The 40 Greatest Power Ballads Playlist

30. Warrant - Heaven (1989)

A halfway decent power ballad, as we’ve already mentioned, often earns big bucks for its composer. It’s surely no coincidence that this supremely slushy effort originally came from an album called Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich. Heaven reached No.2 in the US chart. 

Choice lyric: ‘I don’t need to be the king of the world/As long as I’m the hero of this little girl’

29. Thunder - Love Walked In (1990) 

Power balladry with British bulldog spirit. Love Walked In (one of only a few tracks by a British act to make it onto this list) is less glossy and homogenised than many of the songs in this list. It has a huge, strutting chorus, but it is somewhat low on the libido count. Note the lyric: ‘I sleep so much better now I’m not alone.’ Yeah… why enjoy dirty sex when you can have a good snooze instead? 

Choice lyric: see above

28. Europe - Carrie (1986) 

When Cliff Richard went in search of Carrie he should’ve looked no further than Europe’s The Final Countdown album. Lurking alongside the parp-tatsic title track of that record, the Tempest-uous composition Carrie is pure corn. But America – home of the Jolly Green Giant, let us not forget – loved it, and Carrie reached No.3 in the chart over there. 

Choice lyric: ‘Can’t you see it in my eyes/This might be our last goodbye’

27. Toto - I Won’t Hold You Back (1982) 

This understated epic is described as ‘one of the all-time best break-up songs’ elsewhere in this list. And we’re not going to argue with that. A common theme in a many male-oriented US power ballads is ‘I’m so emotional – love me’. But such pathetic pleading is lost on the subject of Toto’s I Won’t Hold You Back: the woman in question has fucked off, and she ain’t coming back. 

Choice lyric: ‘Now you’re gone, I’m really not the same/I guess I held myself to blame’

26. Styx - Lady (1973)

One of the first-ever power ballads (so now you know some of the people to blame). A track on Styx’s 1973 album Styx II – and later a US Top 10 hit single – Lady begins quietly with wafting keyboards and faint windchime jingles. Dennis DeYoung’s squeaky vocals are something of an acquired taste, but then the all-important ‘crunch’ arrives about halfway through – cue guitar pyrotechnics and a marching rhythm par excellence. 

Choice lyric: ‘You’re my lady of the morning/Love shines in your eyes’

25. Slaughter - Fly To The Angels (1990)

Slaughter were always much mightier than their second-division ‘hair-metal’ tag suggested. Therefore it’s a shame that this flamboyant but touching song first appeared on an album with the crass title of Stick It To Ya. Later, doubtless due to its mention of angels, heaven et cetera, the song took on greater poignancy as a tribute to the band’s guitarist Tim Kelly who died in a car crash in 1998. 

Choice lyric: ‘Now when it rains it seems/The sun never shines’

24. Cheap Trick - The Flame (1988)

A successful power ballad can be a curse as well as a big dollar earner. Record label Epic had doubts about Cheap Trick’s songwriting abilities, and brought in outside writers for 1988’s Lap Of Luxury. The album’s choice track was The Flame. Angst-ridden and appropriately slow- burning, it was composed by the previously unknown team of Bob Mitchell and Nick Graham. The pair made a damn good fist of it, but although The Flame was very successful (a No.1 single in the US) it became Cheap Trick’s albatross. But then there’s no pleasing some people. 

Choice lyric: ‘I’m going crazy, I’m losing sleep/I’m in too far, I’m in way too deep over you’

23. Cher - I Found Someone (1987) 

Some might baulk at Cher’s inclusion. “Why not Pat Benatar or Bonnie Tyler instead?” you may ask. Bah! Cher wipes the floor with such lightweights. Just compare this to the version of the same song by Laura Branigan and you’ll hear just what we mean. Cher is at the height of her faux-metal powers here; her resonant voice transforms this Michael Bolton composition from weak chicken soup into a rich beef stew.

Choice lyric: ‘I found someone/To take away the heartache’

22. Kiss - Reason To Live (1987) 

It’s surprising Kiss don’t possess more songs like Reason To Live in their repertoire; Paul Stanley certainly has a prime power-ballad voice (the grunting God Of Thunder admittedly less so). Taken from the hyper- commercial Crazy Nights, this actually got higher in the chart in the UK than in the US (No.33 versus No.64). It hits the spot because it’s uplifting as well as heart-rending. It escalates and lacerates in equal proportions. 

Choice lyric: ‘I sailed into dark and endless nights/ And made it alive’

21. Skid Row - I Remember You (1989) 

Sebastian Bach turns his get the fuck out! image inside-out on this cheese-packed choon. The lyrics read like an intimate love letter: you can almost hear Seb’s tears cascading from his doe eyes and tumble, tippety-tap-splosh, onto the sodden, ink- stained pages of… 

Choice Lyric: ‘I paint a picture of the days gone by/When love went blind and you would make me see’

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