I can't believe I have not written this entry a long time ago!
So get your lighters out, freshen up your hair with some Aqua Net, and enjoy my list. Rock on.
10. Steelheart - "I'll Never Let You Go (Angel Eyes)" (1990)
The first lesson in Power Ballad 101: start with those ripping guitar chords, start slow, and let the power build. End strong with a pitch-perfect heavy metal scream. I love every second of it.
9. Poison - "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" (1988)
Although I debated including "I Won't Forget You" just for the fact that I can not hear this song without doing an air drum solo, no list is complete without the ultimate 80's power ballad. Also, my personal favorite lyrics are "To hear that tears me up inside and to see you cuts me like a knife." Although we may not be writing future #1 hit songs in laundromats or dating ex-strippers, who can't relate to this bit of Bret Michaels-penned wisdom? This video is the hallmark of what 80's videos should be (well, so are "Home Sweet Home" and "Heaven" but I disgress. How much white leather pants can we take? The answer is plenty.)
8. Tesla - "Love Song" (1989)
Tesla is, in many ways, the opposite of your traditional hair metal band. In fact, calling them a hair metal band would be to put them in the wrong category, but this song is an awesome power ballad that defies the genre. First off, it opens with over a minute of intro music, which most power ballads wouldn't dare to do. Bring in the synthesizer and 10 seconds of piano music and move on. But here, it works. And god damn it, love will find a way. Just look around, open your eyes.
7. Europe - "Carrie" (1986)
A little cheesy and a little awesome, Europe personified everything that we love and hate about the 80's. Yet another girl's name ballad, but a great one, with a lot of synthesizer and 80's melody to it. And just look at the hair on Joey Tempest. It doesn't get better than this. I know you want to sing along now: "Caaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrie, Caaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrie, things they change my friend, ohhhhhhh."
6. Great White - "Save Your Love" (1987)
Far more haunting than the average power ballad, there is something soft and seductive about this song that lends itself to giving the listener chills. To me, it evokes driving around North Stamford at night alone and smoking cigarettes in the dark circa 2004. This video is a little cheestastic, so I recommend listening to it with the lights down low, without getting distracted by the unintentional hilarity of it. Where are they anyway, an abandoned factory? And oh wait, it's raining indoors.
5. Heart - "Alone" (1987)
This song has been covered by everyone from Carrie Underwood to Kristen Chenoweth to Celine Dion. Yet it remains a classic for a reason. The plantive and desperate refrain, "How do I get you alone?" has echoed in everyone's head, and instantly evokes that lost love. It remains Heart's biggest hit song, spending three weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. And it's incredible. Probably the ultimate female power ballad.
4. Cheap Trick - "The Flame" (1988)
You were the first, you'll be the last. More definitive words were never uttered in an 80's power ballad. While Cheap Trick is not a band most would associate with the 80's hair metal scene, this song is the quintessential power ballad and an excellent one at that. Released in 1988, this song became a #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit. And how badass is Bun Carlos, the drummer, smoking a cigarette while playing?
3. Cinderella - "Heartbreak Station" (1990)
When people think of Cinderella and power ballads, the obvious choice is the excellent "Don't Know What You've Got ('Til It's Gone)". But this song is the underdog and my clear winner for best power ballad by Cinderella. Tom Keifer is an incredible singer and Cinderella's authentic bluesy style set them apart from other more glam bands like Poison. (Although make no mistake, Cinderella's look was certainly glam metal at the beginning of their career). This sparse but ethreal ballad is incredibly moving and one of my favorites.
2. Bon Jovi - "I'll Be There For You" (1988)
From that opening guitar bit to the haunting first lyric "I guess this time you're really leaving", this song gives me chills every time. I heard it on the radio today, on Sirius Channel 23 Hair Nation, and it never gets old. In fact, like a fine wine, it gets better with age. In concert these days, it's still a staple of their live show, except this time guitarist Richie Sambora takes over lead vocals. It's been debated among fans, with some saying they've paid to hear Jon sing one of their old favorites. Yet Richie's more husky, bluesy voice adds something new to the song that doesn't fail to bring me to tears each time I hear it live.
Here's a live version from the end of the mammoth "New Jersey" tour. This video was taken from a Jan. 28, 1990 performance in Brazil.
1. Skid Row - "I Remember You" (1989)
My second favorite song of all time eclipses all other power ballads, of any decade. All the elusive pieces that make a good song great come together on this one, from the lyrics to the guitar solo to the vocals and even the video is incredible. Sebastian Bach is my favorite metal singer of all time, both viscerally intesne and heartbreakingly beautiful. This song is a cut above many other 80's power ballads, because it has grit and most importantly, heart to it. It's style over substance, lyrical perfection over repetition, and one of the most flawless songs I will ever hear in my life.
For fun, here's someone else's list of their Top 20 songs. All are good, but I could do without the inclusion of 2 Foreigner songs.
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