With the benefit of hindsight, it's clear that W.A.S.P. were a fish out of water among L.A. bands of their generation. Too heavy and ugly for glam, and not fast or inaccessible enough for thrash, the quartet still somehow walked a tightrope to unlikely stardom with forceful metal anthems and an outrageous ‘80s update of ‘70s shock-rock tactics. Credit charismatic leader Blackie Lawless -- a short-term New York Doll, Killer Kane co-founder and bandmate of Nikki Sixx in the seminal L.A. metal band London -- and a loyal fan base who already knows these tracks by heart. Join us as we celebrate the Top 10 W.A.S.P. Songs:
'Thunder Red' From: 'Babylon' (2009)
If you thought our Top 10 W.A.S.P. Songs list would be a traipse down ancient memory lane, think again. Lawless and his minions are still going strong, churning out reliably powerful and provocative heavy metal albums like ‘Babylon,’ an album loaded with tasty cuts like the standout ‘Thunder Red.’
'The Headless Children' From: 'The Headless Children' (1989)
Facing something of a critical backlash and commendably looking to mature, W.A.S.P. ventured into less blatantly sexual, more thought-provoking material on ‘The Headless Children,’ which became a favorite among die-hard fans while yielding this memorable title track.
'U' From: 'Kill, F—k, Die' (1997)
Arguably the most venomous, pissed-off song in W.A.S.P.’s long and controversial career (and that’s saying something), the economically titled ‘U’ comes to us courtesy of the indicatively named ‘Kill, F—k, Die,’ album. Here, Blackie’s bunch briefly entertaining industrial music flavors, but losing none of their caustic shock-rock bite in the process.
'Wild Child' From: 'The Last Command' (1985)
One of W.A.S.P.’s signature tunes, ‘Wild Child’ kicked off the band’s breakthrough sophomore album with a surprisingly tempered, mid-paced groove and improbably catchy melodic embellishments. Of course, this was nothing that a typically over-the-top-music video, complete with fast bikes, freaky babes, and setting the desert on fire couldn’t spice up.
'Animal (‘F—k Like a Beast)'From: Single (1984)
Undoubtedly the most notorious song of W.A.S.P.’s career, ‘Animal’ was allegedly dropped from the band’s debut album at the 11th hour, and subsequently released only as a mail-order single. But you’d think it was always there, for all the press chatter it encouraged as an unavoidable interview topic — and as a favorite target of the PMRC’s famous crusade against explicit lyrics.
'9.5.-N.A.S.T.Y.' From: 'Inside the Electric Circus' (1986)
The tried-and-true W.A.S.P. formula was definitely starting to wear a little thin by the release of their third LP in three years. But, hey, that never hurt AC/DC or Motorhead. Still, their tribute to phone sex combined all of this band’s key strengths (thunderous power chords, howling choruses, and sexual depravity) as well as anything in their catalog.
'Jack Action' From: 'The Last Command' (1985)
If not for its brazenly perverted subject matter (well, we don’t know for sure, but we can guess), the incredibly infectious ‘Jack Action’ had all the makings of a massive hit single for W.A.S.P. But, perhaps due to the controversy surrounding them at the time, there were no singles issued from 'The Last Command.' Regardless, the album reached No. 47 on the Billboard 200, and went platinum.
'L.O.V.E. Machine' From: 'W.A.S.P.' (1984)
After several years devoted to painstakingly fine-tuning their formula through trial and error (anyone remember Circus Circus?), W.A.S.P. had compiled enough top-shelf material to make an absolute juggernaut of their 1984 debut. And arguably none of its songs married the band’s wanton power and anthemic hooks as effectively as ‘L.O.V.E. Machine’ — the first in a long series of acronym tunes for fans to dissect in search of deeper meaning, even though there wasn’t any.
'Blind in Texas'From: 'The Last Command' (1985)
Thirty years later, W.A.S.P.’s biggest hit, ‘Blind in Texas,’ and its accompanying music video have lost none of their absurd but irresistible charm. Heck, the song’s vast catalog of Lone Star State hi-jinx is amusing enough. But this clip’s intentionally corny Old West cliches take everything to the next level of ‘80s excess.
'I Wanna Be Somebody' From: 'W.A.S.P.' (1984)
Our apologies if this is, in any way, a predictable finish for our list of Top 10 W.A.S.P. Songs. But the band’s buzz saw-wielding, raw meat-tossing and, oh yeah, head-banging career never got any better than this boisterous and irrepressible album-opening statement of intent. Indeed, you’d be hard pressed to find another rock and roll paean to do-or-die ambition that's more direct, urgent and earnest as ‘I Wanna Be Somebody,’ with its promise to “live in fame and die in flames” instead of growing old.