Saturday, January 16, 2021

Top 300 Hair Band Songs of All Time

I've created many "Top" and "Best of" lists over the years...for music, movies, TV, etc. But I think this is my most epic ranking yet. As a child of 1974, the 80's shaped my taste in music, and nowhere is that more evident in my love for all things hair band.

The term hair band has come to be somewhat of a pejorative, but not in my mind. Some of these folks were really talented, and I think the stigma betrays the quality of a lot of the work that came from that era. But yes, some of it would fall under the label of "guilty pleasure" (though I feel no guilt).

That said, I'll lay out the (very unscientific) methodology I used to craft this Top 300 list. Below the final ranking, I've included some 130+ additional songs under "honorable mention." 

So how did I determine the order in which these songs appear? A few choice criteria, listed in order of highest to lowest importance...

1. Personal preference - should be obvious that this would carry the greatest weight.
2. Importance to the hair band movement/genre
3. Importance to the artist's career
4. Chart performance - Billboard Hot 100 took precedence here, then the Rock/Mainstream Rock charts
5. Airplay - ubiquity on MTV, VH1, and commercial radio
6. Recurrent airplay - still being played today on SiriusXM, FM radio, appearing in commercials, etc.
7. Quality of live performance - this is only last in importance because obviously I've only had the opportunity to see certain songs performed live

I'd also add that for about 98% of this chart, it was a requirement that the song had been released as a single in the US or elsewhere, or otherwise had some kind of exposure via TV, film, promotional single, etc. There are a few exceptions I made, but not many. Of course, several of the above criteria are also inter-related, such as chart performance somewhat influencing a song's importance to the genre and the artist's career. But the over-arching point is that these are NOT simply ranked in order of how much I like each song!

Lastly, there was also a specific time period cutoff I used to define what constituted the "hair band era." All of the songs on this list were released between 1983 and 1995. Why were these the years I selected? In many circles, Quiet Riot's landmark album, Metal Health, is credited as launching the movement, as it was the first hard rock/metal album to hit #1 on the Billboard 200, doing so in November 1983. On the flip side, 1995 marked the last appearance for the seminal artist of the hair band era, Def Leppard, on the Billboard Hot 100, as "When Love and Hate Collide" peaked at #58.

Feel free to argue amongst yourselves (or with me) regarding whether this accurately represents the hair band era or if you agree with the artists I decided to categorize (or not categorize) as hair bands.

I've linked to Youtube videos where available, so happy listening...

300. Scared - Dangerous Toys
299. Action! Not Words - Def Leppard
298. Back for More - Ratt
297. Love Walked In - Thunder
296. One in a Million - Trixter
295. American Nights - Bonfire
294. Billy's Got a Gun - Def Leppard
293. Get It While It's Hot - Kix
292. Rest in Peace - Extreme
291. Living in Sin - Bon Jovi
290. I Don't Wanna Change the World - Ozzy Osbourne
289. Operation: Mindcrime - Queensryche
288. So Tell Me Why - Poison
287. Open Your Heart - Europe
286. Alone Again - Dokken
285. You're All I Need - White Lion
284. The Way It Is - Tesla
283. Old Rose Motel - Great White
282. Down Incognito - Winger
281. Send Me an Angel - Scorpions
280. The Last Mile - Cinderella
279. Sometimes She Cries - Warrant
278. Stronger Now - Warrant
277. Shelter Me - Cinderella
276. The More Things Change - Cinderella
275. I Still Think About You - Danger Danger
274. I'll Be There - Hardline
273. Holy Diver - Dio
272. Hot Cherie - Hardline
271. Street of Dreams - Rainbow
270. Way Cool Jr. - Ratt

269. Love on a Rooftop - Desmond Child
The 80's would have been missing a ton of hit songs without the presence of songwriter extraordinaire, Desmond Child, whose fingerprints are all over this list with songs by Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, KISS, and Alice Cooper, among others. He also lends his own vocals to two entries here, including this single from the sole album released under his own name.

268. Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue) - W.A.S.P.
267. Comin' Under Fire - Def Leppard
266. Big Gun - AC/DC
265. Lonely Too Long - Britny Fox
264. Heart the Hunter - Great White
263. Wild Side - Motley Crue
262. Lay Your Hands on Me - Bon Jovi
261. Crazy Crazy Nights - KISS
260. In My Dreams - Dokken
259. Has Jesus Closed His Eyes - Enuff Z'Nuff
258. Just Take My Heart - Mr. Big
257. I Wanna Rock - Twisted Sister
256. Blow My Fuse - Kix

255. Two Steps Behind - Def Leppard
One of 16 entries from the Sheffield lads on the ranking, and the last appearance for the band inside the Billboard Top 20.

254. One Step Closer to You - Enuff Z'Nuff
253. Free - Stryper
252. Heatseeker - AC/DC
251. (You Got Me) All Shook Up - Nelson
250. Love Don't Come Easy - White Lion
249. Civil War - Guns N' Roses
248. The Hunter - Dokken
247. Modern Day Cowboy - Tesla
246. I'm a Believer - Giant
245. Bad Medicine - Bon Jovi
244. Mr. Brownstone - Guns N' Roses
243. Fool for Your Loving - Whitesnake
242. Silence Is Broken - Damn Yankees
241. Save the Weak - Britny Fox
240. Only My Heart Talkin' - Alice Cooper
239. Edison's Medicine - Tesla
238. Save Your Love - Great White
237. The Deeper the Love - Whitesnake
236. Runaway - Damn Yankees
235. Hold Back the Night - Giant
234. Goin' Crazy - David Lee Roth
233. Crazy Babies - Ozzy Osbourne

232. Is This Love - Whitesnake
Amazingly, lead singer David Coverdale originally wrote this song with the intention of having Tina Turner record it. Probably a good idea that Whitesnake kept it for themselves, as it was one of only two Top 10 hits the band ever had (this peaked at #2, the other hit #1).

