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50 Greatest Power Ballads in Rock History Ranked

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Everybody loves power ballads, whether or not they admit it.There’s just something about a rock band slowing things down and cranking up the emotion. For generations, the force of power ballads has been on full display. These songs have launched careers and inspired fans across the globe to raise their lighters (and later, cell phones) into the air.No era embraced power ballads more than the ’80s, a time period when ridiculousness was at an all-time high. Journey, Heart and Bon Jovi were among the acts leading the charge, but power ballads came from unexpected sources as well, like Ozzy Osbourne, Motorhead and Metallica. And while power ballads are often derided for their cheesiness, in many cases they delivered timeless classics.Below we’ve ranked the 50 Greatest Power Ballads in Rock History, and provided backstories about each of the songs.50. Metallica, “Nothing Else Matters”Metallica’s 1991 ballad “Nothing Else Matters” is polarizing among the band’s fans: Some praise the metal act for stretching their range, while others bemoan the group for embracing a softer side. Interestingly, James Hetfield harbored similar concerns. “At first I didn’t even want to play it for the guys,” the singer admitted to Mojo. “I thought that Metallica could only be the four of us. These are songs about destroying things, head banging, bleeding for the crowd, whatever it is, as long as it wasn’t about chicks and fast cars, even though that’s what we liked. The song was about a girlfriend at the time. It turned out to be a pretty big song.” Regardless of your opinion, there’s no doubt the “Nothing Else Matters” was a success, ranking among Metallica’s most popular singles.49. Tesla, “Love Song”Got to hand it to Tesla, they told you exactly what you were getting with “Love Song.” Released in 1989, this rousing tune reminds listeners love is both “all around you” and “knocking outside your door.” “Tesla’s always been about the love,” singer Jeff Keith explained to Songfacts. “We will forever play ‘Love Song’ every time we ever play. Because love is how we all got here. Love’s what makes the world go ’round. Love stands above everything, even the hate.”48. Jon Bon Jovi, “Blaze of Glory”Jon Bon Jovi is no stranger to the power ballad, as several of the entries on this list will confirm. In 1991, the singer wrote “Blaze of Glory” for the action-western flick Young Guns II. Bon Jovi reportedly got involved in the project due to his friendship with one of the film’s stars, Emilio Estevez. With a distinctively country twang and an undeniably catchy chorus, Bon Jovi’s tune fit the movie perfectly – and even landed him an Academy Award nomination.47. Pat Benatar, “Shadows of the Night”Given her incredible vocal talents, it’s no surprise that Pat Benatar knows how to power a ballad. In 1982 she was offered “Shadows of the Night,” a song written by D.L. Byron that two other singers had recorded, yet failed to find any success with. Benatar made the tune her own, adding new lyrics and turning it into a romantic adventure. “Shadows of the Night” became the lead single from the singer’s 1982 LP Get Nervous, and also earned Benatar the third Grammy of her career.46. Asia, “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes”Prog rock supergroup Asia featured members of King Crimson, Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. They enjoyed huge success with their debut album, but behind the scenes singer John Wetton noticed his bandmate Geoff Downes was going through romantic turmoil. Inspired by watching the heartbreak from afar, Wetton wrote “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes” for Asia’s sophomore LP. The tune became a top 40 hit and marked Asia’s last mainstream success.45. Cinderella, “Don’t Know What You Got (Til It’s Gone)”On their first two albums, Cinderella worked with producer Andy Johns, whose credits included material with the Rolling Stones and Free. While working on their sophomore LP, Cinderella frontman Tom Keifer, informed Johns that he had an idea for a ballad. The no-nonsense producer rejected the idea, until Keifer sat behind a piano and played it for him. “I became carried away with my playing, and when I finally turned around, Andy, this hard-as-nails guy, had a tear streaming down his cheek,” Keifer recalled to Classic Rock. “At that moment I knew I had quite a song.”44. Motorhead, “I Ain’t No Nice Guy”Arguably the last guy you’d ever expect to deliver a