(13) dangerous toys, "teas'n, pleas'n"
(13) vain, "who's watching you"
and will play in march shredness
Read the essays, watch the videos, listen to the songs, feel free to argue below in the comments or tweet at us, and consider. Winner is the aggregate of the poll below and the @marchshredness twitter poll. Polls closed @ 9am Arizona time on Feb 4, 2018.
The year 1989 saw a glut of hair metal also-rans; in retrospect it’s easy to see the greedy reach of record execs trying to cash in on a waning trend. Vain’s No Respect is one of the better offerings from the genre’s dying pelvic thrusts. They certainly had someone’s money to play with: the futuristic set for “Who’s Watching You” is a standout, and I’m pretty sure 1980s Brigitte Nielsen didn’t sexily preen on the cheap. Yes, the video features that Brigitte Nielsen, Red Sonja herself. Here, she suggestively handles a remote control, a couple of small snakes, and a martini while contemptuously watching the band on a future-TV. This concept nicely undercuts the slightly stalkerish feel of the song (but let’s forget about the surprise at the end, shall we?) while simultaneously ignoring the actual lyrics: “Less than a woman, more than a girl / some kind of a nature child.” I’m not sure this is the best way to evoke a 6’1” bleached blonde in thigh-high boots but why not? The level of slickness here is perhaps what doomed Vain (despite good reviews, No Respect topped out at 154 on the Billboard 200): the best hair metal retains a little bit of that sloppy DIY high school garage band flavor, even if there is a big contract lurking in the background (surely Vain knew who was actually watching). Probably best to forget about the lyrics and the production values, and just look at the cute bassist. You hardly ever see a cute bassist...
There is a Southern rock subgenre in hair metal (see also: Jackyl), typified by a little bit of a blues influence, a dash of extra guitar wail, and an aesthetic that leans toward the unshowered and crusty. Also sometimes: a piano. This is where we find Dangerous Toys, an Austin band (signed at South-by-Southwest, no less) whose debut album also appeared in 1989. Their first single, “Teas’n Pleas’n” owes an obvious debt to Guns n' Roses, most evidently in the vocal stylings of singer Jason McMaster, as well as the band’s fashion choices and gritty, girl-free video (no cleavage, but luckily there is a confusingly literal dangerous toy in the form of a creepy clown). A casual listener might conclude that this song is the usual boasting about sexual prowess; a look at the lyrics reveals that its breadth is somewhat greater: hangovers, infidelity, and lack of education all play a part. McMaster’s voice gets a workout; post guitar solo (it’s not bad) we get some scatting followed by some good old-fashioned Robert Plant-style bellowing: “I never even had no school yeah! Hey sugar! Don’t ya think I’m cool!” which I presume is a reference to the misused punctuation in the song’s title. All in all, “Teas’n Pleas’n”‘s disparate elements don’t quite come together for me, but the guitar-driven opening bars do delight.