If you're a fan of monstrous metal or 1980s hair bands, then you may also be a fan of power ballads. These hard rock anthems played a major role in the popularity of the hair metal scene in the 1980s, and they continue to be appreciated by music fans today.
List of Great Power Ballads
What are the ingredients of a great power ballad? A truly rocking power ballad requires a great band playing a song that moves more slowly than their usual fare, but make no mistake: the song should still rock even if it delivers sweet emotion. These power ballads are widely recognized on top song lists, such as VH1's 25 Greatest Power Ballads of All Time list, Gibson's 10 Power Ballads That Don't Suck list, and the Washington Post's Cheesy Power Ballad Picks.
Beth by Kiss (1976)
Home Sweet Home by Motley Crue (1985)
November Rain by Guns 'N Roses (1992)
A lengthy, piano-driven tune, November Rain was a departure from Guns 'N Roses' usual hard rocking fare. The song's guitar work was celebrated by Guitar World on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos.
Wind of Change by The Scorpions (1991)
When It's Love by Van Halen (1988)
I Don't Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith (1997)
Bringin' On the Heartbreak by Def Leppard (1981)
Heavy MTV airplay of the video for Bringin' on the Heartbreak helped make High 'N' Dry, Def Leppard's debut album, a hit in the United States.
Sister Christian by Night Ranger (1984)
Love Song by Tesla (1989)
Tesla's Love Song was honored by the Washington Post on their Friday list of Cheesy Power Ballad Picks.
I'll Be There For You by Bon Jovi (1989)
We Are the Champions by Queen (1977)
Close My Eyes Forever by Lita Ford (1988)
Close My Eyes Forever, which Lita Ford sang with Ozzy Osborne, cracked the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100, giving both singers their first smash hit.
Heartbreak Station by Cinderella (1990)
With Arms Wide Open by Creed (2000)
Is This Love by Whitesnake (1987)
Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison (1988)
Nothing Else Matters by Metallica (1992)
Nothing Else Matters is one of Metallica's most well-known songs.
Open Arms by Journey (1981)
Open Arms is one of the earliest examples of a power ballad and still one of the best. VH1 ranked it number one on its list of the 25 greatest power ballads of all time.
It's Been Awhile by Staind (2001)
Learn to Fly by the Foo Fighters (1999)
Keep On Loving You by REO Speedwagon (1980)
Keep On Loving You has proved timeless in its appeal, becoming a staple of classic rock and soft rock radio stations all over the United States.
More Than a Feeling by Boston (1976)
Fall to Pieces by Velvet Revolver (2003)
Learning to Fall by Chickenfoot (2009)
Learning to Fall proudly hearkens back to its eighties roots, as recorded by Chickenfoot, a supergroup of hard-rocking musicians that includes Sammy Hagar and Joe Satriani.
Call Me When You're Sober by Evanescence (2006)
Hero by Chad Kroeger (2002)
What Is A Power Ballad?
It can be tough to define a power ballad. Like other genres of rock, there is an element of crossover, and music lovers can find it difficult to come to a consensus of which songs are power ballads and which are not. On the whole, though, power balladry is usually associated with songs written and performed by rockers who typically offer music with a harder edge.
The Development of the Ballad
A ballad is a type of word poem that is set to music. Popular during the height of classical music, the ballad rose again thanks to pop music. Artists like New Kids on the Block, Ashlee Simpson, and other pop artists made careers from singing soft, swooning ballads.
Hard Rocking Ballads
The metal scene and other hard rockers launched back with powerful tracks of their own. These emotive songs were backed by a complement of rhythm guitarists, bassists, and drummers. The prevalence of these tracks on 1970s and 1980s radio allowed popular artists of the time to cement their role in the history of the power ballad.
Power Love Songs
Ballads are typically associated with romance and love, and power ballads tend to run along the same channel. Arguably the most popular type of song, love songs attract larger audiences, giving artists who might not have previously had a certain type of fan a much bigger reach. Another benefit of the power love song is that many people enjoy and appreciate when "harder" artists are willing to express their softer sides. This can help hard rocking artists grow their fan bases.
Power Ballad Appeal
Though power ballads are, by and large, associated with the hard rocking and hair metal scenes of bygone decades, the love that many music fans have for the style has not waned. New generations of fans have given these songs a great deal of longevity and a lasting legacy in the annals of rock and roll, and many bands are still churning out great ballads today.