gun.
    • "Any Way You Want It" by the Dave Clark Five on Alive II.
    • "2000 Man" by The Rolling Stones on Dynasty. It was even played by the band on the New Years' Eve concert leading to 2000.
    • "Odyssey" by Tony Powers on Music from "The Elder".
    • "Hide Your Heart" (written by Paul Stanley, but originally performed by Bonnie Tyler) on Hot In The Shade.
    • "God Gave Rock And Roll To You" (a remake of the original from Argent) on the Bill And Ted's Bogus Journey soundtrack.
    • "New York Groove" by Hello on the Ace Frehley solo album.
    • "Tossin' and Turnin'" by Bobby Lewis on the Peter Criss solo album.
    • "When You Wish Upon A Star" from Pinocchio on the Gene Simmons solo album.
  • Darker and Edgier:
  • Dedication: Each guy dedicated his solo album to the other three guys (e.g., Ace's to Gene, Paul and Peter, etc.)
  • Dirty Old Man: Gene Simmons
  • Double Entendre: Used frequently, with Ace's "Shock Me" and "Rocket Ride" being good examples.
  • Dress Rehearsal Video: "I Love It Loud".
  • Dual-Meaning Chorus: "Detroit Rock City"'s chorus has a second meaning with its downer ending.

  • Echoing Acoustics: "Detroit Rock City." Khazad-dûm, meet Motown.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: The intro to "Rock Bottom" from Dressed To Kill, which lasts 1 minute 57 seconds.
  • Epic Rocking: As a general rule, they don't usually delve into this trope, but "Jungle" from Carnival of Souls is a rare exception, clocking in at 6:50.
  • Face on the Cover: Their self-titled debut album (notably, Peter's makeup was different from the usual one), Dynasty, Creatures Of The Night, and Asylum are notable examples of this. Rock And Roll Over combines this with Design Student's Orgasm.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: Again, "I Love It Loud". Then it fades out again...
  • Fanservice: Stanley's costumes are designed around this trope, showcasing his Carpet of Virility. Simmons' and Criss' also, to lesser extents. Frehley is rather modest in comparison.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Mark St. John (who died in 2007) is starting to become this.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Paul - phlegmatic, Gene - choleric, Ace - sanguine, and Peter - melancholic.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Subverted. KISS is often spelled in all-caps, and has been rumoured to be an acronym (which it isn't), with meanings such as "Knights In Satan's Service" or "Kids In your Sister's Skirt", but was proven by the members to be false.
  • Genre Shift: KISS has been known to alter their sound and image in response to popular trends, and over the years they've changed quite a bit.
    • Kiss, Hotter Than Hell, and Dressed to Kill were a mix of Hard Rock, and the Glam Rock that was all the rage back then. Compared to their later songs, there is a definite, almost 50's Rock N' Roll vibe to the music.
    • Destroyer, Rock and Roll Over and Love Gun were straight 1970's hard rock, occasionally dipping into traditional heavy metal. They also started using sound effects, and went further outside the mold they made for themselves.
    • Dynasty and Unmasked were significantly more pop-oriented as shown by I Was Made for Lovin' You, a disco song by a hard rock band... it wasn't welcomed by everyone, it's easy to say.
    • Music From the Elder was their attempt at a Progressive Rock album... years after the genre had lost it's mainstream appeal. They also cut their hair and changed their outfits, hoping to piggyback off the "New Romantic" trend popular at the time. It didn't work, and their new look, along with all but one song from The Elder were swiftly forgotten.
    • Creatures of the Night was a return to the heavy rock of the mid-70's, though it would occasionally go in a heavier direction. Considered to be one of their most beloved, and musically heaviest eras, despite dwindling public interest.
    • Lick It Up saw the band remove their trademark makeup, and fully embrace the Hair Metal they in large part helped inspire. They continued this approach, from Lick It Up to Hot in the Shade.
    • Revenge and Carnival of Souls represented their heaviest era musically, with songs like Unholy being straight up Heavy Metal, and most of their glam rock and pop sensibilities discarded. Carnival went even heavier, as Kiss jumped on the Grunge trend.
