Lois: I used to date the pyro guy from Whitesnake. Meg: What’s Whitesnake? Lois: That’s the music mommies and daddies listen to. – Family Guy
As a teenager in the 80s, I was one of those too-cool-for-school, bad haircut sporting indie rock kids whose self-important punk sensibilities ensured I looked upon the MTV pop of the day with arrogant worn-on-my-sleeve derision. Now that I’m older and wiser and far less image-conscious, I realize there was a good deal of quality pop music produced in the decade of the Brat Pack. But despite Wilco’s fantastic 2002 paean to 1980s hair metal, I must take issue with Mr. Tweedy and hold firm to my long-standing opinion that pop metal was the biggest abomination in the history of rock and roll.
Heavy metal, as ushered in by the likes of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, was meant to be dark, foreboding, perhaps even a bit evil. That’s as it should be. However, when the frivolous party vibe of the Reagan era contaminated the genre, we were left with a plethora of awful, posturing tough guys in drag, each of whom made the regrettable decision to form a band. I could write an entire post dedicated to the ridiculous formulaic names these bands adopted, but I’ll save that for another day. For now, I’d like to narrow the atrocity of hair metal down to its most dreadful component: the power ballad. Every single one of these groups of hairspray and lip stick sporting jack-offs churned out at least one sensitive love or heartbreak-inspired ballad that sullied heavy metal’s formerly respectable name forever after. And to narrow this down even further, I am going to briefly analyze what I consider the worst of the worst of these musical abortions: “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake.
This piece of pop excrement was crooned by none other than David Coverdale, former lead singer of Deep Purple, making it all the more inexcusable. Most people around my age are familiar with the song, but maybe you’ve never paid much attention to the lyrics. That ends now. I am going to reprint the lyrics in their entirety so that you can see for yourself that it was almost impressive how many rock and roll clichés Coverdale was able to shoehorn into a four and a half minute song. In fact, the lyrics are comprised of nothing but clichés and Coverdale must have figured that if he belted them out with enough melodramatic emotion, no one would notice the sheer awfulness of what he was saying. Here we go:
“ I don’t know where I’m goin’. But I sure know where I’ve been.” Good for you, David! I’ve got a map in my glove box if you’d like to borrow it. “Hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday. And I’ve made up my mind. I ain’t wasting no more time.” Those songs of yesterday must not have been recorded by Deep Purple because, if you’ll recall, you were once in that classic band and they never would have deigned to record a piece of shit like the one you’re singing. Although I was not in the room with you at the time, I assume it took you approximately one nanosecond to scrawl the next two terminally hackneyed lines – I’d have preferred it if you had made up your mind not to waste any more time on the composition of this pap. “But here I go again. Here I go again. Though I keep searchin’ for an answer, I never seem to find what I’m looking for. Oh Lord, I pray you give me strength to carry on.” If I were you, I’d pray that God’s not listening to this crap lest he banish you to the torments of Hell for eternity. “Cause I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams.” Fuck you. “And here I go again on my own. Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known. Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone.” Are you fucking kidding me?? Did you really give these lyrics a final look and say to yourself, “That’s brilliant!” or even “This will do”? Because it’s the antithesis of brilliant and it doesn’t do. You’re an asshole for making me listen to this comically pedestrian rubbish. “And I’ve made up my mind. I ain’t wasting no more time.” Yes, we’ve established that. “I’m just another heart in need of rescue. Waiting on love’s sweet charity. And I’m gonna hold on for the rest of my days, ‘cause I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams.” Wait, did you just rip this garbage from a Hallmark card? That’s copyright infringement, you twat.
The rest of the song simply repeats the same mind-numbing chorus and verses until we mercifully reach the 4:35 mark and the horror fades out none-too-soon.
I remember sitting in my car at lunchtime in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida around 2002 when “Here I Go Again” came on the local classic rock affiliate. It took every ounce of self-restraint I possessed not to punch my radio…or rip my ears clean off of my head. So congratulations, Whitesnake. In a pop music landscape that has since tortured us with the likes of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”, you still hold the distinction of having composed and recorded the most ghastly, repugnant, criminally awful slice of pop music ever. You deserve to be tarred and feathered and drawn and quartered, but if you promise to never duplicate such god-awful horseshit ever again, I’ll let you fade into sad obscurity unharmed. You’re welcome.