Choosing the best songs from each of Motley Crue's nine studio albums makes it clear that each step in the band's rapid rise was built on the two key abilities: maximizing their strengths and adapting ahead of the curve.

Led by principle songwriter Nikki Sixx, Motley Crue refined, expanded and tweaked a sound (and almost if not as importantly, a look) over their first five increasingly popular albums that blended metal, punk, rock and glam in equal parts. "I wanted a band that would be like David Bowie and the Sex Pistols thrown in a blender with Black Sabbath," he once told the Los Angeles Times.

While their sound never varied as wildly from album to album as a chameleon such as Bowie, Motley Crue was almost always quickest among their peers to anticipate (or start) new trends. Instead of following up the initial commercial breakthrough of 1983's Shout at the Devil with more studs, leather and metal, they glammed out and put more emphasis on pop melodies for 1985's Theatre of Pain. It was the latter's "Home Sweet Home" that made it law that any hard rock band had to include a keyboard-intensive power ballad on each and every album.

The '90s were more of a challenge as a series of lineup changes, creative overreaches and outside cultural changes knocked the band off their commercial winning streak. The time between new Motley Crue albums became longer and longer, until they ultimately declined to record a final album to coincide with a 2014-15 farewell tour due to what the group considered an unfavorable radio environment. Still, Motley Crue's legacy was long secured by then: The story of '80s hard rock and metal couldn't possibly be told without these songs.

More Motley Crue Reading:
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