Album Of The Week – January 31, 2022

Sometimes I know well ahead of time what the AOTW is going to be. Other times, like this current edition, I don’t really decide until I sit down to write. For some totally unknown reason not all related to last week’s music news cycle I’ve had Blur on the brain so now I’m going to visit one of the high points of their eclectic discography.

Blur – Parklife

Released April 25, 1994 via Food Records

My Favorite Tracks – Parklife, End Of A Century

Parklife represents the second of a trilogy of Blur records that would come to shape and define the emerging term Britpop. In fact, if one were to wonder why the term was called Britpop as opposed to the seemingly more suitable Britrock, Blur and Parklife would be the signpost for why.

The album is a collection of varied styles that examine the British life through many different lenses. While it is a musical hodgepodge, they exploration of styles does well to convey the mostly sardonic look at typical British life and style. Everything from dance beats to jangly riffs can be found as the record plows it course through England.

The album opens with a dance party on the hit single Girls And Boys. The song has a simple point – Damon Albarn was inspired to write it after watching people get drunk and hook up in night clubs. The song is not praise or criticism of the practice, rather just observation. I’d see the scenes described in the song play out a few year later when I was in Europe as part of the US military. And yeah, Girls And Boys pretty well nails it on the head.

While the musical stylings of Parklife are overwhelmingly upbeat in nature, the topical fare isn’t always a party. London Loves and Jubilee both take aim at the corrosion of substance in culture. The chill vibe of Badhead belies the heavier subject matter of falling away from a loved one. Tracy Jenks observes a man’s midlife crisis, while Trouble In The Message Center handles the inevitable hangover after a night of partying.

While the 16-track album is a wonderful listen in whole, I find my two personal favorite tracks toward the record’s beginning. The third song End Of A Century is a guitar-driven roll through the “late stage” phase of long-term relationships as well as a nod to the winding down of the 20th Century. The song hits at the mundane nature of life while also looking toward the new millennium. It’s a very identifiable vibe and also makes me want to scream at them to stay put and avoid 2020 especially. The refrain “it’s nothing special” truly defines the song’s context.

For all of the contemplation of British life and culture to be found through the album, nothing hit the nail on the head like the album’s title track. Parklife became the defining song from the album and its cultural significance rings true still nearly 30 years after its release. Blur recruited actor Phil Daniels to deliver the song’s verses in spoken-word fashion while Albarn handled the sung chorus. The bright and cheery tune masked a bit the absolutely sarcastic sneer at British park life.

The song hasn’t lost its touch in the decades since release. Left and right it’s easy to find people who still point to Parklife as the “ultimate British song.” It’s become a celebration of that aspect of Britain even while many can acknowledge the sneering intent behind the track.

Parklife the album would be a huge success for Blur. They sold a few million copies of the record in the UK and across the European continent. The band would line up for awards left and right, basking in the newfound acclaim as the “it” band in British rock. Their more artistic approach won out among the populist masses.

At least for one album.

Blur would get about a year to enjoy the accolades brought forth from the success of Parklife. The “Battle of Britpop” was just on the horizon, and while Blur won that battle, the downslide just after when the British music press turned on them would mark another uncertain chapter for the group, one ended when the band jettisoned the concept of Britpop and embraced alternative and garage rock instead.

None of that is the story of Parklife, however. The album remains a high water point for the Britpop movement and marked the point where Blur shook off their early failures and became a successful, noticed band. While the group weren’t working class stiffs themselves, they were able to offer up a view of British life that connected with a wide audience. Both the record and the title song are offerings whose significance outweighs even their successful record sales and awards. The album peered into British life and as a result became a foundation for Britpop to continue building on.

On Wednesday I’ll get into the Damon Albarn versus Taylor Swift thing that happened last week and dominated the news cycle until Neil Young came along.

A Story And A Song, Vol. 3

Just a quick note – this series is an unconnected group of stories, just titled this way for summary purposes. Nothing missed before is necessary for this or the next, and so on. The category this is under on the right will lead one to other one-offs in this series.

This will be a bit of quickie. It’s a song and a quick story.

The song is this – the big hit from the Wallflowers in 1996. One Headlight would become the signature song for Jakob Dylan’s outfit amongst the alternative rock, post-grunge hits of the late ’90’s. It placed on multiple US Billboard rock charts and was a staple of mid- to late-90’s rock radio. The Wallflowers would have a few more noticeable songs, mostly from the same 1997 album Bringing Down The Horse, but One Headlight is the band’s bona fide hit.

Here’s the story – I think it’s 2018, or maybe 2019. It’s winter, so if it’s 2019 it’s just a bit before the pandemic came over to the United States. I can’t quite remember which winter this story fell into, but I recall the details clearly.

Several of us met up at a local brewery. Craft beer has been a social and economic boon the past decade, and our semi-sleepy Midwest town caught the late wave in the latter half of the 2010’s. One of the best ones in our town that now boasts 12 or 40 or however many has hosted music over their few years of existence. While now they have a mix of renowned local talent and hot regional acts come in to play on a prepared stage, such was not the case in 2018 or 2019 when this story happened.

I was out with several of my friends on that evening. As time wore on, our friends and significant others left us (for the evening), just leaving my friend and I behind at around 8 PM.

We were at one of those tall bench tables, standing and having a few more suds on a Saturday night. Around that time, some dude comes in and sets up shop with a mic, practice amp and an acoustic guitar. He does cover songs. A one-person project doing cover songs acoustically is not some huge deal, other than the guy is set up just a few feet away from us. We press on with our drinking and talking.

At some point this one-man band busts out his rendition of One Headlight. It was the first noteworthy song he did to point. My friend and I looked at each other with this combination spark of bewilderment and familiarity – “we know this song.” Then, “oh yeah, it’s that one song from way back when.”

We had to take a moment to assess this rendition being done basically in front of us. We started debating the merits of One Headlight and The Wallflowers. Are they worthy? Is it a good song or not? We defaulted to “nah,” but as the song went on we amended our two-person consensus to “you know, it isn’t terrible.”

We finished our brews and called it a night, leaving the one-man acoustic project whose name I can’t recall but I think was Tyler behind. Then I woke up the next day.

Come on, try a little, nothing is forever….

I had the damn song stuck in my head.

It’s ok. I’ve been jamming to music since I was like 5 and I was 43 at this point. I can hack this, I’ve had songs stuck in my head before.

But this wouldn’t go away.

