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Heart Shaped Box

heart4.gifIt’s Valentine’s Day, glam fans.

A time for true love. A warm embrace. A great power ballad.

What would the holiday of amore be without a great power ballad? After all, we have glam bands to thank for the melodic music of love and loss.

Even if they didn’t really invent the genre, Motley Crue is credited for popularizing the power ballad with “Home Sweet Home,” off Theatre of Pain.

 Of course, the Crue were met with a lot of flack for their very popular, chart topping tune and die hard metal heads said Theatre of Pain was a little too slick for their liking.

According to VH1 Classic, the number one power ballad of all time is Journey’s Open Arms. I don’t agree with this because I think the honor needs to go to a band more akin to the glam scene.

For me, two songs tie for the best power ballad of all time:

“Love Bites” by Def Leppard and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison. (Both hits come in at number 8 and 7, respectively on the aforementioned VH1 Classic list).

Is it a coincidence that the power ballad was typically a band’s most successful song and the tune that more people identify with, however so unfair?

My two picks for the best power ballad of all time are each band’s only number 1 hit.

In fact, “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” written by Diane Warren and performed by the bad boys from Boston is the only Aerosmith song to ever reach the top spot on the Billboard chart. The single is also the first and only song by a rock band to debut in the pole position.

In the documentary Heavy: The Story of Metal, the success of the power ballad is lampooned by the very artists that profited from their massive popularity. As the story goes, an 80s album had to include a power ballad to ensure a hit. A band would release a heavy track first, followed by the mellow power ballad. Groups like Warrant and Winger had the power ballad rule down cold. Speaking of Warrant, Jani Lane wrote some of the best lyrics of all time, and his song “Heaven” really is miles above the rest. Nearly two decades after its initial release, the track still has transcendental powers allowing the listener to really understand the emotion behind the song. The lyrics are simple, clean and the accompaniment just as pure.

For this reason, "Heaven" is our official Valentine song obsession of the week. For those of you celebrating an anti-Valentine of sorts, is featuring “Sick Love Song” by Motley Crue. Nikki Sixx knows a few things about bad relationships!


Our Time to Shine

cat.jpgAndrogyny has always fascinated me, so I guess it comes as little surprise that I'm such a huge fan of glam rock. After all, the genre is typified by men with big hair, even bigger egos and a ton of eye liner.

If you look at the cover of Poison's Look What the Cat Dragged In, you see four men more akin to the cover of Vogue instead of Metal Mania. So what does this say about our society and culture?

The early 1980s were the last gasp of the sexual revolution. Indeed, glam bands sang proudly of their conquests with little consequence until the AIDS epidemic became front page news.

It's hard to imagine a rabid metal scene today like the Sunset Strip salad days of, say, 1984 when it was common for each glam band to sport a bevy of beauties on each arm, party backstage and snort about a thousand dollars worth of cocaine for good measure.

Was this the epitome of rock? Of course not, but lyrics reflected the lifestyle  no holds barred, and nothing held back.

Now, when we look to the stage, we see a reflection of ourselves. Is it so wrong to want to see a performer actually perform? Is it wrong to want my rockstars to wear more make-up than I do? I don't think so. 

Later this week: a deeper look at hom0-eroticism in heavy metal.






It's Not All Black Metal

wigwam.jpgHave you heard of the glam band Wig Wam? They produce modern music with a distinct 80s sound. The Norwegian rockers remain dedicated to bringing back glam, and with good reason. They live dangerously close to the advances of black metal and still they persevere.

Perhaps most glam is that the band members have assumed names akin to their identities, ala the Spice Girls. Seriously, the band members go by "Glam," "Teeny," "Flashy" and "Sporty."

Their website, is very tongue-in-cheek, something along the lines of Metal Skool and yet these musicians have carved out a very unique sound, paying homage to a true melodic institution.

It's pretty ironic that the land which spawned Mayhem and Gorgoroth would birth Wig Wam. If you'd like to sample a tune or three, head over to I like this band so much, their song "Gonna Get You" is the featured track on







Doom Drowning in the Mainstream

grammy.jpgThe Grammy awards are just a few hours away. Like the lead singer of Lamb of God, I plan on boycotting the telecast. (Lamb of God is nominated for best metal performance alongside Ministry, Slayer, Stone Sour and Mastodon).

For years, the Grammy awards have had little to do with real music talent, but more with the garbage the corporate America feeds to kids with extra cash to spend on CDs. Mary J. Blige leads the pack with eight nominations. She's followed by other music luminaries like John Mayer and Justin Timberlake.

