At the turn of the ‘80s, the entire rock scene was about to get a lot more photogenic. With the rise of MTV making the TV the biggest radio station in the world, it was as important how you looked in the rock scene as you sounded, as acts like Queen and David Bowie translated beautifully over because of their amazing charisma. There were a few rumblings from America though, and the entire scene was directed to the Sunset Strip within the span of weeks.
Although hair metal gets a bit of a nasty reputation these days for being nothing but fluff, there was a lot more than dumb luck that put these bands over the top as some of the best known acts to ever pick up instruments. While the songs might not be the most intellectual thing in the world, the sound of these bands became the soundtrack to the next era of metal music, with bands looking to tease their hair and make their own anthems alongside power ballads that could tear at your heartstrings.
For a genre that’s known for being one note, there’s also a ton of variety here, from rootsier rock and roll to something that was a little more dangerous. You don’t really have to sit down and dissect these songs note for note, but you’re not supposed to. This is a genre all about having fun, and there’s no shame in rocking out whenever the time calls for it.
10. Skid Row - Skid Row
Most of the great hair metal bands didn't have any business staying on the Sunset Strip after the late '80s. Just before bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam were about to change the rock landscape, the entire LA rock scene started to look like a shell of its former self, with acts like Warrant sounding like the cheap sellout version of what bands like Motley Crue were already doing. The Strip scene may have seemed dead, but there was still some noise going on on the other side of the country.
Coming out of New Jersey thanks to some help from Jon Bon Jovi, Skid Row's debut record was miles ahead of any other hair band at the time, with Sebastian Bach's high screams having a lot more grit behind them than the likes of Faster Pussycat or Dangerous Toys. While most of the metal bands of the time were just talking about the glory of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, songs like 18 and Life and I Remember You actually had a story to tell, taking more than a few cues from Springsteen by making character songs with a little more grit behind them.
Even when the alternative movement changed the rock world, Skid Row seemed to practice what they preached as well, using this album as a jumping off point to get even heavier, as later records like Slave to the Grind delved into much heavier territory than what any of the poodle-haired acts were capable of. Some may have just been in the hair metal business for the thrills, but Skid Row knew that if you wanted to stick around, you have to treat it like a lifestyle.