80s Power Ballads

March 28, 2013

Power ballads: Screaming sweet nothings, baby

From ‘Sister Christian’ to ‘I'll Be There for You,’ loud love songs marked the ’80s.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

For those of you who think the songs and musicians of the 1980s left no lasting mark on the landscape of popular music, we give you this two-word argument: Power ballads.

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For about three years in the late 1980s, power ballads were everywhere, taking hard-edged rock to a place it had rarely been before. All of sudden, hard rock could be slow and sappy, yet still full of screaming vocals and ear-splitting riffs. Everything we loved about the '80s rock in one neat package.

Here's a list of 10 that exemplify the genre:

"Sister Christian," Night Ranger (1983): Some critics say this is the tune that started the whole power ballad craze. It became the band's biggest hit, going to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"I Remember You," Skid Row (1989): This was on the band's debut album, and immediately became the biggest high school prom song in the land. Probably not what the guys in Skid Row envisioned when they started the band, but hey, a hit's a hit.

"Heaven," Warrant (1989): Another example of an '80s hair band having their biggest hit with a power ballad. This went to No. 2 in Billboard.

"Love Song," Tesla (1989): From the acoustic intro and the raspy first line "so you think that it's over" to the skin-tight pants that the band sports in the video, this power ballad has it all.

"Every Rose Has Its Thorn," Poison (1988): The band's only No. 1 hit exemplifies a classic power ballad form, with intertwining mellow and rockin' guitar solos. Plus, Brett Michaels has a nice twang to his vocals.

"Love Bites," Def Leppard (1987): A little more durable and long-lived than many of the '80s power balladeers, Def Leppard slowed down just enough to have this hit with such romantic lyrics as "I don't want to touch you too much baby, 'cause making love to you might drive me crazy."

"Patience, " Guns N' Roses (1988): Can't have a power ballad list without GNR. And admit it, the whistling is a nice touch. Not cheesy at all.

"Is this Love," Whitesnake (1987): One of the definitive '80s video images, with Tawny Kitaen dancing that dance of hers. Not be confused with the video in which Kitaen writhes around on the hoods of luxury cars – that was "Here I Go Again." Great song, but not a power ballad.

"Close My Eyes Forever," Lita Ford with Ozzy Osbourne (1988): Power ballads were dominated by guys, but Lita Ford could belt with the best of them, as evidenced by this duet with the Ozzman himself. Plus, both had great '80s hair.

"I'll Be There for You," Bon Jovi (1988): "I'll be there for you/ These five words I swear to you/ When you breathe I want to be the air for you/ I'll be there for you/ I'd live and I'd die for you/ I'd steal the sun from the sky for you/ Words can't say what love can do/ I'll be there for you."

Need we say more?

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:



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