Everyone has a guilty pleasure, and mine is hair metal. I grew up listening to '80s and early '90s pop metal before getting into some of the more intense genres. There have always been arguments about who was and wasn't a hair band. In my opinion, Guns 'N Roses, Van Halen and Def Leppard were NOT hair bands, so you won't find them on my list. And since these bands were more single than album oriented, I mention my favorite songs by the groups instead of albums.
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In a close call over the Crue, Poison is my choice as the best hair metal band of all time. From "Talk Dirty To Me" to "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" to "Unskinny Bop" they have had huge radio and MTV hits and sold millions of albums. I like Bret Michaels as a singer a little better than Vince Neil and the two bands tie with the number of members that have been with Pamela Anderson.
For pure debauchery nobody beats Motley Crue. They've lived to tell the tale and are still touring and making music. Tommy Lee is a great drummer and Nikki Sixx an excellent bassist. They've also had a ton of commercial success and great songs like "Girls Girls Girls," "Shout At The Devil" and "Kickstart My Heart."
Even though "Round and Round" was their only big radio hit, Ratt had a ton of great songs. Stephen Pearcy's distinctive rasp and the band's funky guitar work made them stand out. "I Want A Woman," "You're In Love" and "Lay It Down" are all really good songs. Ratt reunited and released a well-received CD Infestation in 2010.
Warrant was a group that had the knack for writing memorable ballads. "Heaven" and "Sometimes She Cries" climbed the pop charts, but I always liked "Down Boys." I hated the song "Cherry Pie," but the video helped a little. After leaving and coming back to the band several times over the years, lead singer Jani Lane passed away in 2011.
5. DokkenThis was a band that imploded just as they were about to explode. George Lynch and Don Dokken couldn't get along and the band split up as they were on the verge of rocketing to the next level. Lynch is one of the best guitarists in metal, and Dokken can really croon. "In My Dreams" is a classic, and "It's Not Love" and "Alone Again" are also good.
6. CinderellaTom Kiefer's high pitched voice is very distinctive, and Cinderella's brand of pop metal had a little blues influence. "Gypsy Road," "Coming Home" and "Shake Me" were my favorite songs by the group. Cinderella are still touring, although it's been several years since they've released new material. But when you think about it, people don't really want to hear new songs by groups they grew up with. They just want to hear the big hits.
7. WingerKip Winger had the whitest teeth in music, and could really play the bass. Reb Beach was also a really good guitar player. As far as musicianship they were one of the most talented of the hair bands. "Seventeen," "Madelaine" and "Miles Away" are my top 3 Winger songs. And even though Stuart in Beavis and Butthead wore their tee shirt, they still made my top 10.
8. SlaughterMark Slaughter has a powerful voice that sometimes leaned toward sounding screechy. But his pipes were the real deal and having seen him sing at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally fairly recently can vouch that he hasn't lost a thing since the '80s, unlike some of his contemporaries. "Burning Bridges" is a great song, and I'd also throw in "Spend My Life" and "Fly To The Angels" as quality tracks.
9. L.A. GunsI think they've had about 15 different lead singers over the years, although the Phil Lewis era is the one where they had the most success. Tracii Guns is a very good guitarist, and even though he isn't with the band now, he was back then. My favorite L.A. Guns song has always been "Ballad Of Jayne," followed by "Never Enough" and "It's Over Now."
10. White LionWhite Lion, led by Danish singer Mike Tramp, was one of the few hair bands that sang about things other than chicks and partying. They addressed some social and political issues in their songs. I've always like "Little Fighter," which was about a Greenpeace ship that was sunk by French commandos. "Tell Me" and "Wait" were also very good songs.