231. It's Not Love - Dokken
230. Radar Love - White Lion
229. Heartbreak Station - Cinderella
228. Love Ain't No Stranger - Whitesnake
227. Cry Tough - Poison
226. Wasted Time - Skid Row
225. Still Loving You - Scorpions
224. Jet City Woman - Queensryche

223. More Than Words - Extreme
Many people might have this ranked higher. It was never a favorite of mine, but certainly deserves recognition as one of the most recognizable tunes of the era.

222. Love Has Taken Its Toll - Saraya

221. Feed My Frankenstein - Alice Cooper
Not a big chart hit for Cooper, but it did appear in the film, Wayne's World, which I had not remembered when I saw him open his live show with it. A total slammer in concert. 

220. California Girls - David Lee Roth
219. Call It What You Want - Tesla
218. Call It Rock & Roll - Great White 
217. Mutha (Don't Wanna Go to School Today) - Extreme
216. Innocent Days - Giant
215. Back to the Bullet - Saraya
214. Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad - Def Leppard
213. Revolution Calling - Queensryche
212. She Don't Know Me - Bon Jovi
211. You're Invited (But Your Friend Can't Come) - Vince Neil
210. Rock the Night - Europe
209. Rise to It - KISS
208. Alien Nation - Scorpions
207. Tomorrow - Europe
206. Easy Come Easy Go - Winger
205. Are You Ready - AC/DC
204. Only Time Will Tell - Nelson
203. Heaven Sent - Dokken
202. No More Tears - Ozzy Osbourne
201. Monkey Business - Danger Danger

200. Seventeen - Winger
199. More Than Ever - Nelson
198. Hey Stoopid - Alice Cooper
197. Mama, I'm Coming Home - Ozzy Osbourne
196. Coming Home - Danger Danger
195. Closer to Your Love - Britny Fox
194. When I Look Into Your Eyes - Firehouse
193. Can't Get Enuff - Winger
192. Mad About You - Slaughter
191. Without You - Giant
190. Girlschool - Britny Fox
189. A Lil' Ain't Enough - David Lee Roth
188. Spend My Life - Slaughter
187. Ballad of Jayne - L.A. Guns
186. Up All Night - Slaughter
185. Cryin' - Vixen
184. Naughty Naughty - Danger Danger
183. Surrender - Trixter
182. Blood on the Bricks - Aldo Nova
181. Remember My Name - House of Lords
180. Love is on the Way - Saigon Kick
179. Love of a Lifetime - Firehouse
178. Always - Bon Jovi
177. All We Are - Warlock
176. Heartbreak Blvd. - Shotgun Messiah
175. March of Time - Helloween
174. Hysteria - Def Leppard
173. Down Boys - Warrant
172. Shot in the Dark - Ozzy Osbourne
171. Lady Red Light - Great White
170. Make Love Like a Man - Def Leppard
169. Headed for a Heartbreak - Winger
168. Blaze of Glory - Jon Bon Jovi
167. To Be With You - Mr. Big
166. Big Talk - Warrant
165. Hide Your Heart - KISS
164. Big City Nights - Scorpions
163. Halfway to Heaven - Europe
162. Little Fighter - White Lion
161. I Believe in You - Stryper
160. Janie's Got a Gun - Aerosmith

159. Crazy - Aerosmith
The last in the famous "Alicia Silverstone trilogy" of Aerosmith videos released off their Get a Grip album in the early 90's, and the only one of the three to make it onto my Top 300. Couldn't turn on MTV in those days without seeing one of those vids. 

158. Bark at the Moon - Ozzy Osbourne
157. Madalaine - Winger
156. House of Pain - Faster Pussycat
155. Bang Your Head (Metal Health) - Quiet Riot
154. Someone Like You - Bang Tango
153. Wanted Dead or Alive - Bon Jovi

152. Sword and Stone - Bonfire
Originally written by the aforementioned Desmond Child, along with KISS members, Paul Stanley and Bruce Kulick, it didn't quite make the cut for that band's Crazy Nights album. Instead, it landed in the hands of German rockers, Bonfire, and is the lowest-ranking of three songs from the Shocker soundtrack on my list.

151. Too Late for Love - Def Leppard
150. Keep the Faith - Bon Jovi
149. Still of the Night - Whitesnake
148. New Thing - Enuff Z'Nuff
147. Coming of Age - Damn Yankees
146. In These Arms - Bon Jovi
145. Why Can't This Be Love - Van Halen
144. Coming Home - Cinderella
143. Wasted Years - Iron Maiden
142. Poison Ivy - Faster Pussycat

141. Bang Bang - Danger Danger
It's perfectly fitting with the kitschy themes of the hair band era that a group named Danger Danger would have hits with songs called "Naughty Naughty" and "Bang Bang." I guess this qualifies as a guilty guilty pleasure.