    • Psycho Circus, Sonic Boom and Monster all harken back to classic makeup-era Kiss, riding the wave of 70's nostalgia in the 1990's. You wouldn't be judged for mistaking the albums from being from the 70's, since they went the extra mile and used period-appropriate technology and gear for the recording.
  • Gold Digger: "Do You Love Me" asks whether the singer's (in this case, Paul) girlfriend is with him just because he is a big-shot rockstar who can give her all kinds of luxuries through his lifestyle or if she really does like him.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "Spit":
    "It don't mean spit to me."
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The cover of Hotter Than Hell had these.
    • Bilingual Bonus: The Japanese in the top-right corner (地獄のさけび, or Jigoku no Sakebi) translates as "Hell's shout" or "The shout of hell".
    • "Blind Idiot" Translation: On the other hand, the members' names are a little... off. In particular, Frehley's name being rendered as エイス フューリ (Ace Fury) instead of エースフレーリー.
    • The album of rerecordings they released alongside Sonic Boom is titled Jigoku Retsuden (Hellish Transmission). Fittingly enough, it was released straight for the Japanese market.
  • Great Balls of Fire!: Spectacle is their motto.
  • Harsh Vocals: Both Peter Criss and Gene Simmons quite often. Evidence A: "God of Thunder".
  • Heavy Meta: "Rock and Roll All Nite", "Detroit Rock City", "Let Me Go, Rock n' Roll", "Rock and Roll Hell"...
  • Heavy Mithril: "God of Thunder".
  • He's Back!: Much of the hype surrounding Psycho Circus came from Ace and Peter returning to the band, at the same time the band returned to the makeup and theatrics that made them famous in the '70s.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Gene and Paul are the only two members of KISS who have been there from the start, and they've always been close friends and allies. The other members of KISS have remarked that when important decisions needed to be made regarding the band, Gene and Paul would *always* side with each other, which meant the other members got their opinions overruled.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Though he may seem like a boastful, womanizing egomaniac; Gene Simmons is actually a very shrewd businessman and investor, as well as a former schoolteacher and an avid comic book fan.
    • Ace Frehley, for all his past issues, and self-admitted laziness, was for a time one of America's premier guitarists, pioneering techniques that were later used by the likes of Eddie Van Halen and others. He's also a skilled graphic artist, and both Gene and Paul have admitted Ace is exceptionally gifted, despite their other, less kind words.
    • Paul Stanley starred in the titular role of The Phantom of the Opera in Toronto in 1999 and was praised for his performance in the role. He's also been involved with charities aimed at helping people with deformities (having been one himself; he was born with a deformed right ear, which impaired his hearing on that side, but has since undergone reconstructive surgery)
    • Mark St John was a respected guitar teacher before joining Kiss.
    • Vinnie Vincent was an accomplished session musician, writing tracks for television shows like Happy Days and doing session recordings before joining Kiss.
  • Homesickness Hymn: Oddly for a band whose image is so deeply centered on partying and sex, "Beth" is a disarmingly earnest song where the narrator entreaties his lover to wait for him, hoping she'll be all right while he's gone.
  • "I Am" Song: Fittingly titled "I"
  • Important Haircut: All members cut their hair for Music from "The Elder" era... It didn't stick.
  • "I Want" Song: "I Just Wanna", "I Want You"
  • Iconic Item:
    • Ace Frehley isn't Ace Frehley without his three-pickup orange sunburst Gibson Les Paul.
    • Gene Simmons' Axe bass.
    • Paul Stanley's Iceman guitars, particularly his signature "cracked mirror" models.
    • Vinnie Vincent's Jackson Rhoads, especially the pink "double winged" custom one.
  • Iconic Outfit: The make-up and costumes. The distinctive face paint patterns have become symbols for individual band members in later years.
  • Invention Pretension: Gene Simmons has claimed that he invented the "heavy metal horns" hand gesture, even though Ronnie James Dio was using it for years before Gene.
    • Not only that, but Simmons didn't start using it until after he was shown making the gesture on the cover of Love Gun.
  • Insufferable Genius: Vinnie Vincent, according to a fair few sources. He's an exceptionally talented musician, no doubt about it, but few people had nice things to say about him as a person back in the 80's.
