REVIEWS -- MARCH 3, 1999
 
 
                                 
 
Hair Metal Week '99

Bon Jovi -- Bad Medicine (1988)
     (*)  That it is. Sam Kinison has a cameo at the beginning of this video. I think Jon Bon Jovi must have given him a lot of fucking coke to pull that one off. Sam yells like heís hawking a new collect-call scam. "Do you want the same old Bon Jovi video?" he screams. Well, no, but Iím not very enthusiastic about any of the new variety, either. So about a hundred rabid fans grab video cameras and capture the Bon Jovi concert footage all by themselves. Thatís a surefire way to get the union cameramen to come back from that strike. And you know what the worst, scariest, most messed-up part is? Bon Jovi is still in the entertainment industry, and there are still people paying him. --AH
     (*1/2)  Sam Kinson leads an irate crowd in an effort to make a better Bon Jovi video. Impossible as it seems, they failed miserably. What we see is Bon Jovi and the boys dancing around like Van Halen in "Hot for Teacher." They must have been taking all of Samís drugs to think this video was a good idea. Itís too bad he didnít say, "Hey guys, want to go for a ride with me?" If he had, we might have been spared all of this. This medicine is bad, but the worst medicine is that weíll still have to hear this played in bowling alleys nationwide for years to come. --JW

Def Leppard -- Love Bites (1988)
     (**)  There are a lot of flourescent lights in this video. That leads to silhouettes of big hair. That means a power ballad is on the horizon, people. The lead singer is standing in the shadows, singing into a studio microphone in that "pretending Iím recording the songís vocals at this very moment" sort of way. Thereís also a girl with her back against the brick wall, in some kind of emotional distress. Even the one-armed drummer is getting misty; itís just that kind of video! The other band members are standing across from each other, singing the lyrics into the same microphone. Is it just me or is it tellingly homoerotic when bands sing backing vocals into the same mic, staring each other down while they emote the tender lyrics? ĖAH
     (**) What a weak video for what was such an amazing album. I mean, teenagers everywhere were having sex in station wagons to this song all through 1988. It must be a ballad because the set is so dark. But where are the candles and white wine? Doesnít anybody care about mood? The best part about monster rock ballads like this is that the band members always have that sensitive "ballad guy" look, like theyíre getting a blow job. --JW

Extreme Ė More Than Words (1991)
     (**1/2)  Iím curious. Those of you who have had cable for 10 years or more might be able to tell me Ė what did VH1 play before this came out? I guess they had a few stray Phil Collins songs to play, but this is just so reliable. And these guys are even singing the song back and forth. Homoerotic, right? This video stretches the very definition of sparse Ė the boys play on an empty soundstageÖ well, actually, the two pretty boys perform. The other two members are left out of the loop, though, and must sit out. "Sorry, guys, weíre downsizing. Everythingís acoustic now." --AH
     (**1/2)  I canít believe this guy is leading Van Halen now. I mean, he looks like he ought to be a short order cook, or maybe the guy that Daniel has to fight at the end of The Karate Kid Part III. The thing is though, if I close my eyes, I can picture this song being brand new and it being better than most of what weíre getting now. The best thing to do is find the Extreme II Pornograffiti  album, avoid the video and all VH1 flashback specials, and youíll be okay. --JW

Great White -- Once Bitten, Twice Shy (1988)
     (*1/2)  Thrice awful. This video is some kind of watered-down, George Thorogood-esque view of the biker world. You know what Iím talking about Ė George Thorogood thought he was a bonafide pool hustler, and he would have gotten his ass kicked. The Hellís Angels would fuck Great White up. This is the first video Iíve seen in this batch so far that has had the band performing in a giant warehouse. Iím sure it wonít be the last. And, yes, that denim jacket does have rhinestones on the back. This whole thing makes me wonder who brought more hair-care products to the set, the guys or the Budweiser commercial women? Finally, the band packs up and drives out of town, leaving a destroyed but gracious landscape behind. --AH
     (**)  This video will never die, because itís going to appear on monster rock collections until the end of time. In fact, Great White is available in stores, but I canít exactly imagine anybody buying it. The story is simple enough -- the deflowering of a young girl by rock and roll. How many times have we seen that sad tale? The so-called lyrics and bad piano merge with the power chords of the lead guitar to create something thatís almost a fun songÖ for a minute, anyway. Of course, the video is thrice that long. --JW