140. Shot of Poison - Lita Ford
139. Can't Stop Lovin' You - Van Halen
138. Keep the Fire Burning - Stryper
137. Walk Away - Dokken
136. Nobody's Fool - Cinderella
135. Signs - Tesla
134. Baby Loves You - Enuff Z'Nuff
133. Magic Touch - Aerosmith
132. Rainbow in the Dark - Dio
131. Women - Def Leppard
130. Fly to the Angels - Slaughter
129. Now Until Forever - Giant
128. Don't Cry - Guns N' Roses
127. Rag Doll - Aerosmith
126. I'll Be There for You - Bon Jovi

125. Dream On - Britny Fox
Not a cover of the Aerosmith hit from the 70's. This is a jangly sing-along-ish tune from Cinderella sound-alikes, Britny Fox, who never really hit it big. But they were a staple of the "Dial MTV" request show back in the day.

124. Mother's Eyes - Enuff Z'Nuff
123. Ride the Wind - Poison
122. Cold Blood - Kix
121. Big Goodbye - Great White
120. Yankee Rose - David Lee Roth
119. Monkey Business - Skid Row
118. Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) - Motley Crue
117. Never Say Goodbye - Bon Jovi
116. I Want Out - Helloween
115. I'll Never Let You Go - Steelheart
114. Dirty Love - Thunder
113. Right Now - Van Halen
112. Love Bites - Def Leppard
111. Let's Get Rocked - Def Leppard
110. Welcome to the Jungle - Guns N' Roses
109. Angel - Aerosmith
108. The Other Side - Aerosmith
107. Another Rainy Night (Without You) - Queensryche
106. Never Enough - L.A. Guns
105. Long Way to Love - Britny Fox
104. Mirror Mirror - Don Dokken

Shocker was a positively awful knockoff of 80's horror movies, directed by the master of the genre himself, Wes Craven. Not his best cinematic showing. The soundtrack, however, was a completely different story. The Dudes of Wrath was a one-off supergroup assembled by Desmond Child (there he is again). This track featured Child, and KISS singer, Paul Stanley, on lead vocals, Motley Crue's Tommy Lee, future Def Leppard guitarist, Vivian Campbell, and Van Halen's Michael Anthony, among others. I'm assuming the band moniker was borrowed from the stage name of the other featured guitarist, Guy Mann-Dude. A completely overlooked, stomping anthem from the closing days of the 1980's. 

102. Dreams - Van Halen
101. Runaway - Bon Jovi

100. Youth Gone Wild - Skid Row
99. Dr. Feelgood - Motley Crue
98. Every Rose Has Its Thorn - Poison
97. Tease Me Please Me - Scorpions
96. Best I Can - Queensryche
95. Love in an Elevator - Aerosmith

Far and away the biggest video, radio, and chart hit for the boys from Chicago. This was a criminally overlooked act, led by principal songwriters, Donnie Vie and Chip Z'Nuff, that probably comes close to what Lennon and McCartney might have sounded like had they been born twenty years later and formed a hair band. 

93. Don't Treat Me Bad - Firehouse
92. Bring Back the Light - Saraya
91. Decadence Dance - Extreme

90. Walk This Way - Run-DMC (featuring Steven Tyler and Joe Perry)
This single has the distinction of being the only entry on my chart that isn't actually by a rock artist. Rap pioneers, Run-DMC, basically paved the way for Aerosmith's career resurgence by including Tyler and Perry on the remake of their 70's hit. It likely also opened the floodgates for the "rap-rock" subgenre. Without this Top 5 smash, we almost certainly wouldn't have any of the subsequent Aerosmith songs on this list. For that reason, I bent the rules a bit in including this one.

89. Armageddon It - Def Leppard
88. November Rain - Guns N' Roses
86. Turn on the Night - KISS
84. When It's Love - Van Halen
83. Patience - Guns N' Roses

It's somewhat surprising that one of most commercially successful rock bands of all-time didn't score their 2nd Top Ten hit in either the 70's or 80's, but rather 17 years into their career in 1990, with this ballad. It might also be somewhat surprising that said hit was co-written by Schmaltz-King, Michael Bolton, until you realize the crooner started his career in the hard rock genre, as a bandmate of future KISS member, Bruce Kulick, during which time they even opened for Ozzy Osbourne. Link is to the live, full symphonic version.

80. Home Sweet Home - Motley Crue
79. 18 and Life - Skid Row
78. Give Me All Your Love - Whitesnake
77. Who Made Who - AC/DC
75. Hot for Teacher - Van Halen
74. Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.) - Motley Crue
73. Girls, Girls, Girls - Motley Crue
72. Always There for You - Stryper
70. Tell Me - White Lion (link - Mike Tramp live acoustic)

I saw Extreme at the House of Blues in Las Vegas, circa 2008, well past the peak of their commercial success. I didn't know quite what to expect. What I got was one of the best live performances I've ever seen. Singer, Gary Cherone, bounced around the stage like an Olympic gymnast, and Nuno Bettencourt showed virtuoso chops on both lead guitar and piano. All while playing for TWO HOURS - practically unheard of in recent years, much less from an act with such a limited discography. 

67. (Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection - Nelson
65. Hole Hearted - Extreme
64. Honestly - Stryper
63. We're Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister
61. Miles Away - Winger
60. All She Wrote - Firehouse

One of two Top 40 hits for the all-female glam band. Apparently co-writers Richard Marx, and Tubes lead singer, Fee Waybill, delivered the final product at the eleventh hour when singer, Janet Gardner, was already preparing to lay down vocals in the studio. I think procrastinating turned out OK in this case.

