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  • Torfinn Sirnes

Glam metal

In the first half of the 1980's two important processes took place simultaneously in the heavy metal history: 1) The main action moved from England to USA 2) The genre was divided into two distinct subgenres. One of those subgenres was the glamorous, dangerous and controversial glam metal!

Los Angeles. Sunset Strip. Big hair. Party all night long… Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll!

Glam metal, more popularly known in certain circles as hair metal, was ignited by Van Halen in the late 70's but the genre exploded in the mid 80's. Musically the genre was a mix of traditional heavy metal and commercial pop music. It was very hit song and radio oriented, with catchy choruses, hooks and harmonies. Keyboards were often added as a melodic element. Adding to that, the genre's colorful and recognizable big hair image suited the new MTV generation of kids perfectly. But let's not forget, glam metal also meant a large dose of fine musicianship, strong song writing and memorable guitar solos!

In the second half of the 1980's bands like Poison, Mötley Crüe and Bon Jovi filled the charts with one hit after another. The glam metal bands even invented a new song genre perfect for female fans, namely the power ballad. For an even more commercial appeal, the power ballad went acoustic in the late 80's. MTV Unplugged anyone?

Today, glam metal remains controversial. Many of the bands often leaned so much to the softer side that they are not accepted as heavy metal by the metal community. Bon Jovi, for instance, is rarely concidered metal. Mötley Crüe, on the other hand, is. Guns N' Roses is sometimes included in the glam metal story but they are also looked upon as a band that was partly responsible for the genre's downfall.

Being metal or not, even established traditional acts like Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Kiss, Aerosmith and Alice Cooper changed their sound and image in the eightees to fit into the mainstream. They soon left, however, as the genre eventually turned into clichés and a parody of itself and was overthrown by an angst-filled and introspective new generation from Seattle. But that's another story…

We might have to stay home but let's party all night long!


(one band per song only)

  1. Mötley Crue: "Dr. Feelgood"

  2. Bon Jovi: "Living on a Prayer"

  3. Def Leppard: "Pour Some Sugar on Me

  4. Kiss: "Crazy Nights"

  5. Europe: "The Final Countdown"

  6. Guns N' Roses: "Welcome to the Jungle"

  7. Poison: "Every Rose Has It's Thorn"

  8. Warrant: "Cherry Pie"

  9. Whitesnake: "Is this Love"

  10. Ratt: "Round and Round"

Check out the playlist below for 101 songs that tell the story of glam metal:


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