The 19 Best Power Ballads & Slow(er) Rock Songs

This list contains some of the best songs of all-time.

Don't Know What You Got (Til It's Gone) (Cinderella)

Those vocals from Tom Keifer. You really can't order those from anywhere other than Philadelphia.

Don't Know What You Got (Til It's Gone) starts like any famous piano rock song of the 70s and 80s, until Keifer's cheesesteak larynx griddles up the lyrics, "I can't tell ya baby what went wrong" to kick off the balladry. And that's why we are starting with this tune.

The MTV music video has Cinderella, a city bar band gone famous, hanging out in a Flintstones era mountain range with heavy glacial rock formations laid out around a lake (Mono Lake) where the band is pining for their love on the shoreline. Other than their instruments and clothing, there's not a human construct in sight until the bridge, when suddenly Keifer has his back to the brick wall of a building. Then suddenly there is an empty house.

Truth be told, we're of the entire belief though that Cinderella wrote this power ballad for the lake itself, and not a girl. Why? Because Mono Lake closed to the public) due to budget cuts a decade ago.

Too much arsenic in the water. And, maybe a little too much Mono if Cinderella were there. In fact, it used to just be called The Lake. You know what happened next.

Anyway, the band was actually way ahead of their time and staunch proponents of progressive funding for natural conservation. It's almost like they hopped into a phonebooth, saw the future, then returned to pen their biggest hit.

Because ranking 12th on the Billboard Hot 100 is no joke. Good on you, Cinderella.

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position: 12

Every Rose Has Its Thorn (Poison)

Fly To The Angels (Slaughter)

As true today as it was in 1990, when Fly To The Angels was released, babes yelling your first hit is a good way to remind your audience that you wrote that song too. Such is how Slaughter kicks off the video for their 2nd hit single.

Fly to the Angels starts very, very, very boy band-y from ol' Mark Slaugther. Actually, it's the verses themselves that sound that way. The seagull pick scrapes from the late Tim Kelly really Bob Ross the vignette that Mark is trying to paint.

Wait, who exactly is Fly To The Angels about? Is it a dead lover? Is it the family dog? He smiles far too much in the video for it to be about a dead lover.

Unless he really hated the bitch ...

Nah, jokes aside, maybe it's just about another bird that Slaugther's condor vocals soared with. Plus, he can't suggest she "Vaya Con Dios", cause that's a Bodhi/Utah thing, so Slaughter just recommends she stay with Angels instead.

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position: 19

Heaven (Warrant)

Balladry wrapped in white leather is still balladry, as evidenced by the band, Warrant with their 1989 hit single, "Heaven".

High Enough (Damn Yankees)

Home Sweet Home (Motley Crue)

House of Pain (Faster Pussycat)

Avid watchers of Peacemaker and astute connoisseurs of the Hair Metal genre will note that not only does Faster Pussycat's House of Pain get layered over a major scene of the show, but that the album itself appears in a crate in Episode 1.

So yeah, rudimentary mathematics would suggest that hair metal balladry vanquishes villainous Butterflies. And evil ex-girlfriends.

Not too many glam tunes had a harmonica. Jimmy Zavala's hand brass really shines on the 1989 track off Wake Me When It's Over.

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position: 28

I'll Be There For You (Bon Jovi)

I Remember You (Skid Row)

I Still Think About You (Danger Danger)

Patty Smyth and Don Henley Danger Danger is not. It should be noted that having a world class guitar player like Andy Timmons does not guarantee commercial success.

With the rules of engagement agreed to, our thoughts are that I Still Think About You is DD's attempt at writing the sequel to Every Rose Has Its Thorn. There's a right way and a wrong way to pen a sequel.

In the correct column are things like Empire Strikes Back, Terminator 2, and Coheed and Cambria's followed up to Jessie's Girl. In the failed column is I Still Think About You.

But we love it nevertheless. Why? Because bad 80s metal is like pizza and sex. Let's examine why.

"Lying all alone in bed. Crazy thoughts running through my head. Thinkin' about you. Tryin' hard to let it go. My head says yes but my heart says no. I wish I never had to choose."

