Apologizing for mocking hair metal, Laika is my peace offering

Listening to music with friends can bring shared laughter and the pleasure of  giving and receiving new musical treasures. Sometimes it leads to disgruntled listening to hair metal bands. Last night was a case of the latter.

Part way through a great meal my friend and our host Desiree suggested we needed music. We all agreed but somewhere between the kitchen and the computer, she let slip that she’d really been enjoying 80s hair metal lately. There were a few roars of approval and some gleefully shouted song suggestions–but they definitely weren’t from me. Def Leppard, Poison and friends literally bring waves of nausea and have since the moment I heard them in about 1987.  I know, though, that my distaste for Def Leppard is largely personal. Everyone has guilty pleasure songs that they know are silly or cheesy or just plain bad but they love them anyway. So while I kind of enjoyed making faces of disgust at each new horror that emitted from the playlist (Warrant’s Cherry Pie was particularly egregious) I also felt bad. It’s not like I don’t listen to things that would perplex others. I adore (as in indulging in repeated listening over and over every few months) Kleenex Girl Wonder’s Ponyoak. I know the vocals are rough and sometimes out of tune but frankly I don’t care.

So in penance for making a scene I needed to postpone other songs I’d thought about writing today to share something from a similar era that I love. It’s from 1993, a few years after hair metal had begun to fade away, but it’s about a ill-fated space dog, forgotten dreams of space living, and being ignored by someone you pine after (just like Cherry Pie, right?). Laika appeared on Moxy Früvous‘s 1993 Bargainville, widely loved by Canadian indie kids and widely mocked by those who had just a few years earlier screamed the lyrics to Pour Some Sugar on Me at high school dances (or that was my experience anyway). Moxy Früvous, a Thornhill, Ontario-based quartet including future CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi, was funny, a little cheesy, and not afraid to be smart in their songs: a balm for a nerdy kid looking to find her way in music. But more than that, their songs were and are fun, sometimes self-effacing and always catchy. And I think some people like hair metal for exactly same reason. It’s fun and really never meant to take itself too seriously, reminding us to sometimes just let go and enjoy the music.

So, with apologies to my hair metal loving friends: I get it. And in return I give you a peace offering: a strange little song about a space dog.

Author: mcshanahan

Science education researcher and writer

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