    • Gene Simmons too. He's a shrewd businessman, a decent bassist and a good singer, but is also known as one of the biggest assholes in the music business.
  • Instrumentals:
    • "Love Theme From KISS" from their self-titled debut album.
    • "Fractured Mirror" from Ace Frehley's 1978 solo album.
    • "Fanfare" and "Escape From The Island" from Music from "The Elder".
    • "Carr Jam 1981" from Revenge.
  • Insult Backfire:
    • Calling them sell-outs.
    • Back when the Knights in Satan's Service rumour was all the rage, seeing religious fanatics and the like shouting and screaming quotes from the Old Testament at the group wasn't unheard of. Neither was seeing Gene Simmons (a theology major) quoting them back.
    • Gene Simmons' most recent solo album was titled Asshole.
  • Intercourse with You: A huge portion of their catalogue. Notable examples: "Christeen Sixteen" (about a guy lusting after a sixteen year old) to "Hotter Than Hell" (about a guy lusting after a married woman) to "Heaven's On Fire" (about a guy having sex, and may or may not have inspired a large amount of the sex dialogue seen in all kinds of fandoms' fanfic sex scenes).
  • It's All About Me: According to Paul Stanley's book, this would be Simmons' personal trope.
  • Jailbait Taboo: "Christine Sixteen" is about an older man who becomes obsessed with a sixteen year old girl after he sees her walking out of her school. When the song was released, many radio stations refused to play it because of its subject.
  • Jerkass: Gene Simmons is somewhat infamous for being a huge asshole and is completely unrepentant about it. When a roast was held in his honor, Ace took note that no friends or colleagues took part (particularly current or former members of KISS) and the dais was mostly made up of professional comedians hired for the event.
    • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: In Frehley's biography, he claims that Simmons, despite there being no love lost between them, saved him from drowning on two separate occasions, the second time spending the entire night watching over Frehley.
  • Kavorka Man: Gene Simmons is anything but handsome and is known for being a raging egomaniac and asshole, but he claims to have bedded over a thousand women.
  • Kneel Before Zod: In "God of Thunder"
    I am the lord of the wastelands
    A modern-day man of steelnote .
    I gather darkness to please me
    And I command you to kneel before the...
    God of Thunder, and rock n' roll!
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: Paul Stanley's stage banter until the reunion was mostly innuendo. He's toned it down somewhat since long-time fans began bringing their kids, but it's still there.
  • Large Ham: Paul and Gene, for the most part.... and most of that most part is Gene, bordering on Fun Personified.
  • Last Note Nightmare: The album version of "Detroit Rock City" from Destroyer ends with a car skidding, crashing and exploding. Then the record segues into "King of the Night Time World".
  • Last-Second Word Swap: "I Just Wanna":
    Time to take my chances, find somebody new
    I just wanna fu-
    I just wanna fu-
    I just wanna forget you
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: Although they had started to drift toward Hair Metal as early as their fifth studio album, Rock and Roll Over, in 1976, in the 1980s Kiss fully embraced it, and their albums from the "non-makeup" years (1983-1992) sound drastically different from the "classic" Kiss sound, with fast (occasionally very fast) Van Halen-like solos. In part this was due to new guitarists - Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick - who sounded nothing like Ace Frehley. But it was also due to the band having to adopt a grittier and more "controversial" image in order to keep pace with the bands they'd inspired. Thus, along with the usual goofy anthems about sex, there are a number of Darker and Edgier tunes with more of a "punk" attitude and even some Precision F-Strikes very much at odds with their former (relatively) kid-friendly image. The makeover was only partially successful, with Kiss having fallen into semi-obscurity by the late '80s and enjoying only scattered success until they put their makeup back on in 1996.
  • Lead Bassist: Gene is type B and C.
  • The Leader: Paul since the mid 80s, after Gene attempts to launch a movie career. Before and after that, Gene and Paul ran the show together, being the original members and all.
  • Legacy Character: The current guitarist and drummer wearing the founding members' make-up. It divides fans on whether it's fair.
    • Simmons and Stanley have demonstrated their willingness in the past to replace band members, but it's a little known fact that they have also planned for their own replacement when they get too old or die. Simmons wants Kiss to live on long after all the original members are dead and buried.
