Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I grew up on the hairspray songs of the late ’80s/early ’90s. While I am pretty much constantly harassed for liking this music (and I should really say I’m harassed for admitting I like this music because you all know you secretly like it too), I remain devoted to my monster ballads.
So while I was home all sickly one Friday night, I started thinking, “How cool would it be if people started writing these songs again?” While this may have been the fever talking, I will nevertheless be your guide on how you can write your own hairspray song. Come on, you know you want to. Think of it now: the fame, the glory, the hair, the downward spiral leading to a beer gut and rehab. Really, who could resist?
After much in-depth research, here’s what you need to know about composing your monster ballad.
1) Come up with a subject. Here’s a hint: A monster ballad 99.9% the time is about a girl.
2) Now that you’ve got your topic, begin writing your lyrics. Make sure that they involve torture and heartache. This is deep stuff you’re talking about here. You either want to repair your damaged relationship with a girl or get her to get with you instead of going back to her abusive, trashy ex (in a rival hairspray band, incidentally). Make sure you talk about her eyes, her smile, her hair, or make some reference to her oh-so-unique hotness that ends up sounding really generic by the time it gets into your song, so that it will end up wowing all the fans you’ll be cheating on aforementioned girl with once you hit it big.
3) Follow this formula. You must make your lyrics fit into this structure, as it is tried and true, and without it, you just won’t have a monster ballad.
a) Open your song with a bare instrumental melody, something that’s pretty catchy when you whistle it. Heck, you could even whistle it (just think of “Wind of Change” by the Scorpions). Or skip this part and go right into…
b) Your first verse, which should be kind of mellow. You have to get the ladies all roped in by your sensitive side. This portion should be light on the music; you’re going to need to reserve your energy for the choruses, after all.
c) Maybe you have a second verse. If you do, it should be the same melody as the first. Any variations should be slight, like singing a different note at the end of the line or adding a harmonizing voice on every other line. Again, you’re saving yourself for…
d) The pre-chorus. You may or may not have this. If you do, it requires an electric guitar takeover, because you’re building up to your…
e) Rockin’ chorus. This is where you’re going to lay it all out. Bust out your backup vocals, your singing partner’s vocals, harmonies, etc. It’s also time for any instruments we haven’t heard yet to come out of hiding. Sing — or even scream — this stuff with emotion. We’re talking love, and love is pain, damn it!
f) Now you’re going to slow it down for either a second set of verses or a bridge. Whatever your choice is, you’re not going to take it back down to the quietude of the first set(s) of verses or the pre-chorus. You’ve said it once; you’re getting ready to say it again. Think of it this way: Everything before the chorus was the contents of a bottle of Wild Turkey. Now that you’ve drunk the whole thing and gotten all abusive on your instruments with the chorus, you’re ready for round two. You don’t go back to stone-cold sober, though you may be feeling your buzz fading or a vomit spell coming on. (And yes, it is a good sign if you’re used to this level of intoxication; you’re just bringing yourself closer to the big time!)
g) You’re ready for your second chorus. You’re still still rocking, but not as much as you will after that…
h) Mean electric guitar solo. Actually, you’re not Metallica or Megadeth, so the only people who are going to be impressed by it are chicks. But hey, that’s who this is all for, right?
i) Third chorus. Here’s where you get freaky on it. You’re busting out all that emotion again, but this time, the background vocals get more epic, there are more harmonies, or there’s even — wait for it — a key change! That’ll really throw ’em off!
j) You’re ready to end your song. You’ve rocked out with your sock out, and you’re ready to remind us that this was, in fact, all about the sensitive emotions you were feeling, so you’re going to break it back down to that instrumental opening and tell us your song’s title again, just so we don’t forget. Because if we try to google your song and can’t remember those last lyrics, the other lyrics you wrote that are common to at least 10 other hairspray songs will come up, and some other band might get all the play you worked so hard for.
4) Side note: Make sure you get yourself a Hairspray Rocker’s Enunciation Dictionary. You must always sing certain words a certain way in a monster ballad. Examples: never = nevah, all = aw-ul, babe = bay-eb, baby = bay-bay.
5) Now start growing your hair, learn how to play electric guitar, buy some guyliner, and get ready to rock!
This blog was brought to you by the following monster ballads: “Heaven” by Warrant, “Give Me Something to Believe in” by Poison, “High Enough” by Damn Yankees, “To Be with You” by Mr. Big, “More Than Words” by Extreme, “Wind of Change” by the Scorpions, “Never Let You Go (Angel Eyes)” by Steelheart, “When I See You Smile” by Bad English, “When I’m with You” by Sheriff, “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi, and many more.