Poison

June 2

According to Amazon.com (but against my better judgment), Poison has a new album out. It's called Hollyweird, and the cover features a naked woman with an enormous dragon tattoo astride a motorcycle, about to pull onto Hollyweird Boulevard, which apparently is a street that time forgot, since you can also see the band featured prominently on a billboard big enough to fit all four of their heads, hair included. Now, I have no idea what Hollyweird might sound like, nor do I really care--having just heard former Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee's new record (which includes a spectacularly mishandled version of David Bowie's "Fame" that Bowie must have vetted as an inside joke), I think I'm good for overhauled '80s hair-metal for a while. (Or maybe not overhauled: Poison's show Sunday at Smirnoff Music Centre will also include appearances by Cinderella, Winger and Faster Pussycat; unlike Lee, they can't have all upgraded from overproduced pop songs about naked women astride motorcycles to overproduced dirge-rock about naked women astride motorcycles. Can they?)

But there's something about Hollyweird's weird cover that's got me bookmarking Amazon: The naked woman is turned around on her motorcycle, staring back at us as we stare at her, only her eyes are hooded by this cowboy hat she's wearing (she's also got on leather boots, so I suppose she's not technically naked), meaning we can't really see her eyes, just the outline of the left one. In its inversion of hair-metal's central sensory experience it's maddening--we're not supposed to be examined back, and definitely not by a character who for all practical purposes doesn't even exist. This is exactly why alternative rock supplanted hair-metal and nü-metal is supplanting alt-rock, why the Papa Roach show the night before this one will entice a subculture of kids looking for louder, hairier versions of themselves while Poison will draw their older brothers and sisters in search of a funnier happy hour. Bret Michaels is screwing with the order of things, and it stings like the prettiest thorn.

 
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