Two of the greatest things on earth are epic ’80s arena rock songs and fantasy drafts. That’s why we decided to combine the two. The Mandatory staff as well as a few editors from other sites got together to draft our favorite 1980s hard rock “teams” using a fantasy sports-style snake draft. (If you’re not familiar, a snake draft goes from pick 1-8, and then 8-1, so the 8th team gets back-to-back picks before the draft makes its way back to the first pick.)
We randomly selected the draft order out of a hat and Max got the first pick. Check out the chart to see how our 1980s Hard Rock Song Fantasy Draft turned out, then read each participant’s analysis (read: trash talking) below it. We also want your opinion: Tell us who picked the best and worst team in the comments.
Max Miller, Mandatory.com
Draft Summary: The first pick of the draft is a blessing and a curse. I just narrowed it down to three and went with the one whose opening riff made the hair on my arm stand up the fastest. And I think tying it off with the only Yngwie Malmsteen song on the board was huge. He really forced a lot of the guitarists on this list to step up their already incredible games. Also, I realize I have a lot of Metallica on my team. In retrospect, I probably let my heart make some picks instead of my brain, but looking back on my team, I don’t regret it at all. Every single one of those songs deserves to be on this board. Honestly, it was hard for me to only pick four Metallica songs. I will forever hate Gary more than I already do for nabbing “One” right before me. I had planned on more variety, but as drafts go, a lot of the songs I wanted on my team were drafted before my turn came again. I’m happy with how my team turned out though. I made a mix of my picks and listened to it all weekend long. I suggest you do the same. It won’t disappoint.
Steal of the Draft: While it’s nowhere near the hardest rock song of the bunch – in fact, the majority of it is rapping – I think Cory landing “Epic” in the 8th round was huge. I had that song on my list from the beginning and I kept putting it off because I thought it might not qualify. I was hoping to just give it a shot within the last two rounds because I assumed that everyone thought the song came out the ’90s. But that Faith No More album was released at our cutoff of 1989. So when Cory took it, I knew I’d end up with another Metallica song on my team.
Reach of the Draft: This one has to go to Burhmester. If you look at that first round of songs, which one is the most out of place? Bon Jovi doesn’t deserve to go head to head with those beasts. And even if I let that one go … the Sam Kinison “Wild Thing” cover?! A singing comedian on a hard rock list. I’m worried if this thing went on for any more rounds, Eddie Murphy’s “Party All the Time” might’ve ended up on there too.
Best Team: It’s hard to pick a favorite because nobody else has nearly enough Metallica on their team, but if I had to pick I’d have to go with Gary. While I’m not a fan of all of his picks, any team whose two superstars are an AC/DC song and a Metallica song is fine by me.
Worst Team: Rob’s picks make me cringe and I feel like he was just reading the back of an old karaoke LaserDisc he had laying around. But I know if I was drunk at a bar, I would sing most of those songs until my throat was torn up, so he gets a pass. That being said, I think my “reach of the draft” rant says it all.
Gary Dudak, Mandatory.com
Draft Summary: First and foremost, this was fun as hell. As a fresh-faced 31-year-old, I was the youngest beefcake in this draft, so I was a little worried coming in that the older guys would have an edge on me in ’80s rock knowledge. But then I remembered that I am a hard rocker through and through; I was raised that way by my old man, and a lot of my favorite hard rock songs are from the ’80s. I have probably not listened to an album more than AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” so taking the title track from that was a no-brainer to kick off with. After that, I just wanted to build the best possible hard rock playlist that is full of hits, but also fun and pleasing to my ears. So, grabbing my personal favorites from huge bands like AC/DC, Metallica, Judas Priest and Def Leppard made me very happy. Also, I am not a big glam metal guy, but I do enjoy some hits from that era, so I felt it was essential to pick and choose my spots with those songs to get the best value. I feel like I succeeded there, especially in rounds 9 and 10. Finally, if you break the draft into thirds, I believe my resume tops the field. My first four songs can’t be beat. My selections in rounds 5-8 are solid, and my final four songs complement my team nicely. I took a lot of shit for my Aerosmith pick in round 11, but I don’t give a rat’s ass. When I was 12, all the kids my age had the Aerosmith “Big Ones” album, and “Love in an Elevator” is a great jam. And just in case this made everyone question my hard rock heart, I closed the deal with a final AC/DC classic.