  • Licensed Pinball Table: Two of them:
    • Bally released a KISS pinball game in 1979, and it became one of pinball's top ten tables ever made. Click here for details.
    • In May 2015, Stern Pinball announced plans to release a new KISS pinball game, complete with a ball-spitting Gene Simmons' head and a Paul Stanley-inspired levitating stage.
    • Though he would later disavow this viewpoint.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The songs "Thou Shalt Not" from Revenge (Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5) and "The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away" from Hot in the Shade (playing off of Job 1:21)
  • Long-Runner Line-up: The original formation played for 13 non-consecutive years: first from 1972-80, then a reunion from 1996 to 2001 (although as Blatant Lies shows, the reunion was more live than on studio).
    • The current line-up of Stanley-Simmons-Thayer-Singer has been going for 14 years, having been together since 2004.
  • Love It or Hate It: Actively invoked and encouraged (!) by the band.
    Paul Stanley: "If you want to hate us, God bless you! If you love us, that's great too. If you're in the middle... get out!"
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "I Just Wanna".
  • Made of Iron:
    • Arguably Frehley, as he was badly shocked during an early concert but recovered well enough to finish the show. Since then, the band use wireless guitars (one of the first bands to do so!), and Ace wrote a song about this accident, "Shock Me", which became his vocal debut. Which is fitting, considering that iron conducts electricity...
    • When KISS was starting and some of their (now famous) concert's antics hadn't been perfected yet, there was one occasion were Simmons accidentally swallowed the (highly toxic) kerosene of his fire breathing stunt. Gene ignored the excruciating abdominal pain and finished the show instead of stopping the concert there and rushing to the hospital. Gene's also set his hair on fire at least once doing his firebreathing stunt.
  • Master of Disguise: "Man Of 1000 Faces" from Gene Simmons' 1978 solo album: "I can put on any face; you won't know me, but it's no disgrace."
  • May–December Romance: "Goin' Blind" details a doomed romance between a 93-year-old and an underage girl.
  • Metal Scream: Gene and less-frequently Paul both did this, especially in the 80s with probably the Lick It Up album featuring the most in a singular work.
  • Monster Clown: The cover of Psycho Circus.
  • Naughty by Night: "Thrills in the Night" from Animalize tells the story of a woman who works a 9-to-5 job but moonlights as a hooker.
  • New Sound Album: Several, most of which were not well received by the fanbase and are still divisive to this daynote :
    • Dynasty was heavily disco-influenced, especially "I Was Made for Loving You".
    • Music from "The Elder" was an attempt at a Progressive Rock Concept Album (described by Simmons later as sounding like a bad Genesis record).
    • Asylum was pure Glam Rock and had the band wearing androgynous make-up and outfits.
    • Crazy Nights was a keyboard-heavy AOR album.
    • Revenge was more hard rock and featured darker lyrics than their mid-eighties Hair Metal / Glam Rock output.
    • Carnival of Souls was a Grunge-inspired, very heavy, metal album.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Invoked by Gene in the April 1996 issue of Guitar Magazine:
    Gene Simmons: "There's no such thing as bad press, there's only press. If you don't get press, that's bad."
  • No Swastikas: Due to German law, the band's normal logo cannot be used in Germanynote , due to the lightning bolt-styled S's resembling the Schutzstaffel logo. While the band has been accused of being Nazis, it seems unlikely that Simmons and Stanley (both being Jewish descendants of concentration camp survivors) intended the logo that way. Hence, the alternate logo with two backwards Z's in place of the S's.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Easily one of the greatest aversions, due to Gene being the most famous member of the group.

  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "Sweet Pain" from Destroyer.
  • One Cast Member per Cover: When the members of Kiss decided to record solo albums in 1978, it was arranged to have all four albums released on the same day (September 18, 1978), with each of the four covers featuring a solo illustration of its respective band member.
  • One Paul Limit: Stanley Eisen took the stage name Paul Stanley. When guitarist Paul Frehley joined up, he used his nickname 'Ace' as a first name to avoid confusion.
    • When Paul Caravello took Peter Criss' place as the drummer, he took on the name Eric Carr.