58. Love Song - Tesla
57. Something to Believe In - Poison
56. Moneytalks - AC/DC
54. Poison - Alice Cooper
53. You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi
52. Cherry Pie - Warrant

I remember watching Dial MTV religiously in the late 80's, and this song landed at the top of the countdown at the exact same time that Def Leppard's first ever Billboard Top 10 hit, "Hysteria," arrived on the scene. The two videos proceeded to battle it out on a daily basis, alternating between the top 2 spots. Ironically, although Def Leppard would soon become my favorite musical act of all time, I wasn't yet a huge fan, and was actually rooting for the KISS track in this case. 

50. Finish What Ya Started - Van Halen

47. Close My Eyes Forever - Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne
Hard to believe that this was the only Billboard Top 10 hit for either of these two artists. Absolutely ubiquitous in 1988.

46. Paradise City - Guns N' Roses
45. Carrie - Europe (link)
44. Wait - White Lion
43. Nothin' But a Good Time - Poison

I, like many kids that age, took guitar lessons as a teenager. I wasn't good. My guitar teacher, however, could listen to a song on tape (yes, tape) for ten seconds, and whip out the rhythm part like he had written the damn thing. This was the only song I ever gave him where he actually had trouble figuring out the chords. That didn't bode well for my own performance of course. 

41. Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone) - Cinderella
39. Dude Looks Like a Lady - Aerosmith
38. Once Bitten, Twice Shy - Great White
37. When the Children Cry - White Lion (link)
36. Don't Close Your Eyes - Kix (link)
35. Panama - Van Halen
34. Rock You Like a Hurricane - Scorpions
33. Kiss Me Deadly - Lita Ford (link)
32. Photograph - Def Leppard

Two unfortunate things - one, Giant's career definitely did not live up to their name. Two, Dann Huff, who was one of better vocalists of the era, eventually retreated to the background, becoming a highly sought after producer and session musician in the country music world. This was their only Top 40 hit, and is one of the best ballads of the hair band era.

30. Lick It Up - KISS
29. Born to My Baby - Bon Jovi
27. High Enough - Damn Yankees
26. I Remember You - Skid Row
25. I Saw Red - Warrant

Funny story. Many of you are probably familiar with the legion of infamous "misheard lyrics." From "Purple Haze" ("Excuse me, while I kiss this guy.") to "Blinded By the Light" ("Wrapped up like a douche..."). I had my own double-take moment the first time I heard this track off of Cooper's 1989 smash-hit album, Trash. Of course, I realized that these were not the actual words, but at the start of the second verse, I could have SWORN he was singing, "We ain't gotta pay rent now baby. Don't let no Jew throw us out." Lol. (It's "NO LANDLORD TO throw us out") Whoops!

23. What It Takes - Aerosmith

19. You Could Be Mine - Guns N' Roses
18. Kickstart My Heart - Motley Crue

The link here is to what is probably the best live performance ever on the MTV Video Music Awards, or even, as one of the Youtube commenters indicates, "Perhaps the greatest six minutes of MTV's 37-year history."

16. Heaven - Warrant
14. Thunderstruck - AC/DC
13. Fallen Angel - Poison

I mentioned in the prologue to this blog post that Metal Health was the first hard rock/heavy metal entry to reach the apex of the Billboard 200 album chart. Concurrently, in November 1983, this cover of a ten-year-old Slade song, gave Quiet Riot a Top 5 single as well, springing the hair band era into full force. Amazingly, these achievements almost never happened. The original incarnation of the band, founded by the late Randy Rhoads, came to an end with Rhoads' departure in 1979, amongst much turmoil within the group. Apparently, Rhoads' mother was quite encouraging of singer Kevin Dubrow's desire to revive the act under the original name in 1982, after her son had tragically passed. Good thing.

11. Livin' on a Prayer - Bon Jovi

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Nobody slayed vocals in the late 80's/early 90's like Sebastian Bach. And nowhere was it more evident, than on this throaty rocker, which wasn't even one of the band's biggest chart hits. Perhaps their truest "metal moment," it did enjoy significant airplay on MTV, however, and I consider it to be one of the signature vocal performances of the era.

9. Sweet Child o' Mine - Guns N' Roses
Allegedly, the band didn't originally expect this to turn into a huge hit song. Arising out of a "string-skipping" exercise employed by Slash during warm-ups, 'Child" was basically a product of Axl Rose's bandmates fucking around and writing the music in five minutes. They thought they had a filler track for their album, until Rose added lyrics inspired by his relationship with then-girlfriend, Erin Everly. The first two singles off Appetite for Destruction, "It's So Easy," and yes, "Welcome to the Jungle," actually flopped. But the emergence of "Sweet Child o' Mine" on the US airwaves propelled the album, and the band, into the rock stratosphere.

Ah, what could have been. Despite being primed to be a sex symbol, and one of few frontwomen of the hair band era, Sandi Saraya's music career was short-lived. Saraya only released two albums, and this, easily their best track, wasn't on either of them. No, this is the third entry on my Top 300 from the stellar Shocker soundtrack. Another gem penned by Desmond Child, this is simply one of the best rock ballads ever. Perhaps if the movie had been better, and a bigger hit, the song would have gotten more exposure. We'll never know.