heartfelt ballad is Lemmy Kilmister. The Jack Daniels-chugging, instrument-smashing Motorhead frontman was not known for getting emotional. But in 1992 he joined forces with Ozzy Osbourne and Slash for a personal and poignant tune. “I Ain’t No Nice Guy” saw Lemmy turn the mirror on himself, a rare moment of introspection for metal legend.43. Skid Row, “I Remember You”Rachel Bolan and Dave Sabo – the two Skid Row members who wrote “I Remember You” – fought against the song’s inclusion on their debut album. Their reasoning was simple: Skid Row had played the song at concerts and gotten a major response from female fans. “We don’t want to be a chick band — we want to be a hard-rock band,” Bolan recalled thinking. “The label wanted it on there, and our management was telling us, ‘You guys are absolutely crazy if you don’t put this on there.’ And we were like, ‘Nope, we don’t want to be a ballad band.’” Needless to say, the musicians were overruled. “I Remember You” reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remains one of Skid Row’s most popular tunes.42. Starship, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”Among the onslaught of ‘80s brat pack films was Mannequin, starring Andrew McCarthy and Kim Cattrall. Director Michael Gottleib wanted a singular tune for the flick, so he called up acclaimed songwriters Albert Hammond and Diane Warren. Hammond happened to have gone through a divorce and was in the process of remarrying. ”What I said to Diane was, ‘It’s almost like they’ve stopped me from marrying this woman for seven years, and they haven’t succeeded. They’re not gonna stop me doing it,’” Hammond recalled to the BBC. “That’s when suddenly ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’ came up.” The tune was recorded by Starship and became a No. 1 smash.41. Aerosmith, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”Make it back-to-back hits on our list for Diane Warren, the acclaimed songwriter who certainly knows how to pen a strong power ballad. When Warren wrote this track specifically for the film Armageddon she envisioned a powerhouse female vocalist would sing it. Naturally, she was surprised when Aerosmith took on the tune. “I remember being at the Sunset Marquis Hotel, and sitting at the piano with [Steven Tyler] and teaching him the song and just having chills all over my body as I heard the song come to life with his voice and knowing what it was going to be,” Warren recalled to Performing Songwriter. “It was an amazing experience.”40. Bad English, “Price of Love”Even when Journey aren’t Journey, they still churn out heart-tugging ballads. Bad English, the supergroup which featured Jonathan Cain, Neal Schon and Deen Castronovo alongside singer John Waite, released their debut album in 1989. The LP’s third single was “Price of Love,” written by Cain. “It’s sort of a song about a vulnerable male,” the rocker explained to Songfacts. “John Waite’s character was always the bad boy of rock. It was just a song that said, ‘Forgive me. I still love you, but I’ve got these bad habits, I go out and mess up stuff.’ Like so many men do.”39. Bon Jovi, I’ll Be There For You”Here’s Jon Bon Jovi cropping up again, this time with his namesake band. The tune finds Bon Jovi pining for another chance with his lover, only to declare he’ll always be there for her, regardless of whether she takes him back or not. Released on their powerhouse 1988 album New Jersey, “I’ll Be There for You” became a melodramatic, chart-topping hit.38. Chicago, “You’re The Inspiration”Famed songwriter David Foster wrote this track with Peter Cetera in the early ‘80s, but it wasn’t originally meant for Chicago. It was country singer Kenny Rodgers who had originally asked the songwriters to collaborate, spurring their session together. Foster and Cetera came up with a structure, and the Chicago singer worked up lyrics while vacationing in Italy. When he returned to the States, Rodgers was no longer interested in the tune, so Cetera took it to his own band instead. It eventually became one of the biggest hits in Chicago’s catalog.37. Lita Ford & Ozzy Osbourne, “Close My Eyes Forever”A long night of drinking led Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne to create their power ballad duet, “Close My Eyes Forever.” The rockers were several drinks deep when they began messing around with song ideas and stumbled upon their hit. Ford, who was managed by Osbourne’s wife, Sharon, released the tune on her 1988 self-titled LP. It became a big success, peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the highest charting song of Osbourne’s solo career.36. Air Supply, “All Out of Love”Matters of the heart helped Australian soft rock duo Air Supply carve a successful career. Among their biggest hits, the classic power ballad “All Out of Love.” The song was initially a hit Down Under, albeit with slightly different lyrics. It originally went “I’m all out of love, I want to arrest you,” but famed record executive Clive Davis convinced the band to change it for the U.S. release. “He said, ‘In America they won’t understand that,’” Graham Russell recalled to Songfacts. “So he said, ‘What about ‘I’m all out of love, I’m so lost without you’?’ And I thought, Yeah, that sounds great.”35. Boston, “Amanda”Boston guitarist Tom Scholz originally came up with “Amanda” in 1980, but it didn’t get radio airplay until 1984. Even then, the release was accidental. Stations got a leaked version of the track due to a satellite mishap, leading “Amanda” to hit the airwaves much earlier than planned. The heartfelt tune was officially released in 1986 and became the band’s highest-charting single in the U.S., peaking at No. 1.34. Cheap Trick, “The Flame”It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of the ‘80s power ballad trend. Cheap Trick, who’d already achieved great success in the ‘70s, watched as many rock acts hit new commercial heights on the back of sappy tunes. In 1988, they finally joined the party. Needing a commercial comeback, the band enlisted outside songwriters at the suggestion of their label. One of the songs they were presented was “The Flame.” The band agreed to record it, even though they didn’t like it. Members reportedly walked out during the session, upset with what they deemed a subpar song for the group. Nevertheless, the plan worked. “The Flame” became the biggest hit of Cheap Trick’s career, hitting No. 1 and fueling their 10th album Lap of Luxury to platinum sales.33. Kiss, “Beth”Kiss certainly made their name with balls-to-the-wall rockers, rather than sentimental ballads. Still, “Beth” stands out in the band’s catalog, both for its uniqueness and its popularity. Drummer Peter Criss and guitarist Stan Penridge originally began working on the track – then called “Beck” – in the early ‘70s. When Criss joined Kiss in 1972, he brought “Beck” with him. The tune got reworked, with lyrical changes and, most importantly, a new name. “Beth” was released on Kiss’ 1976 album Destroyer and eventually became the group’s biggest commercial hit.32. The Bangles, “Eternal Flame”Songwriters Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly penned some of the biggest hits of the ‘80s, including Heart’s “Alone” (found elsewhere on this list). In 1988, they collaborated with the Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs to create the soaring tune “Eternal Flame.” The track’s imagery had an unlikely inspiration: While visiting Elvis Presley’s Graceland, Hoffs saw an eternal flame, dedicated to the singer’s memory. “I thought, ‘Well that’s a great title for a song,’” Sreinberg recalled to Songfacts. “So very quickly I wrote the rest of the lyrics for the song based on that title.”31. Genesis, “Throwing It All Away”By the time Genesis released “Throwing it All Away” in 1986, the band was well and truly into their pop rock stage, having evolved form their early prog roots. Still, while “Throwing it All Away” certainly had enough heartsick overtones to keep mainstream listeners entertained, its layered background harmonies and bluesy bass line offered just enough high-art to keep the band’s early fans happy.30. Nazareth, “Love Hurts”More than 20 years after the Everly Brothers released their original version of “Love Hurts,” Nazareth turned it into a hit. The Scottish band’s power ballad rendition failed on initial release in 1974, but a year later it became an unexpected hit in South Africa. The band’s label opted to give it another try in the U.S., to great success. The single climbed to No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remains the biggest hit of Nazareth’s career.29. Whitesnake, “Is This Love”Don’t let David Coverdale’s chiseled looks fool you, he’s actually a big softy. The Whitesnake singer bares his heart on this 1987 classic, as he’s caught up in a romance that’s “really got a hold” on him. Interestingly, Coverdale originally wrote the track for another artist. Tina Turner, fresh off the huge success of “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”, was looking for new material. Coverdale planned to give her “Is This Love?”, but had a change of heart after reworking the tune with Whitesnake guitarist John Sykes.28. Berlin, “Take My Breath Away”This passionate ballad soundtracked the love scene in 1986’s Top Gun. New wave band Berlin, who by this point had already put out three albums, was recruited to record the track. “We were approached by the producer Giorgio Moroder, who had worked with David Bowie and Blondie and was putting together the soundtrack for this movie Top Gun,” singer Terri Nunn recalled to the Sunday Express in 2006. “He said, ‘I’ve got this great ballad, it’s going to be the sound of the summer, it’s going to be huge, you have to do it.’ I was happy to go ahead, but John Crawford (the band’s co-founder) hated it – he kept saying it just wasn’t our sound or the right direction for us as a band, and that if we didn’t write it we shouldn’t record it.” Crawford would be overruled, “Take My Breath Away” would become Berlin’s biggest hit and the track even won an Academy Award.27. Guns N’ Roses, “Patience”The rush-released second album from Guns N’ Roses, GN’R Lies, pales in comparison to the albums that came before and after it. However, the LP’s crown jewel is “Patience,” a tender acoustic ballad penned by Axl Rose. As the one single from Lies, “Patience” climbed to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also, arguably, showcases the finest whistling contribution of Rose’s storied career.26. Bon Jovi, “Always”Jon Bon Jovi originally wrote “Always” for the 1993 movie Romeo Is Bleeding, but when the rocker saw the film – which became a critical and commercial flop – he decided to take the song back. The tune instead ended up on Bon Jovi’s first greatest hits album, Cross Road. The epic ballad – which finds JBJ professing his undying love for a woman – reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. To date, it is the band’s final Top 10 hit.25. Styx, “Lady”Singer Dennis DeYoung wrote this heartfelt ballad for his wife Suzanne. It was rejected for Styx’s debut album, but eventually made it on their sophomore LP. Still, the tune – like all of Styx’s material at that point – failed to catch on. With no commercial success, the band was facing the grim possibility that their career was over before it began. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, “Lady” began picking up steam. A radio DJ in Chicago began playing the tune nightly, and fans gradually gravitated towards it. In 1975 – two years after it was released – the song peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. “I would have been done in music if ‘Lady’ hadn’t been a hit,” DeYoung later admitted. “I look at it and I think, ‘Wow! What a pivotal moment that that happened to me.’ It’s unbelievable to me, when I look back on it, how close we were to failure.”24. Roxette, “Listen to Your Heart”Swedish duo Roxette were inspired to write a stirring power ballad by listening to other power ballads. “The Big Bad Ballad,” guitarist Per Gessle later recalled. “This is us trying to recreate that overblown American FM-Rock sound to the point where it almost becomes absurd. We really wanted to see how far we could take it.” They took it all the way to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, one of Roxette’s four career chart-topping singles.23. Cutting Crew, “I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight”It was a night of passion that led Cutting Crew singer Nick Van Eede to pen his band’s biggest hit. The frontman was inspired following a brief fling with his ex-girlfriend. “We got back together for one night after a year apart and I guess there were some fireworks but all the time tinged with a feeling of ‘should I really be doing this?’” the singer explained to Songfacts. “I know it sounds corny but I awoke that morning and wrote the basic lyrics within an hour and wrote and recorded the demo completely within three days.”22. Def Leppard, “Love Bites”According to Def Leppard, “Love Bites.” Ok, that’s not all it does. Throughout the lyrics to this 1988 power ballad, love also bleeds, lives, dies, begs, pleads and “brings me to my knees.” Released as the sixth single from their massively successful Hysteria album, “Love Bites” became Def Leppard’s only song to reach No. 1 on the Billboard hot 100.21. Ozzy Osbourne, “Mama I’m Coming Home”The Prince of Darkness isn’t known for heart-on-your-sleeve emotion, but he got very personal for his 1991 single “Mama, I’m Coming Home.” The track, which was co-written with Lemmy Kilmister and Zakk Wylde, was inspired by Ozzy’s wife, Sharon. “I had been walking around with the melody in my head for a couple of years but never got a chance to finish it until I was working with Zakk on the No More