Hair Metal Ballad Essentials

Hair Metal Ballad Essentials

During hair metal’s 1981–’93 golden age, balladry generally fell into one of two categories. The first is what can be tagged opera-in-spandex: power ballads that shattered the pillars of heaven with passion, heartache, and cresting guitar solos. Bon Jovi could nail this style in their sleep; ditto for Skid Row, whose Sebastian Bach proved to be one of the era’s most compelling screamers. The second category arrived towards the end of the ’80s and traded those high-decibel fireworks for stripped-down intimacy. Mr. Big and Warrant scored killer hits using this approach, yet Extreme’s “More Than Words” remains the gold standard for this unplugged style, with its graceful harmonies and vulnerability. If there’s one group that deserves a shout-out for possessing enough talent to excel at both, it surely is Guns N’ Roses, who churned out multipart epics and hushed acoustic gems with equal brilliance.

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