I’ve always wanted to start a Motley Crue tribute band. Okay, I’ll admit that most of the reason for that is I want to have a legitimate excuse to regularly wear leather pants (who doesn’t?), but that’s beside the point. My point is that 80’s hair metal rules. I’ve listened to enough of it that I should probably be given complimentary breast implants and a platinum dye job. So for those of you who aspire to break out the studded collar and start a band, I have a little present for you. It’s my guidelines on
HOW TO CRAFT THE PERFECT 80’S METAL SONG
(extra points for those of you who can name every band or song I reference.)
1. Choosing a band name. You must either make up a previously nonexistent word for your band’s name, or grievously misspell an existing word.
Not really words:
Grievously misspelled words:
Aerosmith (Arrow Smith)
Def Leppard (Deaf Leopard)
E’Nuff Z’Nuff (Enough is Enough)
I know, there’s a cereal called Kix, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the band didn’t name themselves after the cereal. Although the “Kid Tested, Mother Approved” slogan would be actually pretty disturbing in that case.
2. All 80’s metal songs are about troubled boys, banging underage girls, cars, or troubled boys banging an underage girl in a car.
When picking out your troubled boy’s name, you must establish his identity and troubles in the first line of the song. You must also choose a white guy with a name which ends in an “e” sound. Cases in point:
“Tommy used to work on the docks…”
“Ricky was a young boy, he had a heart of stone…”
“Rat-tailed Jimmy was a second-hand hood…”
“Johnny sits alone on a Tuesday night, Johnny can’t read; Johnny can’t write…”
Here we have the obvious outlining of both name and problems. Ethnic names don’t work for 80’s songs, because ethnic dudes don’t have 80’s kinds of troubles. Nobody believes that a guy named Harold would have a heart of stone, or that Alphonso, Sven, or Charles are second-hand hoods. Don’t even try to convince me that Aziz or Hiroshi can’t read or write. Only white guys with childish nicknames can ever be convincingly in 80’s metal trouble.
3. You must also establish a certain amount of disdain for his situation in the troubled white guy. 80’s metal dudes don’t just lie down and take what’s coming to them. No, they shake their fists! Consider:
“We’re right, we’re free, we’ll fight, you’ll see…”
“Teacher don’t you fill me up with your rules…”
“A big black and white come and crushed my groove again…”
4. Now that you’ve established a proper level of both troubles and righteous indignation, it’s time to mention the underage girls, cars, etc. The easiest way to do this is to bust out one’s eighth grade poetry notebook, as all 80’s metal songs are immature, childish, and must, above all else, rhyme. Observe:
“I knew right from the beginning
That you would end up winning
I knew right from the start
You’d put an arrow in my heart.”
“She’s only seventeen
The girl she gives me loves like I’ve never seen
She’s only seventeen
Daddy says she’s too young but she’s old enough for me”
(note the mention of underage girls AND the use of rhyming. Genius.)
“In my dreams it’s still the same
Your love is strong, it still remains
In my dreams you’ll always be
In my heart and in my dreams”
Okay, so he couldn’t think of a better word than “dreams” in that fourth line. Don’t judge! Stellar 8th-grade rhyming here:
“Wait just a moment before our love will die
Cuz I must know the reason why we say goodbye
Wait just a moment and tell me why
Cuz I can show you lovin’ that you won’t deny”
The guy sounds like he’s channeling Al Sharpton, there. Awesome.
5. Now that you presumably have a song written, you must perfect your “rock pose.” My personal favorite for actually playing the guitar and singing looks a lot like James Hetfield.
Observe the partial lunge, the grimace, and the wind blowing through the hair. Wind blowing through your fabulous mane is critical to an 80’s metal guy. So is the grimace. Your grimace must say to the audience, “It is LITERALLY painful to be this awesome, but I am doing it anyway.”
When you’re not playing the guitar and merely rocking out to yourself onstage, such as during someone’s solo, one must also have a rock pose. I like to call mine the “I’m lunging and stomping my foot while I wave my imaginary gun in the air” pose. (I wish I had a picture of myself doing this.) Pete Townshend (The Who) had a pretty good one.
For best results, extend two fingers on your raised hand, forming the “imaginary gun”, lunge forward and stamp your back foot in rhythm to the song, and nod your head at the same time. You may either close your eyes or open them really wide like you’re insane; there is no in-between.*** Go ahead, try it. I guarantee you that it’s fun. I defy you to stay depressed when you’re pulling a rock pose in front of the mirror. It’s like trying to stay depressed when you’re sitting in a box full of baby kitties.
I could pontificate all day on writing 80’s hair metal, but I need to go brush my luxurious mullet. Give me your tips on writing the perfect 80’s metal song, or at least show me your rock pose.
***Note: I actually originally wrote this blog before I ever saw School of Rock, but I believe that Jack Black espoused much the same sentiment in the movie with regard to insane staring onstage. The man knows what he’s talking about.***