Got to be something better than in the middle…

I honestly went for days with this song in my head. I get it, in a way – I really hadn’t heard it in many years and it was a sudden nostalgia trip. I have never had a song stuck in my head for as long as this ear worm crawled its way in. It was honestly days, even weeks that I had to play it. This wasn’t that momentary song you could get over after a bit – this fucker was straight stuck.

Me and Cinderella, we put it all together…

I had to reckon with this song for awhile. I’ve had songs stuck in my head that I don’t necessarily mind, but I don’t really want to be stuck with them. I’ve also had songs stuck in my head that I wish would die in a fire and the ashes be shot into the Sun.

But this was different. Hearing The Wallflowers again caused me to revisit the album and remember that, hey, I dug this stuff once upon a time. I do wind up in fond nostalgia from time to time, as I’m sure most music listeners do. This was one that had truly passed me by but I became re-acclimated through this dude with his guitar at the brewery on a Saturday night.

We can drive it home on one headlight…

That’s about all there is to this story. It isn’t world-changing or even that notable. Hell, it’s barely a story. But I do still vividly recall that night I got this damn song stuck in my head after nearly two decades of not hearing it. And now I’ll even cop to being a fan, even if on the edges, of The Wallflowers. Hell, they put out a record last year that I gave a minute to. It’s nice to get back in touch with something seemingly long lost, you only get so many of those moments before it’s all said and done.

Upcoming Releases Spring 2022

2022 is in full swing now and there are a pile of new releases on the horizon. It’s a ton of metal and a bit of old school rock this time. I’ve got a ton of preview singles to get through so I’m gonna jump right into it.

Matt Pike Versus The Automaton – Alien Slut Mum

Our lead offering here is from longtime High On Fire/Sleep wizard Matt Pike. He’s entering the solo album market and this is the debut cut from the self-titled effort out on February 18. The song as a whole doesn’t wildly depart the High On Fire wheelhouse but does go off in a few more tame directions not suited for the noisy outfit. The video is an absolute trip too. This is good stuff from one of the more prolific musicians of the 2000’s and I’m looking forward to the album’s release.

Muse – Won’t Stand Down

The British stadium rockers put out this new song earlier in the month ahead of a yet-to-be announced album. It seems as if Matt Bellamy is still on his shit as the video goes into some puppeteer symbolism in keeping with his conspiracy-laden world viewpoint.

The song is interesting, both at times in line with the band’s electronic side and at other times very heavy, perhaps a nod to their earlier signature works. It certainly gained my attention enough to be on the lookout for their still unrevealed new record.

Corpsegrinder – Acid Vat

It’s back to “solo albums no one was really expecting territory” as Cannibal Corspe vocalist and the most recognizable death metal vocalist around, George “Corpsegrinder” Fischer, is offering up his debut solo album on February 25. It’s unclear who else plays on the album but Cannibal Corpse bandmate Erik Rutan is featured on this song. Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed was behind the effort production and organization-wise.

It appears Corpsegrinder decided against exploring other musical territory like country or smooth jazz for this effort and remains solidly in the death metal camp. The song is pure death metal without sounding too close to Cannibal Corpse, something that would’ve rendered the project unnecessary. Corpsegrinder has been manning the CC helm for over 25 years now so a solo effort seems fitting.

Abbath – Dream Cull

After a bit of time off for personal reasons, the former face of Immortal is back with his third solo outing. Dread Reaver will see the light of darkness on March 25.

Abbath is up to his usual tricks, those being riffs and growling. The song hit me as a bit odd at first but I’ve settled into it a bit more after repeated listens. It’s not out of Abbath’s wheelhouse but I did find some of the riff choices a bit odd here and there. Overall though I’m fine with it and I look forward to seeing what else he has up his sleeve coming in March.

Slash ft. Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators – Call Off The Dogs

This is apparently the second single from the upcoming album from Slash and friends. The album is simply titled 4, in stark contrast to the band name. The album is right around the corner and will see release on February 11.

I missed the first song so I’ll have to backtrack and hunt it down. This song is a very nice rocker and hints at good things to come from the album. Quality rock is sometimes hard to track down these days but old reliables like Slash don’t often fail to deliver.

Ghost – Call Me Little Sunshine

I wrote a bit about a new Ghost song awhile back but wasn’t sure if it was a lead for a new album or a one-off. As it turns out, that song and this one are part of a new album Impera entering the world March 11. I wasn’t too moved by the prior song.

This one does a bit more for me. It’s slow and kind of plodding but it suits the mood well enough. This song just, I don’t know, feels better than the other one. I haven’t been the band’s biggest fan but I have enjoyed some of their stuff in the past so I’ll lend an ear to the new album when it hits and see what they’re up to these days. The video is quite nice, they are a band often owing to a good visual presentation.

Caliban – Ascent Of The Blessed

I’m in somewhat unfamiliar territory here talking about metalcore veterans Caliban. I have seen the name around a lot over the years but I haven’t heard much of their music at all. I have spun this new song, a lead single from a new album called Dystopia that as yet has no release date.

I can’t say a whole lot but I do enjoy what I’m hearing. I’ll certainly be exploring their extensive catalog between now and the new album, which is their 13th full-length. Seems like I have quite a bit of catching up to do.

Dark Funeral – Let The Devil In

The veteran Swedish black metal outfit has seen their profile rise considerably in the past several years and is releasing a new album We Are The Apocalypse on March 18. This is the lead single, replete with somewhat gory video.

The song stands out in a way for being a slower pace than much of Dark Funeral’s catalog. The band have historically been known to bash the everliving shit out of any instrument around but they seem to have found some nuance over the past decade. The song sounds promising and it seems like we’re in for another treat in March.

Undeath – Rise From The Grave

Here is the not age-restricted Spotify link for audio

This New York-based death metal outfit have been making waves across the Internet for the past few years. This song is the quasi title track from their upcoming album It’s Time … To Rise From The Grave, out April 15. This gives us Americans time to get the record just before Tax Day.

This song has been catching buzz all over social media since it hit last week and all of the accolades are deserved. Just as it seems there is no ground left to cover in death metal, a new group of bands come along and make it all fresh and vital again. Undeath are one of many bands hitting the scene hard as this screwed up decade of the 2020’s gets rolling, and this year the band might shoot ahead of the pack. Undeath are a name that is going to be said a lot between now and the end of the year (and beyond).

That’s all for this month. The new releases keep stacking up so next month looks to be much of the same, a whole pile of new offerings to headbang to.

Album Of The Week – January 24, 2022

Last week was fun, going back through hair metal and all the stuff that happened in 1991. This week is back to absolutely no fun. I’m going back to 2005 and grabbing one of my favorite “no fun, people suck and everything is awful” black metal albums.

