The Style: A fad gone bad or the most reviled haircut in history? Popularized by David Bowie and others during the glam ’ol days of the 1970s, the mullet was adopted (and expanded voluminously upon) in the 1980s by hard rockers and their headbanging army of fans. As hair metal gave way to grunge and alternative in the early 1990s, a term was coined to describe those who still clung to the headbangers’ signature cut—“mullet heads.”
The Story: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, which inducted “mullet” into its venerable lexicon in 2001, the word (as it refers to a hairstyle) was “apparently coined, and certainly popularized, by U.S. hip-hop group the Beastie Boys” in their 1995 “Mullet Head.”
The Shocker: Since making it into the OED, ridicule of the bemulleted has grown increasingly vocal and, judging from a random sampling of anti-mullet Web sites, rather virulent. The mullet is the one haircut Americans love to hate—and give funny names to. To list a few: The Tennessee Top Hat, The Kentucky Waterfall, and The Camaro Helmet. Our personal favorite, however, is The Missouri Compromise, which manages to reference both the haircut’s “business in the front, party in the back” policy, as well as the shameful Compromise of 1820, which regulated slavery in developing U.S. territories.