  • Only One Female Mold: In the cover of Love Gun, as seen here. 'They' are based of the wife of Ken Kelly (the painter of this cover, as well as Destroyer's), who served as a model for all the poses.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Gene wears face paint, spits fake blood, real fire, plays the bass, sings and rolls out his long tongue.
  • Overly-Long Tongue: Gene Simmons, infamously. During an interview with Oprah Winfrey, when she asked him how long his tongue was, he replied, "Enough to make you happy, baby."
  • Performance Video: Most of their videos.
  • Phallic Weapon: "Love Gun".
  • Power Ballad: Generally written by Stanley or Criss. "Beth", "Shandi", "I Still Love You", "Forever" (which had even input from Michael Bolton in the songwriting), "God Gave Rock and Roll to You"...
  • Professional Wrestling: In summer 1999, Kiss and WCW set up a deal to introduce a wrestling character based on Gene's Demon persona. The August 23rd episode of WCW Monday Nitro ended with Kiss faking "God of Thunder," with wrestler Brian Adams emerging from a sarcophagus as the Demon. This was supposed to lead to a feud with Canadian wrestler El Vampiro that would culminate in a special New Year's Evenote  PPV. The storyline would have involved Vampiro attempting to straighten out the Demon, who would have been revealed at some point to be the son of Satan. These plans were abandoned when then-boss Eric Bischoff was canned for poor TV ratings and wasting the company's money on guests such as KISS. Adams never wrestled a single match in the gimmick. Instead, the gimmick was given to Jobber Dale Torborg, who would feud with Vampiro in June-July 2000 before joining his juggalo Heel Power Stable the Dark Carnival, which included Kiss-haters (see Arch-Enemy above) the Insane Clown Posse. The gimmick never really got over, and, as part of Sting's feud with Vampiro, Sting Squashed the Demon in 53 seconds at the abysmal New Blood Rising PPV on August 13th. Things went From Bad to Worse when he was wheeled out in a sarcophagus for a match at a February 15 (aired February 26), 2000 taping of WCW's weekend B Show WCW Worldwide. To quote the February 21st edition of The Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: From "Tough Love": "Gimme...TOUGH!...LOVE!"
  • Rags to Riches: The band was very broke before Alive! made them superstars, in spite of their successful tours. Despite quickly gaining a sponsorship with Gibson guitars, Paul Stanley said at one point they were so broke that he pawned a couple of them just to pay his rent.
  • The Rashomon: See if you can find a straight answer for how much overdubbing was applied to Alive!.
  • Reality Show: Gene Simmons Family Jewels.
  • Really Gets Around: All of the band members had their groupies, but Gene Simmons was the most promiscuous of the lot.note 
    • In Frehley's autobiography, he speculates that Gene may be a sex addict.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Paul got purple as his main colour (look at his jacket in Dynasty!). His Camp Straight behaviour, and the fact he wrote several pop oriented songs ("I Was Made For Lovin' You"...) doesn't help.
    • Their outfits in the mid-80s were androgynous at best.
  • Rearrange the Song: Like many other live rock albums with orchestras, Alive IV (although the orchestra is only present for about two-thirds of the album). Jigoku Retsuden is also this in a fashion, as it's the band playing their classics with Tommy and Eric Singer.
  • Revolving Door Band: And "revolving" is especially true as the members other than Gene and Paul come and go and back.
  • Robot or Spaceman Alter Ego: Ace Frehley originated the Spaceman. Later, Tommy Thayer took this identity.
  • Rock Bottom: They have a song with this title.
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: "Unholy":
    "I was created by man, yeah I'm the Lord of the flies, you know I'm"
    • In addition the Backronym by unhappy parents that KISS stood for "Knights In Satan's Service".
  • Rock Trio: KISS has performed as a trio on a couple of occasions - in January 1982 when the band played "I" without Ace, and in 2007 when Paul suffered an irregular heartbeat and elected to not perform.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: Paul at the end of "Black Diamond".
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: They stomp around on stage in crazy costumes, their bass player breathes fire, spits blood, and looks like a demon, the lead guitarist is fond of putting fireworks in his guitar... and some of their biggest hits are "Beth", "Hard Luck Woman", and "I Was Made For Lovin' You", which sounds like it belongs on an "easy-listening" station.