Naglfar – Pariah

Released June 30, 2005 via Century Media Records

My Favorite Tracks – And The World Shall Be Your Grave, A Swarm Of Plagues, Revelations Carved In Flesh

Naglfar underwent major change before the release of Pariah. The band’s founding vocalist Jens Rydén left the group after their prior effort Sheol, leaving bassist Kristoffer Olivius to helm the group. Naglfar had just gained a fair bit of momentum from Sheol and would be tested to provide a worthy follow-up.

Pariah sees an exploration of misanthropic themes, the album’s songs connected in an evisceration of the human experience. This is a level beyond being upset that Karen can’t put her shopping cart back in the proper place at the store – this album calls for the nuclear destruction of humankind in multiple songs. It moves past the need to express angst as a way to let off some steam and enters the territory of condemning civilization as a whole. We are far past the point of breaking stuff, this is all out war.

I will visit each of the 8 proper songs track-by-track, leaving off the brief intro Proclamation.

A Swarm Of Plagues

The album begins with a mission statement focusing on the destruction of humanity. It is pure textbook misanthropy – due to the wayward nature of humanity, it should perish in nuclear flames. The destruction is judgment rather than an accident. Sonically the song flies along at a frenetic pace until a mid-section interlude that offers one of the album’s few moments of subtlety.

Spoken Words Of Venom

This song embraces hatred, whether it’s of an individual or humanity as whole is unclear. The music does not let up off the accelerator through the track, while lyrically Olivius mows down his target with every negative word in the thesaurus. It is an unsettling way to dismiss the whole of someone’s existence.

The Murder Manifesto

Here the band turn the tempo down just a hair as the song’s narrator stalks his prey. There seems to be a theme of a dark cult confronting its more holy adversaries in this song rather than simply someone killing for the sake of doing so. It is a targeted, focused effort in the album’s setting of the end times of civilization.

Revelations Carved In Flesh

Another track about murder, though this time it seems this death cult is recruiting willing sacrificial lambs for its slaughter. This song stands out a bit for its melody and creativity amongst the ever-present backdrop of misanthropy. The lyrics do quite explicitly spell out the ritual murder and are in line with a fair bit of death metal fare. The grotesque final verse is especially something as easily found on a Cannibal Corpse album as opposed to black metal.

None Shall Be Spared

This song returns to the worldwide scope of things, declaring a war against the Abarahmic faiths. It is not openly stated though the lyric’s targeted aim of “2,000 years of lies” offers up the theme well enough. It is the ceremony of opposites in its final form, bringing about the end rather than existing in a perpetual state of debate.

And The World Shall Be Your Grave

It is again time to visit the ultimate expression of misanthropic leanings – the end times. Here the world perishes by way of nuclear war. The lyrics, of course, celebrate this outcome. Nothing could justify a misanthropic perspective more than humanity dooming itself with its own creation. Misanthropy is sometimes, like nihilism, a warning rather than an outlook, but on Pariah it is the perspective and the all-consuming nuclear end is the goal. It all leads to the same end regardless of what lenses one looks through things with.

The Perpetual Horrors

Heading toward the album’s close, this song begins to turn the concept of external hatred on its head a bit. Any expression of this kind of negativity will inevitably lead one to look in the mirror, and this song is a glimpse into the themes present on Naglfar’s next album. Humanity is still suffering and dying here, but the cause is looking at his own hollow, rotten core this time.

Carnal Scorn And Spiritual Malice

Perhaps conceptually, the album ends with all of the hatred and spite being turned on the album’s “protagonist.” Finding existence pointless, he brings about his own end in disturbing and explicit fashion. Still railing against the tenants of the world that irk him, mainly religion, our humble hater goes out on his own terms rather than the nuclear war prophesied throughout the rest of the album. The album’s final sound brings the point home.

Pariah is an album executed with ferocity and a fanatical railing against humanity. It does not often contain nuance and its lyrical offerings are explicit and profane. Naglfar’s sound does recall their renowned countrymen Dissection in both music and theme but is not purely an exercise in worship of that band. While Naglfar are on a prominent record label in Century Media and have had their name discussed in many circles over the years, they remain something of an underground proposition even within the structure of black metal.

I do hold that Pariah is my favorite album from the band, though there is stiff competition in the albums both proceeding and following this. Both Sheol and especially Harvest will get time here in the future. I by no means claim to espouse the intense level of misanthropy found here but I do “get” it just the same. My time not long after this album’s release was rather dark and music like this was a release. And now from what I’ve seen of humanity in the past several years I can’t help but wonder about those nuclear fires from this record. It is scary when society starts to catch up to the dark fantasy.

Who Killed Hair Metal? Part Four

So far I’ve issued several verdicts in the case of The People versus Whoever Killed Hair Metal. I’ve found grunge, and by extension alt-rock, guilty. Guns N Roses too is guilty, having set the bar too high for anyone else to attain. And Metallica, of all people, is certainly also guilty of providing another alternative to the stale and washed up format of hair metal. Here are links to my previous rundowns in the series.

Part One – Grunge

Part Two – Guns N’ Roses

Part Three – Metallica

But in the end, we all know who is truly guilty of killing hair metal.

And no, it isn’t hair metal.

It’s ok, I’ll give you a second to process that. But you know I’m right, if only technically.

Suspect Four – The Record Labels

No, hair metal did not kill hair metal. Sure, quality control was noticeably absent in the early 1990’s just before the death knell rang from Kurt Cobain’s guitar. It can be said that hair metal was a watered-down mess that was nearly unrecognizable from the form it began on in Motley Crue’s early recordings. It couldn’t even hit the high notes of the late 1980’s, struggling to keep pace with choice recordings from the likes of Cinderella and Skid Row.

It just wasn’t there anymore. Sure, some recordings of various merit came out. The last gasp of hair metal saw acts like Slaughter, Trixter, Firehouse and Winger generate interest while also seemingly flailing against the inevitable. The party was just about over on the Sunset Strip, at least for all but the few biggest acts who had transcended the genre in various ways. Skid Row would go on for a few years of touring success. Guns N Roses had big hits with their double albums in 1991. And Motley Crue seemed poised to take on a new decade with the excellent cut Primal Scream from a greatest hits collection, only to implode in band turmoil a year later.

Everyone else was left to either die off immediately or slowly flail away. White Lion split when guitarist Vito Bratta had enough of the music industry, totally unwilling to this day to return. Poison tried their hand replacing CC DeVille with up and coming guitarist Richie Kotzen. The move produced some worthwhile music but personally backfired for everyone involved in an extramarital affair.

