Essential Power Ballads, Vol. 5

Volume 5 of this continuing series on the tear-jerking rock songs you need in your life is here!

Aerosmith– “Angel”

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Kicking off with a cascade of sound from the legendary Joe Perry’s guitar and Joey Kramer on the drums, this huge hit from Aerosmith’s 1987 album Permanent Vacation features impassioned vocals from frontman Steven Tyler, and an all-around emotional sonic landscape that you’d expect from any great power ballad. Seriously, you’re going to want to listen to the opening of the song over and over again. The 80’s rock music scene was obsessed with keyboards, and in this song, the band used the instrument to synthesize violin music. 

Tesla– “Love Song”

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Starting out with a twangy acoustic guitar bit that sounds like it was lifted from a waltz during a medieval wedding, this song from hard rock outfit Tesla urges that love can always be found if you look around enough, and does so with a rising tension that explodes into a massive final chorus. The band’s lead guitarist noodles along during that closing sing-along, and it’s all enough to give you goosebumps as you imagine being in the crowd at one of their shows, screaming along to every word.

Def Leppard– “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad”

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The title says it all for this desperate song that showed up on Def Leppard’s 1992 release Adrenalize. Lead singer Joe Elliot asks in the pleading chorus “Have you ever needed someone so bad? Have you ever wanted someone you just couldn’t have?,” likely knowing very well that the answer is “yes”. Everyone has been there, making this power ballad from the 80’s rockers a relatable one. Def Leppard has a great habit of having the whole band join in on the choruses, which makes those parts of their songs colossal, and this tune is no exception.

Bon Jovi– “Bed of Roses”

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From the band’s 1992 album Keep The Faith, long after their “hair metal” days were over, Bon Jovi comes across with one of the most beautifully written power ballads, and songs…ever. Once upon a time, Jon Bon Jovi was a storyteller extraordinaire, and this near-perfect power ballad reeks of his former genius as a songwriter. Jon on the piano and David Bryan on the keyboards worked amazingly together, and Richie Sambora’s guitar work was still exemplary. This is really a wonderful song, lyrically and musically.

Faster Pussycat– “House of Pain”

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What would a list of essential power ballads be without an impossibly sad song about daddy issues? Faster Pussycat, sometimes referred to as a “glam metal” or even a “sleaze rock” band wasn’t exactly known for this type of fare, but they pull it off well with this hit about a broken home from 1989’s Wake Me When It’s Over. Lead singer Taime Downe recalls life as a small child, and then again as a teenager, waiting for his father to come home, only to find out that he never would. They even throw in some harmonica for good measure.

The sixth volume of my guide to heartfelt rock ballads comes at you next Tuesday!

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