In 1998, I went and saw a movie that changed my musical taste forever: The Wedding Singer. I’ll never forget watching Titanic and The Wedding Singer on the same day and enjoying The Wedding Singer so much more. I loved the comedy, but even more I loved the music!
I was born in the early 80’s, and grew up listening to 80’s music, but by the time I developed my own tastes around 1991, the 80’s were over. The Wedding Singer managed to bring all those familiar sounds back into my life and I fell head over heels for all things 80’s. It all began with that movie and slowly grew from there.
My tastes for 80’s music at the time tended to fall into the pop/New Age categories as influenced by two The Wedding Singer soundtracks, but in a few months later that all changed. I started seeing a commercial for Monsters of Rock, a compilation album featuring hair bands from the 80’s. Some of the songs I knew from the radio as a child, but others I didn’t. It didn’t matter to me; I wanted this album and thankfully my dad delivered on my birthday.
That single album directed my musical tastes for the next six or seven years. When combined with VH-1’s Behind the Music, which allowed me to learn more about these various hair bands, I began down a rabbit hole of rocking out to anything I could get my hands on. I began working around this same time, and my free time was spent in used CD stores picking albums by anyone who looked glam. Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Europe, Poison, Guns N Roses, the list went on and on. I used the internet to educate myself as much as possible and thankfully a site called Metal-Sludge was there to keep me up to date with the current releases by these bands and their Sludge Board was a great place to learn about old songs which I would find thanks to a new software called Napster.
I made it to my first concert in 2002, where I saw Dio, The Scorpions, and Deep Purple at the AmSouth Amphitheater in Nashville, Tennessee. I bought two tickets but couldn’t find anyone who wanted to join me listening to older rock stars, so I went by myself, and I had a blast. I even managed to snag a guitar pick during the Dio set.
I kept up with the bands I really enjoyed like Poison and Def Leppard and their releases around the turn of the millennium. That led me to Tupelo, Mississippi where I saw Def Leppard for the first of three times.
I loved my hair bands, but it was a lonely life. The 80’s nostalgia wasn’t booming yet and I just couldn’t find anyone to chat to about old bands. Whenever I grabbed a CD in a used CD store, I’d often have the staff or owners try to dump other hair band CDs on me because they weren’t selling. I’d bite sometimes, but often I’d walk away, just trying to discover the music on my own.
I’ve loosely kept up with some of the bands I enjoyed, but sometime around 2005 I started exploring other music. I began focusing my attention on the 90’s and early 2000’s music and discovering all that I missed while listening to 80’s music. Then I began listening to more 80’s pop music and checking all the less popular releases from the 80’s. Rarely did I listen to my old hair metal. I felt like I had just worn it out and had nothing new to discover.
Then came a new album by WASP in 2015, which I bought at Best Buy. I had also heard a decent new song by Ratt sometime around 2010 called Best of Me, but otherwise I kept away from the hair metal scene.
Then earlier this year, I watched James Gunn’s Peacemaker series. Featuring classic hair bands as well as modern Scandinavian Rock, I found myself listening to the soundtrack repeatedly. After years of complaining about Spotify, I started using its algorithm to discover new bands which was surprisingly helpful. I’d research the bands on YouTube and discovered that most of them were signed to the record label Frontier. From there, I started visiting the hair metal subreddit and JunkYard Rock Stories, and suddenly my eyes were opened to a whole new world of modern day 80’s/melodic rock.
It seems the folks in the Scandinavian countries still love the 80’s and are consistently putting out some amazing songs with 80’s feel. Artists like Houston, Wig Wam, H.E.A.T, Eclipse, Vains of Jenna, Chez Kane, Crazy Lixx, W.E.T, and Transworld Identity began filling up my playlist I titled “New Metal.” They weren’t all metal, but they all contained a sound I loved. They all touched on the truest part of my music affection, and for the first time since the early 2000’s, I had rediscovered my love of music.
Here is a short YouTube playlist with a few select songs that I’ve discovered.
Sometimes I get strange looks when I talk about clearing the slate and trying to find what matters, but rediscovering my love of music is a prime example of why I found it necessary. Without breaking those old habits, I never would have had time to develop new ones. I’d much rather spend half an hour listening to a new album I enjoy, instead of reading news and rumors about a sport I haven’t watched or followed in two decades.