Annnnnnd, scene. Thanks, Mr. Poley for singing what sounds like the happiest breakup song. Does anyone really believe that he misses her? He's on to the next city on tour. He wants her to believe that he cares, that way he has a layup the next time Danger Danger comes rippin' through her city.

I Still Think About You is the power ballad that was penned about Cincinatti's girl while Pittsburgh's girl was on his lap in the Green Room and Andy is strumming his 12 string aimlessly.

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position: N/A

Miles Away (Winger)

Winger does so many Winger things on Miles Away. You can almost feel Kip's exposed chest hair in the strain of his pained vocals when he sings, "When times were tough, and you were down and out. Who was there by your side? Now you've gone, I'm so tired of bein' alone. With only your promises."

Without Reb Beach, Miles Away might almost be Boy Meets Girl's "Waiting for a Star to Fall". Seriously, swap the heavily overdriven guitar for bitchin' saxophone work and add a female vocalist, and BAM!, Winger is on the soundtrack for Three Men and a Little Lady.

Sidenote: Selleck's character in the 1987 movie was named Pete Mitchell. How did no one ever discuss that he and Maverick have the same name?! Especially in 1987, just one year after Top Gun came out.

In fairness, the answer is that people were classy in the 80s. If it came out today, Three Men and a Baby would star Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller, where Jordan and Teller's characters refer to Efron as Mav and tell every girl she's lost that loving feeling.

And ... wait, isn't Teller actually in the Top Gun sequel? This stuff just writes itself.

MILLLLLLES AWAY!

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position: 12

Miss You In A Heartbeat (Def Leppard)

Joe Ell

More Than Words Can Say (Alias)

On the cusp, if not a bit more, of just being flat out soft rock is Alias's More Than Words Can Say. Among the least remembered of all power ballads, and bands for that matter, Alias manages to slide a hit tune onto the airwaves in 1990 that gets some folks confused with Extreme's own More Than Words - which is not a power ballad at all.

The song went on to hit #2 on the charts when absolutely no one was looking. It must have been that last week in August before kids return to school and everyone gets one last crack at vacation. Seriously, hands up if you've heard this song before.

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position: 2

November Rain (Guns N' Roses)

Sister Christian (Night Ranger)

Surrender (Trixter)

What Does It Take (Honeymoon Suite)

When I See You Smile (Bad English)

Eschewing the break-up/post break-up mentality of most power ballads is When I See You Smile from Bad English. An uplifting tune about facing life's challenges, energized from the power of a smile. That's because Bad English lead singer John Waite saves his sad breakup tunes (Missing You) for his solo work.

No one has made smiling seem so tough. Not before, and definitely not since 1989.

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position: 1

Winds of Change (Scorpions)

Bonus Power Ballads

Community Property (Steel Panther)

Satchel and the boys turn what was once just a Monopoly card into one of the most expressive tributes to touring life and relationships ever put to record. And we know this, because the 19th lyrical word is "hooker".

Love Is Only a Feeling (The Darkness)

Leaving The Darkness off of this list would have been cruel and tragic, as their performance shenanigans are cheeky and fun. Like filming the video for their ballad, Love Is Only a Feeling at the top of mountain, just 20 or so feet from the edge of the cliff.

We at Hair & Flannel openly disagree with the decision to let lead vocalist Justin Hawkins, one of the last great frontmen in rock, get anywhere near potential death.

Wait, we take that all back. Be you, Mr. Hawkins. Always be you.

As for Love Is Only a Feeling, it has all of the elements. Falsetto vox, big power chords, harmonized solo lines with Brother Hawkins, straightforward beat.

And, excellent lyrics. Tell us of another band that used the word "systematically" in a song. It's ok, we'll wait.

The Ballad (Bang Camaro)

It's called "The Ballad" ... need we say more?!

Bang Camaro was a tour de force is gang vocals, guitar work, lyric writing, and, lastly, naming their songs.

Speaking of lyric writing, The Ballad is upper echelon work. Four lines of pure, 100% Colombian excellence.

Bang Camaro The Ballad lyrics

Hey man, it's alright
We're just gonna take your girl home tonight
No we're not lookin' for a fight
We're just gonna be you tonight

Sources