There are few things in rock and metal that put fans at ends, wanting absolutely nothing to do with the other side. Among those includes extreme metal (those damn cookie monster vocals), gimmicks (masked or costumed bands) and the leather, lace and spandex (and codpieces) of hair metal! Our mission here is to give notoriety to the latter for its unadulterated celebration of misspent youth and the exploitation of the age-old adage of “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” with varying degrees of emphasis on each portion depending on the band.

To the hardened metalhead, bands like Poison and Cinderella were seen as nothing but glorified pop music that had found a way to infiltrate their beloved misunderstood, misrepresented and, in comparison to the real mainstream, still underground subculture. These bands were seen as acts penning ballads simply to score chicks and record labels and A&R men took special note.

Love it or hate it, hair metal happened and looking back on it, it was pretty cool! Psychologists have undoubtedly poured hours into attempting to find the true meaning behind the unabashed androgyny, but we’re going to take a less scholarly look into that wondrous craze with this next list.

What hair metal lacked in integrity it made up for with some of the most battle-tested guitar licks ever to be captured on reel-to-reel (or digital!). The song structures were generally simple, but the alpha male sense of competition ran high, pushing guitarists to best each other from album to album. There’s no doubt about it that guys like George Lynch and Warren DeMartini could PLAY.

It was a controversial time for heavy music in general with the rise of the PMRC and lead mouthpiece Tipper Gore igniting fear into parents around the world (which Twisted Sister's Dee Snider intelligently and successfully battled against in front of the viewing public). The Susnset Strip was everything the PMRC rallied against and spurred a very necessary movement to bring out the most excess that rock music had seen since Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and the Who ran amok in the decades prior.

Now that we’ve captured your attention, we’d like to redirect you to the top of the page as we count down the Top 30 Hair Metal Albums of All Time!

Top 80 Hard Rock + Metal Albums of the 1980s

You Think You Know Hair Metal?