THE TOP TEN BANDS MOST OFTEN MISCATEGORIZED AS HAIR METAL: #8, SAIGON KICK
Since its inception by the typings of some clever music journalist in the 80s, the categorization “hair metal” (or “glam metal”) has been as amorphous and, consequently, as misused as “metalcore” has been in the aughties. And since it’s hair metal week here on MetalSucks, we thought we’d try to address this issue by pointing the spotlight on ten bands that are often, and incorrectly, deemed “hair metal.” And to that end…
As with many rock and metal bands that the major labels brought to prominence towards the end of the hair era (non-definitely, let’s just say approximately ’89-’91), Saigon Kick were mis-marketed — and hence misconstrued in the public eye — as hair metal. It didn’t help that, like so many hair metal bands, the big hit that catapulted them into public view was a power ballad. So despite incorporating myriad influences from funk to punk to, of course, metal, Saigon Kick were written off by a mostly apathetic public who, in the post-Nirvana era, thought that if it had long hair and heavy guitars it must also have a ridiculous level of machismo and poofy hair. SO not the case with Saigon Kick, a terrific band who ironically may have experienced more success had the kind of music people thought they pedaled still been in style.
Saigon Kick’s self-titled debut didn’t drop until 1991 when the hair movement still had one last gasp left in it, but even then there was little connecting Saigon Kick’s eclectic mix of punk, funk and metal to the sex and booze-obsessed poofters in contemporaries like Warrant. Jason Bieler’s riffs had bonafide balls that didn’t go for the pop chart gold and fitting solos that showed — gasp — restraint, while his and Matt Kramer’s lyrics touched on issues of society, life’s hardships and inner struggle rather than dwelling on the aforementioned tried-and-true party hardy themes so popular in the day. The result was one of the most truly unique bands of the era.
By the time the band’s breakthrough The Lizard came around in 1992, any momentum the band had from their previous effort had mostly been squashed by the public’s waning interest in heavy music that required some level of chops. That the aforementioned big hit “Love Is on the Way” — which, IMO, was definitely a step above something like “I Saw Red” — seemed to suggest the band was something they weren’t only made matters worse, but not first without snagging a few die-hard fans (yours truly included).
The band’s mid-late ’90s output with Jason Bieler running the show was pretty decent too, and only further distanced them from the hair scene while the bands that rose to prominence a mere five years before them were regurgitating their hits in shitty bars across the U.S. with nary a good new album to their name. Not that Saigon Kick were playing arenas in 1995… but at least they put out some good records.