Boo Mama is one of my favorite bloggers, (apart from her obsession with reality T.V. which is easily compensated by her obsession with bacon) and her blog rarely fails to cheer me up on a blah day. Today however, I believe she made an error both in judgment and in definition, and I would like to open the debate here.
Boo Mama includes the following in her list of artists who perform “Power Ballads” :
- Whitney Houston
- Kenny Loggins
- Marilyn Martin
- Celine Dion
I believe this is a grievous insult to the power ballad genre. I heartily believe that a power ballad must be performed by big haired, shirtless bad boys playing a progression of power chords on the electric guitar. It must contain both a guitar solo, and a drum lead up to the chord change at the bridge. Many people erroneously include “More than Words” as a power ballad because it is performed by a hair band; but being acoustic it is hardly power, and merely ballad. Including Celine Dion, however, in the power ballad world is, I believe, a complete misunderstanding of the nature of the power ballad.
Jon Bon Jovi is, of course, the power ballad champion. Chicago, while producing some excellent ballads, were never sponsored by Aquanet and Spandex. Whitney Houston and Kenny Loggins don’t even make it to the category – despite my LOVING “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and “Return to Pooh Corner”.
So, in response to Boo Mama’s post, here is MY top ten Power Ballads of All Time:
1o. Every Rose Has It’s Thorn (Poison) – the perfect combination of angst and totally meaningless lyrics. It also has the benefit of being a “fan sorter” ballad. If you liked this song, you weren’t a real Poison fan, and if you were a real Poison fan, you hated this song.
9. When I See You Smile (Bad English) – I once had a cassette (remember those?) with this one song recorded 15 or 16 times continuously to avoid that annoying rewind button. It also has that endearing quality that I can now sing it softly to my children as a lullaby with no creep out factor at all.
8. Love and Affection (Nelson) – I owned this single and actually wore it out. A few years ago I found the full album on cassette in a box. I wore that out too. I mean how can you not love a song that includes the line “I gave up my pride to save it from being alone”? I know Nelson didn’t have big hair, but they had a lot of hair, so I think they count.
7. Heaven (Warrant) – This song begs for lighters to be held in air and waved back and forth.
6. Angel (Aerosmith) – My first slow dance at 14. I still have the vinyl 45 of this song. Talk about old school
5. Love Hurts (Nazareth) – The most depressing song ever recorded. When I was touring, this song was in the soundtrack of our play. I heard it more than 100 times and I still don’t hate it.
4. When I’m With You (Sheriff) – Apparently I like songs that make the word “baby” stretch out to four or five syllables. Actually, it’s the pretty decent voice on the lead singer and the clean harmonies over the power chords that makes this one high on my list. Just kidding. It’s a sappy chick song.
3. Love (Petra) – I can’t have a list like this without mentioning Petra which was THE Christian hair band, but with depth and theological accuracy. We still listen to our Beyond Belief CD.
2. Every Bon Jovi ballad. There are too many to list. Like I said, he’s the Power Ballad champion.
1. Anything For Love (Meatloaf) – Can there be any other song at the top of a list like this? I mean, the singer named himself after a meal most closely identified with suburban housewives in the ’50’s and he still managed to be in the original bad boys of music. This song has everything: the power chords, the drums, the hair, the lack of shirt. It is the ultimate Power Ballad.
So: do you agree with me or disagree? Who would top your list of power ballad artists? What about your favorite power ballad of all time? The debate is now open: