This week marks the seventh and final installment of my Essential Power Ballads series, at least as far as the classic songs are concerned. Next Tuesday, a bonus edition will be posted with some more modern power ballads!
The first track off of the band’s third album, the aptly-titled Third Stage, “Amanda” eventually became Boston’s highest-charting single in the United States. The band’s lead singer, the inimitable Brad Delp (who committed suicide in a bizarre fashion in 2007) passionately sings about telling the song’s namesake for the first time that he loves her. He relates in no uncertain terms what a nerve-wracking challenge that is for most men, so hopefully she returned the sentiment. The song also features a wailing solo from guitar genius Tom Scholz, who along with Delp’s vocals, provides much of the band’s signature sound.
Bad English- “When I See You Smile”
Bad English was something of a short-lived supergroup (a joint U.S./U.K. venture) that formed after Journey temporarily disbanded, and was comprised of the latter’s Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain, and was fronted by ex-Babys singer John Waite (who was also responsible for the huge hit “Missing You”) and his bandmate Ricky Phillips. “When I See You Smile”, from the band’s first of two albums, was a massive success, and became their first and only #1 hit in the United States. The tune starts out with a synth line, along with Waite’s soothing vocals, and launches into an arena-rocking chorus, and is of course completed by a shrieking guitar solo.
REO Speedwagon- “Can’t Fight This Feeling”
From REO Speedwagon’s 1984 offering Wheels Are Turnin’, this power ballad written by the band’s lead singer Kevin Cronin is about the simple and relatable thing that happens at least once to everyone, which is falling for someone you’ve been friends with for some time. With one of the most recognizable choruses to ever grace modern radio, the song became a #1 hit in the United States and still receives regular airplay today. The song even received the Glee treatment early on in the show’s first season, back when it was covering loads of classic rock songs. The band has an extensive catalog dating back to the 1960’s, but if you’re looking for their heyday, grab their stuff from the 80’s.
Chicago– “I Don’t Want To Live Without Your Love”
It’s been said that “Chicago is one of those bands you never realized how many of their songs you actually know, and those songs make you sway at your desk at work like a weirdo.” That was said by me. This band has been around for so long and has had so many hit singles, and you probably know many of them, and you definitely know this one. From their 1988 release Chicago 19 (yes, they were on their 19th album, in 1988), this power ballad will defy your ability to resist jamming out in your car as if no one can see through your windows as you’re driving. Songs like this, loaded with keyboards, guitar solos, and catchy choruses are why the 80’s were so goddamn great.
Winger- “Headed For a Heartbreak”
Winger makes its third appearance on this massive list of power ballads that you need in your life right now with their undeniable hit “Headed For a Heartbreak.” From the band’s 1989 self-titled debut, this song, if the title tells you anything, is a bit of a dark one. I can’t even really say that it’s catchy. However, it is arguably the band’s biggest song, it’s thoroughly haunting, and features not one, but two fairly ridiculous guitar solos courtesy of Reb Beach. And as usual, Kip Winger’s vocals are nothing to scoff at, even if Mike Judge made a living off of that with Beavis and Butt-head.
Come back next Tuesday for some modern day power ballads!