8. I Remember You – Skid Row: These guys emerged at the end of Hair Metal’s heyday. They broke with Youth Gone Wild, a rocking anthem that boosted them to overnight fame and fortune. The well-received 18 and Life came next, after which the band took it down a notch with I Remember You. Soon after this song was released, Nirvana and Pearl Jam took all the attention away from the hair bands, which was probably a good thing: Trixter, Winger, Warrant and the other early ’90s metal bands really lacked originality.
7. Love Bites – Def Leppard: Would you believe out of all the incredible songs Def Leppard has released, Love Bites was the only one to hit #1 in the United States? After the success of Pour Some Sugar On Me, the band did what all hair metal bands did after putting out a hit, they released a power ballad. Love Bites may feature some cheesy lyrics, but which of these songs didn’t? My favorite part of the song is the little jam at the end of the song featuring a little duel between guitarists Steve Clark and Phil Collen. Good stuff.
6. Silent Lucidity – Queensryche: I was never into Queensryche until the day I first saw the video for Silent Lucidity, another song that fits in both the rock epic and power ballad categories. The song’s Pink Floyd-like lyrics and terrific utilization of an orchestra made me run out and buy the album. Of course, I was 12 years old and wasn’t ready to explore the prog-rock stylings and just plain scary lyrics on the rest of Operation Mindcrime. I remember getting chills when Queensryche played Silent Lucidity live with an orchestra at the 1991 Video Music Awards — almost 17 years later it still brings chills.
5. Patience – Guns N’ Roses: In late 1988, GnR had become a major success and Geffen just couldn’t wait for Axl & Co. to record a new album (sound familiar?). The band quickly recorded four acoustic numbers, which the band threw together with four older live tracks as the Lies EP. In typical power ballad fashion, Patience was the single that came on the heels of the rockin’ Paradise City from Appetite For Destruction. The track starts slow with Axl Rose singing in very low tones before belting out the refrain in his high-pitched scowl, just in case anyone thought he lost his edge.
4. Sister Christian – Night Ranger: Boogie Nights has helped solidify Sister Christian’s slot as creator of one of the best power ballads in the history of rock. Like many of the songs on this list, Sister Christian begins softly and builds up to a powerful crescendo. Anyone that can listen to the song and not throw their fist in the air when the Motorin’ part begins must be a communist. Truth.
3. Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison: I’m pretty sure Every Rose Has Its Thorn did more to sell acoustic guitars than any other song in rock history. This classic tale of love lost was naturally written about a stripper that broke Bret Michael’s heart. Rule #1 about strippers Bret, never fall for them, just let them work their magic. Also, check out John Mayer’s version of the song from Chappelle’s Show.
2. November Rain – Guns N’ Roses: Good ol’ Hal Handstand thinks this one is a rock epic and belongs in a separate category. After watching this video for the first time in many years, I fully agree that November Rain is indeed a rock epic on par with Stairway To Heaven, Dream On and Layla. Yet the song was produced in the era of the Hair Band, and its slow tempo and sensitive lyrics make it a power ballad. A fucking awesome power ballad, but a power ballad nonetheless. They really don’t write genius-type songs like this anymore.
1. Home Sweet Home – Motley Crue: When the skirt-chasing badasses in Motley Crue released Home Sweet Home in 1985, it showed that Hair Metal bands could show their sensitive side without appearing soft. Home Sweet Home expanded the Crue fanbase to include more and more women, which was just fine with the men in the audience and, of course, the band. The song itself begins innocently enough with Tommy Lee playing a nice chord progression on the piano before the rest of the band comes in and adds some true power to this ballad about homesickness from life on the road.
In talking to many people about power ballads to compile this list, the only thing that is clear is that everyone has a different take on what rocks and what is cheesy. What are your favorite power ballads?