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10 Greatest Hair Metal Songs of All Time

Updated on October 7, 2008

Hair today, bald tomorrow.


I am a man still stuck in the 80s. Despite realizing how silly the decade's music and fashion were, I can't seem to let it go. And my music of choice during those silly times was hair metal. I am a little embarrassed to admit that, but I feel I'm among friends here. So, for those of you like me (are there any?) I've compiled a list of what I feel are the ten greatest hair metal songs of all time. First, let me lay down a couple of ground rules. I didn't include any ballads (because I want to save those for an entirely different blog. I am aware of how selfish that is, thank you.), and I didn't include bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden or even Guns -n- Roses because my definition of hair metal is music that was very poppy performed by androgynous men in make-up. Also, I limited it to songs from the 80s, so unfortunately there are no Darkness songs on her. And, for the record, I'd like to say that "Cold Blood" by Kix is actually my favorite hair metal song, but I couldn't justify putting it on the list since I tried to stay somewhat impartial. Ok, now that I have all the legal mumbo jumbo aside, if you are indeed ready to rock, here we go:

10. "Final Countdown" by Europe. Nothing like starting off with a controversial choice since so many people seem to hate this song, but I have a soft spot for it. I even like the annoying keyboard intro. Sorry. And does anyone pout into the camera as well as Joey Tempest?

9. "Living on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi. You couldn't have this list without Bon Jovi on it somewhere, and I feel this is the best choice. And yes kids, I am talking about Jon Bon Jovi who does pseudo-country songs now. Hey, it worked for Ron Keel right? No? Not ringing any bells? Ok, next...

8. "Photograph" by Def Leppard. What Def Leppard lacks in make-up they more than... um... make-up for in pop brilliance. Sure, Hysteria was Thriller-like in its abundance of singles, but this is the song I will always associate with Def Leppard, and I believe it's the song that has the best chance of standing the test of time. My apologies to "Let's Get Rocked".

7. "Yankee Rose" by David Lee Roth. While David Lee Roth is the model by which most hair metal singers measure themselves (wait what?), Van Halen was just a good old fashioned rock band and not a candidate for this list. But, when David Lee Roth went solo for "Eat ‘Em and Smile" he went all out glam with copious amounts of eyeliner and fabulous perms (or perhaps a wavy wig judging by photos of Mr. Roth's constantly ebbing hairline). Backed by an all-star band highlighted by guitar virtuoso Steve Vai, this is David Lee Roth at his butt-less spandex best.

6. "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake. Before she became a tabloid and reality TV fave, Tawny Kitaen dated Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale and "starred" in the video for "Here I Go Again" which became a genre favorite because of limber Tawny's splits across the hood of a Jaguar (wow were we easily amused). Whitesnake was a decent, bluesy, Zeppelin rip-off band before succumbing to the clichés of 80s rock, and this song is the best example of their 80s phase.

5. "Talk Dirty To Me" by Poison. You could choose a number of songs from Poison, the band that I feel reached the zenith of glam excess before Nirvana blew that mountain to smithereens, but you might as well choose their nastiest song and the one that started it all long before Brett Michaels thought he was actually a serious blues musician. Sure, Brett, pretty rich boys can have the blues too.

4. "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister. A recent countdown on a television station that used to be about music said that "I Wanna Rock" was a better song than "We're Not Gonna Take It", but come on. This was everyone's anthem for at least a year or two while "I Wanna Rock" was a nice follow-up. Plus, you have to give "We're Not Gonna Take It" bonus points for having a drum beat that was actually catchier than most guitar riffs.

3. "Round and Round" by Ratt. This is the song that started my descent into juvenile delinquency. After watching the classic (that's right, I said classic) video for this song and seeing Stephen Pearcy for the first time, I had to grow my hair long and part it over half of my face. My parents and eye doctor still thank you, Mr. Pearcy. This is just a great song that established the fact that Warren DeMartini was one of the best guitarists of the genre.

2. "Shake Me" by Cinderella. This is a perfect hair metal song. The drum beat sucks you in, and then the crunching guitars drive it home. Tom Keifer's vocals were like nothing we'd ever heard (until Dizzy Dean Davidson of Britny Fox came along and stole them screech for screech), and did anyone have hair as beautiful as Eric Brittngham's? I don't think so. And let's not forget the guitars being swung over everyone's shoulders. Who else received a concussion trying that move? Huh? Huh? Really, nobody?

1. "Metal Health" by Quiet Riot. "Shake Me" came an Aqua Net sprayed hair away from topping this list simply because I felt Quiet Riot was closer to Judas Priest than Poison as far as being a tad too heavy. I mean, Randy Rhodes was their original guitarist. Surely he elevates them above the moniker of hair metal band, right? Maybe, but then I remembered Kevin Dubrow's hair extensions in the "Wild and the Young" video and all my concerns were laid to rest. In addition to just being an awesome song, the success of the "Metal Health" album was the single biggest reason that so many record companies signed all those bands in the 80s, including some that are probably on this list. This song has it all: a fist pumping chorus, killer guitars and best of all... it's not a Slade cover.

Well, there you have it. And yes I can already hear you asking, "What, no ‘Cherry Pie'?


