I don’t know you, but I’ve spent an awful lot of my life wishing that I’d been a teenager around the time that I was born. Bon Jovi was touring for Slippery When Wet in 1987! “Here I Go Again” was topping the charts! “Talk Dirty to Me” was one of the most popular videos of the year! We were out of the recession! The Soviet Union was about to fall apart and Ronald Reagan was making Americans feel like we really were the cool kids!
And apparently we had so much confidence in rock and roll that we believed it could do ANYTHING. LITERALLY ANYTHING. Hair metal bands seemed like they were obsessed with proving that they were the anti-conformist avant garde (while also basking in the tremendous capitalistic success they were intent on wasting on cocaine), and to do so they made videos that pitted the band against authority figures, using only music as their weapon. If they’re to be believed, the sound waves emitted from instruments and the adrenaline they get from performing transforms them into the bastard child of Gandalf and the Mighty Hulk.
Anyway, god knows we need a good laugh right now in 2014, so without further ado, here’s seven (OK, eight) music videos that’ll show you the righteous anti-authority power of hair metal.
1. “Nothin’ But A Good Time,” Poison: Fuck your boss and his shitty restaurant! He doesn’t want you to play music while you’re working in the dish room? All you have to do is kick in the side door to the kitchen and you’ll find that Poison has cast an Undetectable Extension spell to turn what should be either an alley or an office with maybe 8-foot ceilings into an ARENA-SIZED STAGE. Oh, god, guys, I just realized — maybe Poison were Timelords! The extinction of their race would certainly explain why in most of their videos, they appear to be performing for absolutely no one. Afterward, the dish guy gets rained on with residual magic confetti.
2. “Round and Round,” Ratt: Fuck the rich and their fancy dinner parties, too! In this video, Ratt’s music is so boss that although the floor of the attic they were playing in was structurally sound during the verses, Warren DeMartini’s guitar solo allows him to make a two-foot jump and make a clean break through the floor, landing harmlessly on a dining room table to scandalize the 1 percent. Meanwhile one of the lady guests sneaks up to the attic, where she’s half-transformed into a rat (subtle, right?). Can I ask why this apparently fancy house has only one floor and then an attic? I mean, I know that exists, it’s just not really in line with the Victorian architecture they’re suggesting.
3. “Walk This Way,” Run-DMC and Aerosmith: Fuck Run-DMC, too! Wait, no, Run-DMC is awesome. Nonetheless, the primal urge to sing his hook allows Steven Tyler to bust through what appears to be a cement-block wall with his scarf-enchanted mic stand.
4. “High Enough,” Damn Yankees: This video has two narratives going on: One in which a couple who never change their clothes are robbing people and running from the law, and then the guy pulls a totally dick move and leaves his girlfriend to get apprehended by the cops; and another in which Damn Yankees are outlaws hiding in a kind of shady-looking house. The cops confront them and much to their dismay, Ted Nugent’s guitar solo is capable of deflecting bullets! Either that, or the cops are secretly Stormtroopers.
5. “Smokin’ In the Boys Room,” Motley Crüe: Well, now I know where the Wachowski brothers got their inspiration. Motley Crüe took the red pill and are living outside the Matrix, and are intent on helping wayward youth to become illuminated to the truth that school is really just a conformist prison by pulling them through bathroom mirrors into the alternate Crüniverse with the power of song. The solution for these daring freedom fighters? Smoking in the boys’ room, of course.
6. “Freight Train,” Nitro: This is a shitty song, but I just need to point out that at 2:14 Nitro’s guitarist emerges from an explosion with a QUADRO-GUITAR, the most useless instrument ever created (either from an explosion or otherwise). He doesn’t even really play it half the time.
7. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (above) and “I Wanna Rock” (below), Twisted Sister: I think we can safely say that Twisted Sister 1) hates authority figures, 2) really loves the guy they hired to play the teacher and the dad, and 3) is fond of the idea that sound waves from guitars are powerful enough to toss human bodies in improbable ways. While “I Wanna Rock” centers on the idea that, as the Crüe argued, school is for conformist boneheads, “We’re Not Gonna Take It” appears to actually be an anti-domestic violence campaign. Guys, the opening scene of that video with the dad being nasty to everyone and screaming at his kid about his army service and how useless the kid is is terrifying. It’s mitigated by the fact that the kid then Wonder Woman-spins to transform into Dee Snider, who then magically transforms all the siblings into the rest of Twisted Sister, who get revenge on dad by using music to blow him out of windows repeatedly.
Got any more? YouTube now thinks that this is what I want to do with my life, so I gotta stop.