Steal of the Draft: I was really hoping that the super badass “Ace of Spades” would get back to me in round 2, and that the other idiots would keep taking Bon Jovi trash, but no such luck. Cory snagged it, and it was a great pick. As for late round steals, I really like Burns’ “Poison” by Alice Cooper selection in round 12, and Paul getting “Once Bitten Twice Shy” a pick later is solid, even if it came after us objecting to him trying to get a ’90s GNR song on his team illegally.
Reach of the Draft: If you’re going to try to be cool and take a popular ’90s hard rock band that happened to have a few singles in the late ’80s, save it for the last couple rounds. And it should probably be a song that’s actually good. Sellers’ choice of “Flower” by Soundgarden in round 7 is the definition of reaching, and it puts a blemish on an otherwise pretty good team. A close second is Buhrmester’s “Wild Thing” by Sam Kinison pick in round 10. If this was a 25-round draft, then maybe it could have belonged in the last round, but it has no business being here.
Best Team: I’ve made a pretty clear case that mine is superior, but it’s only fair I take myself out of the equation and name the best of the rest. I like the heaviness of Max’s team, but there’s excess Metallica and that’s boring. Both Rob and Paul’s teams also have a bad mix of being too reliant on one band and not meshing well overall. John and Ashley’s teams are both appealing to me, but have a couple weak spots. That leaves Cory’s team and Jason’s team. I feel like one of them is the best, and one of them is the worst.
Worst Team: Buhrmester’s.
Rob Fee, Mandatory.com and @RobFee
Draft summary: If you think of hard rock in the ’80s, what’s the first band that comes to mind? AC/DC, obviously. My strategy was to load up on AC/DC songs, which was easy when Van Halen songs were flying off the shelf in the first three rounds. Imagine taking a Van Halen song in the first round. Can you even fathom that thought? I went a little more mainstream with my picks because those are guaranteed points. It’s like if you’re doing a fantasy football draft and you can either take Frank Gore or a new rookie that could be a huge superstar. You could gamble and go with the unknown, or you could go with the guaranteed solid points. I’m just glad I was able to get the best Rush song, “YYZ,” in the 9th round and then one of the most amazing Iron Maiden songs, “Run to the Hills,” in the 10th. That’s like Peyton Manning being taken after Joe Flacco.
Steal of the draft: The best sleeper pick has to go to Paul for getting “Cult of Personality” in the seventh round. It’s fantastic and I can’t believe it slipped that low. Unfortunately Paul made nothing but terrible choices for the rest of the draft so it sort of negates anything positive he might have done.
Reach of the draft: I would think that Gary took Def Leppard’s “Photograph” way too high. That wasn’t even near my radar so it felt like taking a kicker in the 6th round. He did get “Dr. Feelgood” in the 10th, so that takes a little of the sting away, but taking Aerosmith’s “Love in an Elevator” in the 11th is definitely the biggest reach. Anyone that has a face like Steven Tyler doesn’t need to be anywhere near this list.
Best team: John had a solid draft from top to bottom including picking up Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” in the sixth round. That’s going to be a tough team to beat, but I feel confident.
Worst team: Who listens to “Love in an Elevator?” No one, except for Gary.
