Friday, October 06, 2006

Remembrance of Videos Past #33: Def Leppard, "Two Steps Behind"

Hair metal might be the most scorned subgenre in recorded history. Even disco adapted to the growingly harsh and homohobic "Disco Sucks" climate by evolving into house music. Hair metal just stopped. Despite the efforts of Chuck Klosterman and The Darkness, most people only appreciate it ironically. Hipster metal and nu metal do not allow their poofy haired brethren into their circles.

"Two Steps Behind" was the last hit, makin Billboard's Top Ten in '93. Looking at The Last Action Hero soundtrack (which this song was on) makes it sadder. First of all, The Last Action Hero was a flop. So eventually this song was associated with cinematic failure. This song stands out from the other heavier fare on the album. There's Anthrax and Megadeth shaking their heads and calling Def Leppard a bunch of pussies.

Indeed, the problem with hair metal was that it was maligned by metalheads as too soft. College rock kids deemed it too sexist with all the video hoes. Even Sir Mix a Lot had his say

So I'm lookin' at rock videos
Knock-kneeded bimbos walkin' like hoes
You can have them bimbos
I'll keep my women like Flo Jo

After this quatrain, scantily clad women would appear in more rap videos and less rock videos.

This ballad was acoustic, which might have signalled the beginning of the end. No virtuosic guitar solos, no wails. Just the trademark layered Def Leppard vocals that a generation of horny awkward boys and girls outgrew. Even the lyrics are ironically bittersweet. Whether we listen to electroclash, baile funk, hyphy or indie rock, this music will always be two steps behind us.

BONUS: "Bringing on the Heartbreak"

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