Tears album,” Osbourne later explained. “At that time Zakk and I were doing a lot of writing on the piano. ‘Mama, I’m Coming Home’ was always something I’d say on the phone to my wife near the end of a tour.”20. Scorpions, “Wind of Change”Unlike many of the songs on our list, which were built upon emotions, Scorpions’ “Wind of Change” was built upon a movement. The band was inspired to write the track after seeing firsthand the impact of the U.S.S.R.’s demise and the fall of the Berlin Wall. While visiting Moscow in 1989, singer Klaus Meine was struck by the way people were suddenly coming together. “We were on this boat with all the bands, with MTV journalists, with Red Army soldiers,” he explained to Rolling Stone. “It was an inspiring moment for me. It was like the whole world was in that one boat talking the same language: music.”19. Poison, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”It’s a tale as old as time: Boy falls in love with an exotic dancer, boy goes on tour with his rock band then calls her from the road, boy hears another man’s voice in the background and realizes she is cheating on him. That was the scenario for Poison singer Bret Michaels, who turned his heartache into the hugely successful power ballad “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn.” “I remember using a pay phone to call this girl I was dating,” Michaels recalled to Rolling Stone. “We were on the road, touring in our Winnebago, and my relationship was falling apart. I still have the yellow legal pad I wrote it on. There are, like, a bazillion verses that I later edited down.”18. Phil Collins, “Against All Odds”When movie director Taylor Hackford approached Phil Collins about contributing to the soundtrack of his 1984 film Against All Odds, the Genesis rocker just happened to have a tune set aside that he was planning to leave off his debut solo album. Collins reworked the track to fit the movie, and it quickly became a worldwide hit. “That song was written during my first divorce,” the rocker later recalled to NRP. “My first wife and the kids had gone and I was left there. The song was written out of experience as opposed to a ‘what if’ song.”17. Journey, “Open Arms”One of the greatest power ballads ever recorded almost didn’t get recorded at all. Jonathan Cain came up with the initial concept for “Open Arms” while he was still in the Babys, but the band’s lead singer, John Waite, rejected the tune. Undeterred, Cain revisited the track after joining Journey. Steve Perry was on board and helped finish writing the song, but guitarist Neal Schon disliked “Open Arms” and tried to get it shelved. Cain and Perry were proven right when the tune became Journey’s highest charting single, helping push 1981’s Escape to over 10 million sales in the U.S.16. Boston, “More Than a Feeling”Nostalgia and heartache collide on Boston’s 1976 classic, “More Than a Feeling.”Guitarist Tom Scholz wrote the tune after pondering the connection between songs and memories. “Music brings back very vivid memories, and it does it almost instantly and uncontrollably,” Scholz explained in a 2015 interview. “The whole theme of the song is, of course, when you hear a song that they used to play, it brings you back to that point in time, and reminds you of something good or bad. In the case of ‘More Than a Feeling’ it was sort of a bittersweet ballad.”15. Bonnie Tyler, “Total Eclipse of the Heart”If there’s one non-performer who perfectly latched on to the ‘80s theatrical trend, it was songwriter and producer Jim Steinman. He was behind the scenes of some of the biggest hits on this list, including Bonnie Tyler’s timeless 1983 power ballad, “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Inspired by Nosferatu, Steinman created an operatic narrative with a theme he coined “love in the dark.” Still, it was Tyler who brought the track to life, electrifying the lyrics with her powerful and distinctive voice.14. Warrant, “Heaven”Jani Lane wrote the song “Heaven” when he was in his early band, Plain Jane. When the singer joined Warrant in 1986, the song came with him. “Heaven” eventually became the band’s biggest hit, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Warrant, and Lane in particular, suffered backlash from some in the rock community who felt that the power ballad was cheesy. “It sucks that I get labeled as a ballad writer, but I figure, if I write good ballads, then screw it, I write good ballads,” Lane told BAM magazine in 1992. “I’ve never been one of those people that think if it’s not X amount heavy, that it’s not cool. The people who disrespect me