Monday, April 28, 2008

No. 472: Hysteria

Band: Def Leppard
Album: Hysteria
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: "Hysteria" is one of the diamond-selling albums on this list, notching over 12 million in sales. It's full of hooks, pop guitars and easy drumbeats, as well as strong harmonies.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: The record is not metal, it's not difficult and it shares the aesthetic of a commercial jingle.
Best song: The title track is the most metal on the album, though still a pop song. Once upon a time, I was a big fan of "Pour Some Sugar On Me." Not really anymore.
Worst song: "Rocket" is a little much.
Is it awesome?: Not really.

There's something slightly unpleasant to think about a record written with the decided goal of producing hit singles. Producer Robert "Mutt" Lange and the band tried to write songs with the purpose of charting.

In the process, of course, Def Leppard faced the criticsm of mainstreaming their sound. "Hysteria" is not as hard as the band's earlier work and metal fans found themselves unhappy with the band.

Of course, none of this matters today. All that matters today is "Pour Some Suger On Me." The song, in my experience, seems to be the most popular karaoke song today. I don't frequent karaoke bars often, but every time I've been to one, I get to hear some very drunk people yelling "Oooooo, in the name of looooooooove!" to a simple electronic drumbeat.

This annoys me.


"Hysteria" is catchy, sure. Hell, it's a good record. But, damn right it should be good. It took three goddamn years to complete. Within the time the record was being recorded, Rick Allen lost his arm.

Some of the songs took the whole three years. The production of "Animal" took the entire time, while "Pour Some Sugar On Me" took only two weeks. The title track took somewhere in between the obvious two extremes.


I have a pretty soft place in my heart for "Hysteria." The album was one of the first my parents bought on CD for my sister and I. We listened to it a lot, mostly with me not understanding anything about the album. I just remember knowing all the words and playing my cheap-o electronic drum set while listening to "Hysteria" on headphones.

As as child, I loved "Pour Some Suger On Me" and it has since been ruined by karaoke and VH1. Too bad.

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