Cory Jones, Mandatory.com
Draft Summary: Going into the draft, my goal was to put together an epic playlist that had a diverse mix of big rockers, a couple ballads and a few underrated gems you may have forgotten. On the upside, I was really surprised that “Ace of Spades” fell to me in the second round and I think everyone forgot about “Wanted Dead or Alive” which I was able to draft in the criminally-late 10th round. Sellers IM’d me that I just took the equivalent of Robinson Cano in the third to last round after making that pick, which is always a good sign. My one regret is probably taking “Battery” instead of “Rocket Queen” in the ninth round. I hadn’t taken any Metallica yet and I think I jumped the gun.
Steal of the Draft: Everyone thinks their draft is always the best, but let’s be honest, “Ace of Spades” could have easily gone in the first round. Top five, even. For a pick that’s not on my team, I’d have to give the nod to Gary’s snagging of “Unchained” in the third round. I honestly considered it over “Panama” for my first pick. That riff is epic.
Reach of the Draft: Buhrmester is either an idiot or a sorority girl (possibly both?) for picking “You Give Love A Bad Name” in the first round. Bon Jovi? Really? When “Crazy Train,” “Ace of Spades” and a few GNR heavy hitters are still there? Blasphemy.
Best Team: I think my team is the best because I’m a wonderful person and it’s the perfect mix of huge hits and underrated classics (seriously, go listen to “Red Hot” and “You’re in Love” if you haven’t heard them in a while). But if I couldn’t pick myself, it’s tough. Sellers started strong but faded after “Tom Sawyer.” Gary blew any chance of having the best team with his “Love in an Elevator” selection. Ashley had a good team, but Krokus left me scratching my head. I’m guessing Rob’s mom commandeered his draft and took “Jukebox Hero” while Max essentially selected the first half of Metallica’s career, which isn’t a bad thing, but four songs from the same band in a 12-team draft is two too many for a diverse squad. So I guess I’d grudgingly give the nod to Paul despite his “Pour Some Sugar on Me” second round pick. “Here I Go Again” and “Rocket Queen” were both great late round values.
Worst Team: Burhmester picked Sam Kinison’s version of “Wild Thing.” I can’t even begin to explain how unacceptable that is. (Do I even need to?)
Jason Buhrmester, Playboy
Draft Summary: I slept in the parking lot behind Rainbow Bar & Grill for three straight nights to prep for this draft and came into Round One red-eyed, draped in fringe and reeking of vodka. By then my draft strategy had focused into a singular goal: to resurrect the vibe of the Cathouse, LA’s most notorious nightclub and birthplace of hair metal statesman Riki Rachtman. Every song would celebrate the sleaze and decadence of the era, from WASP’s “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)” to Motley Crue’s “Girls, Girls, Girls.” These were songs about the joy of sex, the joy of cocaine and the joy of having sex while on cocaine. Sure, I stumbled out of the gate with Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” but I recovered triumphantly with killer tracks such as Skid Row’s “Youth Gone Wild”, LA Guns “The Ballad of Jayne” and my coup de grace: Sam Kinison’s “Wild Thing.” (No other song from the glory days of hair metal did a better job of capturing the vibe – and Jessica Hahn – in a cage.) By this point, my playlist was OD’d and left for dead in the alley just like I wanted it.
Steal of the Draft: Someone must have been huffing Aquanet to let Motley Crue’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” fall to the third round. This song is playing right now to a tight crew of Staples workers enjoying their lunch break at Crazy Horse.
Reach of the Draft: I gave this entire draft a bad name by taking “You Give Love a Bad Name” in the first round.
Best Team: My team is is a non-stop party of killer tunes programmed tighter than Day-Glo spandex. Second would have to be Ashley’s list. G’n’R, Crue, Scorpions and Lita Ford is a party I totally want to go to and not remember any of the next day. Plus, like me, he smartly cut any thrash metal out of the equation. If you want to hang out with a bunch of smelly, white dudes go ahead but we came to party.