  • Scatting: DO do do do DO do do do do DO do do do DO DO do...
  • Self-Titled Album: For the band (1974) and each of its members (1978).
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: This trope is seen when you compare the lyrics of songs written by Paul with the lyrics of songs written by Gene. Paul spent decades searching for the woman of his dreams and had his heart famously broken by actress Donna Dixon, while Gene spent decades having sex with every willing woman in his path and denouncing monogamy. Some of the more famous songs written by Paul include "I Want You", "Strutter", "Anything for My Baby", and "Shandi", which are all songs about Paul longing for a woman he can't have. Meanwhile, Gene wrote songs like "Calling Dr. Love", "Christine Sixteen", and "Nothing to Lose" which all have very sexual lyrics. It even reflects on their own singing deliveries: Paul's voice is smoother and higher, while Gene sings with a low, growling voice.
    • Gene also was one of the writers on "War Machine" and "Unholy," neither of which have any kind of sexual contact, being anthems of destruction and Satan, respectively.
  • "Sesame Street" Cred:
    • One of the hosts of the original version of 3-2-1 Contact had a backstage look at the intricate preparation and management of a concert of the band.
    • Late-2000s Nickelodeon had a penchant for having KISS guest star in their cartoons.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll:
    • Peter and Ace's issues with drugs and booze contributed heavily to their eventually leaving the band.
    • Gene claims that he has never been drunk or done drugs, claim echoed by Ace (and said during a time period when they were seriously on the outs, so Ace would have had no reason to lie). On the other hand, he is one of rock and roll's most notorious womanisers and has reportedly had sex with thousands of women.
    • Paul's only indulgence over the years (again according to Ace) was red wine with dinner.
  • Sexy Stewardess: "Room Service" invokes this.
    My plane's delayed and I'm afraid
    They're gonna keep me waiting here till nine
    Then a stewardess in a tight blue dress says
    "I got the time"
  • Shout-Out:
    • Gene said that "Calling Dr. Love" was inspired by the "Calling Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard" announcements in The Three Stooges' short Men In Black.
    • Gene Simmons' own costume and stage persona of The Demon has several comic book references, not the least of which is Black Bolt from Marvel's Inhumans.
  • Solo Side Project: Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter did this by releasing solo albums at the same time in 1978.
  • Spin-Off: All KISS members, both former and current, released albums and formed bands at one point or another with varying degrees of success. Simmons' A**hole, Stanley's Live to Win, Ace Frehley's Frehley's Comet, Peter Criss' Criss, Mark St. John's White Tiger, the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, the Eric Singer Project (with Bruce Kulick), Thayer's former group Black n' Blue...
    • Frehley's "New York Groove" became one of many anthems for New York City.
  • Stage Names: The only members to use their birth names are Tommy Thayer and Bruce Kulick (for starters, the original four all used stage names; Simmons was born Chaim Witz, Paul Stanley is Stanley Harvey Eisen, Ace Frehley's first name is really Paul, and Peter Criss' real name is George Peter John Criscuola, though he's always gone by his middle name). Many members went ahead and used at least one of their birth names for their stage names, though (for example, Vinnie Vincent is Vincent Cusano, and Mark St. John is Mark Norton).
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Most members (except Vinnie Vincent and Mark St. John) got some songs:
    • On first album, Peter Criss sang in "Nothin' to Lose" (shared with Gene), "Black Diamond" (shared with Paul), "Kissin' Time" (shared with both Gene and Paul). His first solo vocal credits came in Hotter Than Hell, with "Mainline" and "Strange Ways", followed by "Getaway" (Dressed to Kill), "Beth" (Destroyer, the best-known example), "Baby Driver", "Hard Luck Woman" (Rock and Roll Over), the aforementioned "Dirty Livin'" and "I Finally Found My Way" (Psycho Circus). Ace, meanwhile, debuted with "Shock Me" from Love Gun. Subsequently he followed with "Rocket Ride" from Alive II, "2,000 Man" (a The Rolling Stones cover), "Hard Times", "Save Your Love" (all three from Dynasty), "Talk to Me", "Two Sides of the Coin", "Torpedo Girl" (all three from Unmasked), "Dark Light" (Music from The Elder) and "Into the Void" and "In Your Face" (both from Psycho Circus, although the latter is only a japan edition bonus). Both of them also shared vocals with Stanley and Simmons on another Psycho Circus track, "You Wanted the Best", this being the only song to feature all then-current four members on lead vocals.
