Rick McGinnis writes:
The only hint at a revelation is the scene where Randy and Cassidy revel in a jukebox stocked with their favorite music – the hair metal and glammy stadium rock of Randy’s ’80s heyday, and bands like Cinderella, Ratt and Quiet Riot. The deadpan shooting style Aronofsky adopts for the film means that irony is kept tamped down; it’s possible to imagine that their enthusiasm is genuine, and for a moment you’re forced to acknowledge that people can derive joy, and even solace, from these trashy, bombastic anthems to defiance and escape.
Those were great times, Randy reflects; it’s a shame “that Cobain pussy had to come around and ruin it all.” I’ll have to admit that I always regarded ’80s hair metal as a joke only slightly less risible than professional wrestling, but it’s worth remembering that Kurt Cobain came from a place as dire as the world where Randy lives. It’s unlikely that critics will ever regard “Round And Round” or “Girls Girls Girls” as remotely equivalent to “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” but in the end, Cobain’s music didn’t do much to help him endure either his past or his present.
Completely parallel to yet unaided by the release of The Wrestler, I’ve discovered 80s hair metal twenty years later; as a punk, it was anathema to me, but always in the background in my steel mill home town. (In the 90s, it was sort of ok to like Geffen-era Aerosmith cuz of the cool videos, but I still got funny looks…)
So the music is at once new and vaguely familiar to me, which is a pretty weird and rare combo. It’s got just enough of an edge to do what I need it to do, which is to make reality’s sharper edge slightly less keen, at least momentarily. 80s hair metal is like Fruit Loops but if they were high in fibre…
At the twenty year mark, all “decade” revivals are inevitable, but still.