Worst team: I once rear-ended someone in my ’86 Chevy Cavalier while head-banging and my cassette tapes all dumped out on the floor. That’s what Paul’s list looks like. Metallica next to Living Color. Bon Jovi next to Slayer. It’s like you asked your mom to program a Pandora station for “metal.”
Paul Ulane, Mandatory.com
Draft summary: For starters, I am the #1 Guns N’ Roses fan in the entire universe and everyone in the office knows it. Since I work with a bunch of dicks, it was clear from the get go that the rest of the staff would go out of their way to cherry pick my favorite songs of all time out from under me. With that in mind, I chose to embrace what ’80s hard rock was all about: rocking out with your cock out. I kicked things off with the greatest first track on any album ever: “Welcome to the Jungle.” After that, it’s non-stop party rock with a couple of deep cuts thrown in to add a little edge to the proceedings. Do me a favor and play “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Here I Go Again” and “Bad Medicine” right now and when they get to the chorus, try not to sing along. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Raining Blood” add some heaviness to balance out the hairspray. There’s time to unwind (or take a bathroom break – hey, I’m realistic) with “Home Sweet Home” and I got good, alternative mid-round value with “Cult of Personality.” If you want to sit alone in your basement and obsess over the album liner notes, go ahead and take one of those other nerdy teams. If you want to crank a couple of beers and rock your balls off, you come with me and let’s bang through the greatest collection of hard rock songs from the 1980s ever assembled. And who knows? Tawny Kitaen might even show up.*
* Not really. She has a restraining order against me.
Steal of the draft: For me personally, “Raining Blood” in the 11th round is the Tom Brady pick of this draft. As for the others, while most of Rob Fee’s team looks like it was drafted by a confused toddler, I have to give him credit for landing “For Those About to Rock” so late in the proceedings. I feel like that’s an iconic track that was somehow overlooked by the rest of us until he snatched it up in round 5.
Reach of the draft: Lord, hear our prayer. Dear Lord, would you please take it upon yourself at some point in the near future to bless our good friend Gary Dudak with the tiniest sliver, even just one single ounce, of musical taste? If you could, it would be the first time anything even resembling musical knowledge enters his body and I think it could save him from the tragic life he is currently living. Taking “Love in an Elevator” in the 11th round of a 12 round draft is unacceptable. Taking “Love in an Elevator” in the 300th round of a 12th-round draft is unacceptable. May God have mercy on Gary’s tone deaf soul.
Best team: Um, did you read my draft summary? My team is far superior to all of these other losers who went with personal favorites and B-sides. I am the greatest. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at some other teams. Max made a Metallica mix tape – which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just not what we were supposed to do in this exercise. You already know how I feel about Gary. Rob’s playlist is certainly eclectic (and I’ll leave it at that). I think I like Cory’s team the most out of non-me teams – the first half rocks, although the second half of his team falls off pretty hard in the final three rounds. Burhmester we’ll get to in a second. Ashley’s team is closest to mine when it comes to pure party jams, while Sellers’ team skews a little old (which is weird, because we were all picking from the same era).
Worst team: Since I am such a positive person and I care about and respect the other participants in this draft so very much, this is a tough one. But the rules state that I must choose a worst team, so I’m going with Jason’s team for this category. There’s the abomination of wasting a first round pick on the most overplayed and embarrassing song of the decade; he also chose Van Halen’s most famous keyboard riff; and let’s not even get started on choosing a song off of “Permanent Vacation.” Burhmester’s track list spits in the heavily made-up face of everything that ’80s hard rock represents. Shame on you, Jason.
Ashley Burns, Uproxx.com
Draft Summary: My fantasy football strategy has always been to write down a list of players that I expect to be there when I make my first pick in order of what I want, and to take the best one when it’s my turn. The exception, of course, is when someone that should be gone drops to me and I obviously take him. That’s what happened with “Paradise City.” I thought that would be a Top 3 pick for sure, so I feel like I got huge value coming out of the gates. Several of the guys doubled down on certain bands, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, my goal was a mix tape that would blow the doors off my T-top Trans Am as I raised a middle finger to the principal while driving off with his smoking hot daughter on my lap. I feel like I did just that. (Except for the driving off with a smoking hot babe on my lap in a Trans Am, because distracted driving is dangerous and a sports car at my age is a waste of money.)
