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  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Gene Simmons: is he the single Manliest, coolest looking and most badass and Lead Bassist ever, or a greedy megalomaniac who wastes his money on everything he finds? Or is he a little bit of both?
    • Singer and Thayer after they took Criss and Frehley's makeup.
    • Heck, any lead guitarist not named Ace to an extent. Vinnie Vincent in particular. Vinnie's contributions are generally liked, but his playing style is wildly divisive; he's either an incredibly original and unique guitarist who was forced down by the rest of the band, or he's an atonal, utterly tuneless hack who can't play anything that isn't an aimless, chromatic mess with gratuitous whammy bar abuse (which wasn't really that pronounced during his time in KISS when Gene and Paul had final say over his solos, but his work in the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, when he had complete control over his playing style, is a different story).
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  • Chorus-Only Song: Hard to find someone who isn't a hard-core fan note  who knows the verses for "Rock and Roll All Nite".
  • Covered Up:
    • Many people forgot that "New York Groove" (the most well known track in Ace's 1978 solo album) was a song by Argent, originally by Hello.
    • The Power Ballad "God Gave Rock n' Roll to You", which was also originally by Argent. When KISS covered it, they added a "II" to the title, possibly to differentiate the two songs more clearly, as KISS' version has completely different lyrics except for the chorus.
  • Critical Dissonance: Critics tend to really HATE this band. Doesn't stop it from selling tons of stuff.
    • Specifically, The various editions of the Rolling Stone Album Guide give good ratings to Alive! and Destroyer...and that's about it.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: It seems to have always been Gene’s modus operendi; in particular, his interview with NPR’s Terry Gross is a prime example.
  • Dork Age:
    • For many, the 1979-1981 period, from Dynasty to Music for the Elder. To be specific...
      • Dynasty: It's unarguable that it was perhaps the biggest commercially successful studio album in the entire history of the band (if one ignores the Alive compilations), but what most people don't know is that, in the long run, Dynasty itself almost destroyed the band when it was first released. With the shift to the far more mainstream disco genre, although the album proved to be a commercial success, it began alienating the fans that had followed the band since its early beginnings, resulting in less-than-sold-out arenas and stadiums when the band went on tour, something unheard of when it came to KISS concerts and their particular fame.note  In addition, KISS's popularity amongst the younger age set began to backfire; when you're in your teens, it's simply not considered "cool" to like the same things your kid brother does.
      • Unmasked: After promising a return to the heavier sound they were known for they proceeded to release Unmasked, which was a critical flop due to the still present "pop sound". While the band had big hit in Australia with "Shandi" and a successful tour there, their situation back in the USA became even more precarious. To make matters worse, the following album was...
      • The (in)famous Music from "The Elder": The band's Concept Album proved to be a catastrophic commercial and critical flop which lead to the outright cancellation of the album's tour, once again a first for any KISS release.
      • Creatures of the Night, while successful critically due to being the heaviest KISS album yet and featuring the band's strongest songs in some time, didn't fare any better on the commercial and on the tour side of things (many people also attribute this to two founding members, lead guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss leaving the band around the same time). While the band did have a successful mini-tour in Brazil playing stadiums, their American tour was a disaster; Paul later remarked that during one meagerly-attended show, he tossed a guitar pick into the crowd, only to have it go over the heads of everyone there and land on the floor.
      • ...And finally, they remove their makeup and released Lick It Up, which didn't chart very high, but was still certified gold within a few months of release. This is largely considered attributable to publicity generated by the band's decision to do away with the makeup and costumes concurrent with the album's release. Then Animalize was released, went gold quickly, and the band's finances were back at normal (excluding contractual issues with Vinnie Vincent and health issues with Mark St. John), although sell-out concerts would still elude them for one more album, finally going to back to their usual tour success with Crazy Nights.
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    • To some fans, the years without make-up were the whole dork-age.
    • To others, any time when the line-up doesn't include Criss AND Frehley.
  • Epic Riff: You know the house is gonna come down when "Detroit Rock City" and "Rock and Roll All Nite" (and others!) start playing.
    • According to the Decibel Geek Podcast, this is also the case with I had Enough from the Animalize album. The reason why its not played in concerts anymore is because, apparently, the band and Bruce Kulick in particular end up completely exhausted by the end of it.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Their second drummer Eric Carr is universally beloved by the fanbase thanks for being a very Nice Guy, especially in the wake of his tragic death in late 1991.
    • Ace is probably the fan favorite. Having the best 1978 solo album helps. Not to mention he's probably the only member actually recognized for being especially talented.
    • Mark St. John after his death in 2007 sort of became this, although the debate of who's the best KISS guitarist will go around forever. Most fans universally agree he was a DAMN good guitar player, and perhaps the most technically skilled guitarist KISS ever had (aside from maybe Vinnie Vincent, whose style was far more divisive).
  • Face of the Band: Simmons and Stanley, particularly the former; justified as they're the only original members still in the band.
    • Definitely the case for Stanley in the 80's when Simmons was more focused with his acting career and other outside pursuits.
  • Fanon Discontinuity:
    • The Music from "The Elder" album sounded so much unlike anything KISS had released to that point that fans and critics alike universally panned it, and sales were so poor that anything related to the album was instantly scrapped. The band quickly moved forward and forgot about the whole fiasco as fast as possible.
    • KISS has never, ever done a disco song.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: "Dynasty" and "Unmasked" is where many around the world thought Kiss jumped the shark. However, both albums are regarded as classics in Australia.
    • The United Kingdom absolutely loved "Crazy Crazy Nights", being there highest charting hit over there at #4. In fact, the U.K. is where Kiss saw the most success during the non-makeup years.
    • In the early 1980s (prior to the unmasked years) KISS' popularity had severely declined all over the world... except for Japan, New Zealand and Australia, where they remained as popular as they were in the 1970s.
    • The song "Shandi" was a huge hit in Australia, and to this day the band always performs it during live performances in that country.note  In the United States, "Shandi" is a mostly-forgotten song and only reached 47 on the Billboard charts at the time of its release.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In the 90s, Tommy Thayer is in a KISS tribute band called "Cold Gin" and took the role of Ace Frehley. And guess which member he remplaces (makeup included) ?
    • Mark St. John liked to tell a tale about how he was introduced to Vinnie Vincent one night and was told that he was "KISS' new lead guitarist." Mark St. John's reply? "KISS, what a shitty band!" Fast forward two albums later...
    • Minor one, the album title "Unmasked" became funny when KISS would become Unmasked for real 3 years later by taking off their makeup.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Gene Simmons, of all people. Start with having polio as a child, growing up dirt-poor with his Holocaust-survivor mother, and moving to a whole new country, where everything is different, and nobody speaks your language.
    • Vinnie Vincent. The man has been unreliable and an ass to both musical collaborators and fans alike, but has also had a long history of depression, legal issues, one wife of his being murdered and the other one drinking herself to death, and dealing with the backlash of replacing the universally beloved Ace Frehley.
  • Narm Charm: Gene's cover of "When You Wish Upon A Star" from his first solo album. On paper it sounds like it shouldn't work at all, but Gene's genuinely passionate performance and the lush orchestral score makes it worth the listen.
  • Never Live It Down: Their 1978 interview with Tom Snyder. It was one of their biggest publicity fiascoes because, contrary to the band's original intentions, it exposed to the audience their true personalities for the first time. The interview was supposed to showcase the members as serious, respectable musicians with a personal mystique on par with The Beatles or The Who, but as the program went on, one could see the nasty inner tensions simmering between the original members as well as their personal flaws; e.g. Simmons' self-important dickishness and Frehley's irresponsible but incredibly hilarious party-hearty drunkenness. You can even see how Simmons is fuming over how Frehley's behavior accidentally stole the spotlight everytime, earning most of Tom Snyder's attention and (undeservedly) endearing Ace to the fans even more.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Mark St. John, KISS' third lead guitarist. Only played on one album (Animalize), got reactive arthritis, and was replaced almost instantly with Bruce Kulick. Accounts vary on how many shows of the album's tour he played in, but most agree that St. John played very few, if any, and that Kulick ended up filling up for him in most of them.
    • St. John was a talented guitarist but he wasn't right for the group. Weary from their constant battles with Vinnie Vincent, Gene and Paul wanted a guitarist who would play the songs the way they wanted them played. While St. John's quiet personality was easier to get along with than the egotistical Vincent, his constant playing improvisation grated on Gene and Paul almost immediately; when his medical condition sidelined him for the European leg of the Animalize tour, they brought in Bruce Kulick as a temporary replacement. Kulick, thrilled to be playing in the group, obeyed every directive Gene and Paul gave him and played the solos exactly the way they wanted every night. When St. John recovered enough to begin playing in the shows again, Gene and Paul quickly decided that while Kulick didn't have St. John's raw talent, he was a much better fit for KISS.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Mostly averted with Eric Carr, but otherwise played straight for most part. Especially in regards to Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer using costumes/singing songs by Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. Not that the fans hate Singer/Thayer as people, but they hate how they wear the "Catman" and "Spaceman" makeup after Criss and Frehley departed.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Not to anyone involved in the band's music, but their technician, "Ampie"; most people today know him as John Elder Robison, autism rights advocate and author of Look Me in the Eye, an autobiography about his life with undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome.
  • Signature Song: Quite a few. Best examples are "Rock and Roll All Nite", "Detroit Rock City", and "I Was Made For Lovin' You". For the non-makeup era, there is "Lick It Up", "Heaven's On Fire", and "Forever".
  • Silent Majority: Did you know that there are fans who love Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer and feel they're worthy replacements for their predecessors? You wouldn't know it from the way the anti-Singer/Thayer trolls harp on about them.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The main riff of "Modern Day Delilah" sounds almost identical to Pearl Jam's "Even Flow".
    • "Reason to Live" from Crazy Nights sounds extremely similar to Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is".
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: This will generally be the attitude among a vocal portion of the band's fandom whenever a personnel shakeup takes place. The current lineup especially gets people riled up, since Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer are wearing the makeup of the absent original members, and there are some out there who still resent Singer for not being Eric Carr.
  • Vindicated by History: In some fans eyes, Vinnie Vincent. The release of demos on the internet and live recordings vindicate him as a fairly talented guitar player and songwriter with a smooth singing voice and knack for melodic ballads, but hard for KISS to work with because of his showy style, and a Nice Guy in real life who suffered from financial circumstances, a miserable lonely marriage and a belief nobody cared about him that led to a deep depression and avoiding the public until he was back on the streets in 2018.
    • The whole band has seen a reappraisal in later years, seeing as a lot of rock's most credible and legendary performers post-1970's has claimed inspiration or appreciation of them.
    • The band's early work has also found new appreciation the last few years, particularly the very first three or four albums, which feature some downright nasty proto-metal, and a lot more experimentation than the safe party-rock act Kiss would become later on.
    • For some, Music from The Elder is an interesting experiment and change of pace despite its commercial failure.
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: Why they went in for a Darker and Edgier sound in the Eighties to keep up with those bands that they had inspired.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: The song "Detroit Rock City" is one of many rather inappropriate songs featured on Tooth Tunes, a line of toothbrushes that when used play music. Nothing brings kids to brush their teeth quite like a song about a man going way over the speed limit while going to a KISS concert and dying in a car crash, right? Not to mention it's a true story and one of the lyrics is either "I know I'm gonna die, why?" or "I know I'm gonna die, and I don't care!" depending on the version.


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