But Poison had a bigger name and therefore more capital than most, and were able to reestablish themselves as a worthwhile nostalgia act years later. Many other of the hair bands would fall off a cliff in terms of notoriety. Small but dedicated fanbases would turn out for shows at far-flung clubs or state fairs, but hair metal had fallen and wasn’t getting back up.

Rock music as a whole had changed. The sound that grunge ushered in led way for rock’s alternative base, something aired on college radio in the 1980’s, to truly take over and redefine the sound of rock music. The sound of late ’90’s rock was more akin to a CW TV show theme song than a big party anthem. Even legacy rock acts like the Scorpions and Def Leppard, bigger than hair metal but not immune to its movements, had to take time to readjust as their favored sound faded away. It seemed like everyone in rock music, with the exception of Aerosmith, felt some kickback from the demise of hair rock in 1991.

It wasn’t the bands that killed hair metal. No one on Earth would kill their own livelihood. The bands might be complicit in recording drek that got worse as time went on, but it wasn’t really under their own direction.

No, music is a business, and it was the record labels who were milking the hair metal cow dry. Hair rock was a fad – the gaudy fashion, the good times and fast women, the massively excessive image and music was not going to last forever. Nothing last forever in music. Those acts who see longevity have pivoted over the course of years and decades. They languished at times and then resurged when the moment was right.

The record labels were living large in the 1980’s on piles of money from overpriced albums and hoarding of profits off the backs of its artists. They churned out act after act in the course of business, without considering the artistic effects this assembly line of hair rockers was going to have.

And it wasn’t hard to find willing acts to keep the hair metal machine going. Who doesn’t want to be a rock star? Hair metal represented the zenith of excess for rock stardom. Women, parties and drugs were the order of the day. Sure, every other genre of music sees its stars indulge in the same, but hair metal put the show front and center. Take the record company’s money and head out in search of the stars. Never mind the terms of that contract and the severe unlikelihood of reaching those stars…

No, hair metal did not kill hair metal, at least in a sense. The music had gotten derivative to a point of being parody of its earliest incarnation, but the bands themselves aren’t to blame for their demise. It was the record labels, in their perpetual avarice, who truly killed hair metal and shoulder the lion’s share of guilt in the case. The entity that brought the hair metal movement to light was the same one who killed it.

It has now been 30 years since the death of hair metal. Rock music shifted course forever after 1991. There still is that “old rock” sound to be found, many legacy acts and even newer bands born of inspiration from the old days abound, though mainly in the independent scenes. While I don’t necessarily yearn for the glory days of hair and makeup, I do sometimes miss the rock music that was the underpinning of the hair metal movement and I’m glad some old school folks are keeping that kind of rock around. But modes of music distribution and information sharing have changed so much since the 80’s that there is likely no way to truly bring that scene back into existence. Things are just way too different now.

This stands as my final testament to who and what killed hair metal. The record labels bear the blame in my eyes. There is no appeal to a higher authority regarding my verdict – my judgment is final. It’s time to move on to other scenes in music for a bit, and to have nothing but a good time while doing so.

Who Killed Hair Metal? Part Three

It’s on to part three of this exploration of who killed hair metal. I’ve already rendered verdicts on grunge, the prime and obvious suspect. I’ve also convicted Guns N Roses of killing their own scene by being better than it. Check out the links below to see all that in action.

Part One – Grunge

Part Two – Guns N’ Roses

Grunge, and specifically Nirvana, get the lion’s share of blame for killing hair metal. It’s warranted, as I already went over in part one of this series. But grunge didn’t just kill hair metal. The truth is that heavy metal in all its forms was very much hurt by grunge’s influence.

Record labels weren’t only signing hair bands left and right – they were out to get on the next cash cow, and the next-heaviest thing that seemed logical to take off was thrash. The offshoot of punk had come in hard in the early ’80’s and was the polar opposite of its bastard cousin hair metal. Major record labels stocked up on thrash acts in order to be ahead of the curve and be there when thrash broke big.

The only problem was that thrash didn’t enter the music mainstream. Well, except for one band, and that band turned their back on the thrash that they helped invent and instead conquered every music chart known to man. I submit for consideration as a suspect in the murder of hair metal one of music’s most significant acts who made their own mark on 1991 – Metallica.

Suspect Three – Metallica

Metallica could have killed hair metal very early on. Lars Ulrich has told a story of his band wanting to fight Motley Crue in the streets in the early ’80’s, when both bands were getting their starts. Lars set out to find Tommy Lee and teach him a lesson on who is the bigger badass in music. Unfortunately for Lars, his 5’6” frame didn’t quite measure up to Tommy’s 6’2” stature, and Lars wisely chose to disengage.

Metallica might not have beaten up hair metal way back when, but they got to put their own nail in the coffin a decade later, even if Motley Crue themselves would outlive the death of the genre they founded.

The story is simple – Metallica arrived on the scene with an intense thrash record, they then refined their approach through songwriting and combined heavy with tasteful. They entered the 1990’s looking to do something different and hooked up with Bob Rock. The resulting record, the self-titled affair known as the Black Album, took over the world and is one of music’s best-selling records ever. The record has sold 31 million copies since release and served to catapult Metallica into the upper echelons of rock stardom, an unlikely feat for a group of nasty, long-haired geeks who cut songs like The Four Horsemen starting out.

As a whole, heavy metal did not do that well in the 1990’s. A few exceptions are noted – a brief movement from the early half of the decade loosely categorized as “alt-metal,” including Danzig and Type O Negative, saw some time in the Sun. Pantera rose to mainstream prominence as a pretty harsh act. Extreme metal bubbled toward the surface as thrash fell by the wayside, with black metal being the vanguard sound by decade’s end.

But heavy metal in the 1990’s largely belonged to one band. Metallica took over the world, one platinum certification and sold-out arena show at a time. While their sound was not the same as what they cut their teeth on, there is no denying the massive impact they had on all of music when they stole the show in 1991. Their influence lasted longer and was more far-reaching than grunge, and Metallica have sales records that outpace almost every album released in the decade, even industry titans like Shania Twain couldn’t keep pace.

But what does Metallica and their 1991 advent to superstardom mean in terms of hair metal? Hair metal was already on life support before Nirvana dealt the fatal blow that September. That summer, hair bands were already reshaping their music videos to be more plain-dressed, an effort to keep up with groups like Alice In Chains who were taking over airwaves. Gone were the gaudy shiny leather outfits and make-up of the decade prior, the bands left were scratching for a bit of relevance and a hope of lasting through the record contract they just signed.