Love and Rockets -- So Alive (1989)
     (**1/2)  Iíve woken up with hair looking like this guyís. Itís always after I drank three-fourths of a bottle of gin the night before. Iíve heard things from James about these guys, like they have some hit comic book and theyíve been around forever, but to me Love and Rockets will be forever known as the anti-hair band who crashed the music scene a couple years after the death knell hit for Ď80s new wave. This was a last-gasp attempt at preserving the legend of the Duran Duran days, but with all the leggy models in this video, it comes off looking like it was directed by Robert Palmer with a dash of Cutting Crew thrown in. (Remember Cutting Crew? Their parents all probably donít.) Once his 15 minutes was up, at least the Love and Rockets singer was able to find work as an Avon lady. --AH
     (**1/2)  Bauhaus updated for the 80ís. Goth went underground, New Wave hit it big, and this was the result. Itís not quite hair metal, but itís not quite New Wave either, but it represents the worst of both. That being said, I can like this song without shame, as long as itís on something like "The Big Ď80s, Vol. 20." The lead singer has taken punk / goth to a new level, as he now resembles Edward Scissorhands, right down to the bodysuit and gravity-defying Johnny Depp hair. I can just picture the Avon lady bursting in during the middle of the video to put make-up on his scars. --JW

Motley Crue -- Dr. Feelgood (1989)
     (**1/2)  This was probably the first of the high-tech hair metal videos. For "Dr. Feelgood," Motley hired Wayne Isham, a respectable director whose name youíd be more likely to see on an Aerosmith video. Weíre in the middle of a drug deal as Motley Crue sings on a flaming stage, then on top of a car with a flaming paint detail. Itís a motif, you see. And I take it from the lyrics that Dr. Feelgood is the neighborhood heroin dealer. Or the guy who put Pamelaís breast implants in. They always call that guy Dr. Feelgood until those things start to leak. One thing Iím taking away from this video Ė in a beauty contest between Motley Crue and Poison, these guys would be going home sad. --AH
     (**1/2) In the sixth grade, my best friend from middle school and I would thrash to this in his room, stepping on toys and Nintendo games all the while. Thatís a pretty good summation of Motley Crueís entire fan base. Of course, if Iím in the right mood and this comes on, Iím back in the groove and breaking all kinds of shitÖ The band follows a simple formula -- shots of drug deals, fire and then broken ruins. For what they were trying to do, it actually works. --JW

Mr. Big -- To Be With You (1992)
     (1/2)  Did this guy get laid? Did he? Get God on the phone. I need a cosmic explanation NOW! This song was #1 for three weeks. You know how the old James Bond movies always had a villain called Mr. Big? Well, what if 007 had gotten through all the henchmen and he was finally to the last room and thereís this fucking band. And during the acoustic guitar solo, the camera spins with the guitar player. Somehow I doubt this video got any technical achievement awards. Itís the Extreme principle again, too -- half the band has to sit the video out because theyíve been acoustically downsized. Iíd hate to be known not only as part of Mr. Big, but as the guy in the window who has to play the tambourine. --AH
     (zero)  This causes me a lot of pain, and it brings back really bad memories. No, I wasnít being raped or anything while my uncle had it blaring in the background. Itís just that my mom latched onto the single and played it over and over again. It drove me freaking insane. Then, they started with the video, and I just yelled with outrage every time it came on. Nobody understood. Nobody could understand. She has really weird music tastes. Before Mr. Big, it was Rod Stewart. Before that, it was Cat Stevens, and I hear she listened to The Partridge Family when she was a teenager. My God, just think about what my childhood was like. Now she listens to Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana and Insane Clown Posse. Can you imagine going to one of her parties? Anyway, if this video was burned and never shown again, Iíd be a happy man. Maybe I can beat Jay-Z to death with it. --JW

Poison -- Every Rose Has Its Thorn (1988)
     (**)  So this was the beginning of the acoustic hair metal revolution. Itís kind of a cool song, even 11 years later, but itís impossible as hell to take seriously as long as Bret Michaels is wearing that cowboy hat and those sunglasses. "Every Rose" is filmed in that tour-documentary vein, showing both the tour bus and the stages across the country. You know, without this video, there would be no Limp Bizkit video for "Faith." They modeled it on Poison. How sad is that? Two sure signs we live in a pathetic universe Ė one of these guys comes out too fucked-up for the concert as a stagehand helps him off, and later thereís a farm girl in the front row crying her eyes out. Sheís 31 now, she weighs 210 and she has four kids.--AH
     (**)  Cue applause, cue curtains, cue Poison coming back on stage for one more song. I guarantee it will be this, or my name isnít, like, James L. Wallace, Esquire. The video? Concert footage and scenes from the "bummer" side of rock and roll, showing us just how hard it is to be Poison. Then, I donít really see it. Now, during their latest attempt to get a new album contract, I can buy it.. This songís final resting place seems to be to be as an, "Oh, thatís cool," addition to Ď80s metal compilations. Every hair metal career has its thorn, I suppose. --JW

