Yeah, a bit of an ambiguous title going on here, but bear with us as all will become clear.
Besides which – and as your mum always told you – one man’s meat is another man’s poison, and that much tends to ring true even with regards to men’s hairstyles. Meaning, that what one of us might consider to be the coolest thing you’ve witnessed since Brother Beyond’s Nathan first blow-dried his fringe into the largest quiff this side of the 1950s, to another person said hairstyle would probably cause them recurrent nightmares. Or vice versa.
So we’re playing devil’s advocate here by pitching the perceived best against the (equally perceived) worst, and letting YOU, the people, decide. Not that we’re voting or owt. And trust us when we say we’re leaving no stone unturned in our countdown of what we believe to be the best/worst hairstyles of the 80s. Make no mistake, we’re taking on board representation from across the eclectic worlds of pop music, TV, film, cartoons, gaming and every other conceivable genre in-between, as we compile this (possibly) definitive compendium of hair-riffic greats of silver, small and pixilated screens.
We were, as you might imagine, spoilt for choice, when you cast your mind back to the decade that was the 1980s. A time and place largely forgotten by any sense of hairstyle. So to filter it down to 10 examples was a tough call. But we managed to achieve our goal (and no, before you ask, not a single 80s footballer made the final cut, astonishing as that may sound. Not even Chris Waddle), and there now follows the starkest advert for using more than the singular mirror before leaving the house in the morning.
10. Pat Sharp’s Mullet of Kintyre
He wasn’t alone (think Jason Donovan, et al), but his was, arguably the benchmark by which all rivals judged their mullets. A mullet’s mullet, the king of mullets, an absolute stinker. Call it what you want, DJ Sharp’s unique take on what passed as hair coverage certainly polarised opinion back in the day.
Mulleting things over
But never once did this deter the children’s ITV ‘Fun House’ presenter in his heroic quest to out-embarrass himself with recurrent aplomb. You have no choice other than to salute this level of mullet majesty, especially when competition in this field was so fierce.
Pat a boy! Now THAT’S what we call a mullet volume 88!
Looking for all its worth like a Davy Crockett trapper’s hat from afar, on closer inspection Pat Sharp’s crowning glory was in fact the real deal. At least four different hairstyles located on the one, TV-friendly head, Sharp’s mullet justifiably deserves being included in the pantheons of small screen history.
9. David Hasselhoff’s Bubble Perm
A man, a talking car and a perm to end all perms, David Hasselhoff was to 80s men’s hairstyles what footballer, Kevin Keegan had been the decade before. Undeterred by public ridicule, basically.
Fortunately for Dave, his chiselled looks ensured him safe passage from social exclusion to universal inclusion, yet it’s impossible to believe that without his strong masculine features he’d have been given such an easy ride.
The love it or loathe it perm seemed to have miraculously disappeared without trace a decade on, when ‘The Hoff’ reinvented himself as a Malibu beach lifeguard who had spent his time away from the limelight perfecting slo-motion running through tidelines.
8. Flocking Hell, Mate!
Ahh, the tragi-comic ‘style’ which singled out followers of 80s alt-band, Flock of Seagulls as someone a little bit different. Which was quite the achievement in its own right, given that almost EVERYONE in the 1980s rocked an acquired taste in the coiffure department.
“Something (incredibly embarrassing) for the weekend, sir?”
Beyond any form of logical description (other than ‘stupendous’), the forerunner to what we recognise today as the ‘Donald Trump’, the ‘flock’ was, essentially, a version of the back-comb which culminated in a sharp point somewhere in the region of the end of the wearer’s nose.
Beware, Flock of Seagulls Overhead!
Dark coloured underneath, the curled tip was bleached blonde, to afford the overall appearance (from above at least) as if the victim had been subjected to a sustained attack by the eponymous seagull in the immediate aftermath of a particularly volatile stomach upset. But then, that was the 80s for you.
7. Rick Astley’s Be Bop Quiff
Slick suit, slick dance moves, even slicker voice. So what better than a super slick short back and sides to complete the look of Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s latest rough diamond. Only slick Rick obviously didn’t wedding receive the memo, and chose to defy both team orders and gravity the moment he reached for the hairdryer and extra firm hold hair wax.
From be bop to Mmmm bop…..
Astley championed the sort of resolute quiff which Vanilla Ice could only dream of, and one which would win any fight with a hurricane. A few years after taking an early retirement from the music industry, Rick returned with a cry for help. Literally. Luscious long locks that would make Curt Steiger jealous. Only appearing like Hanson’s creep uncle, truth be told.
Haircut 100. OK, 50…
And yet again – and t’other side of 50 – fresh from being rolled, Rick returns with new material. And roughly the same haircut, give or take the degree of be-quiffery. And more than that, he’s cool. So cool he’s shared a stage with Dave Grohl AND, er, Kylie Minogue in recent years.
