*Classic Rock wrote at loudersound.com on 14.2.15:
“What is a power ballad? In its purest, most drenched? Hyper-emotional? Agonising? In short: it’s a ballad with power. That’s the reason why, when assembling this list, we chose KISS’ massive Reason To Live above the less-than-massive Beth; Journey’s Open Arms instead of Don’t Stop Believin’; Bryan Adams’s Heaven in favour of (Everything I Do) I Do It For You. It’s also why Extreme’s More Than Words didn’t make the list at all.
You’d have thought compiling a list of the Top 40 power ballads of all time would’ve been easy. If only. By the end of a marathon judging session the assembled Classic Rock scribes were tearing their hair out. Thankfully, there was plenty to go around – we’d all had 1980s poodle perms especially for the occasion. The atmosphere got more heated than our curlers.
Eventually we boiled down the essential qualities of a power ballad into five key categories.
THE SURGE (also known as THE CRUNCH). Does the song ebb and flow gently, and then suddenly – when you least expect it – erupt with the gush of a tsunami?
THE SOAR. Does the song fly like an eagle, or does it ponce about like a penguin?
SINCERITY. Is the song gut-wrenching? Tear-drenched? Hyper-emotional? Agonising? In short: does it come from the (ideally shattered) heart?
FLUFFINESS. An essential counter-balance to the surge and the soar.
Finally, THE CHEESE. This relates to over-the-top lyrics sung in a pleading, often tormented, manner. It could apply to couplets such as ‘I’m gonna keep on lovin’ you/It’s the only thing I wanna do’, or to exaggerated statements about plummeting to the ground on broken wings, doing it for the glory of love, holding on and never saying goodbye, et cetera.
We diligently applied those criteria to come up with our 40 greatest power ballads. Which explains why there’s no Queen (too theatrical), Michael Bolton (too wimpy) or Celine Dion (too crap).
And no band has more than one entry. That’s because if certain Classic Rock factions had had their way, our list would’ve contained nothing but Toto and REO Speedwagon songs.
Let us know what you think of our selection. If you reckon we’ve made any glaring omissions, please tell us. In the meantime, grab hold of that lighter and hold it proudly aloft.
Hang on to your handkerchiefs. We’re going in…”