The Ten Best Power Ballads EVER!

Ah, the power ballad. It is the proverbial Rodney Dangerfield of pop songs despite its timeless popularity on radio and pop culture. Deep down, though many of us may view the genre with great disdain, I think we all have those power ballads that we can't help but love. While you wrestle with your own preconceptions and begin formulating your own honest list of favorite power ballads, I'll attempt to entertain you with mine.

Cheap Trick "The Flame"

They didn't write it and reportedly hated the idea of putting it on their album, but, by that point, Cheap Trick were in no position to argue with their record label after their previous album had tanked so severely. Normally I'd roll my eyes at such record label tomfoolery but, in this case, the suits knew what they were doing. "The Flame" went on to be the band's one and only #1 single and has aged considerably well over the years for no other reason than Robin Zander's vocal performance is the sort that transcends the somewhat dated '80s production. It may not be the greatest song on earth, but, as far as power ballads go, you could do a whole lot worse.

Honeymoon Suite - Feel It Again

With an opening line like "If you could just be sensible/You'd find me indispensable", it's hard to fight the lover's logic of this knockout track from Canada's Honeymoon Suite. This is the first of the band's two appearances on this list, so if you have yet to give this Canadian band a fair shake, you may wanna give these songs a(nother) spin. As far as power ballads go, the reason "Feel It Again" appears on this list is because it packs the sort of punch you'd expect from the term "power ballad". GNR's "Patience" or Extreme's "More Than Words" may be great ballads, but there's no "power" in either one. Still dunno what I'm talking about? I'm-a let Honeymoon Suite explain it for you and if that first chorus doesn't do it, nothing will.

Honeymoon Suite "What Does It Take"

The second Honeymoon Suite tune on this list is also available on the same album (The Big Prize) as "Feel It Again" and once again falls quite squarely on the powerful side of the power ballad spectrum. This song should actually come with a warning "DO NOT OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY WHILE PLAYING THIS SONG because I have yet to meet the woman who doesn't melt when she hears this tune in the right situation, which is pretty much anytime you play this song, so be careful about doing so in the car, if you catch my drift.

Hooters (w/ Patty Smyth of Scandal) "Where Do The Children Go?"

In a song where such lines as "Where do the children go/And who's that deadly piper who leads them away" are the least of our lyrical worries, it's hard not to like the honesty and integrity of the little band from Philly that could. Back then, the Hooters were riding high on the success of "And We Danced" and "Day After Day", the only thing missing was a real prom-stopper for those couples looking to "unite as one" on the dance floor. Enter "Where The Children Go" with its heartfelt and earnest concern for "the children" and a sure-fire sing-along chorus for which Bic Lighters were truly invented. Still, shouldn't we be doing something about that piper?

Kix - Don't Close Your Eyes

For those of us who were already a fan of this band's music (the Loco-Emotion album is a truly guilt-free guilty pleasure for this writer), it may have been a mixed blessing when the Kixsters got into the power ballad game at a time when that was just about the only way for a metal band to get on the radio. Thankfully, the song itself featured one slam-bang of a chorus and some of Steve Whiteman's best vocal work to date, thereby transforming a little-known east coast hard rock band on their fourth album for Atlantic into the proud owners of their very first (and only) Top 20 hit.

Guns 'n' Roses "Sweet Child O' Mine"

You just had to know this song would be on this list.

Def Leppard - Bringing On The Heartbreak

Back before the band was standing at the top of the charts after Pyromania and Hysteria made them a household name, they put out a cool little record called High 'n' Dry that radio programmers wouldn't go anywhere near until the band released this song as a single. Next thing you know, High 'n' Dry is in the Top 40 and the rest, as they say, is history. Heck, Mariah Carey even covered the tune.

Scorpions "No One Like You"

For some, myself included, this is THE power ballad of all power ballads because it was one of the first to get a ton of rock radio airplay and finally break this veteran German metal band with eight albums to their credit to a mainstream U.S. audience. While the band would go on to have many more huge hits, this one will always be special to us.

Cyndi Lauper "I Drove All Night"

While many have tried their hand at this song, among them Celine Dion and the late Roy Orbison, it is Cyndi Lauper's soul-stirring performance of the tune that saw it chart in the Top 10 in 1989  and places this song firmly among the best power ballads of all time. Also, it's a little known fact that former Elvis Brothers and current Charming Axe guitarist Rob Newhouse played guitar on the song, which was the lead-off single from Cyndi's third album A Night To Remember.

Bad English - When I See You Smile

Okay, the last song on our definitive list of the best power ballads in all of rock, we needed a tune that covered a lot of the bases yet to be represented: something written by Diane Warren featuring a couple guys from Journey and John Waite. For me, seeing Ricky Phillips come out of hiding after always wondering what happened to him after the Babys was also a big plus. So, yeah, this song's got everything this particular rock music snob could want from a power ballad.

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1 comment:

  1. "Alone" by Heart belongs on this list if not for its thunderous drums and theme of unrequited love, then for Ann Wilson's spine tingling howl after the second verse.