7. Here I Go Again - Whitesnake
Probably the clearest example on the list of my personal preference taking a back seat to the other criteria I used. I think it's a great song, but it's not even my favorite song by this band. However, you can't overlook the association it, and even more so the video, has with the hair band era. You think 80's hard rock, you think Tawny Kitaen slithering all over the hood of that Jaguar (it was originally supposed to be Claudia Schiffer). Still played on radio, commercials, and a staple of karaoke bars everywhere, "Here I Go Again" is simply one of the quintessential tracks of the time. And, it's one of surprisingly few hair band tunes to hit the coveted #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. RIP Ms. Kitaen.

6. Rock of Ages - Def Leppard
It's almost impossible to believe that Def Leppard only notched four Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 in their career (all consecutive from the album Hysteria). They did have a few near misses, including this track, which is one of the best concert songs ever, in my mind, from the best live act of all-time. When Pyromania is only the SECOND-BEST album you put out, you know you've had an incredible career.

5. Wind of Change - Scorpions
Singer, Klaus Meine, wrote this just a couple months before the Berlin Wall came down, so the track's meaning logically became intertwined with that event. However, the lyrics are actually a reference to the changes that were occurring in what was then the USSR, as the fall of Communism in the Soviet Union was imminent. Probably the most socially significant song on this countdown (perhaps the ONLY lol), and also the best use of whistling (sorry, "Patience"). Astoundingly, it's one of only two Top 40 hits for the Scorps ("Rock You Like a Hurricane" peaked at #25), and their only visit to the Top 10 (#4). 

4. Talk Dirty to Me - Poison
Can you imagine, for a second, how the hair band landscape may have been altered, had Slash been the lead guitarist for Poison? Well, it almost happened! Poor Matt Smith, the original axe-slinger for the band, had to depart after knocking up his girlfriend. The finalists for his replacement included not only their eventual selection, CC DeVille, but also the future Guns 'N Roses virtuoso. DeVille showed up for his audition with this guitar riff at the ready, which sealed his good fortune, despite Bret Michaels allegedly lobbying for Slash. 'Dirty' became the band's first Top 10 hit, and catapulted them to superstardom.

Clearly, not the obvious choice for the top-ranking song by the New Jersey rockers, as Bon Jovi accumulated FOUR #1 singles across their storied career (and Jon added one solo with "Blaze of Glory"). No other act on this list had more than one. They were far and away the most commercially successful and enduring act to get their start during the 80's hard rock explosion. To me though, beyond the stories of Tommy and Gina, Jon being there for us, and the eight Top 10 hits they scored during the 80's, "Bed of Roses" finds Jon Bon Jovi at the height of his lyrical craftmanship and storytelling talent. An epic, sweeping ballad that sent the band storming back into the Top 10 in 1993. A contender for my top overall song of that decade, for sure.

2. The Final Countdown - Europe
This being a ranking of hard rock/heavy metal songs, you would assume there would be a lot of memorable guitar riffs, intros, and solos to be found. But my #2 hair band song of all-time is largely recognizable by its signature opening synth/keyboard line, which perfectly evokes the track's otherworldly theme. One of two Top 10 hits the Swedes had here in the US, 'Countdown' hit #1 in 25 countries across the world, and is one of the most eternally prevalent rock songs of its time. It still echoes throughout sports arenas worldwide, as a ringtone on cell phones everywhere, and even landed Europe a prized spot in a recent GEICO commercial. And they did have some great hair.











***1. Pour Some Sugar on Me - Def Leppard***

With 16 entries on my Top 300, and 8 more that were considered for inclusion, Def Leppard dominates my memories of growing up during a time of hard rock, hair gel, tattered and whitewashed jeans, and all-around bombast. My favorite musical act, and favorite live performer of all-time, produced my #1 song of all-time, in any genre. This one was a no-brainer from the beginning. I didn't know exactly how the rest of the ranking would shake out, but this was the automatic #1. 

In what's been described by others as a "pull the car to the side of the road" musical moment (even though I was actually in our den at home), I clearly remember watching the MTV World Premiere of this video in 1988 and thinking to myself, "Holy hell - what is THIS?!" I was instantaneously hooked on the song and the band, and never looked back. 

In what can only be considered a travesty of epic proportions, 'Sugar' was denied reaching the pinnacle of the Billboard Hot 100 by none other than "Hold Onto the Nights" by Richard Marx. Ironically, the first time I would ever see the Leps in concert was in 1992 at Madison Square Garden for a charity show co-headlined by Bryan Adams and, you guessed it...Richard Marx. 

Despite having relatively limited success on the US singles chart, Def Leppard was easily one of the standard-bearers for the 80's rock sound, and the dudes rightfully took their places in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. An arsenal of legendary rock music like none other.


HONORABLE MENTION

The rest of the songs I included for consideration are listed below. I did rank them (they appear here, in order, from the ones that just missed my Top 300 through the least favorite), but honestly, at this point on the list, you could pretty much shake all these names up in a hat and re-order them, and I probably wouldn't know the difference. These are basically just other songs you might want to check out.

