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Of all the limp-dicked, glam/hair/pop rock bands that made it huge in the 80’s, Def Leppard is easily the least bearable. Their sugary sweet stadium rock anthems are still floundering around on mainstream rock radio play lists, much to the chagrin of everyone that has to hear them. Hysteria is their flagship album: over half of it has garnered radio airplay and it achieved multi-platinum status fairly easily. But popularity never entails quality, as albums like this only reinforce.
That said, I agree completely with PriestofSadWings. Think of all the great ‘87 albums that were commercially ignored while this travesty went and sold a billion copies. All the songs are formulated for mainstream acceptance so it won’t take an astute listener to clearly hear that all the songs share similar characteristics: a noticeable lack of riffage, fairly standard song structures, an overabundance of all-too-eager-to-be-catchy vocal lines, and lyrics that flat out suck. This album is also notable as the first Leppard album where singer Joe Elliot really gets to be unlistenable. His voice is wispy and irritating and listening to the whole album in one sitting is a challenge because of it. And don't let the thought cross your mind that the music might make up for it. The guitars, bass included, provide the absolute bare minimum in riffage, only played to highlight the sucky vocals. Say what you will about hair bands like Winger and Extreme, at least there was some fancy guitar work interspersed with the cheesiness. And speaking of cheese, there’s more than enough for a small town’s ration. Terrible synthesized effects on the vocals combined with lots of backing-vocal-only intros only add to this album’s unpleasantness.
The only songs I don’t mind are “Rocket” and “Animal,” surprisingly because of their respective vocal melodies, possibly made tolerable from years of being pounded in my head through radio play. But no amount of airplay will ever justify unbelievably cheesy yet beloved songs like “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and shitty ballads like “Love Bites,” the former being one of the most notoriously bad songs I’ve ever heard while the latter pretty much ruined the Judas Priest song of the same name, for me anyway. The other songs range from that bad to mediocre, starting off with some rock-worthy riffs before following suit with the rest of the album.
If you have a soft spot for 80’s pop rock or are a big fan of Def Leppard, you’re among the only people I can recommend this to. There’s not a trace of metal on here, nor is there a hell of a lot of integrity. The only real highlight is that it’s not nearly as bad as the albums that would follow it; not much of a saving grace in anyone's book.