Last Saturday night was spent watching something I think I was destined to eventually see: a hair metal cover band. From the gender-bending fashion to the tongue-wiggling to the high-pitched wails, Poison Cherry and Posin had everything down pat. A lot of memories of being in elementary school came back to me. All those hours watching videos on MTV and thinking hair metal was really cool. The deal was, I also had a better understanding of why Nirvana was such a relief in 1991.
I'm of the argument that hair metal could've only been massively popular in the Eighties. The excessive, there-is-no-line debauchery fit in with that time, but that time has passed. Thankfully, it's still fun to revisit that time by watching videos, listening to records and especially watching tribute/cover bands.
Between 1987-1990, hair metal was something I watched in awe. Sure, those R.E.M. and U2 videos were cool, but those hair metal bands seemed so over-the-top and likable at the same time. Guitar solos were cool, as were high-pitched vocals. But I was a prepubescent in elementary school with limited knowledge of what else was out there. When I got into Nirvana, along with classic rock, hair metal felt incredibly out of touch. It didn't really occur to me until a few songs into Poison Cherry's set as to why.
If anything, hair metal was about partying and getting laid. But for people that want something more out of music, there was a desire for deep substance. I didn't have that desire in fourth grade. I did by seventh and eighth grade. Now that's not to say hair metal wasn't tuneful or had flashes of dense stuff, but the songs that epitomized the sleaze seemingly got the most attention. You may not know what you got 'til it's gone, but you really want nothin' but a good time.
Despite certain modern bands aping the sleaze and stupidity of harder-tinged hair metal bands (ie, Escape the Fate and Avenged Sevenfold), I seriously doubt they will be as remembered as the ones that inspired them. From what I saw Saturday night, hair metal today sits rightfully where it belongs: in a bar.