because I don’t apologize for writing a ballad now and then, I just can’t relate to that. Seriously, if anyone ever walked up to me and said ‘The Long and Winding Road’ is a wimp song. I’d probably hit ’em! I like both extremes – the heavy metal and the ballads. A good song is a good song.”13. Mr. Mister, “Broken Wings”Though Mr. Mister has faded into the annals of ‘80 history alongside other short-lived stars of the era, their song “Broken Wings” continues to resonate. Frontman Richard Page and guitarist Steve George wrote the tune with lyricist John Lang, creating a lasting ode to repairing love that’s been torn to disarray.12. Journey, “Faithfully”From the moment the opening piano part to Journey’s “Faithfully” kicks in, eyes everywhere begin to swell. The emotional power ballad was inspired by the rock band’s life on the road – glamorous, sure, but also incredibly difficult on relationships. Keyboardist Jonathan Cain penned the tune, an idea he wrote on a napkin while riding on the tour bus between concerts.11. REO Speedwagon, “Keep on Loving You”Frontman Kevin Cronin famously wrote “Keep on Loving You” after discovering his wife had cheated on him. “I always believed that people are capable of changing, and that if your life runs into a tough spot, it doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to run from it,” the singer explained to Songfacts decades later. “You can also look it in the eye, and if there is enough worthwhile in the relationship to keep it going, then you give it all you’ve got, and that’s what I did.” In Cronin’s case, it didn’t work. He and his wife divorced in 1992. But “Keep on Loving You” has continued to be eternal, reaching No. 1 and remaining one of REO Speedwagon’s most beloved tracks.10. Bryan Adams, “Heaven”Even if you’re a hardcore film buff, you probably don’t remember A Night In Heaven, the 1983 movie about a male stripper who seduces his college professor. It was a critical and commercial bomb, but one glimmer of success emerged from the project: Bryan Adams’ soaring track “Heaven.” The tune was written for the film and originally featured on the soundtrack, before later getting released on Adams’ 1984 LP Reckless. The singer and his co-writer, Jim Vallance, were reportedly inspired to write the song after Adams toured with Journey and witnessed firsthand the power of power ballads.9. Night Ranger, “Sister Christian”Part of “Sister Christian”’s inescapable allure is its slow, steady build. The Night Ranger tune starts with a piano solo intro, then gradually vocals and subtle synth strings creep in. Things build again when the drums and guitars get added, just in time for the first chorus. By the time “Sister Christian” hits its triumphant peak, listeners have been taken on a rousing emotional journey. It’s the perfect fist-in-the-air rock formula.8. Meat Loaf, “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”Jim Steinman (remember him from earlier?) enjoyed many successes, but the songwriter and producer’s biggest collaborator was undoubtedly Meat Loaf. The two had a natural chemistry, as the singer’s bombastic delivery seemed tailor made for Steinman’s theatrical style of writing. The two had a falling out and didn’t work together through most of the ‘80s, an era that coincided with Meat Loaf’s fall from commercial success. His comeback album would be Bat Out of Hell II, released in 1990. Steinman wrote and produced the material, including the hugely popular track “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That).” The dramatic tune seemingly became the world’s guilty pleasure overnight, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and pushing Bat Out of Hell II to multi-platinum sales.7. Aerosmith, “Dream On”It’s the song that brought Aerosmith to the masses, a powerful and stirring tune about chasing one’s aspirations. And yet when Joe Perry was first presented with “Dream On,” he didn’t like it. “Back in those days you made your mark playing live. And to me rock ‘n’ roll’s all about energy and putting on a show,” the guitarist admitted. “Those were the things that attracted me to rock ‘n’ roll, but ‘Dream On’ was a ballad.” Though Perry was against the tune, he agreed to record it after recognizing its potential to get radio airplay. “If you wanted a top forty hit, the ballad was the way to go,” the rocker noted. Sure enough, “Dream On” – powered by Steven Tyler’s commanding vocals – became Aerosmith’s breakthrough track.6. Motley Crue, “Home Sweet Home”Inspired by extensive touring that had kept them on the road for 18 months, Motley Crue wrote “Home Sweet