With that said, I also totally get why the genre is mocked so frequently. It's not the deepest music in the world, and the clothing surrounding it tends to look a bit silly in retrospect. That's probably why the movie Rock Of Ages struggled to find an audience at the box office this summer. The preferred look of modern musicians contains considerably less spandex than it did back in 1987.
But why does so much of what hair metal offered seem so silly and dated today? After all, just about every other music genre that was ever relevant has seen some sort of revival in recent years. Psychedelic, punk, post-punk, new wave, all genres that began more than 30 years ago that still exist among contemporary artists. And yet, you rarely see modern bands that want to bring back the sound of 80s pop metal, and the few who do always do it with a strong hint of irony and self-cosciousness. Why does no one want to unabashedly pay tribute to the poddle-haired Gods of yore?
Because grunge came and made all of that look like a giant joke.
It's a part of rock legend that the release of Nevermind came and killed off all the Trixters and Bulletboys of the world in one fell swoop. While that's not completely true, it's certainly not entirely false either. Grunge did play a big hand in killing of hair metal, but no so much in terms of music. Popular music styles are constantly shifting. A few popular grunge bands would never be enough to eliminate the love of big dumb riffs, and bigger dumber choruses. No, what grunge killed was the concept that hair metal thrived on more than any other music genre: the concept of the Rock Star.
From the 50's onward, the notion of a rock n roll musician as a God who was far above the rest of grew larger and larger. They were the kings of kings, they did the best drugs, they had sex with the most beautiful women, and whatever they wore onstage looked awesome simply because they were wearing it.
The fame of Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, and Chris Cornell destroyed that concept once and for all. They were ordinary guys who just happened to be really good and singing and playing guitar. Obviously, there had plenty of musicians before this who we could say similar things about, but these guys were so popular, and such a stark contrast to what had come just prior. It completely changed the perspective. The notion of the Rock n Roll Sex God suddenly seemed absurd and childlike. Hair metal died not because we stopped appreciating the form, but because the purveyors of it seemed more like clowns then Gods.
But the real key here is that we can never go back. Over the past 20 years, America has decided that we like our rock n roll frontmen to be more like everyday humans than mythical conquerors. Anytime a band - or especially a lead singer seems too detatched from the rest of us, it's a serious turn off. Bands like The Darkness carry on the tradition of rock bombast to a certain extent, but they do it with a wink that let's us know they're just kidding. Bands like Kiss are Grandfathered in because their legend has to live in, but any new bands showing up to party in leather pats and assless chaps will be met with thorough derision.