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    • profile image

      Dr feelgood666 3 years ago

      I have one problem with the list you said that ballads would not be on the list but living on a prayers by Bon jovi is a ballad but other than that it's a awesome list

    • profile image

      couter 5 years ago

      Cherry pie came out in 1990,dirty rotten filthy stinking rich came out in '89,what about danger danger,bullet boys,and stryper? they rocked too :)

    • profile image

      Joe the Cab 7 years ago

      More, we want More!

    • profile image

      Joe the Cab 7 years ago

      Just Great. Can't please them all

    • profile image

      ScottyBalboa 7 years ago

      No motley crue in a hair metal top 10 list? Wild side, girls girls girls, shout at the devil, too young to fall in love, home sweet home 2 name a few top spot contenders!

    • profile image

      JeffreJames 8 years ago

      Nice well rounded list. I personally believe Whitesnakes "Still of the Night" was the greatest song to come out of the eighties. Thanks for the look back!

    • maheshpatwal profile image

      maheshpatwal 8 years ago from MUMBAI

      Awesome hub sir........... most of the songs mentioned by you are my fav too............ i think generation will come and generation will go but these songs are not gonna fade............

    • maheshpatwal profile image

      maheshpatwal 8 years ago from MUMBAI

      Awesome hub sir........... most of the songs mentioned by you are my fav too............ i think generation will come and generation will go but these songs are not gonna fade............

    • brimancandy profile image

      Brian 8 years ago from Northern Michigan

      Weird I have seen four of the bands on you list Live!

      Poison: 4 times

      Def Leppard: 2 times

      Cinderella 1 time

      Europe Once.

      But, I can think of Better. What about These

      KISS: Rock and Roll all Night/Iwas made for loving you

      AC/DC: Highway to hell/You shook me all night long

      Metallica: Sad but true/Enter Sandman

      Aerosmith: Walk this way/Love in an elevator/dream on

      As for Poison: Every rose has it's thorn/nothing but a good time/I want action/I won't forget you/Something to believe in/unskinny bop/

      If you are a Poison fan you should get "swallow this live."

      make sure you get the double album set. Sure wish they had made a video of that. I would have loved to have it.

    • profile image

      jon 8 years ago

      im an 18 year old kid and i love the 80s and yes i do have the big hair!! definitly the greatest music era.

    • kea profile image

      kea 8 years ago

      Great hub! I love the 80s and hair metal. I was just rocking out to "The Final Countdown" yesterday on Hair Nation (XM Station)! At first I didn't agree with your Twisted Sister selection, but I never really thought how catchy the drum beat is for that song. Kudos for "Shake Me" - the best Cinderella song by far!

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      PAT 8 years ago

      C'mon guys there are only 10 spots... Def Leppard alone could do all 10 spots,as couldVan Halen, but yes Guns N Roses should be included... Personally Def Leppard's "Foolin" and Ratt's "Round N Round" are my definition of hair metal...and either one would'f been my number 1 spot...

    • profile image

      hair metal 8 years ago

      you win for posting ratt, but no crue?

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      EvilBob 8 years ago

      The deal with Nitro wasn't to be a "supergroup", but rather an over the top in every way group. I forget the bassist, but the drummer was also Bob Rock, formerly of Vinnie Vincent Invasion. Faster licks, higher vocals, more necks on the guitars, bigger hair, with no effects, choppers, doublers, harmonizers, etc.. MAB's talent goes without saying, but Gilette would warm up by shattering wine glasses with his voice. The two albums (which I have on CD) were indeed over the top, to the verge of being like fingernails on a chalkboard. ...but I still loved them.

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      john 8 years ago

      love your list but where's the crue?

    • Whitey profile image

      Whitey 9 years ago from Oswego, IL

      I love every song off of Appetite for Destruction, but I felt that they were a little more straight ahead rock than the ones on this list. I feel that album falls a little closer to the Stones or Sex Pistols than Poison and Warrant.

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      C. J. 9 years ago

      Dude I was born 95 but hair metal rules!!!! why isn't Guns n' Roses on here??

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      Vixen;) 9 years ago

      Hairmetal is the best genre of all time. I dont think its silly or lame at all. And i wasn't even born in the eighties.. just missed them. Girls like me today would go crazy for guys like Jon Bongovi, prior to his country days. Where are all the real rockstars?????

    • Whitey profile image

      Whitey 9 years ago from Oswego, IL

      Never actually heard a Nitro cassette (staying true to the times). I'll have to see if I can find something of theirs on E-bay or something. If they are truly that bad I actually want to hear them.

      I too have a soft spot for Cherry Pie, but so many people blame it for killing the genre along with Smells Like Teen Spirit that I had to leave it off. Plus, hearing Jani Lane blame that song for his pathetic state on Celebrity Fit Club has soured the cherries so to speak. (Sorry, that was pretty lame.)

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      Adam B 9 years ago

      Hey, that's a picture of Nitro up on your HUB, blast from the past! Nitro was supposed to be some sort of "super group" with Michael Angelo Batio on guitar and Jim Gillette on vocals but they just...weren't. MAB is still one of the greatest guitarists ever to pick up a guitar but Nitro...sucked.

      Also, your list is awsome, but whenever I think of 80's hair metal, I think...Warrant...Cherry Pie!!!!!!!

    • Whitey profile image

      Whitey 9 years ago from Oswego, IL

      Thanks. I'll start scouring the internet for photos.

    • Ryan Hupfer profile image

      Ryan Hupfer 9 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Awsome need to ad some photos of each of these bands...that would be great!