6. Robert Smith’s Explosion in a Bed Factory
Achieving that ‘just got up’ look all day, every day was clearly the mantra by which The Cure’s instantly recognizable frontman led his (let’s face it, less than) coiffured life.
Friday (haircut), NEVER on his mind
A charismatic indie-rock talisman with a tendency to wear his (dark) heart on his sleeve, Smith also had a predilection for wearing something tantamount to a massive Brillo pad on his head.
Smith’s angst-y ‘do’ was as far removed from a Bob as could be
The sort of hair which generated its very own micro-climate and possible spawned its own eco-system, such was its acknowledged acreage and perceived life of its own. Often copied, yet never bettered, Smith’s barnet was the stuff of 80s legend.
5. Is This Love? Well, Probably Not With a Pompadour of That Magnitude, Dave
For Whitesnake read pretty much ANY soft rock stars of the 1980s, as culprits were to be found at every turn. Slash (from Guns n Roses), Poison, Motley Crue, Skid Row, Van Halen, KISS, Aerosmith.
Hair we go again now on our own
A roll call of vast hair which if joined together could carpet Buckingham Palace several times over. But found at the head of the queue, Whitesnake ruled supreme in our book. Lead singer, David Coverdale’s damp Spaniel hair do was simply beyond compare.
The mane man!
Cascading, tousled locks which could protect three generation of one family from the ravages of the weather courtesy of its charitable distribution, Coverdale’s look was nothing if not bold. Bold by 80s standards, nevermind historically hairy ones.
4. Limahl’s Description-defying Shag
Where do we start with this one? We dread to think just what he asked the hairstylist for when he darkened their door back in the 80s, but the upshot defies any description. And rest assured, we have an extensive vocabulary from which to plunder; yet still nothing.
Sadly he wasn’t too shy to brave this look
Part mullet, part fringe, part Victorian Freakshow, the Kajagoogoo frontman’s hairstyle was difficult to even parody in the 80s; which was saying something when you peruse his closest rivals in the ‘flow’ stakes.
Hit Man and Her-era Michaela Strachan, is that you??
The sheer volume of hair products it required to maintain its optical illusion-like qualities would probably be on par with a central American country, and you’d need to be a more than casual user of Columbia’s biggest export to think you could carry it off.
3. He-Man Masters the Universe, But Doesn’t Quite Get to Grips With His Hair
Admittedly he might be the Master of the Universe, but that’s no excuse for a short bob in anyone’s book. And quite how he-managed to bag She-Ra is anyone’s guess.
Still, it could have been worse. He might have had a Greyskull…
Yes, he’s got bulging biceps, rippling pecs, a notoriously short temper and routinely ride a gigantic tiger or something, but that alone didn’t stop detractors lining up to take a pop at He-Man’s ludicrous ‘man bob’. Not that it hindered him in the dating game.
The second worst hero hairstyle after Thor…
Having said that, the opposite sex were powerless to fall under He-Man’s spell as he went about his business of foiling his tricky nemesis, Skeletor. Both of whom relived their past glories in a recent TV ad for a price comparison website. But the less said about that the better.
2. Ballsy ‘Do’ From Streetfighting Legend, Blanka
Even video games didn’t escape the sporadic case of tragic hairstyles, and if evidence was ever needed then look no further than Blanka from hugely popular beat ‘em up arcade game, Streetfighter.
When orange ISN’T the new black
Looking like a cross between a Troll and the Incredible Hulk, this hands on fighter had a shock of flame-haired, er, hair, which grew in a peculiar backwards fashion. As though he spent a lot of time stood in a wind tunnel.
A hairstyle that is destined to always draw Blankas….
Not that you’d tell him that, as Blanka was proper hard and not the sort of chap you’d go out of your way to get on the wrong side of. Not unless your hand-to-eye coordination meant you could hit those keys on the arcade machine at a speed of knots that is.
1. Guile’s Futuristic Flat-top was Street(figher)’s Ahead of its Time
Imagine Dolph Lungren’s ‘do’ in Rocky III, but even more preposterous looking and you’re on the right track here. Guile’s flat-top was a sight to behold. Behold your beer on especially, as there was absolutely zero chance of spillage on a platform THAT untroubled by slopes.
A hairstyle that punches above ANY weight
Going back to Rocky III though and even the fearsome Ivan Drago would know to quit when he was ahead and not take this variation of a flat-top theme to such exaggerated levels.
A head for heights. And pint glasses…..
Effectively the ‘mother of all flat-top haircuts’, we could guarantee that were you to rest a spirit level atop it, then everything would line up. And if not, you’d quickly get yourself back down to B&Q and demand a full refund on your purchase.
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