Monday, June 13, 2011

The Power Ballad

Ah yes, The Power Ballad. Some may prefer the term Heavy Ballad, others the Metal Ballad, you yourself may even say Hard Rock Ballad. Call it what you will, while this sub-sub genre certainly was not originated in the 80's, it is undoubtedly the decade when this particular form was perfected. The Power Ballad is quite simple in structure : a quiet bit in the beginning where the vocalist may highlight his "sensitivity", followed by a louder bit where the band may display its "sense of dynamics", Then the loudest bit, usually the chorus, to remind one that one is indeed listening to a hard rock/metal band, and at the mid point and the final coda, a guitar solo where because of the necessary slower tempo, the guitarist is permitted to display every single iota of chops he (or she) possesses. Sort of a reward for showing such restraint during the rest of the song. These of course are usually love songs (you know, "sensitivity" and all that), but not always.
During the 70's there were quite a few Power Ballads of note, Aerosmith's "Dream On", Boston's "More Than A Feeling", even Led Zeppelin's venerable "Stairway to Heaven" come to mind. But in the 80's the Power Ballad became one of the defining forms of the decade's rock, with every  hard rock/metal band worth its salt trying its hand at it, and some (Dokken,anyone?) making quite an annoying habit of it.
Any road, there were quite a few pearls among the proverbial swine, songs that more than justified the Power Ballad's existence. To follow are some of the better attempts. Let's see those lighters, people!

and perhaps the best of the bunch :


  1. Judgment Day is a great song!! I never considered that a power ballad for some reason. I always thought the main riff sounds a lot like the Super Mario Brothers music (think about it). I too get tired of the 80's power ballad but some of them are OK.

  2. I hear what you mean about the Super Mario Brothers,Brett. I included Judgement Day because although it is not a typical ballad, it contains the elements found in the average power ballad,and it's a love song. I concede it might be considered what you might call an epic metal song in the vein of Stairway To Heaven with its drama and bombast.

  3. Cinderella's "Don't Know What You Got Til It's Gone" is a great song. I have always loved the band. Great pick

    1. Cinderella is another favorite of mine,Ryan. They've produced quite a few quality power ballads in addition to great blues based hard rock.