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead - Bon Jovi
Give It a Try - Bonfire
Love is a Dangerous Thing - Firehouse
The Real Me - W.A.S.P.
Can't Let You Go - Rainbow
Stay - Giant
Lay It Down - Ratt
Wild World - Mr. Big
Calling on You - Stryper
Stand Up - David Lee Roth
Gimme Some Lovin' - Thunder
Can't Find My Way - Hardline
Reach for the Sky - Firehouse
Love's a Loaded Gun - Alice Cooper
Don't Walk Away - Danger Danger
Overnight Sensation - Firehouse
Innocence - Enuff Z'nuff
Song for Love - Extreme
Hard as a Rock - AC/DC
I Live My Life for You - Firehouse
Too Young to Fall in Love - Motley Crue
Without You - Motley Crue
(Flesh & Blood) Sacrifice - Poison
Let's Put the X in Sex - KISS
Don't Give Up - White Lion
Tears are Falling - KISS
Anybody Listening? - Queensryche
I'll Cry for You - Europe
Blind Faith - Warrant
Unskinny Bop - Poison
House of Broken Love - Great White
You are the Saint, I am the Sinner - Winger
God Gave Rock 'N' Roll to You II - KISS
The Bitter Pill - Warrant
More Than Meets the Eye - Europe
I Won't Forget You - Poison
Amazing - Aerosmith
Unholy - KISS
Gettin' Better - Tesla
Rhythm of Love - Scorpions
Just Got Lucky - Dokken
Song & Emotion - Tesla
Stand Up (Kick Love into Motion) - Def Leppard
The Angel Song - Great White
El Salvador - White Lion
Empire - Queensryche
No Pain No Gain - Scorpions
I Can't Explain - Scorpions
Yesterdays - Guns N' Roses
A Lot to Lose - Tesla
Livin' on the Edge - Aerosmith
Every Time I Look at You - KISS
Cryin' - Aerosmith

Life Goes On - Poison
Give It to Me Good - Trixter
Mama Weer All Crazee Now - Quiet Riot
Come Again - Damn Yankees
Bed of Nails - Alice Cooper
Followed - Warrant
Estranged - Guns N' Roses
When Love and Hate Collide - Def Leppard
Kid Ego - Extreme
Chained - Giant
Bad Reputation - Damn Yankees
Little Suzi - Tesla
Here for You - Firehouse
Best of Both Worlds - Van Halen
Stop the World - Extreme
Through the Rain - Cinderella
Don't Tell Me (What Love Can Do) - Van Halen
I Want Action - Poison
Primal Scream - Motley Crue
Cry for Freedom - White Lion
So Many Tears - Dokken
Am I Ever Gonna Change - Extreme
Love is a Lie - Great White
Shout at the Devil - Motley Crue
I'll Wait - Van Halen
Foolin' - Def Leppard
Prisoners in Paradise - Europe
Breaking the Silence - Queensryche
Your Mama Don't Don't Dance - Poison
Farewell to You - White Lion
Top of the World - Van Halen
Mama's Fool - Tesla
Goin' Home Tonight - White Lion
Sign of the Times - Europe
The Hole in My Wall - Warrant
Lost in America - Alice Cooper
Fingers on It - Enuff Z'Nuff
Stay - Don Dokken
Spell I'm Under - Winger
Runaround - Van Halen
(You Make Me) Rock Hard - KISS
Hard to Find the Words - Cinderella
Hit Between the Eyes - Scorpions
Into the Fire - Dokken
Love Walks In - Thunder
Domino - KISS
Coming Home - Scorpions
Walk on Water - Aerosmith
Knucklebones - David Lee Roth

Backstreet Symphony - Thunder
Speak - Queensryche
Believe in Love - Scorpions
Broken Heart - White Lion
Under the Same Sun - Scorpions
The Dream is Over - Van Halen
Heaven's on Fire - KISS
Blind Man - Aerosmith
I Just Wanna - KISS
Deuces Are Wild - Aerosmith
F.I.N.E - Aerosmith
I Believe - Bon Jovi
Miss You in a Heartbeat - Def Leppard
Rocket - Def Leppard
Action - Def Leppard
Someday I'll Be Saturday Night - Bon Jovi
Poundcake - Van Halen
Eat the Rich - Aerosmith
Dry County - Bon Jovi
I Wanna Touch U - Def Leppard
Takin' Me Down - Hardline
Tragic Comic - Extreme
Dreamer - Europe
Machine Gun - Warrant
Real World - Queensryche
Heaven Is - Def Leppard
This Ain't a Love Song - Bon Jovi





Friday, January 1, 2021

Top 30 Songs of 2020

Angels Like You - Miley Cyrus
Strangers - Theory of a Deadman (TOAD)
Volcano - Guided By Voices
Bruised and Bloodied - Seether
Flowers on a Grave - Bush
Ablaze - Alanis Morissette
World I Used to Know - Scott Stapp
Club Zero - The Go-Go's
Ghosts - Bruce Springsteen
If I Told You - Soul Asylum
Drive- Patty Smythe
Piece of Cake - Roxette
Private Lives - Low Cut Connie
Leave Virginia Alone - Tom Petty
In the End - Sheryl Crow
Who Do You Think You're Talking To? - Dawes
Everything Has Changed - Best Coast
My Own Soul's Warning - The Killers
You're Not Alone - Semisonic
Peace - Lissie

We Are Chaos - Marilyn Manson
Salt and the Sea - The Lumineers
The Only Thing - Travis feat. Susanna Hoffs
Use My Voice - Evanescence
Gadigal Land - Midnight Oil
History of Violence - Theory of a Deadman (TOAD)
Infinite - Goldfinger
Every Time You Leave - I Prevail feat. Delaney Jane
Dangerous - Seether




***#1 "All You're Dreaming Of" - Liam Gallagher***

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Top 125 of 2010s (50-26)

Here are the next 25 selections. Click on the links to listen. Enjoy...