Then Enter Sandman hit MTV on July 29, a few weeks removed from the Black Album’s release. It was a whole new ballgame the second that riff fired up. Rock could be menacing, dangerous and yet still accessible and catchy. There is no doubt that Enter Sandman is one of the catchiest songs in history. It might have been overplayed, sure, but that fatigue came later and detracts from its immediate impact on the music scene.

What did a person about to enter their freshman year of high school want to be caught dead listening to – some 12th generation hair band that was dead in the water before the first single released, or Metallica? If someone wasn’t on the grunge hype train, they’d better be sporting Metallica gear. No one could argue with that, even if Metallica had pared their sound down from the pioneering thrash days.

Metallica was a safe haven for the rocker who was caught with his bleached jeans down as hair metal made a quiet exit stage left. Was Nirvana too incomprehensible and dissonant? Check out Sad But True! Still need that feeling a good ballad generates? Nothing Else Matters and The Unforgiven scratch that itch. Metallica were just as big as hair metal – bigger, even – eventually eclipsing the mark that even Guns N Roses left on the music.

It might be something of an abstract link, but Metallica deserves some share of the responsibility for killing hair metal. It’s only fitting that the band throws darts at a picture of Winger in the Nothing Else Matters video. Metallica themselves irrevocably altered the face of rock and metal music while bands like Winger were left churning in the wake. It was the combination of a heralded reputation and the fusing of metal with accessible sounds that made Metallica one of music’s biggest bands, and that commercial likability helped give people a lifeline as they fled the sinking ship of hair metal. The alternative music wasn’t for everyone and heavy metal’s biggest act came to save the day.

Tomorrow – we deliver the final verdict on who really killed hair metal, in case anyone actually didn’t already know.

Who Killed Hair Metal? Part Two

Yesterday I opened my courtroom and began cracking the “cold case” of who killed hair metal. I visited the prime suspect, that being the grunge scene, and my findings indicated that Kurt and company were in fact culpable in the death of hair metal.

But the fact is this – they didn’t act alone. While the death of hair metal wasn’t a grand conspiracy, there were multiple assailants on the scene. And one of those assassins was born and bred in the same scene hair metal came up in – the Sunset Strip of Los Angeles.

What if hair metal didn’t really kill itself (again, we’ll get to that on Friday) but what if it was killed by itself? It begs questions of what hair metal really was and wasn’t, but there’s no doubt that a late ’80’s band left such a mark on the rock scene that it would leave other bands incapable of topping it.

Suspect Two – Guns N Roses

The biggest of the LA bands would hit in the late 1980’s with the monstrous Appetite For Destruction album. While a bit slow to catch on, this collection of tunes would eventually set the world on fire and propel GnR towards “biggest band on Earth” status. The album has gone on to sell over 30 million copies worldwide and is often found on “best album ever” lists regardless of genre.

Guns N Roses were a product of the Sunset Strip and Appetite… certainly was a hard rock/heavy metal document. It is debatable whether the band fits the “hair metal” term, though. They certainly do in general sound and geography, but their brand of rock snarled and snapped a lot more than even the most weighty hair metal offerings.

Many critics and fans do not include GnR on the hair metal roster. This seems to be often fueled by hair metal being seen as a negative term, and bands who are “better” than the moniker are left without having to wear it. It’s the same argument metal fans make when they say someone like Limp Bizkit isn’t metal, but in reverse – spare the band from the term in the case of Guns N Roses, rather than the term from the band.

I can’t really look at things that way, though. I do think Guns N Roses fits the “hair metal” scene and sound. I look at hair metal for what it is – a music scene in a place and time. Sure it has both positive and negative connotations, but the scene can be explored on a semi-objective basis.

It isn’t really fair to classify every mid- or late-80’s band as hair metal, but in the case of Guns N Roses I do think they fit the bill enough. They had the sleazy look and the party hard attitude that went with the scene. Axl Rose wasn’t just a primadonna, he was the absolute head of that table. The band brought with it chaos and drama that other acts could only hope to get a portion of.

The issue at the end of the day is music, of course. Is Appetite For Destruction a hair metal album? I can see the argument either way. The music is bigger than a lot of hair metal and the songs are bounds above the standard fare rock of the time period. The tunes move in a very aggressive direction not often found in the hair metal hordes. Even their “ballad,” Sweet Child O’ Mine, is a much more rounded song that a lot of formula-ridden hair ballads of the day.

And therein lies the point. Appetite For Destruction was such a hard rock monster that it couldn’t be replicated or even contended with. Whether or not it is a true “hair metal” album doesn’t matter – it is adjacent enough to the scene that every band out there had to contend with it. It was a juggernaut incapable of being touched, even by Guns N Roses.

And barely anyone came close to even touching the surface of GnR’s success. Motley Crue would have a hit with their 1989 record Dr. Feelgood, but that album was something of a victory lap for the band and did not approach Appetite’s greatness in any way. Of anyone, perhaps only Skid Row even scratched the surface with their 1991 effort Slave To The Grind. It was another ferocious album that bent the genre and established the group as having prime chops, but that record still did not threaten to unseat Guns N Roses as having made the biggest statement in hard rock.

Guns N Roses themselves would not touch Appetite For Destruction again. Their proper follow-ups were the Use Your Illusion albums – some great songs and clear marks of the excess of rock music, but also very bloated records that tend to crush under their own weight. (For more of my thoughts on those albums, revisit my series on them starting here.) The band would splinter apart in the mid-90’s and only reunite a few years back as a quasi-nostalgia act, with seemingly little new to contribute.

I do feel Guns N Roses is guilty of contributing to the death of hair metal. There was just no way anyone else was going to top Appetite For Destruction. Whether or not the group was really “hair metal” themselves isn’t relevant – maybe it was an inside job or maybe they were just close enough to the scene to take what worked about it and amplify that a thousand times over. Either way, the band are especially guilty of setting the bar so high that the scene they were born of could not cope.

Tomorrow – a suspect not often discussed but one that looms large over the crime scene.

Axl looks like the dude from Soul Asylum in this vid

Who Killed Hair Metal? Part One

Music has been rife with death. Many songs are about death, many great players have died, and many scenes and movements have also passed on. Hell, there’s a whole metal subgenre about the subject, started by a band with the very name.

