Best 20 Hair Metal Ballads

The '80s and early '90s were the heyday of hair metal. Those bands were on the radio and sold out concerts across the world. Their biggest radio hits tended to be the ballads, the type of songs that would bring out the lighters at shows back before there were cell phones. Here's my list of the best hair metal ballads. I limited it to one song per artist, and since I don't consider Guns 'N Roses a hair band, you won't see "Sweet Child Of Mine" on this list, even though it's a great song.

01
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"Every Rose Has Its Thorn" - Poison

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It went to the top of the pop charts and is the quintessential hair metal ballad. It starts off with an acoustic guitar, eventually kicks into power ballad mode, and then mellows out again at the end. Poison was number one on my list of the best hair bands, so it's only appropriate one of their songs is the best hair metal ballad.

02
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"I Remember You" - Skid Row

Skid Row held on to their success a little longer than most hair bands. Sebastian Bach and company had several radio hits, the biggest being "18 And Life." Their ballad "Wasted Time" is a great song, but "I Remember You" was more popular, and has really held up well. It starts out mellow and acoustic, then really kicks in with Bach hitting some high notes.

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03
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"Heaven" - Warrant

Their other big ballad hits were "I Saw Red" and "Sometimes She Cries," but I liked "Heaven" a bit more. It has a really catchy chorus, and some nice harmonies and the typical acoustic start before kicking into full power ballad mode. Singer Jani Lane battled alcohol and drug problems for many years and unfortunately passed away in 2011.

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04
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"When the Children Cry" - White Lion

Hair band lyrics were generally about girls and partying or partying and girls. White Lion got a little more political, and this song was a warning about how the world's preoccupation with war and power would affect the next generation. Mike Tramp has a unique sounding voice, and this was White Lion's biggest hit. It doesn't have the typical mellow, kick in, mellow cycle as a lot of hair metal ballads; it remains mellow throughout, and even the guitar solo is subdued.

05
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"Ballad of Jayne" - L.A. Guns

L.A. Guns was one of the more underrated hair bands. They did well and had a couple of platinum albums, but never reached the commercial heights of groups like Poison, Warrant or Motley Crue. Faster songs like "Never Enough" and "Rip And Tear" were reasonably successful, but "The Ballad Of Jayne" was their signature song. The lyrics about a friend who died connect emotionally and the song has a lot of tempo and intensity changes. These days the band has splintered into two separate groups calling themselves L.A. Guns.

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06
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"Love of a Lifetime" - Firehouse

Firehouse is one of my favorite hair bands, and they had a string of ballads that made the charts including "When I Look Into Your Eyes" and "I Live My Life For You," which charted in 1995, a few years after most hair bands had faded into obscurity. "Love Of A Lifetime" was their biggest hit, peaking at number 5 on the pop chart. It's an unabashed love song, with no cynicism or double entendres, just a heartfelt ode to finally finding lasting love.

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07
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"Love Song" - Tesla

This song is distinctive for its lengthy guitar intro. The single version cuts it out, which is a shame because it's really good. Tesla made their presence known when their 1986 debut spawned the hit singles "Little Suzi" and "Modern Day Cowboy." They had a few more songs make the charts in the next few years, and "Love Song" was their second highest ranking single at number 10 ("Signs" peaked at number 7).

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08
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"Fly to The Angels" - Slaughter

Mark Slaughter probably has the most distinctive voice in hair metal. His powerful high-pitched wail was front and center on hits like "Up All Night" and "Spend My Life." This was their biggest hit, and after their double platinum debut, Stick It To Ya, they didn't have any more hits. I saw them live a couple years ago, and Mark Slaughter's voice is as clear and powerful as ever.

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09
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"Don't Know What You've Got (Til Its Gone)" - Cinderella

Tom Kiefer's high pitched raspy voice was pretty polarizing, and Cinderella had a few more haters than a lot of the hair bands. They cracked the pop charts with singles including "Gypsy Road" and "Shake Me." I was torn between choosing "Nobody's Fool" and this song, but "Don't Know What You Got (Til It's Gone) was a little more memorable and has held up better over the years.

