Power ballads: They’re some of music’s most powerful expressions. While their popularity exploded in the ‘80s, they can be found in multiple decades, as is evident in our list.
According to Cambridge University Press’ academic journal Popular Music, “The power ballad has become a mainstay of popular music since the 1970s…The songs are defined by the use of both a musical formula based on constant escalation and an expressive formula that combines the euphoric uplift created by rousing music with sentimental themes and ploys.”
The journal further notes that power ballads aren’t exclusively rock songs. In fact, many songs from the 1970s that are considered power ballads fall under the pop genre. In the 1960s, many songs considered power ballads had more R&B elements to them.
However, the grand nature of the power ballad lent itself well to the rock music of the 1980s. During that time, everything was “bigger,” and we aren’t just talking about hair and shoulder pads. Personalities seemed bigger. The stakes for fame seemed bigger. There was a kind of boldness that was only of that time.
With all of this in mind, our list of the 50 Best Power Ballads below might include some surprising songs. However, it will also include entries you’d expect to see on this list.
There is one other parameter that was set for this list: Bands/artists will only be represented by one song to provide for a fun variety. However, solo tracks and band recordings count as two separate entries. This means certain musicians might show up more than once on this list. (Spoiler: We’re looking at you Jon Bon Jovi! And really, how could we not look at JBJ, am I right?!)
Without further ado, bust out your lighters and enjoy our list of the 50 Best Power Ballads!