20 Greatest Power Ballads of All Time
Is My Mascara Running?
I enjoyed doing the 10 Greatest Hair Metal Song list so much that I doubled this one to include 20 songs. Yea! I know you aren't as excited about that as I am, but you really should be. Not so many ground rules here. These are tear jerking somewhat sappy songs done by predominantly hard rock bands. Clear enough? Cool, then grab your hankie and throw your arm around your favorite guy or girl ‘cause here we go:
20. "Beth" by Kiss: You're probably expecting this list to be comprised almost entirely of bands from the 80s, and for the most part you're correct, but I couldn't in good conscience leave this one off the list. While I personally think "Hard Luck Woman" is a much better slow song by Kiss, this is potentially the forerunner of all power ballads to come. If kabuki wearing demons and spacemen could show their soft side, what's to stop men who look like transvestites?
19. "Fly to the Angels" by Slaughter: Speaking of transvestites, when the Vinnie Vincent Invasion broke up, fragments of the band became Slaughter. While it's debatable which band was actually better, there's no debating that Slaughter actually made this list. Does that really mean anything? I don't know.
18. "High Enough" by Damn Yankees: Are super-groups ever a good idea? Probably not, but when in doubt Ted Nugent and company made us whip out our lighters for this little love ditty.
17. "To Be With You" by Mr. Big: Are super-groups ever a good... Whoa, wait. Maybe they are. Super-groups did manage to score back to back songs on this list.
16. "Don't Close Your Eyes" by Kix: I couldn't include "Cold Blood" on my previous list, but I managed to get Kix on this list. While some people might be put off by Steve Whiteman's nasally vocals, this song has a certain "making out in your Trans-Am" appeal to it. It could also work for Camaros.
15. "Two Steps Behind" by Def Leppard: I'm a hockey fan, and I really wanted to leave this song off the list because of Joe Elliot's faux pas with the Stanley Cup, but I convinced myself that he was really drunk and didn't know what he was doing. You can't penalize a rock star for drunken idiocy. You also can't penalize them for making a darn good ballad.
14. "Carrie" by Europe: Here again is that band that everyone but me hates. Can you hear the "Final Countdown" keyboard intro? Let that get stuck in your head. Sure "Carrie" is a really sappy song, but isn't that the point? And do I have to mention Joey Tempest's pout again?
13. "Alone Again" by Dokken: Between Don Dokken's voice and George Lynch's guitar playing, Dokken should have been a more successful band than they were. Oh well. At least this love lost lament should stir some pity in even the most jaded of listeners.
12. "House of Pain" by Faster Pussycat: I love Faster Pussycat. As a matter of fact, this is probably one of my least favorite songs by them, but I couldn't go putting "Bathroom Wall" on the list. This song also wins points because of its serious subject matter and autobiographical nature.
11. "Wait" by White Lion: I almost didn't include this song because I'm still not positive it's a true ballad because of the way it alternates between slow parts and heavy parts, but I just love this song way too much to ignore it. My admiration is mostly due to Vito Bratta's wonderful guitar work. Props also have to be paid to Mike Tramp's flowing mane, though.
10. "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" by Poison: I personally like "I Won't Forget You" more, but I think I'm in the minority there, so the list contains this Brett Michaels' overly emotional ode to lost love.
9. "More Than Words" by Extreme: Most people do or do not remember Gary Cherone as the lead singer on the only Van Halen album none of us ever bought or heard. Seriously, can you name a single song Gary Cherone sang for Van Halen? I can't. Before we refused to forgive Eddie Van Halen for firing his second frontman Sammy Hagar, Gary Cherone was singing for the just as unforgivable and equally forgettable band Extreme. At least Gary did do this one okay song.
8. "Is This Love" by Whitesnake: This is such a sweet little song, even if David Coverdale is singing it to Tawny Kitaen. Yuk. Let's try to forget that part and focus on John Sykes guitar playing even though Adrian Vandenberg appears in the video playing air guitar because David Coverdale fired everyone during the recording of the album... On second thought let's just appreciate the love Mr. Coverdale and his ex-wife Tawny had for each other. Swallowing the vomit.
7. "Don't Know What You Got ‘til It's Gone" by Cinderella: You wouldn't think Tom Keifer's screeching style of vocals would work well for a love song, but you would be wrong. I believe it's actually Tom's vocals that turn what might have been just a run of the mill power ballad into one of the best power ballads of all time. Too bad that same style of singing has not been very kind to Mr. Keifer's vocal chords over the years.
6. "Love is on the Way" by Saigon Kick: I really like this song, but please don't make me watch the video ever again. What the heck is lead singer Matt Kramer doing with his hands? Is he a genie? Is he blind? I'm confused.
5. "Love of a Lifetime" by Firehouse: Nothing like showing up on the scene just as your genre of music is dying a painful death, but Firehouse did manage to sneak in this head swaying ballad just in time. It's always been one of my favorites.
4. "Heaven" by Warrant: Sure, "Cherry Pie" may have been responsible for bringing down the entire hair metal genre, but at least Warrant made one really good song. No? Oh well, I truly believe "Heaven" is one of the greatest power ballads of all time. Let the debate begin.
3. "Home Sweet Home" by Motley Crue: Ah yes, the much maligned "Theater of Pain" album. No matter what your opinion is of the bad boys of "Shout at the Devil" trading in their leather for lace, you can't deny that this song is one of the greatest ballads of all time. Sure it was kind of simple, but I think it was that simplicity that made it sound more real than the scores of other ballads that tried a little too hard to stir our emotions.
2. "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns -n- Roses: While Axl Rose has proven to potentially be the biggest douchebag in the history of rock and roll by taking potentially the greatest band of the last twenty years and completely flushing it down the toilet, there is no denying how great the album Appetite For Destruction was. It's one of the few albums without a bad song on it, and, more impressively, it contains the second greatest power ballad of all time. Do you think they feel honored?
And now it's time to wipe your eyes and blow your nose for...
1. "I Remember You" by Skid Row: Reality television has made Sebastian Bach look less than flattering, but in my mind he still has one of the most powerful voices in the history of rock. While many a metal singer has had to rely on screeching falsetto to reach certain heights, Mr. Bach's vocal range is pure and strong. And no song exemplifies that vocal range quite as well as the greatest power ballad of all time. What makes this one stand out above the crowd is that it doesn't come across as a gimmick or an attempt to cash in on the "let's crack the top ten with a ballad" trend of the 80s. It actually feels real. For that, "I Remember You" will always be a wedding couple's first dance for those of us from the 80s who can still find someone to marry them... and can still dance without the aid of a walker.
Well there you have it. And you can't say I didn't include Warrant this time.