Home” in 1985. Initially, their label tried to keep it off of their Theatre of Pain LP, insisting the Crue was not a ballad band. Conversely, Nikki Sixx and his bandmates liked the idea of going against the grain. “I think the reason we did it was because it was so anti-Motley Crue,” the bassist admitted during a radio interview with Redbeard, adding that no one in the band “had the foresight” to see the song’s crossover potential. “Home Sweet Home” got huge exposure on MTV and helped build the Crue’s fanbase beyond the typical rock crowds. According to Sixx, it also helped other artists. “Bands didn’t have a power ballad and MTV as a vehicle to have a hit,” the bassist explained. “After ‘Home Sweet Home’, every band had the one ballad that came as their second or third single.”5. Foreigner, “I Want To Know What Love Is”In 1984, Foreigner’s Mick Jones was surrounded by change, both good and bad. The rocker had gotten divorced and met someone new who he intended to marry. Meanwhile, the band was shifting as the relationship between Jones and singer Lou Gramm began to fracture. One night, Jones was struck with an idea and quickly got out of bed to hammer out the notes. The rocker woke his fiance to play her what he had. “I said, ‘I’ve got this great idea.’ I had the first two chords of the intro and the title,” Jones explained to UCR in 2013. “And she said, ‘Well, what’s it called?’ I said, ‘Well, it’s called ‘I Want to Know What Love Is.’ She looked at me and said, ‘What do you mean you want to know what love is? We’re about to get married!’ [Laughs] ‘Don’t you know what love is?’” Misunderstandings aside, Jones knew he had something special. The addition of the New Jersey Mass Choir really helped push “I Want to Know What Love Is” into another level of grandeur. Released in 1984, the song became the biggest hit of Foreigner’s career.4. Journey, “Don’t Stop Believin’”It is (unofficially) one of the most celebrated, covered, analyzed and performed songs in rock history. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” is a calculated and precise attack on a listener’s emotions. From the distinctive opening piano to the soaring guitar flurry and Steve Perry’s electrifying vocals, everything here is designed to build anticipation. It takes more than three minutes for the song’s chorus to arrive, and by the time it does, everyone within earshot is ready to sing along at the top of their lungs.3. Guns N’ Roses, “November Rain”At a time when every band from the Sunset Strip was delivering a cool new power ballad, Guns N’ Roses proceeded to outdo them all. The group’s magnificent 1991 single “November Rain” was a saga, complete with backing choir and strings. Reportedly, the tune had been gestating in frontman Axl Rose’s mind for close to 10 years before he was finally able to record it with the band. Even then, the original version was 20 minutes in length, before getting whittled down to just nine. Regardless, “November Rain” – and its equally ambitious music video – became the high water mark for hard rock.2. Heart, “Alone”In some alternate universe, Heart never records “Alone” and the song, instead, is forgotten after initially being recorded by the short-lived band i-Ten. Thankfully, we live in this universe where Heart did record “Alone,” turning into one of the greatest power ballads of all-time. So many parts of the 1987 single are perfect, from the distinctive keyboard lines to Nancy Wilson’s soaring harmonies. Still, it’s Ann Wilson’s operatic vocals that ignite the tune, singing with emotional fire unmatched by almost any other vocalist. It was incredibly hard to keep “Alone” out of our top spot on this list, but one song managed to do so.1. Prince, “Purple Rain”The emotion, the pageantry, the sheer epic-ness of it all – there’s simply no power ballad in rock history that compares with “Purple Rain.” The titular track from Prince’s 1984 masterpiece was originally imagined as a country-style duet that the Purple One hoped to work on with Stevie Nicks. When she declined, he took total control on his own. Prince once explained that “Purple Rain” was inspired by “the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you.” Though that deeper meaning may be lost on many listeners (us included), there’s no denying the song’s cross-generational appeal. In a career that featured many incredible tunes, “Purple Rain” may have been Prince’s greatest triumph.37 Rock Albums Recorded in Unconventional PlacesNo studio? No problem.Gallery Credit: Allison Rapp

Written by: Badlands Classic Rock

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