Twisted Sister -- We're Not Gonna Take It (1984)
     (**1/2)  This video is so bad, so shamelessly bad Ė and you know it thought it meant something, too Ė that itís classic. Entire MTV gimmick weekends could be built around this video. The drill sergeant from Animal House yells at his dorky rocker kid, who becomes possessed and knocks him out the window. Then he turns into Dee Snyder. I canít decide which offense would get you more years in prison. Dee was genuinely ugly, and sometime around the turn of this decade he wrote a teen sex-ed book. I read part of it in the library one day. Itís got Deeís personal revelations about masturbation and loss of virginity. If there were two things I didnít want to know about the Twisted Sister frontman, those are probably the ones. --AH
     (*1/2)  How many times have our parents shouted this monologues at us? It almost makes me want to dress up like Bette Midler and wreck our house. At least, thatís what these guys decided to do, and thatís who I swear the lead singer is for a minute. Imagine if Little Billy came downstairs looking like that guy and wrecked the family meal. Would you try to get him help, or just give up and concentrate on the other kids? So cliché you canít diss it, but I think I just did. This was just godawful. --JW
     RANDOM JEREMY COMMENT: You know, our parents were fucking right about these guys.

Van Halen -- Panama (1984)
     (**)  Pat Boone covered this. Thatís about right. David Lee Roth, proving the thrift store still has a spandex section, makes a further embarrassment of himself, flying around the stage. Take this scenario Ė there are three fire poles. Two Van Halen band members slide down the outside ones in sailor outfits. They do a choreographed dance. David Lee slides down the middle one in a shiny black cape. Toward the end of the song, David Lee attacks Eddie Van Halen with a hair dryer. Yes, a hair dryer. And these guys got girls. --AH
     (**1/2)  Poor Eddie Van Halen. When he came over to the United States, he never wanted this. All he wanted was to play lead guitar in a rock and roll band. He never wanted to jump around like a pansy wearing a domino shirt and pink cowboy scarf. David made him do it. Guys like that are nobodyís friend. I keep waiting for him to come to his senses and beat David Lee Roth with his guitar. All of the great early Van Halen videos were marred by the fact that David Lee Roth turned them into a bunch of fruits, and this is no exception. --JW

Warrant -- Cherry Pie (1991)
    (*1/2)  Man, how cool did these guys think they were in the early Ď90s? This came out the same year as "Smells Like Teen Spirit." What a contrast. "Cherry Pie" is a last-grab attempt at holding onto the hair metal, objectification trend of the late Ď80s. The girl in this is utterly hot, too, as she walks past a fire truck with Dazzy Duks on. That wonít do -- the firefighters have to hose her down. The firefighters are Warrant, of courseÖ Oops. Now Dad has caught the lead singer of Warrant in bed with his daughter. He doesnít seem to care much Ė he just makes the singer put back the silverware he stole and cranks up Nevermind.--AH 
     (*1/2)  No video, just these freaks playing in front of a white screen while a bleached blonde is exploited metaphorically and literally. Show enough of that and nobody will even notice that neither the video or the band has any substance. "Cherry Pie" the music video equivalent of a B-movie, because they had to know what they were doing. --JW

White Lion -- When the Children Cry (1988)
     (*)  This is horrible. I mean, I thought Warrant was tough to take. Now here comes White Lion with this song from the album Pride. (Pride? Pride?! Give me a break.) This "We Are the World" ripoff shows children on playgrounds while the band members pose for emotional stills. Why should the starving children cry when thereís so much big metal hair to feast on? See that girl on the swing? The lead singer banged her. Yeah, these guys toured with Stryper. --AH
     (*1/2) This whole video reminds me of a late night infomercial speaking against child abuse. Even the band is moody and half-covered in shadows, a la a beaten child. All thatís missing is the cuts and bruises and tattered teddy bears. Just remember, not one more band has to suffer this fate. With your help, not one more White Lion video. Wonít you save the children? --JW

 
 
 
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