10 Best Hair Band Songs of the Decades

by Barbara
Jon Bon Jovi

The hair band era, also known as glam metal or hair metal, emerged in the late 1970s and reached its peak in the 1980s. This genre combined the hard rock and heavy metal sound with a flamboyant, glam-rock-inspired aesthetic. Bands were known for their wild hairstyles, makeup, and flashy clothing, which became as iconic as their music.

10 Best Hair Band Songs of the Decades

1. “Livin’ on a Prayer” – Bon Jovi

Released in 1986, “Livin’ on a Prayer” is an anthem of resilience and hope. Bon Jovi, fronted by charismatic lead singer Jon Bon Jovi, became a household name with this track. The song tells the story of Tommy and Gina, a young couple facing hardships but determined to keep going. The iconic talk box intro, Richie Sambora’s searing guitar solos, and Jon Bon Jovi’s powerful vocals make this a timeless classic. The chorus, with its uplifting “Woah-oh, we’re halfway there,” is instantly recognizable and has kept fans singing along for decades.

2. “Sweet Child o’ Mine” – Guns N’ Roses

“Sweet Child o’ Mine,” from the 1987 album Appetite for Destruction, showcases Guns N’ Roses at their finest. This song features Slash’s unforgettable guitar riff, which he reportedly came up with during a warm-up session. Axl Rose’s distinctive voice delivers lyrics that were inspired by his then-girlfriend Erin Everly. The song blends hard rock with a tender sentiment, making it a standout in the hair band genre. The music video, with its raw energy and live performance feel, helped propel the song to the top of the charts.

3. “Here I Go Again” – Whitesnake

Originally released in 1982, Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” was re-recorded in 1987 for their self-titled album. This version became a massive hit, driven by David Coverdale’s soulful vocals and the band’s polished yet powerful sound. The song’s theme of perseverance and starting over resonated with many fans. Its catchy chorus and memorable keyboard line contributed to its enduring popularity. The music video, featuring Tawny Kitaen’s iconic car dance, is etched in the memory of many 80s music lovers.

4. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” – Def Leppard

“Pour Some Sugar on Me” is one of Def Leppard’s biggest hits, from their 1987 album Hysteria. The song’s infectious chorus and driving rhythm make it a staple at parties and sporting events. Joe Elliott’s dynamic vocals and the band’s layered harmonies create a powerful sound. The song’s production, overseen by legendary producer Mutt Lange, is polished and pristine. Its suggestive lyrics and energetic delivery capture the spirit of the hair band era perfectly.

5. “Dr. Feelgood” – Mötley Crüe

Released in 1989, “Dr. Feelgood” is one of Mötley Crüe’s most successful songs. The title track from their album of the same name, it marked a turning point for the band, showcasing a more refined and mature sound. Nikki Sixx’s gritty bass line and Mick Mars’ heavy guitar riffs drive the song, while Vince Neil’s sharp vocals tell the tale of a notorious drug dealer. The song’s hard-hitting beat and memorable hook make it a quintessential hair metal track. The album itself was produced by Bob Rock, who later went on to produce Metallica, adding a level of sophistication to the band’s raw energy.

6. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” – Poison

This power ballad from 1988 became Poison’s only number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” showcases Bret Michaels’ heartfelt vocals and C.C. DeVille’s emotive guitar work. The song, inspired by a real-life breakup, conveys deep emotion and vulnerability, a departure from the band’s usual party anthems. Its acoustic intro and poignant lyrics struck a chord with fans, making it a defining song of the hair band genre. The simplicity and sincerity of the song set it apart from many other ballads of the era.

7. “Rock You Like a Hurricane” – Scorpions

Released in 1984, “Rock You Like a Hurricane” is a signature song for the German band Scorpions. The track, from the album Love at First Sting, combines Klaus Meine’s powerful vocals with Rudolf Schenker’s scorching guitar riffs. The song’s driving beat and anthemic chorus make it a concert favorite and a staple of rock radio. Its lyrics, filled with innuendo and bravado, embody the spirit of the hair band era. The song’s enduring popularity is a testament to its explosive energy and catchy melody.

8. “Wanted Dead or Alive” – Bon Jovi

Another classic from Bon Jovi, “Wanted Dead or Alive” was released in 1986 on the Slippery When Wet album. The song features a western theme, with lyrics inspired by the band’s life on the road. Richie Sambora’s 12-string acoustic guitar intro sets the tone for Jon Bon Jovi’s gritty, reflective vocals. The song’s epic feel and cinematic lyrics make it a standout track. Its iconic music video, showcasing the band’s live performances and behind-the-scenes moments, helped cement its place in rock history.

9. “Nothin’ But a Good Time” – Poison

“Nothin’ But a Good Time” is a quintessential party anthem, released in 1988 on Poison’s Open Up and Say… Ahh! album. The song’s upbeat tempo and infectious chorus make it a favorite among fans. Bret Michaels’ energetic vocals and C.C. DeVille’s flashy guitar work capture the essence of the hair band era. The song’s lyrics, celebrating freedom and fun, resonate with the rebellious spirit of the time. Its music video, featuring the band performing at a raucous house party, perfectly complements the song’s carefree vibe.

10. “Kickstart My Heart” – Mötley Crüe

“Kickstart My Heart,” released in 1989 on the Dr. Feelgood album, is a high-octane track that epitomizes Mötley Crüe’s wild lifestyle. The song was inspired by Nikki Sixx’s near-death experience from a drug overdose. Its fast-paced rhythm, driven by Tommy Lee’s thunderous drumming and Mick Mars’ frenetic guitar work, creates an adrenaline-fueled listening experience. Vince Neil’s raw, energetic vocals add to the song’s intensity. The track’s powerful sound and gripping backstory make it a standout in the hair band genre.

The Enduring Appeal of Hair Band Songs

Hair band songs continue to captivate audiences for several reasons:

Catchy Hooks and Melodies

The best hair band songs are known for their infectious hooks and memorable melodies. These elements make the songs easy to sing along to and leave a lasting impression.

High-Energy Performances

Hair bands were known for their electrifying live performances. The energy and showmanship of these bands translated into their music, creating an exhilarating listening experience.

Emotional Connection

Many hair band songs, particularly power ballads, deal with themes of love, heartbreak, and perseverance. These universal themes resonate with listeners and create a strong emotional connection.

Visual Appeal

The flamboyant fashion and striking visuals of hair bands added an extra layer of appeal. Music videos played a crucial role in popularizing these bands and bringing their larger-than-life personas to a broader audience.


For many fans, hair band songs evoke memories of a particular time and place. The music of the 80s and early 90s holds a special place in the hearts of those who lived through the era, and its nostalgic value continues to draw new listeners.

See Also: Top 25 Metalcore Bands of All Time


The hair band era produced some of the most memorable and enduring songs in rock history. Tracks like “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” and “Here I Go Again” remain iconic, thanks to their catchy melodies, powerful performances, and emotional depth. While the popularity of hair bands may have peaked in the 80s, their influence continues to be felt, and their music remains a beloved part of the rock landscape. Whether you’re reliving the glory days or discovering these classics for the first time, the best hair band songs offer an exhilarating and timeless listening experience.

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