When Twisted Sister Made It Plain with "I Wanna Rock"

Twisted Sister in 1984
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Mark Weiss/Getty Images

Twisted Sister's signature song may be "We're Not Gonna Take It," but it was their next single off 1984's breakthrough Stay Hungry that pretty succinctly defined what they put on their stage make-up to do.

"Take It" was soon followed by "I Wanna Rock," which establishes its chorus and thesis from the jump: that there is simply nothing better than rocking out to your favorite songs. Pretty simple stuff, sure, but Dee Snider, the band's unforgettable lead singer, wanted to get the message across in the simplest, most impactful way possible.

"I realized that Iron Maiden was having tremendous success with their sort of galloping metal rhythms, and then there was the anthemic thing that I like to do, which bands like AC/DC do, and one of my biggest influences, especially in that area, Slade," Snider told SongFacts about the song's creation. "I thought that if I could combine the drive of a Maiden song with the anthemic quality of an AC/DC song, I'd have a f---ing huge hit. And I was right."

READ MORE: April 1984: Twisted Sister Declare "We're Not Gonna Take It"

And while "I Wanna Rock" didn't chart quite as high as "We're Not Gonna Take It," topping out at No. 68 on the Billboard Hot 100, the song did gain fan following thanks to yet another humorous video that followed the formula of "Take It" on an even bigger slapstick level. Once again, actor Mark Metcalf reprised his hyper-angry "Niedermeyer" persona from National Lampoon's Animal House, shrieking at a student in a high school classroom about the importance of having a direction in life. When the youth proclaims his goal is to rock - turning into Snider in the process - Metcalf embarks on another slapstick adventure of crashing through floors, sailing through basketball hoops and getting crowdsurfed by metal lovers. (There's one added wink at the end of this clip: he attempts to appeal to his principal, played by Animal House co-star Stephen Furst, who sprays him with a water bottle while quoting one of his lines as Flounder in the comedy classic.)

In an interview, Metcalf later said he took the job without knowing much about Twisted Sister or even MTV. "I had no idea what this band did, but I lived in the East Village and had seen worse, or better, depending on your point of view, so I went along," he quipped. "[Dee] said that he wanted me to write this long rant to open the story of the video. He had loved the movie and especially the character so he wanted some reference to Neidermeyer."

While he enjoyed the notoriety, he did admit that Universal Studios, the makers of Animal House, threatened legal action for his use of the character in a production they had nothing to do with. "Yes, it was fun making the video and having it play all the time for a year or so," he said, "but it was one more way in which I kind of betrayed myself and made it difficult to have any more varied a career than 'the guy who gets mad and spits when he yells.'"

Nonetheless, Metcalf continued working, with memorable appearances on Seinfeld, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Mad Men - so it's safe to assume the headaches - and the headbanging! - were all worth it.

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