50. Headlights - Morning Parade
49. Sun on Sunday - James Blunt
48. Tonight - Seether
47. Ojai - Lissie
46. Is There Anyone Out There - Toad the Wet Sprocket
Ending a 16-year absence of new material from the Toad crew, 2013's New Constellation spawned this album track, among a number of other standouts that could have been hits in another era.

45. Bicycle Kings - Angie Aparo
Another comeback of sorts...Aparo never really had any hits to begin with, but did take a hiatus from music-making due to a life-threatening stroke. This leadoff single from Life is a Flower, Life is a Gun, marked a strong return to form, and featured a unique incorporation of Apple's Siri technology.

44. Give Me Something - Scars on 45
43. Aftermath - Adam Lambert
42. Hang On - Weezer
41. No More - Disturbed
40. Familiar Taste of Poison - Halestorm
39. Never Gonna Leave This Bed - Maroon 5
38. Everybody Talks - Neon Trees
37. Grace - Ed Kowalczyk
After an acrimonious split with the boys from Live, Kowalczyk went on to release two solo albums and an EP before eventually getting the band back together. This track, for me, was the best of his solo work.

35. (tie) Two - Dan Wilson
35. (tie) Two - Heart
Yes, this is our first tie on the countdown. Yes, the song titles are the same. No, they are not versions of the same song. One is an outstanding ballad by a gifted singer-songwriter. The other is a surprising choice of a cover song by two rock legends. The former Semisonic frontman waxes poetic about a relationship on his "Two," while the Wilson sisters (another absolute coincidence involving this placement on my list) nicked a song originally penned and recorded by R&B star, Ne-Yo - making a statement about not caring what other people think or say about who you choose to be with. Both artists churn out fantastic results.

34. One More Light - Linkin Park
Although LP's Mike Shinoda wrote this song as a tribute to a friend who had passed away from cancer, 'Light" took on a whole new meaning when lead singer, Chester Bennington, took his own life on July 20, 2017. This became the next single from the album of the same name, and fittingly, was the last released by the band to feature Bennington on vocals. The clip included here hits on a different level, as Bennington performed the song on Jimmy Kimmel Live as a tribute to his close friend, Chris Cornell...who had just taken his own life.

33. Both Sides Now - Sara Bareilles
One of the most memorable performances I've ever seen on an awards show, Bareilles stunned with a cover of the Joni Mitchell classic, during the "In Memoriam" segment at the 2017 Oscar ceremony. 

32. Let Me Hear You Scream - Ozzy Osbourne
31. Nowhere to Run - Fozzy
I knew that WWE star, Chris Jericho, had a rock band, but I had never really taken the time to check out their work. Then, this leadoff single from their yet-to-be-released eighth studio album came blaring through my car speakers. It's my #3 song of 2019 and a certified rock anthem. The band name, incidentally, is a riff on the first name of the artist right above them on this list. 

30. Walking on Broadway - Mark Kano
It's unfortunate that Kano's band, Athenaeum, didn't achieve the chart success they deserved. Their three studio albums - Radiance, Athenaeum, and Family Tree, offered up some of the most radio-friendly pop rock tunes of the late 90's/early 00's. This title track from Kano's debut solo album is technically from 2009, but my list, my rules, so I've included it here in its rightful spot in the Top 30 of the decade. Not the last appearance for this artist.

29. Still Pretending - First Signal
28. Break Out - Scott Stapp
27. Shine - Michael Sweet
80's rock stalwarts, Stryper, continue to churn out quality music and sound amazing live, even as they enter their fifth decade of existence. The same can be said of lead singer Michael Sweet's work away from the band. Nowhere more evident than on my #2 song of 2019.

26. Go Easy - Catrien Maxwell

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Top 125 of 2010s (75-51)

The fun continues with 3/5 of my decade-end list now in the books.

Here are the next 25 selections. Click on the links to listen. Enjoy...


75. Counting Stars - One Republic
Although they haven't had a major hit in a while, this is easily one of the most publicly recognizable artists on my list. For a while, One Republic was all over the radio, and singer, Ryan Tedder, quickly became one of the most prolific songwriters and producers in the industry. This single alone moved 10 million units, making it far and away the most commercially successful song on this countdown.

74. Academic - New Order
73. Shameless - Lissie
This is the gritty, rock-laden single that introduced me to the singer-songwriter known as Lissie. Although the Stevie Nicks sound-alike went in a somewhat softer direction with her subsequent material, she's still been one of my faves in recent years, with four entries on my list.

72. No More Darkness, No More Light - Amos Lee
71. Never Enough - Brittany J. Smith
70. Fuckin' Perfect - P!nk
69. Stand - Ed Kowalczyk
68. Are You Ready - Disturbed
67. Such a Simple Thing - Ray LaMontagne
66. Always Remember Us This Way - Brittany J. Smith
Having built a solid social media following, with more than 76,000 subscribers on Youtube alone, and having made it through to the group rounds on the New American Idol, I'd say it's been a good decade for Brittany. With her towering vocals, keen sense of image and personal style, and high fan engagement, it's not hard to imagine the 2020s being even better. This blistering rendition of "Always Remember Us This Way" from A Star is Born, is one of her best performances to date. A couple other appearances on this list for this future superstar, including one above, and another that's among the best covers I've ever heard.