    • While "Beth" is traditionally more a Peter Criss song than one for the whole band (after all, he wrote it for his wife), Eric Carr covered it on the 1988 Smashes, Thrashes, And Hits album. He also sang "Little Caesar" in Hot in the Shade, the following year.
    • Eric Singer and Peter share "Nothin' to Lose" in the band's MTV Unplugged.
    • Bruce Kulick gets a moment as the lead vocalist in "I Walk Alone" from Carnival Of Souls.
    • Eric Singer's studio debut was on a re-recorded version of "Black Diamond", that appears on Jigoku-Retsuden.
    • Eric Singer does the lead in "All For The Glory" and Tommy Thayer does it in "When Lightning Strikes" from Sonic Boom.
    • Eric in "All For The Love Of Rock & Roll" and Tommy in "Outta This World" from Monster.
    • "You Wanted the Best", from Psycho Circus, is the only one where all four members are officially credited with vocal duties. Earlier, the break section of "Shout It Out Loud" had all four members takingturns each singing a phrase, while Paul sang the first verse and Gene the second.
  • Strictly Formula: After the craptastic result of the experimental Music From the Elder, this became their mantra music-wise. This is why Sonic Boom and Monster ended up working out well. For the latter, they didn't even use anything digital, resulting in the decidedly old-school sound of the record.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley's cleaner vocal style was the "Soprano", with Gene Simmons and Peter Criss' harsher, raspier style being the "Gravel".
    • This is the case with all the Kiss drummers. Since Peter Criss had such a distinctive raspy voice, they selected the following drummers, Eric Carr and Eric Singer at least partially because they could convincingly pull off Criss' vocal lines.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: The character in "Detroit Rock City" dies in a car crash.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Beth", “We Are One”, “I Finally Found My Way” and "Forever".
  • Surreal Music Video: The clip for "Psycho Circus".
    • What's even more surreal is watching it with the 3D glasses that the VHS version came with.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • Eric Carr replaced Peter Criss in 1980 with a similar animal motif make up (Compare Carr's Fox persona to Criss' Catman) and was also the shortest member in the line-up.
      • After Carr's death, he was replaced by another Eric, Eric Singer. Singer had drummed for Paul Stanley on his 1989 solo tour, and Stanley introduced him during shows as "One of the two best drummers I know named Eric."
    • Vinnie Vincent (The Ankh Warrior) replaced Ace Frehley (The Space Ace) in 1982 with a similarly cosmic character, and they were both the skinniest of their respective line-ups.
    • Tommy Thayer wears Ace Frehley's make-up, has a similar costume, sings his old songs (notably "Shock Me") in concert, and has a similar guitar solo set-piece, complete with fireworks. Although not as pronounced (due to his being behind a drum-kit) Eric Singer wears Peter Criss's original make-up and sings his vocal parts (such as the lead on "Black Diamond") as well.
  • Take That!: Simmons wrote "I" as a Take That! to Frehley - hence the line:
    I don't need to get wasted - it only holds me back
    • On the 1992 VHS release KISS: X-treme Close Up, Paul talks about how back in the 1970s people were trying to get him to listen to Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
    "No, you listen to Emerson, Lake and Palmer, not me."
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Paul Stanley.
    • Depending on who you ask, Tommy Thayer as well.
  • Temporary Substitute: Before a 1997 concert, Peter Criss refused to go out on stage unless he was paid more. The band's solution? Put Criss' make-up on drum tech Ed Canon, introduce him at the beginning of the show, and rock on! Nobody in the audience asked for a refund, and Criss never missed another concert during his tenure with the group.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Ace Frehley, a unique but unorthodox guitarist that, according to accounts from the time only practice when he felt like it, compared to Vinnie Vincent, a super technical "shredder", Bruce Kulick, also (to a lesser extreme) a shredder, and Tommy Thayer, who based his entire style on copying Ace note-for-note.