But this isn’t about death metal. No, this is about the death of a scene in rock and metal. 1991 marked the effective end of a distinct sound from the 1980’s, that oft-maligned but still beloved entity known as hair metal.

My purpose in this series is to examine the factors that led to the demise of hair metal. There are multiple issues at hand and different angles to look at. While a lot of ink has already been spilled on the matter, I wanted to go back 30 years after the fact and cover a few points that don’t always get brought up.

This will be a 4-part series, each one with its own “suspect” in the brutal death of hair metal. Our first look will be at the prime suspect, and the next 2 parts will cover suspects that maybe slide under the radar a bit.

And yes – any of us who were around then know exactly who killed hair metal. That’s part 4 of my series coming on Friday, so please air a bit of patience while I build up to the extremely obvious answer to the question that everyone already knows damn good and well.

We have a crime, a victim and a murder scene. Now it’s time to get into it – who killed hair metal?

Trixter tried warning everyone to get on the flannel bandwagon. Their call sadly went unheard on Sunset Strip.

Suspect One – Grunge

If this were a game of Clue, the answer is simple – Kurt Cobain with the guitar in the MTV lobby is what killed hair metal. The video premeir of Smells Like Teen Spirit on September 10, 1991 is as good of a time of death as any for hair metal – Nirvana was the figurehead that shifted music forever and rendered a lot that came before them obsolete. Nothing was the same after Nirvana hit the airwaves.

Of course, grunge doesn’t actually begin with Nirvana. There were a “big 4” to grunge, just as thrash metal has its big 4. And two bands were already making early waves before 1991 – both Soundgarden and Alice In Chains were quietly gaining momentum on MTV and radio before the actual “death” of hair metal, with AIC having a long-running hit single with Man In The Box and its album Facelift going gold before grunge really even “took off.” Seattle mates Pearl Jam would join in the popular explosion of grunge, releasing their debut in August 1991 and it taking off to untold heights in the next year.

Grunge rewrote the rules for how bands should look and how music should sound. Hair metal would suffer greatly under the weight of the new regime. Grunge fashion was flannel shirts and whatever else might be laying on the bedroom floor, a far cry from the leather and diamonds glitz of hair metal. And the sound was rough, unpolished and about heavy and vulnerable topics – a world removed from hair metal’s celebration of party life, sex and ballads about love (and sex). The worlds could not be more different, even if the instruments were the same.

I do think it’s fair to use Nirvana’s ascent as the symbolic end of hair metal, even if doing so obscures several truths. It’s a quick and easy place to point to without having to raise too much fuss. I will be going far beyond Smells Like Teen Spirit in this series, but that moment was a very stark turning point in the course of music in 1991.

I don’t think it’s entirely fair to only “blame” Nirvana, or even the others of grunge’s big 4. There always was a different strain of rock music playing out long before grunge hit. Some of the acts influenced the grunge movement and others became huge stars on their own terms, free of ties to any particular movement.

The fact is this – grunge ushered in the age of alternative rock, and alt-rock subsequently took over and became rock music. But it must be noted that alternative rock was going for a long time before grunge captured the scene. College radio was filled with alternatives to the hair bands, and MTV ran the 120 Minutes progam that showcased a large variety of alternative artists before the term alternative really became a thing.

The idea of having something else besides hair metal was already there. Honestly, I’m not sure Nirvana was even necessary in the equation. That doesn’t matter, of course, as history is what it is. But the apparatus to overthrow the excesses and poor record label decisions in regards to hair metal was already in place.

Grunge itself would die a death not totally unlike hair metal. Bands that came after the Seattle legends would be derided for riding coattails by critics, although fans flocked to the likes of Stone Temple Pilots and Bush without issue. And the acutal death of Kurt Cobain in 1994 threw the grunge scene into chaos. Pearl Jam would transcend the grunge label and go on their own way, while Soundgarden and Alice In Chains would go on long hiatus (the latter also fueled by death).

The death of grunge did not lead to new life for hair metal. The bands who defined the 1980’s Sunset Strip scene were not the same as they were before. Many members had quit or died, bands went on their own hiatus and even the return of Motley Crue did not serve to reawaken the hair metal beast. Rock music had moved on and hair metal would become a movement relegated to state fairs and legions of rights disputes and multiple lineups of the same band performing at clubs all over the land.

The cultural shift of 1991 was not just a change in sound – it marked the end of ’80’s excess and ushered in a new age of self-awareness and discussion of tough issues not normally given air in conversation before. It was the true defining mark of Generation X, a group sometimes lost in today’s “civil” discourse but still very much responsible for the need for change still felt today.

I’m not a lawyer or a judge, but this is my courtroom, and I do indeed find grunge guilty of the murder of hair metal. But I don’t stop at Nirvana, or Soundgarden or the others. I find the whole of alternative rock just as guilty. Alt-rock would supplant the norms of rock music before it, both hair metal and AOR and reshape what radio and TV played. The late ’90’s saw a whole new host of bands redefine rock, and then the early 2000’s saw the advent of who has become rock’s biggest band in the modern era. As maligned as they are, there is no doubt that Nickelback took a sound and sent rock music into a direction far away from the hair and makeup glitz of the 1980’s.

Yes, grunge and alt-rock are responsible for the death of hair metal. Sometimes the obvious answer is obvious because it’s simply true. Hair metal died on September 10, 1991, having lived barely a decade. It really was Kurt Cobain in the MTV lobby with the guitar that did hair metal in, even if he had tons of assistance.

Sure, grunge had its role to play in this “murder,” but grunge was not alone. Tomorrow I’ll cast light on a different suspect – was the death of hair metal an inside job?

Album Of The Week – January 16, 2022

I’m switching up the format a bit this week. There will be a post every day and the four others all deal with the subject of hair metal. So for my AOTW pick this week I’m not going to reminisce over some beloved-to-me work that I fondly recall and could write about at any given time.

Instead I’m picking a hair metal work that I haven’t listened to in maybe 30 years and I’m going to see what I think on the fly. I played the tape way back when in early 1991, just before the storm came to wipe hair metal off the map. But I can’t really “place” this album at all and it requires a new listen for me to really decide what I think about it.

Warrant – Cherry Pie

Released September 11, 1990 via Columbia Records

My Favorite Tracks – Cherry Pie, ???

The ominous release date stands out but of course this release was 11 years before those events. It was truly just another day back then. It does feel a bit odd to look back in those terms but this AOTW has nothing to do with that so I’ll press on.

This was Warrant’s biggest hit in terms of albums and resulting singles. The band were one of the more interesting prospects in latter-day hair metal and were perhaps second only to Skid Row in terms of popularity. Warrant also handled the demise of hair metal more adeptly than many of their peers, as they retooled with new sounds that saw industry success through the 1990’s before entering their nostalgia phase in the 2000’s.

There is debate over who actually played guitar on the album. It has been semi-confirmed that ex-Streets guitarist Mike Slamer played many of the solos. I don’t see a ton of confirmed info other than C.C. DeVille’s credited turn on the title track so I won’t get too far into it. Using studio players to spruce up an album was far more common than many people realize so the topic is more trivia than a major discussion topic.

I will go through the album track-by-track and see what I think. This is far more off-the-cuff than I normally do but I wanted to dig more into the end portion of hair metal and explore it rather than pay homage to one of the handful of records I revere and could write about at any given time.

Cherry Pie

We’re right out of the gate with the title track and Warrant’s most recognizable song. It’s a wonderfully done hard rocker that is obviously talking about sex without really talking about it. The song and resulting video were big hits and this is everything right about hair metal. Sure it’s silly and that likely turns off a lot of detractors of hair metal, but there’s nothing wrong with having some fun now and again. I’ll have to get through the rest of the album before any final verdict but I’m sure this will stand as my favorite tune when we’re all done.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

On to another of the album’s singles. This song is not an ode to the classic novel of the same name that would greatly influence the debate over slavery in America. Rather it is more of a murder ballad, telling the tale of two cops who murdered and were disposing of the bodies in the swamp.

It’s a really good song that changes up the hair metal formula of party rock or love ballads. I don’t know why songs like this are so intriguing, the case here is fictional, but these types of “I saw the killer” songs always grab attention.

I Saw Red

We go now to full ballad territory. This song was a hit single for Warrant. It is a sad account of the narrator finding his lover in bed with someone else. The song is well arranged with somber instrumentation to accompany the heavy topic at hand. The tune keeps things more high-minded and does not descend into a need for revenge or anything like that.

I will give the song full credit for being good but it’s also pushing it for me in terms of sappiness or whatever. I can do without a ton of that in my diet so this is one I wouldn’t revisit on a regular basis.

Bed Of Roses

It’s back to back with the sappiness, though this song picks up the tempo. The song is pretty good but I’m choking a bit on the sap levels. I don’t know why every rock band went for the “bed of roses” trope around this time. Stuff like this is probably what led me to getting into death metal.

Sure Feels Good To Me

We get fully back to rock and roll on this banger. This tune is quick, hard and simple. And that’s just how things should be. And uh, whoever played the solo on this did a fantastic job.

Love In Stereo

The tempo stays up and the theme stays the same. This song is a piano-backed jam that is perfectly fine. Warrant aren’t reinventing the wheel here but they’re executing well. These more “filler” songs are holding their weight so far.

Blind Faith

This was the fourth single from the album. It wasn’t a chart topper. The song is a very simple, prototypical power ballad for end-era hair metal. It doesn’t stand out as anything special compared to I Saw Red but the song is ok. I don’t mind listening to it but it’s not a song I’d playlist.

Song And Dance Man

The lyrical fare is sillier than shit here but the song thankfully picks up the tempo for the chorus and saves it from totally losing my interest. It’s one of those songs that’s just about whatever. Sometimes songs like this work really well, other times they’re garbage. This one sits somewhere inbetween.

You’re The Only Hell Your Mama Ever Raised

I don’t know entirely what’s going on here, if this was intended as some call and response to the Johnny Paycheck classic I’m The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised, or what. Whatever the case the song is pretty good and picks up this second side a bit, things were lagging there for a minute.

Mr. Rainmaker

I notice that this track has a lot more Spotify streams than others from the record’s second side. It’s probably because the song is head and shoulders above anything else on this side. This is a well-executed hard rocker about finding love and not needing to be rained on anymore. The way the album was going I was afraid the quality was going to further descend into something horrible, but this song really picks things up.

Train, Train

Our last proper song is a cover from southern rock veterans Blackfoot. Warrant fit the song very well into this album’s vibe. It’s not a trasnformative cover by any means but it’s done nicely and keeps the album’s listening experience up after the excellent track prior.

Ode To Tipper Gore

Tacked on to the album’s close is this small rant directed at the PMRC’s queen bee. Rather nice timing as I was just discussing the PMRC and the Filthy Fifteen last week. This is just a compilation of Jani Lane saying fuck and shit a lot and is of no real listening value. It is funny to recall it in the context of the PMRC’s grip on popular music at the time, this is the kind of stuff musicians provided in response.

That does it for the original studio version of Cherry Pie. There are bonus tracks scattered around from various reissues of the album over the years. The band would change course for more rock and quasi-grunge sounds after this release but would keep their heads above water as many other hair acts fell by the wayside.

Cherry Pie turned out to be a pretty enjoyable listen. I remembered the hits but I had to re-acquaint myself with the other material. Overall I found it worthwhile to listen to, just one or maybe two songs approach but don’t quite fully fit the term “stinker.” The music here isn’t transcendent by any stretch but it was done at a level above a lot of the hair metal drek coming out at the time, just before the death knell of Nirvana sounded a year after this album’s release.

The standout performance on the record comes from singer Jani Lane. He was all over the album with the appropriate vocal for whatever mood the song evoked. He only went full throat a few times on the album, it’s a bit of a shame that they didn’t make better use of their best instrument. Lane would be in and out of Warrant over the ensuing years before his tragic death in 2011.

Overall I’d say Cherry Pie does a good job of being an album above the hair metal fray in the waning days of hair’s reign over rock. I’m glad I picked this one to revisit, there was some awful music coming from the Sunset Strip around this time and this could have gone a lot worse.

And that will be the topic for my posts the rest of this week. I’m going to get into the gritty details and look at just who really is guilty for killing hair metal. We all know the obvious suspects and we mostly all know the real answer, but it turns out there are few others who were at least accessories to the killing. I’ll be in tomorrow for the first of four posts on that topic.

A Look Back At The Filthy Fifteen – Part Two

On Wednesday I offered up part one of this look at the infamous Filthy Fifteen list. That first piece also gives some background about the PMRC for anyone unfamiliar. This post covers the remaining ten songs from the FF list. The Spotify playlist at the end features all but one of the songs, that song is featured in my prior piece.

AC/DC – Let Me Put My Love Into You

The song made Tipper Gore’s shitlist for being about sex, something the mother of four was apparently just not into. The song itself is a fine track but is really little more than a footnote on one of music’s most impactful records and, as per Wikipedia’s list, the second-best selling album of all time.

