Never mind prog, hair metal is the most reviled rock genre, period. And it probably should be, because most of it fucking blows like nothing else on Earth. (Show up at my door with a copy of Open Up and Say… Ahh! and a gun, and that gun had better be loaded.) But it shouldn’t have sucked—at its most basic, the genre combined the grit of ‘70s hard rock (awesome), the decadent swagger of glam (awesome), and the gleeful sneer of punk (awesome), but by some unholy and counterintuitive rock math, “awesome plus awesome plus awesome” equalled stomach-churningly shitty.
Before grunge tanked the genre in the early ‘90s, hair metal was already in decline anyway, due to the samey cartoonishness of its sartorial norms, the tediousness of its de rigueur power-ballads, and the body-blow of Penelope Spheeris’ documentary The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, which aimed an array of klieg lights on the jaw-droppingly pathetic delusions of also-ran hair metal musicians. (If you have a Roku or similar device, The Shout Factory streaming channel has that doc, FYI. It’s a must-see.) But before the curtain fell, a band from Philly called Cinderella scored a huge hit with a power ballad (of course) called “Nobody’s Fool” and a triple-platinum album called Night Songs. The band was less party-oriented than much hair metal, ultimately moving away from the style towards a more straightforward bluesy hard rock approach, and they were gifted with a singer, Tom Keifer, who at his best approached the expressiveness of Ronnie James Dio. In his lesser moments, well, see how much of this you can make it through.
While “Nobody’s Fool” is arguably the song most closely associated with the band, I feel like the video below captures a way more appealing vibe. It’s a 30-second commercial the pre-fame band shot for a hot dog stand called Pat’s. (Located on ROUTE 420! COME ON!) To be clear, I am in no way knocking them for writing a hot dog commercial. There have existed a couple of hot dog places I would gladly honor in song, myself, should the occasion arise. I genuinely like this ad—for one thing, the footage of the rough-around-the-edges early band contrasts edifyingly against the blow dried, pampered-poodle corporate glam of their official videos, and watching them stuff their faces with dirty water hot dogs is about the least pretentious thing ever in a genre where affectation was job one.
In a great video made a few years ago for Loudwire, Keifer related the tale of how Cinderella came to make the ad.
In recent years, the commercial “Pat’s Chili Dogs” I did with my band Cinderella years ago has been surfacing on the internet quite a bit lately. And the way that came about was, that was right when early ‘80s MTV was just starting to take off, and we were a young baby band kicking around in the clubs in the Philadelphia/Jersey area, and we wanted to be on MTV, and we sent our video, which was horrible, to like Basement Tapes or something like that. They wouldn’t play it, they wouldn’t touch us. So a local proprietor who owned a chili dog stand asked us to sing. He saw us in a club and he liked us. He said “would you do a rock ’n’ roll commercial for my place?” And he said “We’re gonna buy local TV advertising on MTV,” and the light went off, we were like “Well, we’ll be on MTV, then!” [laughs] Only locally, but that’s what it felt like to us, so we said “Sure, we’ll do it.” Plus we got free chili dogs any time we wanted.
More after the jump…