Wondering why you should care about Tom Cruise singing and strutting on stage? Here's ten reason why you shouldn't miss Rock of Ages.
Ten reasons why you shouldn't miss Rock of Ages
Tom Cruise was born to play Stacee Jaxx, the preening, prancing, preposterous peacock-rocker at the heart of the hit jukebox musical Rock of Ages. Opening tomorrow, the big-budget Hollywood adaptation of this runaway Broadway and West End smash is a spoofy but affectionate celebration of the flashy, trashy, hedonistic heyday of 1980s glam metal - complete with a soundtrack of vintage poodle-haired anthems by the likes of Def Leppard, Whitesnake and Poison.
Born in the sleazy rock clubs of Hollywood's Sunset Strip, the "hair metal" scene was epitomised by such party-loving bands as Motley Crüe, Van Halen, Guns N' Roses and Skid Row. The movement withered in the early 1990s, but it has enjoyed a comeback in the last few years. Most of the big-haired veterans listed above are touring again this summer - Def Leppard and Poison are even playing together under the Rock of Ages banner. The reunited classic line-up of Van Halen have just released their first new album in 14 years, while fellow retro-rock legends Kiss follow suit next month.
Meanwhile, a new generation of hairspray-loving party-rockers are bringing back that classic Sunset Strip look and sound - from Finland's Reckless Love to Hollywood's own Black Veil Brides, Hardcore Superstar and Steel Panther. Here, the bands, filmmakers and creators of Rock of Ages give 10 reasons why 1980s glam metal is the hottest sound of 2012.
1 Because these big-haired rock-anthem songs still sound fantastic
"First of all, on a purely musical level, these are great pop-rock songs with really great hooks," says Matt Weaver, the producer of both the Rock of Ages stageshow and film. "This is iconic, classic music that is going to be around for a long time. One of my greatest accomplishments, long after I pass, is that I was the man responsible for putting Whitesnake on Broadway. I take a lot of joy in that."
2 Because this music reminds us of more innocent times
"I think, strangely, this period was the last of our innocence," says Adam Shankman, the director of Rock of Ages. "We were just pre-internet, social media, etc. It was crazy, reckless and naive. People who can actually remember the period remember it as awesome."
3 Because yesterday's rock rebellion is today's family entertainment
"It's inevitable that rock 'n' roll becomes institutionalised," admits Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, whose music features in Rock of Ages. "It's not dangerous any more, it ran out of danger after Alice Cooper. It's part of the establishment, you can't shock anybody any more. There's nothing left to do except entertain."
4 Because hedonism sells during hard times
"People just want to have fun right now," says Chris D'Arenzio, the writer of the Rock of Ages stage show and co-writer of the film. "With the economy the way it is, it was the perfect time to come up with a show that was really just a silly night of escapist hedonism. One of the producers told me that, the last time the economy was in as bad a shape as when we opened, Whitesnake's Here I Go Again was No 1 on the Billboard charts. So it felt right."
5 Because many classic rock bands are still touring
"The success of Rock of Ages is more the result of bands like us continuing to tour and our music being such a big part of people's lives," says Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon, who feature in Rock of Ages. "When people got wind of the fact that there was a Broadway show that uses all their favourite classic rock songs... that's why the show became a success. It really started with the music."
6 Because hair metal deserves a second chance
"Rock of Ages shines a light on an era that is ignored on a wholesale level by the industry," argues Dee Snider of the 1980s glam-metal veterans Twisted Sister, who has acted in Rock of Ages on Broadway. "Corporate rock and hair metal are forms of music that it seems the industry would like to disavow. They would prefer they don't exist! A show like this has reminded people these were cool songs."
7 Because retro rock soundtracks are booming
"Timing has been good," admits D'Arenzio. "We used Don't Stop Believin' before in Glee and The Sopranos, and suddenly that song in particular has taken up a huge presence in the culture. When The Wrestler came out, they used tons of Ratt and Cinderella in the soundtrack. People are falling in love with that music again."
8 Because retro metal is putting the fun back into rock
"It seems like nobody has had any fun in rock 'n' roll for the past 20 years," says Olli Herman, singer with Finnish glam-metal revivalists Reckless Love. "We don't hear Elvis or Little Richard moaning about how miserable they are, and I think that's the true essence of rock. Bands like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Van Halen - those were the last bands to actually realise this and embrace it. So maybe that is why people tend to think of that era when they hear our music."
9 Because this music does not take itself too seriously
"When I first saw Rock of Ages I felt equal parts honoured and horrified," says Cronin. "But you have to be able to laugh at yourselves, especially if you look back at some of the videos we made in the 1980s, and some of the hairstyles we had. They were hilarious."
10 Because even trashy music is worth celebrating
"We are not mocking this music at all, we are celebrating it," says the Rock of Ages producer Matt Weaver. "In our heart and soul, we believe these songs are as good as any Broadway song out there. Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison, Here I Go Again by Whitesnake, show me better songs than this! No, we love this music."