Two of Love May Fail
's main characters, Portia Kane and Chuck Bass — now in their early 40s — still love the metal music that was popular in their youth. Love May Fail
isn't about music, but examining what shapes us in our early years. Primarily, I wanted to underscore the difference a single high school teacher can make in the lives of students even decades after they have left the classroom. As Portia and Chuck attended high school in South Jersey during the late '80s, I present below a big-haired, spandex-adorned, make-up wearing, and wonderfully over-the-top soundtrack that just may have you wanting to dust off your codpiece. (The songs with an asterisk on either side of the title appear in Love May Fail
1. *Looks That Kill* by Mötley Crüe
Portia wants to be a good feminist. Unfortunately, her love of '80s metal clashes sharply with her feminist values. She argues that this song actually places the unnamed woman — whose looks "kill" — in a position of power over men. For this reason, Portia considers Looks That Kill a personal theme song.
2. *Shake Me* by Cinderella
Had to give a nod to this hair metal band from the Philadelphia suburbs. Hometown love.
3. *Talk Dirty to Me* by Poison
Perhaps the epitome of glam metal, it's a song I openly loved when I was 13 and secretly still love at 41. Chuck Bass names his truck in honor of a lyric that appears in this song.
4. "Breaking the Chains" by Dokken
Switch the genders in this one and you'd have Portia's theme song for chapter one, as she tries to break away from her abusive husband and start over alone.
5. *Livin' on a Prayer* by Bon Jovi
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My sister's wedding band covered this song. I remember being boozed up on the dance floor with my best South Jersey friends, immediate family, and even my 90-year-old grandmother, all of us screaming about holding on together and giving it a shot regardless of whether we'd make it… or not. Silly as it sounds now writing this sober, I remember being a little weepy while I shouted out Bon Jovi lyrics that night and promised myself I'd write "Livin' on a Prayer" into my next novel.
6. *Patience* by Guns N' Roses
Like Chuck Bass says in Love May Fail, "[G N' R Lies'] is one of the best late night B-sides to put on after a party."
7. "Hungry for Heaven" by Dio
The late Ronnie James Dio is often credited with popularizing the devil horns hand gesture that metal heads raise proudly while headbanging. Lyrics like, "We can sparkle and shine. And our dreams are what we're made of," speak to Portia and me, who are just "dreamer[s] but that's alright."
8. *Cum on Feel the Noize* by Quiet Riot
They play this song at the Eagles home games when the Birds are winning, and I sing along. It's an upbeat anthem — a call to "get wild, wild, wild" and play some air guitar or air drums or both, which is exactly what my characters and I do whenever it's played
9. "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne
Recovered addict Chuck Bass has managed to rein in his wild side, but the werewolf is an apt analogy, as drink and drugs are his moon capable of transforming him back into a monster.
10. "Wasted Years" by Iron Maiden
Bruce Dickinson sings, "Face up...make your stand," and that's exactly what Portia is finally doing.
11. "Rock You Like a Hurricane" by Scorpions
One of the greatest and most easily identified '80s metal songs despite lyrics such as "the bitch is hungry…so give her inches and feed her well." Portia concludes you can't intellectualize hair metal. Sometimes you just have to let it scratch the primal itch.
12. *On with the Show* by Mötley Crüe
This is the last song on the Crüe's first album, Too Fast for Love, which is near and dear to my heart. I listened to that album endlessly when I attended junior high school just outside of Philadelphia. At the same time, unbeknownst to me, there was a girl living just outside of Worcester, Massachusetts, who was also listening to Mötley Crüe (and most of the songs above) repetitively — a girl I would someday marry. Alicia and I have always bonded over music. Portia and Chuck do, too.