Top 10 Twisted Sister Songs
Like many other metal bands of the '80s, Twisted Sister experienced a meteoric rise to stardom and subsequent fall from grace. A difference was that theirs was even faster than most, and largely fueled by overexposure instead of the eventual shift in musical trends that felled virtually all of their peers by decade's end. This was a particularly cruel fate for a band that put in nearly a decade, fighting tooth and nail, before earning their shot to break through, as evidenced by their incomparable live performances. But the longview of rock history has thankfully seen fit to repay Twisted Sister. The New York quintet fronted by Dee Snider is remembered by fans whose formative musical tastes they affected (and whose minds they welcomely warped), and thus it is our pleasure to choose the Top 10 Twisted Sister Songs.
We begin our list of Top 10 Twisted Sister Songs with the standout title track from their final album of the '80s. By then, the band’s unintentional overexposure had seen their fourth LP Come Out and Play pilloried by the hard rock press. So, the evidently pessimistic Love is for Suckers saw them go out on a cynical but undoubtedly powerful note.
Only four years earlier, Twisted Sister stood on the brink of breaking through, thanks to a rock solid sophomore LP filled with all killer and no filler. So much so that we’d feel comfortable placing any number of You Can’t Stop Rock ’n’ Roll tunes here ("The Kids are Back," "Like a Knife in the Back," etc.), but we’ll go with the rousing biker anthem "Ride to Live, Live to Ride." Like the title said, no one could stop them now.
That road to success — after nearly a decade struggling in vain for recognition in the U.S. — didn’t look anywhere near as certain just one year prior, though, when Twisted Sister unleashed their tough-as-nails debut album, Under the Blade, through the tiny British independent label Secret Records. But everything turned out in the end, as we know, thanks to unstoppable head-bangers like "Sin After Sin."
For all the pop hits on Stay Hungry, Twisted Sister could also do straightforward metal as well as anybody of the day. The massive "Burn in Hell" starts off in Alice Cooper slow-burn territory before shifting into a thunderous riff worthy of Judas Priest. Twisted Sister also showed they weren’t above mocking themselves when they performed this song in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.
Twisted Sister’s roots dated all the way back to 1972, so as they stared down the end of the ‘70s without any kind of record deal to show for their efforts, they decided to record and release a single on their own. This became the defiant, Alice Cooper-influenced "I’ll Never Grow Up, Now," which marked their adoption of a heavier sound and foreshadowed the direction that would finally reward all Twisted Sister's work.
Another absolutely storming cut from Under the Blade, the album’s opener welcomed (mostly) European audiences to Twisted Sister’s clever penchant for menacing double entendres wrapped in jaw-busting riffs and infectious hooks. Of course, it was precisely this dichotomy — pitting the band’s scary/friendly qualities (the glam makeup and colorful outfits vs. their heavy music and ugly mugs) against one another — that would soon appeal to so many.
After all the years of trial and error in the ‘70s, plus the baby steps taken in the early-‘80s, Twisted Sister finally found the “golden formula” for commercial success with their platinum-selling third album, Stay Hungry. Here, typically powerful TS hard rockers like "Burn in Hell," "Street Justice" and "S.M.F." made room for irresistible Snider-penned singles like "I Wanna Rock," which also benefited from an unforgettable music video to wind its way into fans’ hearts.
Remorselessly heavy, unnerving in the extreme, and rawer than sushi, the title cut from Twisted Sister’s first full-length was a far cry from the comparatively PG-13-rated melodic rockers that would cross the band over to the mainstream just a couple of years later. Yet, ironically, when the song later came under fire for allegedly promoting violence and sadomasochism, Dee Snider admitted its lyrics actually referred to a friend who underwent a routine operation.
Although it was essentially a test drive for Twisted Sister’s imminent breakthrough in most every way (the metal with melody, the visual duality between denim and spandex — not to mention the self-effacing music video), the title track to the quintet’s sophomore album is a force of nature in its own right, and a categorical ‘80s hard rock classic, if you ask us.
And finally, there’s no other song fit to own the No. 1 spot in our list of Top 10 Twisted Sister Songs than the band’s certified smash hit anthem, ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It.’ Its rebellious message landed the song on the P.M.R.C.’s infamous “Filthy Fifteen,” which alone would be enough to remind us of Twisted Sister’s significant musical impact upon the 1980s, but thankfully we can count on their music as well.