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Tag Archives: Rock of Ages

When it comes to music, everyone has their guilty pleasures. I finished up a degree in classical music in May but somehow still spent all summer shamefully listening to the new singles from Nicki Minaj and Carly Rae Jepsen (okay, to be honest, I don’t feel that guilty about it). But whether you actually lived through the ‘80s or, like me, just found out about it later and still can’t figure out how anything in that decade could have possibly happened, there isn’t much better guilty pleasure listening than ‘80s rock.

Broadway hit Rock of Ages comes to the Long Center on their national tour today, and from what we can tell, they brought their hairspray. The Tony Award-nominated musical features almost everything that made the 1980s so retrospectively hilarious. Especially mullets, hair bands, and a complete disregard for what should be socially acceptable.

Like just about every musical, it’s silly yet sentimental, filled with love-triangles (I think even a love-square at one point), melodrama, and catchy show tunes. But unlike most musicals, this one has characters with names like “Stacee Jaxx” and the catchy show tunes are all ‘80s hits. If there were ever a time to pull out the signed t-shirt from Bon Jovi’s 1987 tour that you’ve been hiding from your wife for the last two decades, this would be it.

To celebrate, we’re counting down our top five guilty-pleasure hits from Rock of Ages. And every one of them is so hilariously bad, but oh-so-good.

5. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – “I Hate Myself For Loving You”

While we mostly picked this one because the title pretty much describes how we feel about every song on this list, that’s not the only reason. “I Hate Myself For Loving You,” which reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 1988, features Jett growling away about her love-hate relationship with her man. The music video is prototypical ‘80s – it depicts Jett performing live, surrounded by frenzied fans and with lighting just dark enough to make sure you know she’s edgy. We’re not sure what’s with the complete non sequitur 3-second long dreamy bike scene at 1:28, but we dig it.

4. Whitesnake – “Here I Go Again”

Coming in at #17 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Songs of the ‘80s” is Whitesnake’s glorious car ballad “Here I Go Again.” It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 1987, probably at least partially thanks to nearly drowning the listener with synthesizers and reverb. If there’s anyone who should represent the big hair era, it’s Whitesnake – those rockers don the leather pants and hairspray-soaked locks oh so well.

3. Bon Jovi – “Wanted Dead or Alive”

It’s no “Livin’ on a Prayer,” but Jon Bon Jovi’s 1986 hit “Wanted Dead or Alive” is pretty great. It’s shot in black and white, interspersing concert clips with some sort of story about American dreams and the hard life of the rock star. And I mean, who couldn’t love a song with lines like “I’m a cowboy / on a steel horse I ride / I’m wanted dead or alive”? That’s Shakespeare-caliber brilliance right there. Once the obligatory gratuitous guitar solo comes in around 2:27, it’s almost impossible to not air guitar along.

2. Europe – “The Final Countdown”

The Swedish band Europe had another top 10 hit in “Carrie,” but they’re almost exclusively known these days for the monolithic “Final Countdown.” ‘Epic’ hardly does the song justice – unlike Bon Jovi and Whitesnake, who sing about hard times on the road, Europe’s idea of a road trip involves outer space. Like all the others, the video does include gratuitous live concert clips, but the real story of the video is about the human race fleeing to Venus. With lyrics inspired by David Bowie’s “A Space Oddity,” a wicked harmonized guitar solo, and the iconic synth melody that even Europe’s own guitarist John Norum thought was too much, “The Final Countdown” is about as epic as it gets.

1. Journey – “Don’t Stop Believing”

While only reaching #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 back in 1981, “Don’t Stop Believing” has found life after the ‘80s in a way that few of the decade’s top hits have. It’s the top-selling song in iTunes history out of all songs not released in the 21st century, and it’s remained so popular that the song actually re-entered the UK charts in 2009, almost 30 years after its original release. From Glee to The Wedding Singer to Detroit Red Wings games, “Don’t Stop Believing” is still a fan favorite. From the instantly recognizable keyboard intro to the soaring guitar solo to the heartwarming-if-more-than-slightly-cheesy lyrics about midnight trains and small town girls, this one is a perfect rock anthem and a perfect song to close Rock of Ages.

-Nick Curry, Development Intern
The Long Center


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