Randy Blythe is the only member of Lamb of God to sit out the show. The rest of the band is excited and wants to attend the broadcast in the off chance they win. I get that. I guess if there was a Grammy award for best music blogger and I was nominated, I'd go too. Still, I've got to give Blythe credit: he knows what he believes in and won't be bullied into supporting an awards show that means precious little to the music industry.

Remember, glam fans Milli Vanilli won a Grammy and Jethro Tull beat Metallica for best metal performance!

By the way, Lamb of God is nominated for the track "Redneck" off the album Sacrament. I hope they win and when the other members of Lamb of Gob accept their award, I expect them to explain why Blythe is noticeably absent.

********Update: Lamb of God didn't win. According to, Slayer took home the statuette. Of course, the metal and hard rock awards were presented before the national telecast. The Grammy voters had to save time for all the pop princesses to strut their stuff and shake their hips.




Silent All These Years

After 15 years of silence, White Lion guitarist Vito Bratta has agreed to spill his guts on the Friday Night Rocks radio show. DJ Eddie Trunk hosts the show, but nowadays more people probably know him for his work with VH1 Classic.

Bratta will be live in the studio, strumming his guitar and answering questions about what it was like to be in a famously huge glam band.

Bratta wrote the song "Wait," featured on the band's biggest album Pride.

 For whatever reason, he left it all behind and chose a reclusive life, refusing interviews and new gigs in the industry. Now a sudden interest to talk about the past -- perhaps this is because the movement to bring back glam is gaining momentum?

You can listen to the show next Friday night by clicking this link






Sick as a Dog

kleenex.jpgSince I'm feeling rather lousy today and killing time before a dreaded doctor visit, I got to wondering about all the glam songs that feature the word "sick" in the title. Off the top of my head, there's "Sick Love Song" by Motley Crue and "Sick as a Dog" be Aerosmith. For the rest, I need to dig a little deeper.

He's not glam, but Bob Dylan wrote a pretty famous song called "Love Sick" and rock band Default have a song called "Sick and Tired." I've never even heard it, but I bet I can relate to those lyrics. Field Mob has a song I like called "Sick of Being Lonely."

Glam lyric master Jani Lane has a solo single simply called "Sick" on his album Back Down to One and then there's "Sick Things" by glam shock rockers Alice Cooper. Fountains of Wayne have a song called "Sick Day," which I'm sure we can all relate to at least a little bit.

There are a ton more songs out there with the word "sick" in the title, but during my research I came across an even more interesting phenomenon: band names featuring the word "sick."

Oh, there's Sick Puppies, Sick of It All, Sick and Wrong, Sick, The Motion Sick, and Sick Symphonies.

I'm not sure what all this means other than one of the most basic principles binding human civilization is music and the common bond of feeling lousy and missing a day of work.




Better to Burn Out, Than Fade Away?

leppard.jpgIt's a hallmark of 80s music to have that perpetual fade at the end of a song. Unfortunately, this production fade doesn't mesh well with music videos. I got to thinking about songs that have an abrupt end or long fade, and decided to compare videos, using Def Leppard as my study model.

Two songs that have a long, almost painful fade are "Rock of Ages" and "Love Bites." These are two of the Leps biggest hits, with "Bites" being their only number 1 single. Still, the video for each has a stalled paused, with singer Joe Elliot's face taking up much of the screen. Especially in "Rock of Ages" the slow end is hard to handle, but simply listening to the track I can't image the song with an abrupt ending.

Conversely, the songs "Animal" and "Let's Get Rocked" have an abrupt ending. I like to think of this as the Leppard ending because the British band transformed music production in the 1980s, with over the top effects and expensive studio elements. The no-holds bar tracks of "Animal" and "Let's Get Rocked" encompass what it means to be a great rock band, let alone glam group. In fact, "Animal" is my favorite Leppard video, and I can't imagine such a frenetic song without an abrupt ending. A slow fade would compromise the production, and undermine the ethos of the track. You can find all these Def Leppard songs on Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection.

So, does the slow fade to abrupt track ending represent an evolution of modern rock music? I am not sure, but I do know that it is more common for current rock artists  to choose an abrupt ending for a track versus the more pop-oriented slow fade.

In fact, rock songs produced more than a decade ago such as Motley Crue's "Primal Scream" began switching to the abrupt ending format. It gives a track a harder edge, a special "in-your-face" punch. Plus, it works better for music video production, a now necessary evil in artist marketing.