"The eighties was permission to be your biggest, loudest self": My 80s Mixtape, by Halestorm's Lzzy Hale

Lizzy Hale and her 80s cassette
(Image credit: Lzzy Hale: Istockphoto)

“I was a teenager in the nineties, but I was obsessed with the eighties thanks to my parents," says Halestorm's Lzzy Hale. "It was flamboyant, all the dudes were hitting the high notes, there was this element of… ‘cheese’? The eighties was permission to be your biggest, loudest self.”


Cinderella - Push Push (1986)

“What boy bands were to my friends in the nineties, Cinderella was my version of it; like, I was gonna marry Tom Keifer. I probably would have never picked up a guitar or sang the way I do without Tom and Cinderella. And Push Push was a little sexual to me, as a teenager. When Halestorm started we had this old conversion van with a tiny television that could only play VHS tapes, and one was the video collection for Night Songs. It was one of the first times I really studied how people do live shows.”

Divinyls - Back To The Wall (1988)

“Most people know them as the band that did I Touch Myself – that was the big hit for them. But if you deep dive into them they actually don’t sound anything like that song, really. They are such an interesting band. Temperamental, the title track, is amazing, but I love Back To The Wall. It’s like eighties new wave meets punk meets The Police. Their whole sound is very strange and unique to them.”

Alice Cooper - Hell Is Living Without You (1989)

“It tickles that guilty pleasure, the big chorus with the cheesy strings. Bands can get stuck, like: ‘Okay, we had some success doing this, let’s keep doing that for ever.’ Whereas Alice threw all the rules out and said: ‘No, I’m Alice Cooper, you can place me in any era and I’m going to be doing my thing.’ There’s multiple key changes. There’s all these different voices. There are rumours that some people from Bon Jovi are singing. It was kind of a free-for-all.”

The Cars - Drive (1984)

“The musicianship is amazing. What an amazing message. I don’t know what it is about this song, but you can take it in so many different ways. Is he letting someone go? Is he discovering someone? Is it just something about driving? And also the fact that they are a band called The Cars and wrote a song called Drive, which is awesome. But what I love most about this song is that the snare drum is on the four, not the one, and that makes the whole song take you for a ride. You get lost in it.”

Heart - Nothin’ At All (1985)

“I know the eighties was a weird time for Heart, but the fact that they had some absolutely amazing material was awesome. There’s something about this that is so comforting to me. All of the melody lines, the big choruses and the hooks. Heart is a great example of, even though they had cut their teeth in the seventies, being able to remain extremely relevant and garner a new audience in the eighties. That’s what you want as a musician, to evolve and keep making great music.”

Pat Benatar - Fire And Ice (1981)

“There’s so much pain in Pat’s voice in Fire And Ice, but it’s so on-key, it’s perfection. She was trained classically, as an opera singer, so she had a lot of structure. And she was owning her sexuality without being overtly: ‘Hey, look at my body.’ It was also one of the first covers I ever did. I had this karaoke cassette for Fire And Ice. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, so at one of Halestorm’s bowling alley gigs – that we played for free pizza, because we were kids – I would play the karaoke version over the PA system and sing Fire And Ice!”

David Bowie - Within You (1986)

“It comes up at the end of Labyrinth, which is one of my favourite movies of all time, starring David Bowie and his amazing tights. And there is something definitely dangerous and sexual about Within You, even though it’s a Jim Henson film – there’s puppets everywhere, and it’s this dark story. We ended up covering it in Halestorm, only twice. It was so funny because there would be maybe two people in the audience cheering, and everyone else is like: ‘Err…what is this?!’”

Van Halen - Top Jimmy (1984)

“Obviously the musicianship is top-notch, but it also proves that Van Halen weren’t afraid to have fun. This track is a great example of that. And David Lee Roth at the top of his game, with all of his personality shining through… It’s hard rock, but with a smile, you know? And I think I can relate that aspect of our [Halestorm’s] personality as a band to Van Halen.”

Dio - Straight Through The Heart (1983)

“This was the guy that I based a lot of my singing on early on. I was trying to get my friends in middle school into it, and they did not understand! He wasn’t trying to look like anyone else, or sound like anyone else. Also, one of the nicest men in rock’n’roll. We got the privilege to actually meet him and open up for him years ago, and I’m so glad because shortly after that he passed away.”

Scorpions - No One Like You (1982)

“I love the Scorpions so much. I love their interpretation of the English language. There are so many times that I have learned to sing a Scorpions song and I’m like: ‘What are you talking about? There’s a cat scratch thing going on?!’ It didn’t matter. No One Like You is such a banger. It kind of leans toward that big-stadium vibe.”

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.