5 Great Glam/Hair Metal Power Ballads
Hopefully these 5 ballads won't make you throw up?
Nothing says 1980's Glam/Hair Metal like the Power Ballad. I decided to come up with my personal five favorites. It was surprising how difficult it was to narrow it down to five.
I liked bands like Cinderella and Bon Jovi, but I never was big on bands like Poison and Warrant. Bands like Trixter and Mr. Big, do you even remember them?
OK, I concede, no list like this would be worth much without Motley Crue's Home Sweet Home, it is probably the quintessential power Ballad.
My List is a little more complicated, in that I attach powerful emotions from my youth with certain songs. Don't worry, My 5 are high quality with unique things that make the song better than most; I promise no Firehouse or Stryper here.
A good power ballad is a real treasure, but a bad one, can be gag worthy. In fact, probably more than anything else, the power ballad lead to the ruination of the genre. It perhaps created a climate musically for the Seattle grunge movement to take hold in the early 90's.
Boy Steven Tyler nails this one, the aching exclamation:
"I'm Alone, I don't know if I can face the night".
It's the soulful delivery throughout that does it for me. I have always liked the album for which "Angel" appears as a whole. Permanent Vacation
Great tracks like the hilarious "Dude Looks Like a Lady", and "Rag Doll" make this huge comeback album really special, even though Done With Mirrors from 1985 was really the comeback album, but 3 huge hits make this album the popular choice.
Super song writer Desmond Child Co-Wrote "Angel" with Tyler, in fact, Child co-wrote 3 of the tracks on Permanent Vacation.
Listen to "Angel"
Dokken: Alone Again
I was a Dokken fanatic going way back, mainly because guitarist George Lynch was a favorite. I always thought Don Dokken was an underrated vocalist, a very smooth and understated delivery Don has.
Don's soulful delivery, and the "mysterious" sound of the band, this mysterious quality comes out on their ballad styles.
"Alone Again" is one of those ballads that speaks to me, you know, lost love? Sometime no matter what you do and say, it just wasn't in the cards for you and that person?
I particularly like how Don Dokken gets a vibrato on his voice when he says:
"I tried so hard to make you see, but I couldn't find the words".
Don has an honest experienced delivery with the emphases of "The Words"
The power of the track is more than enough, and the mysterious sounding chords strummed at the beginning set the mood. The lyrics are simple, but delivered effectively over that mysterious sound.
Hear "Alone Again" for yourself
Tesla: "What You Give"
Tesla's is easily my favorite power ballad, released around the same time Nirvana was bursting on the scene, and laying waste to the music of my teenage years. "What You Give"
Some of the lyrics here are timeless, and capture perfectly the human emotion of unconditional love. These lyrics could double as feelings you have for a child, or a religious figure even.
Guitarist Frank Hannon starts the track off with a very simple and effectively sparse plucked acoustic guitar. Vocalist Jeff Keith enters with some devastatingly simple lyrics that will cut to the bone if your mind is on someone you miss or have had issues with.
The chorus is basically just a pretty darned good mantra for being a decent human being:
"It's not what you got, It's what you give, It ain't the life you choose, it's the life you live"
Pretty hard to find fault in those lyrics, I think Tesla does a great job building up the song and then the tension release is pretty awesome. Just a fantastic power ballad.
The album track is actually 3 minutes longer than the music video, I chose this longer version, as I think it features the emotional build up better than the music video did.
Check out the fantastic "What You Give"
Motley Crue: "Home Sweet Home"
Motley Crue's magnum opus "Home Sweet Home" is probably the most famous of the hair metal power ballads.
I can't think of one that came earlier that was more important. Seemingly every band from here on out had to have a at least one down tempo number dedicated to someone's love, lost love, or something with heart on sleeve.
The Tommy Lee played piano riff is certainly the most recognized piano playing in hair metal history; I realize that's like saying it's the best meat loaf at a vegan buffet, but you get the idea.
Home Sweet Home is just a real good basic lament about missing your home, and perhaps a quieter life off the road? Hard to imagine a better executed power ballad.
"Home Sweet Home"
Whitesnake: "Is This Love"
Like Kessler Whiskey is "smooth as silk", that is a good way to describe this power ballad: "Is this Love" is easily one the better ballads of the 80's. Coverdale is indeed smooth as silk, and never over plays his hand here.
This 1987 self titled album doesn't have a weak track on it either I might add. Whitesnake
What could have been an over syrupy sad case, turns into a sultry and sexy medium tempo number, executed perfectly by Mr. Coverdale:
"Should've known better than to let you go alone, it's times like these I can't make it on my own"
Coverdale? let's face it, this dude was pretty cool, he'd been around forever with Deep Purple and previous incarnations of Whitesnake; with many underrated and low selling albums released before this 8 Million selling record was released.
As a whole Whitesnake the album is one of the very best of the era, and stacks up very well along side classic 70's rock in fact and still sounds pretty darn good 30 years later.