Song: “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)” by Quiet Riot
If you’re asking how the hell it took so long to get to Quiet Riot, well, I can’t blame you. You know, they’re only the first metal band to have a number 1 record on the Billboard charts. So to kick of 2016 (dare I say the Year of the Big Hair Video Lair?!), here I am to rectify the situation with one of the top 10 songs to belt in the shower.
[Also, if you like Quiet Riot or 80s metal or music in general or really good documentaries, you NEED to watch “Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back,” a film mostly about Quiet Riot’s rise, fall, and comeback but also about loving and wanting to make and share music. It’s an inspiring, wrenching account of the band, as seen primarily through drummer/human teddy bear Frankie Banali. Watch it.]
SO. “Metal Health” opens up with Kevin Dubrow in a padded room, wearing a mask that’s more intense than Hannibal Lector’s and a red leather straightjacket. Here’s a fun fact: this video came out in 1983. So did “Thriller.” I could find the date on “Metal Health” but the “Thriller” video was released in December, so just imagine MJ catching this on MTV and being like, red leather jacket, yes, absolutely that is what I need too, and we can all agree to believe that’s how it went down, right?
Who wore it best??
The sound of metal pumping into the padded room spurs Kevin’s desire to free himself (the lyrics, after all, explain that metal health cures what ails you). A bunch of yellow-gloved hands appear to help loosen the restraints and get Mr. Dubrow to his rightful place: in front of the stage.
We move into what will become, in later years, the standard video concert footage video and you can see why. The lighting is really tight on the band, flashing only occasionally on the audience, and it just rocks. The band seems to be genuinely feeling it, too. I don’t know, man. If you don’t feel inspired to bang your head at lines like “won’t ever let up, hope it annoys you,” you might need a metal health check up.
See what I did there?
ANYWAY. As noted in earlier posts, the big hair video era gives rise to an epidemic: “No Man Is an Island Lead Singer Syndrome.” What does the instrument-less front man do when his comrades are melting faces with slick licks and intestine-shaking drumbeats? This video is the answer. What do you do? You freaking HELP, that’s what. Could Carlos Cavazo have done it on his own? Sure. But teamwork makes the dream work.
Kevin Dubrow could have taught a class on the heart not having to be a lonely frontman. (Jovi, are you paying attention??) And the headbanging assistance he gives catches on throughout the crowd:
When Kevin throws his mic stand (which tastefully coordinates with his shirt), it serves as some kind of alert to everyone else sequestered in this anti-metal institution and mayhem ensues. (Raise your hand if this place reminds you of that terrifying woman who specializes in de-metalizing the youth in Decline of Western Civilization Part II.)
So we’ve come a long way since 1983 in how mental health is depicted, but here’s what’s awesome about this bit: the patients are men and women. The nurses are wearing regular outfits. The audience is a bunch of kids who want to bang their heads, male and female alike. Considering how often women end up in scraps of clothing or in cages in these videos (videos that I still enjoy), it’s super cool to see everyone just hanging out and rocking here. BANGING YOUR HEAD DOESN’T HAVE TO BE A GENDERED EXPERIENCE, Y’ALL.
The halls of the institution emptied, the mask mysteriously lights on fire and we close on Kevin’s unblinking stare. Was it all in his mind? Did it ever really happen? We can’t answer that.
We can only bang our heads.