65. Hardwired - Hailey Knox
64. Blue on Black - Five Finger Death Punch
63. Museum of Broken Relationships - Veruca Salt
A long-anticipated (by me, at least) reunion of Nina Gordon and Louise Post, as this 90's band finally "got back together." The results were mixed as far as the totality of their comeback album, Ghost Notes, goes. But this lead single did not disappoint.

62. I'm the Proof - Ed Kowalczyk
61. I Want it That Way - Gin Blossoms
Actually just a live-acoustic performance by lead singer, Robin Wilson, I had the good fortune to catch this surprise rendition of the Backstreet Boys hit when I saw Gin Blossoms for the 11th time a couple years back. Wilson came out by himself to start the encore and went in a slightly different direction by choosing to do his best  boy-band impression. Shockingly, it really worked - light year better than the original, in fact.

60. Love is a Country - The Wallflowers
59. Love Bites (So Do I) - Halestorm
Easily my artist of the decade, with eight entries on this list, including FIVE within the top 25 songs, and my favorite album of the 2010s - The Strange Case of... from 2013. This track was the lead single from that album, and, in a stunning turn of events, actually scored the band the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance. A rare win for Grammy voters in recent years.

58. Stars - Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
57. Another Life - Any Given Sin
56. Werewolves - The Damnwells
55. Save Today - Seether
54. Walk - Foo Fighters
53. Hero - Family of the Year
This was a minor radio hit and was featured in one of my favorite films of the decade - 2014's Ethan Hawke vehicle, Boyhood. They've apparently released two subsequent albums, but I've yet to sample them.

52. Because We Can - Bon Jovi
51. I Won't Give Up - Jason Mraz (video feat. Daryl Hall)

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Top 125 of 2010s (100-76)

Continuing on with the best of the decade...Here are the next 25 tracks. Click on the links to listen. Enjoy.

100. Too Late - Mike Ruocco
Just another act I liked relegated to the scrap heap of music history, Mike Ruocco fronted a short-lived band called Cinder Road, who I actually saw open for Puddle of Mudd sometime during the previous decade. This solo track came a bit later on, and disappeared as fast as it arrived.

99. Bonfire Heart - James Blunt
98. Dead End Ride - Mike Tramp
97. My Little Secret - Cavo
This St. Louis rock band had a couple of modern rock radio hits off their debut CD in the waning days of the 00's. This one, my favorite track from the album, was a holdover into 2010, but didn't make much of a dent on the charts,

96. Dynamite - Any Given Sin
95. Crazy for You - Scars on 45
94. Sleeping With a Friend - Neon Trees
One of the acts that appears on my list who actually enjoyed a modicum of commercial success. Neon Trees could be called a three-hit wonder, and two of those hits drop on my Top 125.

93. Edge of Glory - Lady Gaga
92. Don't You Give Up on Me - Lissie
91. The Road Not Taken - Johnny Hates Jazz
Didn't these guys come and go in 1988? Surprisingly, they made a sudden reappearance on the music landscape in 2013. The first single from that year's Magnetized actually started to gain some exposure in Europe before lead singer, Clark Datchler, fell ill with cancer, and they had to stop promoting the album. This pensive ballad stood out for me.

90. Eye of the Storm - Scorpions
89. Moth Into Flame - Metallica
Twenty-eight years after ...And Justice For All notoriously (and inexplicably) lost in the Hard Rock/Metal Performance category to Jethro Tull, the Grammy Awards managed to f**k Metallica again, only this time, on stage. In a rare instance of me looking forward to an awards show performance, the grizzled rockers were slated to perform this single live with Lady Gaga, only to have James Hetfield's mic be shut off, unbeknownst to him, throughout the entire first verse. Hetfield made the realization and started sharing a mic with Gaga, but it really put a damper on the performance of what I thought was a really strong comeback single. Adding insult to injury, they lost their only nomination of the night. Luckily the dress rehearsal footage sounds great and was posted to Youtube (link above).

88. Scars on This Guitar - Bon Jovi
87. Rhinoceros - Juliana Hatfield
86. False Eye - Faryn Sand
The planets aligned back in 2009 when I lost my job, and my sister informed me of a desire to professionally record music. A trip to the SxSW music festival later, ProGenitor Entertainment was born, and we released a three-song EP that didn't break any chart records, but which was streamed and downloaded as far away as Australia and Japan. We caused our own version of a stir with "Faryn Sand Day" - an effort which saw friends and family bomb local DJs with requests for this track, the single from the EP. Although I may be biased, I do think "False Eye" in particular is a really strong piece of songwriting, and I believe it deserves its rightful place on my decade-end countdown.

85. Another Life - Any Given Sin
84. September - Daughtry
83. Pull Me Through - Tyrone Wells
The second of five entries on my list from this Washington-bred singer-songwriter. Wells' "More" popped in at #26 on my best of the '00's list a decade ago. He didn't slow down by any means in the 2010s - starting off with the Metal & Wood EP, which includes this standout track.

82. I Miss the Misery - Halestorm
81. Rise - Ed Kowalczyk
80. Burn it Down - Linkin Park
79. The Ghost in You - Duncan Sheik
78. My Bed - Dixie Maxwell
I've touted the music from the Maxwell sisters - Catrien and Dixie - quite a bit over the past decade or so. I still think they both should have been superstars. No clearer evidence of that than on this stellar track from Dixie's 2013 EP, still up on the Bandcamp site.

77. Lesson Learned - Alice in Chains
76. Impossible - Anberlin