Steal of the Draft: For me? “Holy Diver” in the fourth round was pretty rad, but I have to tip my double-necked guitar (pronounced “GEE-TAH!”) to Gary for grabbing “Dr. Feelgood” in Round 10. Considering I chose between “Dr. Feelgood” and “Kickstart My Heart” for my second round pick, that’s monster value right there.
Reach of the Draft: Probably me with “Kickstart My Heart,” but that’s my top ’80s rock song, so I had to be a homer and make sure I got my jam. I also considered “Girls, Girls, Girls,” but with the best AC/DC songs off the board and a GNR classic in my pocket, I wanted an anthem. Otherwise, I thought “Sweet Child o’ Mine” was a questionable top pick, and “You Give Love a Bad Name” is a fourth rounder at best.
Best Team: If I’m judging by which team put together a list of songs that I can listen to in a row, I think I’m in the Top 3. But I think that Gary’s team will set a proper party off, especially while bookended by two great AC/DC classics. Paul’s team would round out my Top 3, in no specific order. I’d also like to point out that if it comes down to a vote, I’m the only guy who took a female artist. Ain’t too proud to pander.
Worst Team: It’s not nice to call someone the worst, but when the f*ck has rock n’ roll ever been nice? *smashes guitar on the ground, apologizes to whoever’s guitar it was* While I thought Danzig’s “Mother” was an awesome pick, I can’t get behind a list that has Rush on it. So I’ve gotta slap the “worst” label on John’s team.
John Sellers, NYMag.com
Draft summary: My main strategy involved not taking anything by Winger, because I needed closure on 25 years of self-hatred resulting from having once told friends, “Um, Winger’s ‘Seventeen’? Best song of all time.” Luckily, I succeeded in that. In general, I’m thrilled with my squad, with its mix of arena rockers, less-heralded scorchers, and then whatever “The Final Countdown” is. Given how many amazing rock songs were left on the draft room floor – “Foolin'” by Def Leppard, “Fools” by Van Halen, the entire amazing first Motley Crue album – I probably could have done something better with that last pick, but then how else would I score my next magic show?
Steal of the Draft: I am surprised “Wanted (Dead or Alive)” stuck around until the 10th round. And “No One Like You” by the Scorpions deserved better than round five; that shit gets better every time I listen to it. But come on, it’s “Tom Sawyer.” I got the greatest song every written for Canadian peanuts.
Reach of the Draft: I’ll admit to having jumped the gun on Danzig’s “Mother”; I imagine it would have been available for me a few rounds later, and I could have used my third pick to select “Holy Diver” instead. But the reach of the draft is clearly “Jukebox Hero.” Even if our draft had gone 50 rounds, I wouldn’t have imagined that one being selected.
Best team: Well, considering that I have the best songs, the coolest songs, the most amazing songs, the greatest guitar solos, the kick-ass-iest drummers, the most eclectic mix, the Arrested Development quotient locked down, and bands comprised of members born in six different countries (the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Sweden, Cuba and the Netherlands), I’m inclined to say my team. But I will grudgingly admit that the team my 1980s self would have liked best is Paul Ulane’s. The song selection that I am most jealous of is “Mr. Crowley” – damn you, Cory, you miserable bastard. And I give severe props to Ashley Burns for having the cojones to select the draft’s only song written and performed by a woman.
Worst Team: Every team has some picks that make me extremely jealous. I thought Rob Fee’s team was unbeatable … until round seven, when he went back-to-back on two songs that didn’t seem to fit the theme of the draft. And I’m just going to pretend that I didn’t see his last pick.