Top 10 Rock Power Ballads

Traditional ballads express emotions through down-tempo melodies and somber tones. While that can certainly be the vibe for some of our moodiest days, they don’t hit quite as hard as their anthemic counterpart —the power ballad.

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The power ballad ruled the ’80s. Every rocker had to have at least one in their back pocket to whip out during a crowd-pleasing moment in their live sets.

Given the power ballad’s pervasiveness throughout the decade (along with the few that still pop up today), we have countless to choose from for this list. Even so, we managed to nail down our Top 10 power ballads and detailed them, below. Get those pipes ready to belt along.

10. “Home Sweet Home” (Mötley Crüe)

We’re starting off strong with Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home.” With the Crüe’s reputation in mind, their management wasn’t sold on the idea of “Home Sweet Home” when they first heard it. The band championed it hard and eventually earned it a spot on Theatre of Pain. The song soon became an influential force in the rock world.

“Bands didn’t have a power ballad and MTV as a vehicle to have a hit,” Nikki Sixx once said. “That just wasn’t the way it was. After ‘Home Sweet Home,’ every band had the one ballad that came as their second or third single.”

9. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” (Poison)

The power ballad allows fans to see a softer side of their favorite rockers. Poison, a band known for their glam metal bangers, had arguably their biggest success with a down-tempo ballad: “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” The song drove the band all the way to the No. 1 spot on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart, becoming their only chart-topper.

8. “Faithfully” (Journey)

Journey has a number of power ballads in their catalog, but the standout among the crowd has to be “Faithfully.” Steve Perry’s vocals fly high in this 1983 hit about the push and pull of love and fame. The melody of “Faithfully” is so quintessentially power balladesque, that Prince unintentionally used a similar one in his own power ballad, “Purple Rain.”

7. “Throwing It All Away” (Genesis)

Genesis’ “Throwing It All Away” uses a different formula than the rest of the songs on this list. Instead of slow-burning piano tracks that reach a dramatic precipice, this song keeps a steady tempo throughout. Nevertheless, “Throwing It All Away” qualifies as a power ballad thanks to Phil Collins’ emotive vocals and rocky production.

6. “You’re The Inspiration” (Chicago)

Through the lens of modern sensibilities, Chicago’s “You’re The Inspiration” can feel a bit kitschy. But, if you listen to it with an open heart and curb your fear of cheesiness, you’ll find this track to be a hard-hitting ballad that only a rocker could deliver. Listening to this track begs for closed eyes and a dramatic fist bump while you sing along to the line, You’re the meaning in my life / You’re the inspiration / You bring feeling to my life.

5. “I Want To Know What Love Is” (Foreigner)

“I Want To Know What Love Is” is insatiably catchy. Though you may not be able to hit exactly the same notes Lou Gramm does in this song, you won’t be able to stop the chorus from coming out of your mouth when this song comes on: I wanna know what love is / I want you to show me.

4. “Dream On” (Aerosmith)

Like “Home Sweet Home,” Aerosmith’s “Dream On” is an early steward of the power ballad movement. Steven Tyler delivers a bittersweet take on aging in this song, singing, Every time​ that I look in the mirror / All these lines on my face getting clearer / The past is gone / It went by like dusk to dawn.

3. “Purple Rain” (Prince)

When “Purple Rain” comes on, everything else seems to fade away. Prince pulls focus for nearly 10 minutes in this slow-building hit, coaxing out several guitar solos and an onslaught of piercing vocals. The emotion in “Purple Rain” is potent. It’s a head rush and a heartbreak all in one.

2. “November Rain” (Guns N’ Roses)

Guns N’ Roses allowed their softer side to peak through on “November Rain.” Axl Rose takes his sweet timing coming into this one, letting the anticipation bubble up before launching into the opening line, When I look into your eyes / I can see a love restrained.

1. “Alone” (Heart)

A power ballad needs a powerful voice and few voices are as powerful as Ann Wilson’s. Though Heart has many songs that could qualify for this list, we have to choose arguably the definitive power ballad: “Alone.” The 1987 hit puts Wilson’s soaring vocals front and center. Few songs capture the realization that you’re falling in love better than this one. Though many have tried, it’s hard to stack up to the firepower Wilson is dealing out in “Alone.”

Photo by Katarina Benzova / ID PR

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