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10
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"I'll Never Let You Go" - Steelheart

Out of all the bands on this list, Steelheart is probably the most obscure. This was their only hit, known best for the really high notes hit by singer Michael Matijevic. He also recorded some of the vocals for Mark Wahlberg's character in the movie Rock Star.

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11
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"Don't Close Your Eyes" - Kix

Kix was another second tier hair band that I thought should have been more successful than they were. They were one of the pioneers in the genre, releasing their first album back in 1981. "Blow My Fuse" and "Cold Blood" got radio and MTV play, but this song was their only one to hit the pop charts, peaking at number 12. It starts with a piano, and then gradually builds in intensity before kicking in. Vocalist Steve Whiteman has a great voice, and Kix continues to reunite periodically to play live.

12
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"High Enough" - Damn Yankees

Damn Yankees were a supergroup of sorts that included Jack Blades from Night Ranger, Tommy Shaw from Styx and Ted Nugent. They released two albums during their heyday and had a bunch of songs that made it on the rock charts. This song was a huge pop hit, peaking at number three. The combination of Blades' lower pitched voice and Shaw's higher pitched voice works really well together and there are some great harmonies throughout the song.

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13
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"Close My Eyes Forever" - Ozzy Osbourne/Lita Ford

Having Ozzy Osbourne in a hair band category might be controversial, but there's no denying that Lita Ford was a hair metal artist, so their duet is labeled under that genre. Lita's hit "Kiss Me Deadly" peaked at number 12 on the singles chart, but this one did even better, cracking the top 10 and rising to number 8. Ozzy and Lita basically alternate vocals throughout the song, rarely singing together or doing harmonies.

Motley Crue are one of the most popular and commercially successful of the hair bands. They've had a ton of hits like "Shout At The Devil," "Girl Girls Girls," "Dr. Feelgood," "Kickstart My Heart" and many more. As far as their ballads, I know a lot of people will disagree with my choice and would pick "Home Sweet Home" as their best. I just happen to like "Without You" a little more.

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15
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"Fly High Michelle" - Enuff Z'Nuff

The Chicago glam band Enuff Z'Nuff released several albums from the late '80s through the early '90s but remained solidly in the second tier of hair metal bands. "Fly High Michelle" is a little faster paced than most ballads, but still fits the criteria. "New Thing" and this song were their only chart successes.

16
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"Miles Away" - Winger

If you watched the TV show Beavis And Butthead, the nerdy guy Stewart always wore a Winger tee shirt and was made fun of. That was a bad rap because Winger weren't any wussier than most hair bands. Faster songs like "Seventeen" and "Madelaine" got them on the map, but ballads like "Headed For A Heartbreak" and this one were their biggest hits.

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17
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"Alone Again" - Dokken

Dokken had a lot of success with songs like "In My Dreams" and "It's Not Love," but they broke up before they reached their full potential because of band infighting. Singer Don Dokken and guitarist George Lynch made a great musical team, but couldn't get along on a personal level. They eventually got back together, but the era of the hair bands had passed by that time. "Alone Again" was their best ballad.

18
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"More Than Words" - Extreme

It was a number one worldwide smash, but to fans who only heard this song, Extreme was a mellow pop band. In reality, they were able to rock pretty hard, and Nuno Bettencourt is a great guitar player. They released some of their harder edged songs as singles, but only mellower tracks like "Hole Hearted" and this one were popular among the masses. "More Than Words" is completely acoustic, with just Nuno on guitar and Gary Cherone singing.

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19
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"Still Loving You" - Scorpions

"Wind Of Change" was much more commercially successful (that's the one with the whistling), but "Still Loving You" to me is a far superior song. The Scorpions have been around for well over 30 years and are winding down their career with a farewell tour, although they still may play one-off shows from time to time.

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20
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"House Of Pain" - Faster Pussycat

Faster Pussycat were in the second tier of hair bands, but they had some decent songs like "Bathroom Wall" and "Poison Ivy." Their biggest hit was "House Of Pain," from their 1989 album, Wake Me When It's Over.

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