  • Throwback Threads: They returned to their iconic makeup and costumes in 1996, after over a decade without wearing them. They've performed in them ever since.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: In the mid-90s, during the height of the ill feelings between Simmons and Frehley, a Guitar World interviewer asked Gene the somewhat loaded question of if he was bitter about most KISS fans thinking Ace's solo album was the best one. Gene proceeded to surprise the interviewer by saying he thought Ace's album was the best one, and when Ace was later told of this, he joked "Maybe there's hope for Gene yet!"
  • Trust Me, I'm a Doctor: Gene's slogan in commercials for Dr. Pepper Cherry soda, where he plays "Calling Dr. Love" in full KISS costume.
    • The song itself may qualify:
      So as you please get on your knees
      There are no bills, there are no fees
      Baby, I know what your problem is
      The first step of the cure is... a kiss
  • Unperson: A subversion in terms of their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. When only the original four members of the band were inducted in 2014, many suspected that leaders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley had arranged for the exclusion of well-liked replacements such as Bruce Kulick, Eric Singer and the late Eric Carr. Then news came out that it was actually quite the opposite: Simmons and Stanley had actually fought with the Hall to include those members and when they were rebuffed, the band refused to perform.
  • Unplugged Version: "Hard Luck Woman" is one of the band's few acoustic guitar songs.
  • Verbal Tic: Watch/listen to any interview with Ace Frehley, and take a drink any time he says "y'know." Let's just say you better own one of them Kiss Kaskets, because you'll be needing it very shortly.
  • Vocal Evolution: Vocal devolution in Paul's case. His voice has seemingly been getting worse and worse over the last few years, which hasn't gone unnoticed by the fans. A particularly bad example of his singing these days occured during his performance of Love Gun at a 2018 concert in Barcelona.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Usually between Paul and Gene, but the rest is given a chance. Well, except for Vinnie Vincent and Mark St. John.
    • Specific song examples note : "Nothin' to Lose" (Simmons and Criss), "Let Me Know", "Kissin' Time" (Simmons, Stanley and Criss), "She", "Shout It Out Loud", "Only You", "I", "Spit", "God Gave Rock 'n' Roll to You II", "You Wanted the Best" (Simmons, Stanley, Criss and Frehley), "Stand" and "Take Me Down Below".
    • Their MTV Unplugged performance has the following: "Nothin' to Lose" (Singer and Criss) and "Rock and Roll All Nite" (Simmons, Frehley and Criss).
  • The Voiceless: Vinnie Vincent and Mark St. John have the dubious honour of being the only two KISS ex-members to never sing lead vocals on at least one song; St. John being the only member to not even sing backing vocals.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A rather tragic case is former guitarist Vinnie Vincent. He'd fallen on very hard times in recent years due to his drug and alcohol addiction, the death of his wife, being scammed out of thousands of dollars by someone who claimed they wanted to mass produce his Flying 'V' guitar and had been arrested because some rather crazy fans decided to plant containers with dead dogs in them on his property. After this, his home was found to be abandoned and in terrible condition (these pictures were apparently taken after the realtor had the house cleaned out.) He hasn't been seen or heard from since then and many fans fear he may be dead....until January of 2018 when he appeared at Atlanta KISS Expo! He ended up being interviewed by Eddie Trunk, explaining that he had actually been undergoing "20 years of year" due to ongoing legal battles with KISS (who he holds no ill will towards), went through a "bad marriage" and has stated that he will share the stage with Gene possibly in the future. He also explained that his departure from KISS was more or less business wise, not any tension or anger from the members, and also stated he's not a fan of the internet, hence the lack of any information of his whereabouts (although he did joke that because of this, he missed a lot of emails from Gene). A prime example of an amazing He's Back!.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: In his memoir, Paul told a story about the band driving back from a show on the Psycho Circus tour that just so happened to be on Halloween. Their van got stuck in a costume parade, so they got out and walked the last few blocks to their hotel. Everyone complimented their costumes and didn't realize it was the real KISS coming back from a show.