20+ Bitchin' Power Ballads & Slow(er) Rock Songs

This list contains some of the best songs of all-time, and by that rationale, some of the best power ballads of all-time.

Get your lighters out, folks, you're gonna need them.

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)

Every Rose, a number one hit on the Billboard Chart, is among the all-time best songs of the glame genre. It's also stunningly non-glam, save C.C. DeVille's tone on the solo. It give Hair Metal a crew cut.

All that said, it's arguably Poison's best song.

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".

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:

High Enough (Damn Yankees)

When rock and roll all-stars from the 70s forms an 80s glam supergroup, you get a song like 1990's High Enough. It's kind of a beautifully haunting duet, until The Nuge bursts through the door in a Zebra print cape that matches his axe and a pair of Oakley Shades that look like they belong to an Outfielder trying to block the sun from his eyes during an afternoon ballgame.

The video is a Bonnie & Clyde story where the guy just leaves Maybe to get caught by the single cop who is in no way, shape or form tougher than him. It's kind of pathetic.

To answer your question, "How did we know her name was Maybe?", easy, High Enough is the sequel to Coming of Age, Damn Yankees other hit. Bassist Jack Blades of Night Ranger lets us all know just before the song's pre-chorus.

By the end of High Enough, Maybe is definitely getting the death penalty. What's funny is that it's usually the guy who goes down in a blaze of glory, not the high-laced stocking stunner.

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:

Home Sweet Home (Motley Crue)

The darlings of Arena Rock tickle the keys until they giggle up this paean to touring. Motley Crue had many hit songs, but Home Sweet Home might be the most famous. And yes, that's drummer Tommy Lee doing the tickling. Tommy Lee and tickling, two things were not even legally sure we can use in the same sentence.

You know the piano riff though. Everyone knows the piano riff.

In no world would we list Without You off of Dr. Feelgood ahead of Home Sweet Home on this list.

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:

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)

If you can work the lyrics, "When you breath, I wanna be the air for you" into a song, then you know you have a ballad. When Bon Jovi writes it though, that's what converts it into a power ballad. Hailing from New Jersey - both the band and the song - I'll Be There For You is the hit with the ladies that the band just didn't quite have on the first few albums.

Jovi guitarist, Richie Sambora's opening riff is elegant in it's simplicity.

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position: N/A

I Remember You (Skid Row)

Bas displays some serious vocal plumage on this Bolan and Sabo penned track off of Skid Row's debut album.

"Love letters in the sand" is everything you need to know about I Remember You. Well, beyond Sebastian Bach's way huge outro vocals. He was arguably the best singer in the genre.

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position: N/A

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.

I Still Think About You is the power ballad that Ted Poley 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.

That's why the album is called, Screw It!

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position: N/A

Is This Love (Whitesnake)

Is This Love is a steamy midnight argument disguised as a slow glam metal song. It's also Episode 3 in the Tawny Kitaen Whitesnake Video Quartet. Tawny made everyone's heart flutter in those video performances.

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position: N/A

Love Song (Tesla)

The intro alone makes this song off of The Great Radio Controversy an all-timer. Hannon and Skeoch go hard on two guitars and deliver one of the most triumphant acoustic intros in rock. Ever.

Love Song is the best song Tesla ever wrote. Drama, tension, release. A fun solo. Good lyrics. Huge chorus. And a walk them back to their cars after the show outro.

Love is gonna find a way!

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.


US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position: 12

Miss You In A Heartbeat (Def Leppard)

Joe Elliot does Joe Elliot things on 1992's Miss You In A Heartbeat. And that was getting all of the ladies fawning over his new lux apartment overlooking the British countryside. That and his cool new finely trimmed goatee.

The video is outstanding. Long-haired Phil Collen hasn't been seen since. Neither has Joe's white piano. And for that matter, neither has any of Vivian Campbell's Dio-style solos. You can see him reminiscing his former chops around 3:18 toward the end of Collen's six-string soloing.

A song that ended up on the cutting floor of Adrenalize, Miss You In A Heartbeat surfaces during the decline of the hair metal sound. That doesn't mean it wasn't huge success for the boys from Sheffield. That said, Love Bites it was not.

Still, a softer power ballad from Def Leppard, one for softer times.

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)

Modern day opera in the early 90s and modern day classic rock in the 20s, November Rain was Act 2 in a G'N'R video trilogy, alongside Don't Cry and Estranged.

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:

Sister Christian (Night Ranger)

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:

Surrender (Trixter)

Surrender is one of the most underrated ballads of the entire glam genre. Trixter, of Paramus, New Jersey fame, pens a heartfelt tune that hits us with a cool, mega-synth intro. It then gets (too) Pachabel-y, before backing off and sounding like a legit singer-songwriter hit in the Brooklyn open mic circuit of the early 90s.

Pete Loran really does sound authentic singing this tune. He must really miss the babe.

What Does It Take (Honeymoon Suite)

The ending to the Cusack-led, One Crazy Summer, What Does It Take hits all of the expected choral notes with such drama and passion that you'd have thought a robot wrote and performed the song. That's not to say it's bad or it's lifeless - it's not - it's just that the song is highly formulaic.

But hey, how to write a power ballad, Honeymoon Suite. A Canadian one at that, eh.

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)

One wind of change is not powerful enough to knock down the Berlin Wall or to stop the Cold War. Winds of change, those could be. That's the power of rock.

US Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:

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

Non Hair Metal Power Ballads

Power Ballads are a know-it-when-you-hear-it kind of song. It also helps when you have Jim Steinman writing for you, as is the case with Meat Loaf's #1 hit below from Bat Out of Hell and Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart. Also, props to backup singer Rory Dodd for crushing Total Eclipse with Bonnie.

  • Don't Stop Believin' (Journey)
  • I Don't Want To Miss a Thing (Aerosmith)
  • I'd Do Anything For Love (but I Won't Do That) (Meat Loaf)
  • I Want To Know What Love Is (Foreigner)
  • Keep On Loving You (REO Speedwagon)
  • Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler)

Songs That Are Not Power Ballads

Some people will label anything a power ballad. That's just not in keeping with the spirit of the song format. A slow pop rock tune, or hard rock, as in the case of Nothing Else Matters from Metallica, shouldn't automatically be conferred the status of "power ballad".

Like, as awesome as It's Only Love is, and Bryan Adams and Tina Turner slay on that track, it's just isn't power.

  • Broken Wings (Mr. Mister)
  • Drive (The Cars)
  • Eternal Flame (The Bangles)
  • (I Just) Died In Your Arms (Cutting Crew)
  • It's Only Love (Bryan Adams and Tina Turner)
  • Love Hurts (Nazareth)
  • Nothing Else Matters (Metallica)
  • Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now (Starship)
  • Open Arms (Journey)
  • Without You (Air Supply)

Along with any song from Boston, Phil Collins or Queensrÿche. And as for Ozzy Osbourne, you can't be slinging power ballads if your radio station is called Ozzy's Boneyard.

However, Chicago might have had one with the hit song, Look Away.

Related Posts

All Posts

Popular Articles

References & Sources

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Pain_(Faster_Pussycat_song)
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_I_See_You_Smile
  3. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/jim-steinman-best-songs-1158493/