AC/DC obviously did not need the help of the PMRC to promote their material. Back In Black was something of a miracle record done in the wake of Bon Scott’s death and finished just a few months after with new singer Brian Johnson. It was also miraculous that someone convinced Mutt Lange to produce two records within a year of each other but that’s another story for another time. The album is full of references to getting down and dirty, including the well-known single You Shook Me All Night Long. Kind of odd to pick this deeper cut from the album but the PMRC didn’t exercise a ton of logic in their selections.

Twisted Sister – We’re Not Gonna Take It

Twisted Sister would come to embody opposition to the PMRC at the Senate hearings, where he adeptly testified against music censorship and insinuated that Tipper Gore was the one with a dirty mind with her interpretation of song lyrics.

We’re Not Gonna Take It stands out as the clear winner of the notoriety gained from this list. The song became Twisted Sister’s best-selling single and stands as their signature anthem. It was made a hit in large part due to the PMRC controversy and Dee Snider’s appearance before the Senate. The band had spent a decade as a New York area club act before entering the commercial mainstream and the PMRC made sure everyone far and wide knew who Twisted Sister was.

Madonna – Dress You Up

Madonna burst onto the 1980’s scene and became one of its biggest stars. She was a worldwide sex symbol and would push artistic boundaries and image constraints in her trailblazing career.

Dress You Up is easily the most inoffensive song on this list. It’s here because, like Darling Nikki, Tipper Gore caught one of her daughters listening to it. While this song is clearly about being into someone and getting down, it is not at all vulgar or explicit, in stark contrast to the others here. Madonna would provide many songs far more suitable for inclusion on the Filthy Fifteen, and it’s likely her growing reputation that landed her here more than anything.

W.A.S.P. – Animal (Fuck Like A Beast)

While Twisted Sister made out like bandits due to the PMRC, there was one clear loser from the group’s efforts and it was W.A.S.P. Animal was meant to be on the band’s debut record and was released as its lead single, but Capitol Records feared the album might get pulled from retail and struck the song from the album before release. A reissue years later would restore the song as the album’s lead track.

Unlike Madonna’s song, there is no questioning why Animal is on the list. It literally has “Fuck like a beast” in its subtitle. The band did gain quite a bit of infamy from their presence on the list but would also earn their reputation through shock-rock tactics. This was just another notch in the belt, one that Blackie Lawless has since disavowed as he no longer performs the track live.

Def Leppard – High N’ Dry (Saturday Night)

The British rockers commit the ultimate sin of glorifying having some beers and a good time. Their transgressions were noted by the PMRC, who included this party anthem on the Filthy Fifteen list.

I don’t know if this inclusion did anything one way or another for Def Leppard. They would go on to become one of rock’s most successful acts and I don’t see any real correlation between them being on the list and their career trajectory. Of course the song glorifies getting lit and having a good time, that was the decade of the 1980’s. The list could have been the Filthy Five Thousand on that basis.

Mercyful Fate – Into The Coven

No more good time having or getting with some hot chick – now it’s time for the real evil. Mercyful Fate broke the Filthy Fifteen with one of their very many songs about satanism and the occult. I don’t know what prompted the PMRC to settle on Into The Coven, a person could throw darts at any Mercyful Fate song and have a valid basis for inclusion on the list for occult themes.

It’s difficult to say what tangible effect being on the Filthy Fifteen had for Mercyful Fate. Though a more underground band, the group would have a vast influence on heavy metal – both in the mainstream with Metallica and also being a pioneering act in what would come to be extreme metal. They might not have found multi-platinum sales from being labeled subversive by the PMRC but they cast a shadow over heavy metal that lasts to this day.

Black Sabbath – Trashed

The masters of occult metal would find themselves targets of the PMRC – but not for anything dark or spooky. Instead, Trashed makes the list because it’s a tale of how Ian Gillan stole Bill Ward’s car and crashed it in a booze-filled accident. It makes for obvious inclusion on songs the youths shouldn’t be listening to.

Born Again was a commercially successful record for the reconfigured Sabbath, though they would enter a wilderness for several years afterward. It probably sold well on the Sabbath name and Ian Gillan’s role as singer and didn’t need help from the PMRC to move copies. The album gets mixed reviews from critics and fans but is still a much talked-about part of the Sabbath discography. The song itself did not gain any particular notoriety from the Filthy Fifteen.

Mary Jane Girls – In My House

This all-women R&B group was assembled by Rick James and had some minor hits on the ’80’s scene. In My House would be the group’s biggest hit and probably gained some attention from being on the list. It is another ode to getting busy between the sheets but, much like Madonna’s track, is in no way explicit or obscene. It was probably more of a benefit to the group and record label’s bank accounts to be considered for inclusion on the Filthy Fifteen.

Venom – Possessed

Of anything to dig up to put on a list of objectionable songs, the PMRC went across the pond and found this Venom track. The inclusion on the list was probably a perfect marriage made in hell for the PMRC, who needed shocking examples of music to convince industry execs and politicians to care about their cause.

It’s hard to say that being on the list affected Venom in any real way. The group had already cemented themselves as a wide-ranging influential heavy metal act with their first two albums and were entering a transitional period by the time this song came around. The band were overtly satanic, an ruse meant to entertain and amuse according to the group. Their imagery and sound, pioneering in a way despite honestly sucking, would have a great influence on the coming extreme metal movement.

Cyndi Lauper – She-Bop

We conclude the Filthy Fifteen with a feminine ode to masturbation from Cyndi Lauper. She-Bop was one of Cyndi’s big hits around this time. The song is openly about enjoying one’s self, it does not imply or conceal anything and makes for excellent fodder for the PMRC.

I don’t know of the PMRC had any effect on Cyndi Lauper. She became a huge star regardless of her inclusion on the Filthy Fifteen and the song was ever-present despite the political outcry against it. She just wanted to have fun, she did, and smiled all the way to the bank. Her 50 million in album sales were most likely on her own merit and not affected by the PMRC.

That does it for this look at the Filthy Fifteen. The list itself was more of a precursor to the Senate hearings and the adoption of the Parental Advisory sticker on albums. It was an interesting look back to see what songs were so subversive as to be called out by Tipper Gore and the wives’ club. I’m not sure how huge of an effect this list had on the artists at hand, by and large their careers went without a ton of fuss from this dust-up. A few benefited and really only W.A.S.P. seemed negatively impacted. If nothing else, we at least got a sticker out of it to let us know that Cannibal Corpse records might contain explicit lyrics.