Monday, April 29, 2013

The Most Powerful '80s Power Ballads Of Incredible Power

The '80s didn't do everything well, but if there's one thing they knew how to do right, it was the power ballad.

Like Norse mythology, or American folk tales, the origins of the power ballad remain shrouded in mystery. Some would point to Aerosmith's "Dream On," others to Nazareth's "Love Hurts," and others still to the Carpenters' "Goodbye to Love." Is "Stairway to Heaven" a power ballad? Is "Free Bird"? I might even go out on a limb and suggest that the album version of "Let It Be," with George's "stinging" guitar solo, may have arguably been the first power ballad. But like that fabled fish who managed to grow legs and crawl onto land, the truth is that there may not have been just one. We'll never be able to pinpoint that one defining moment where the universe decreed, "May the power ballad be with thee now."

But, fortunately, there is a God. And that God loves power ballads. However, the inner workings of the form are often misdiagnosed. What most music aficionados may not understand is that a power ballad doesn't necessarily get its power from the loud guitars or the screeching vocals. Oh no. The power ballad gets its power from its power. Or rather, it's not necessarily the instrumentation that blows you away; it's the epic strength of the melody. You can have all the ear-shredding solos and vocal overdubs you want, but if it's five seconds before the chorus, and you're not feeling that special anticipatory tingle in every fiber of your body, then you may have a nice song, but you, my friend, do not have a power ballad.

Note: I envision this series as being one of my looser ones, disappearing for long stretches of time, only to reappear in a haze of keyboards and swaying candles.


Herr Zrbo said...

Looking forward to this one.

Little Earl said...

Same here. Gonna be a couple more days.

Justin Hastings said...

Love Power Ballads. And big hair, but mostly power ballads.

Little Earl said...

Yes, Justin, whenever I think of you, I always think of your big hair. So get out that blow drier and enjoy.