bad ’80s hair metal reborn: new hope for the mistakes of the past

Your songs are like bad Def Leppard . . . bad Def Leppard’s not what I need . . . oh-oh-oh . . .

That’s right—it’s time for another chapter in the Evil’s ongoing ponderings concerning at-work satellite radio programming . . .

Here’s what happened: whilst walking to the water fountain, Evil passed directly under the intercom and missed a step. Why? Because a song he never, seriously never, thought he’d hear again was playing. Was, in fact, being piped in and rained over hundreds of innocent worker bees. That song? “Bad Medicine” by Bon Jovi.

As a child of the ’80s, a surly teenager of the early ’90s, a smirking collegian of the late ’90s, and the voice of the new millennium, the Evil (surprise!) has a few thoughts on the matter.

There was a time, having banished his suddenly-embarrassing Poison and Crüe tapes to a box in the closet, when the Evil felt sure the songs he had, ahem, “rocked out” to throughout his early years (come on; how hard can one rock out at 14?) would never be heard again. Remember that feeling? It seemed educational, didn’t it, like hearing your history teacher drone on about fallen empires, countries erased from the map? You were taking part in history! . . . at least insofar as the editing-of goes. And even then you couldn’t pretend to feel full disdain for your now-obsolete music collection. Even if you wouldn’t, couldn’t admit it for fear of social banishment, you knew a world without “Round and Round” [Ratt] or “Pour Some Sugar On Me” [Def Leppard] would be a barren, windswept place.

—Wait! Wait! This isn’t turning into an ’80s nostalgia piece! Stay with the Evil! Alls he’s trying to say is that, as far as adolescent certainties go, Evil felt pretty sure he’d never hear “Burning Like a Flame” [Dokken] again. (And he hasn’t.)

Now. The years have ground on, and ’80s hair metal is back-ish. Evil remembers the day he heard the first glam song played in public since . . . oh, about October, 1991. Five or so years ago, he was playing pool in a bar mostly filled with children of the ’90s (wretched creatures!) when “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” [Poison] started playing. In fact, someone had paid to play it! Evil gazed about in astonishment, saw the looks on those children’s faces, and realized they felt about glam rock the way Evil feels about disco: it’s harmless, before his time, and didn’t wreck his musical life. No big deal! It’s funny if you didn’t live through it! Like Vietnam!

Since then, the “classic” ’80s anthems—your “Pour Some Sugars”, your “Home Sweet Homes” [Mötley Crüe]—have seemingly slipped back into the accepted musical lexicon. And at the same time, your “Every Roses” and your “Turn Up the Radios” [Autograph] have been reborn as kitsch. Evil accepts all of this with a heroic equanimity.

But—we’re finally back to “Bad Medicine” now—there are definitely songs from that era he still didn’t expect, desire, or welcome back into the aural fold. “Bad Medicine” is a nice example. It’s not kitschy (or at least, not any more than a thousand other songs), it doesn’t noticeably rock, and it pales in comparison to the same band’s other songs. Evil would rather hear “You Give Love a Bad Name” a thousand times than “Bad Medicine” once. Just as he accepts “Dr. Feelgood” but rejects “S.O.S. (Same Old Situation)” [again with the Crüe]. Or “The Final Countdown” over “Carrie” [Europe] . . . you get the point. Sure, we’re a generation fairly choking on our own nostalgia, but not every song from the ’80s is worth playing now—even for a laugh.

. . . Just like not every sweater Cosby wore was awesome. Sorry to be the one to say that, but it’s true. Deal with it. Move on.

How about it, FOEs? Are there songs from that era you thought you would never hear again, only to find yourself cringing and incredulous when you did?

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3 thoughts on “bad ’80s hair metal reborn: new hope for the mistakes of the past”

  1. I can’t say I was paying any attention at all to any of that music ever. I don’t recognize any of those songs. In fact, when you said “glam”, I was thinking TRex, the Dolls, Bowie, Queen. Yeah, I am very, very old. But, I have had similar experiences, albeit with an earlier era. I was in an elevator once (I swear that part is true) and I heard this song that I somehow recognized, even strangely enough knew all the words to before they happened, but can’t say I “remembered” it. Couldn’t place it at all, in fact. Got home and looked up the snippet of lyrics still lingering in my head, and learned it was “Black Diamond” by KISS. I’d worn that album out when I was eight or so, then completely forgot all about it like it never existed, until it became elevator music.

    I wish I had some kind of big moral of the story here, but I don’t. It’s just a weird feeling, like remembering a past life or something.

  2. yes! exactly! remembering a past life is a perfect way to put it. they’re not necessarily songs you banished from your memory from hate, spite, weariness . . . none of that. they simply faded into the firmament because they’re not worth remembering.

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