Video playlist: our favorite hair metal videos

Reading Josh Bell's story about hair metal's Las Vegas convergence got us thinking back ... on the outfits, the makeup, the music and yes, the hair, that made it all so memorable in its heyday. So, with apologies to the oddly absent Tawny Kitaen and the hood of that lucky Jaguar, here are our all-time favorite hair metal videos:

Bon Jovi, "Wanted Dead or Alive" (Josh Bell, Film Editor)

The "perils of the road" videos were a dime a dozen during the '80s, but Bon Jovi's artful black-and-white chronicle of the band's 1986-87 world tour does a great job of capturing the genuine exhaustion, boredom and isolation of touring, along with the amazing highs of playing in front of thousands of fans. Plus, the song, with its eerie intro/outro, anthemic chorus and triumphant/despondent lyrics, perfectly suits images of both fans' outstretched hands and band members collapsing with fatigue.

David Lee Roth, "Yankee Rose" (Ryan Olbrysh, Art Director)

I don’t know that I’d classify David Lee Roth’s early solo material as “hair metal,” but it certainly had that goofball spirit. I was 15 years old when this video first aired, and it blew my mind. The minute-and-a-half intro is good for a chuckle, but it was the performance of Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan (on guitar and bass, respectively) that directly contributed to my picking up an instrument. Three weeks after seeing this video (and after much pestering) my father ordered me a $100 “starter bass” from the Sears catalog. I spent the next 20 years playing in bands and had almost as much fun as it looked like they were having in this video.

White Lion, "Wait" (Brock Radke, Web & Food Editor)

White Lion never made the leap into the upper echelon of '80s groups, and in fact wasn't even the most famous white animal band of the era. (Whitesnake, duh.) But "Wait," the high-powered anthem from the double-platinum album Pride, has all the makings of a quintessential hair metal video: the ultimately fluffy coif of singer Mike Tramp, a scorching guitar solo from Vito Bratta and a general sense of rocking wussiness.

Guns N' Roses, "Sweet Child o' Mine" (Ken Miller, Associate Editor)

I never considered myself much of a fan of hair metal bands, but this song—and video—have a special place in my heart. The combo of the grainy black and white (and that momentary use of color), Slash's now iconic look (especially the hair) and Axl's unique voice hooked me almost immediately. Still one of my favorite videos ever.

Cinderella, "Shake Me'" (Spencer Patterson, Managing Editor)

A lot of music videos play off their song titles; Cinderella took its 1986-87 trilogy one step further, playing off its band name itself. In "Shake Me," the Philly foursome introduced its wicked stepsister characters, who would appear again in "Nobody's Fool" and "Somebody Save Me" and would become as synonymous with the group's early years as Tom Keifer's high-pitched wail and mysterious cloaks.

Aerosmith, "Cryin'" (Sarah Feldberg, Editor)

If Alicia Silverstone's pouty plaid-shirted angst (complete with ill-conceived boob tattoos, suicide threats) isn’t enough, Steven Tyler & Co. wail in a church wearing big hair and ripped T-shirts. Tyler’s weird mask during the intro seems to have nothing to do with anything, but I think it adds to the awesomeness all the same.

Skid Row, "I Remember You" (Kristen Peterson, Staff Writer)

Skid Row’s “I Remember You” is an experience that can only culminate with a fist in the air and a teardrop in the eye. If your hair isn’t long, you’ll grow it long in alliance with this over-the-top power ballad that expresses lost love of yesterday. Opening with a camera panning across the band from above in an abandoned warehouse, the video epitomizes '80s hair metal cinematography as it lands on Sebastian Bach seated center—all dreamy, sensitive, hurt and blond. His forlorn heart fuels a voice that sails up and down the octaves as images of hair-swinging guitarists fade in and out. All this, of course, is juxtaposed against a homeless man, wandering lonely under gray skies in black-and-white. Fences are featured prominently as if to say, “There is no escaping this prison of pain.” Carrying the weight of 1,000 autumns in his heart and photographs of a lost love in his hand, he wanders urban corridors alone. Fade back to Sebastian, releasing his pent up emotion with soaring vocals until he collapses forward and the guitar takes over, echoing the impassioned release, a sort of melancholic musical intercourse that, combined with the video montage, makes for the exemplary hair metal video. Moreover, it begins and ends with a solo acoustic guitar. Bravo, Skid Row. Bravo.


Previous Discussion:

  • The Las Vegas debut of the Ohio-bred indie band was filled with dynamic arrangements, entertaining anecdotes—and, surprisingly, lots of attendees.

  • At this point, the only constant from album to album is the band’s dedication to ambition.

  • The bravery of the real soldiers is buried under a mountain of hokey sentiment and rah-rah bluster.

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