In among the slew of albums out this week, we were rather surprised to see one bearing the name LA Guns. We’ll be honest and admit that we assumed these Los Angeles hair metal stalwarts had broken up years ago, but no, they’re still going strong (although they appear to have splintered into two parallel versions of themselves, a long and complicated story that’s related at Wikipedia for anyone interested). Anyway, for all that mid-’80s LA metal was undeniably awful and silly, there was something rather endearing about its sheer, unabashed absurdity — as Flavorwire hero Nicky Wire once said, “You should never be afraid to look like a fool.” As such, we’ve always had a rather guilty soft spot for some of these bands, and thus we’ve collated a list of 10 gloriously absurd acts from the genre’s heyday. (And trust us, this is one feature you have to read until the end. Not that you wouldn’t anyway. But still. Really.)
Yes, “Cherry Pie” was ludicrously overplayed and, y’know, ludicrous in general. But there was something kinda likeable about Warrant — they didn’t appear to take themselves overly seriously (we still giggle about the bit in the “Cherry Pie” video where the father walks in), and we were genuinely sad to hear of the death of singer Jani Lane last year, apparently from alcohol poisoning.
The band was called “Danger Danger.” Their first two singles were called “Bang Bang” and “Naughty Naughty.” Yes, we think this meets our criteria for “endearingly ridiculous.”
The band’s name stood for “We Are Sexual Perverts.” Singer Blackie Lawless’s microphone stand was so heavy that it required a crane to move. Their album Smell the Glove was released with a black cover after the public objected to its cover art. At least two of these things are true.
One of the most amusing things about ’80s metal is how hilariously homoerotic it all was. But while most ’80s poodle metalers went for spandex and eyeliner, the lead singer of Minnesota hopefuls Slave Raider, one Chainsaw Caine, sported an eyepatch and had a thing for Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic imagery — which only made lyrics like “Out on the town/ Looking for action on a Saturday night” and “You, me, and the boys/ Get together and make some noise” all the more giggle-inducing. (Fun fact: according to faithful old Wikipedia, “as of 2008, guitarist Nicci Wikkid (David Hussman) is a software consultant in the Twin Cities and a well-known leader in agile software development processes.”)
True story: We once accidentally put “Unskinny Bop” on the jukebox at a bar — no, come on, it really was accidental — and the whole place stopped and stared at us, howling and hooting in derision as we slunk shamefacedly back to our table. But the thing is, Poison did have a way with a killer pop song, even if such pop songs included lyrics like, “Like gasoline/ You want to pump me.”
Nope. Nobody at all.
Arguably the archetypal hair metal band, even though they weren’t actually from LA at all — they hailed from Finland, and they’d already broken up by the time the wave of bands they helped inspire took the Sunset Strip by storm in the late ’80s, which only goes to show that even in the world of hair metal, it’s rarely those at the vanguard who end up with the spoils.
Pretty Boy Floyd
You could probably just stop at the name of their album — Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz — and the fact that their singer went by the (presumably self-assigned) moniker Steve “Sex” Summers, but Pretty Boy Floyd are chiefly notable for being the band who epitomized the decline of hair metal. They were tipped as the next big thing, signed to MCA for a fortune just as grunge was starting to go crazy, Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz stiffed, and that was pretty much it. Reading back over the history of similar hair metal also-rans, it’s interesting how many blame their decline on the rise of grunge (rather suggesting a lack of understanding of the principle of cause and effect, eh?).
Aaaaaand… ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. (If you do one thing today, seriously, trust us on this: skip to about 2:20 and witness the single most absurd instrument ever conceived. GLORIOUS.)