Power Ballad

A song by a band (typically, but not exclusively, a hard rock/heavy metal band) which is of a noticeably slower style than most of their fare. Sometimes overlaps with Black Sheep Hit, but this trope also covers songs that aren't necessarily popular. Can be be done to showcase their singer's voice.

A typical power ballad will open with a solo keyboard or acoustic guitar, with more instruments and more elaborate melodies brought in as the song progresses, building up to a dramatic finale. An electric guitar solo close to the halfway point is pretty much obligatory. If done wrong, power ballads are very susceptible to becoming Narm; if done right, they can be powerful tear jerkers.

A very common feature in the setlists of Hard Rock and Hair Metal bands in the Eighties, although they don't have a monopoly on the genre by any means.


Examples:

  • Although far from the type of band typically associated with the style, Air Supply's "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All" is very much a power ballad.
  • "Behind Blue Eyes", by The Who, is possibly the Ur Example.
    • "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You" by Led Zeppelin, and "Heartbreaker" by Grand Funk Railroad predate that by a good two years. The Zeppelin is more musically-advanced and influential, but "Heartbreaker" is no less definitive.
      • Although it's not an example, a lot of the musical ingredients of Power Ballads can be found in "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by The Beatles, mainly in the heaviness of the backing Paul McCartney (on bass and keyboards) and Ringo Starr (on drums), and especially in both guitar solos by Eric Clapton.
      • McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" also could be considered a Power Ballad ancestor.
    • The main trope codifiers are probably "In Trance" by Scorpions, and "Love to Love" by UFO. "In Trance" is the earliest example of the Scorpions' style of power ballad that was so popular during the 1980s, while "Love to Love" was the model for power ballads with lush arrangements, and had a very slow build-up. Triumph's "Lay it on the Line" is pretty much the blueprint for the hair band version of the power ballad, with its vocal harmonies and borderline-Marital Rape License lyrics, although Triumph themselves were not a hair band.
  • Adele's "Someone Like You".
  • Aerosmith's "Dream On," "Angel", "Hole in My Soul," and "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing."
    • Seasons of Wither" is a good, and rather unusual, example from before they were slick.
  • The Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson duet "Don't You Wanna Stay," despite being a country song, oozes 1980s power ballad so strongly that one critic said it sounded like a lost collaboration between Bryan Adams and Heart.
  • Alice Cooper has a few, notably "Only Women Bleed."
  • Alphaville - "Forever Young". A rare synthpop case.
  • Anthrax's "In The End", from Worship Music, which gets a bit heavier than your standard ballad, but whose lyrics tell a heartfelt song in honor of Dimebag Darrell and Ronnie James Dio. Ironically enough, much earlier in their career they also parodied power ballads with their Anti-Love Song "N.F.B. (Dallabnikufesin)".
  • Aqua - "Turn Back Time", which is unusual for a bubblegum dance group.
  • Aviators - "Red".
  • Avenged Sevenfold have a couple on every album. "Warmness on the Soul", "I Won't See You Tonight, Part 1", "Seize the Day", "Dear God", "Gunslinger", "So Far Away", "Victim", "Crimson Day", and "Acid Rain".
  • "Eternal Flame" by The Bangles.
  • Bonnie Bianco's "Miss You So" (please Refrain from Assuming that the title is anything like "Fly With Broken Wings").
  • The Birthday Massacre's "Movie."
  • Blind Guardian has several, including "A Past and Future Secret" and the "The Bard's Song (In the Forest)."
  • Bon Iver has "Beth/Rest," an affectionate homage to cheesy 80s ballads. It's actually louder than most of their (his?) other work, which is usually subtle, acoustic Indie Rock.
  • Bon Jovi is one of the two reigning kings of the power ballad (the other being Aerosmith). Among Bon Jovi's best are "I'll Be There For You", "Bed of Roses", "(You Want To) Make a Memory", "This Ain't A Love Song", "Always", "Never Say Goodbye" and more.
  • Boston's "Amanda."
  • Toni Braxton - "Unbreak My Heart".
  • Bryan Adams has many, like "Everything I Do (I Do it For You)", and "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman".
  • Bush updated the form to the grunge era with "Glycerine" and arguably "Letting the Cables Sleep."
  • Cinderella has "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)."
  • Cheap Trick has "The Flame" (their sole #1 hit).
    • "Voices", "If You Want My Love", "Can't Help Falling Into Love" and "Ghost Town" are further examples.
  • The CrŘxshadows' songs of this type include "Walk Away" on Telemetry of a Fallen Angel, "Spectators" and "Go Away" on Wishfire, "A Stranger Moment" on Ethernaut, "Infinite Tear" and "Matchstick Girl" on As the Dark Against My Halo, and the acoustic version of "Winterborn".
  • David Glen Eisley's "Sweet Victory" was featured in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants as one of these.
  • Def Leppard has many popular ones: "Hysteria," "Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad", "Love Bites", "Love and Affection", "Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion)", "Tonight", and "Foolin'" to name a few.
    • They had their first U.S. success with a power ballad, "Bringin' on the Heartbreak".
  • Demons And Wizards has "Wicked Witch" and "Fiddler on the Green."
  • "Stripped" by Depeche Mode.
  • DHT - "My Dream".
  • This is CÚline Dion's main theme in the '90s.
  • While Disturbed lacks any of these in their discography, they did perform a Lighter and Softer acoustic version of their song "Remember" for the Music as a Weapon tour IV... which then steers right back to heavy in the last chorus.
  • DragonForce has one per album: "Trail of Broken Hearts", "Starfire", "Dawn over a New World", "A Flame for Freedom", and an acoustic version of "Seasons".
  • Dream Evil has "Losing You."
    • Dream Evil also has a parody in the form of "The Ballad."
  • Duran Duran's "Ordinary World".
  • Dyce, a short-lived Eurodance group from Sweden, had "Colors", "Painting", and "Storm", the last of which was only released on the European version of their album.
  • "Carrie" by Europe.
  • Dream Theater has a few of their own. "Another Day" and "Hollow Years" are the most popular.
    • From Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory, "The Spirit Carries On" and "Through Her Eyes" both count.
  • Edguy's "Scarlet Rose," "Holy Water," "Forever," "When A Hero Cries," "Save Me," and the incredibly awesome "The Spirit Will Remain."
  • Evanescence's "My Immortal" (The radio version. The album version and its prior appearances on their early demos are just plain piano ballads).
  • Escape The Fate - "The Day I Left The Womb" and "Harder Than You Know".
  • existćtrace have a few traditional power ballads, such as "Cradle". "Little Mary to Utsukushimi Nikushimi no Danube" is probably one of the few examples of a power waltz.
  • "Captive" by Faith Assembly.
  • Five Finger Death Punch has "Far From Home" and "Remember Everything", both songs being completely different than their usual fare.
  • Foreigner - "I Wanna Know What Love Is" (now displaced by Mariah Carey's version).
  • "Afterlife" by Front Line Assembly.
  • Korean idol rock band FT Island are well-known for their rock ballads which generally consist of many high and/or Incredibly Long Note's courtesy of main vocalist Lee Hongki (and sometimes subvocalists Lee Jaejin and Song Seunghyun), melancholy piano and angsty electric guitars. Their most successful one is debut song "Lovesick" and others include "Distance", "Severely" and "Madly".
  • Future Perfect's "Confessions", "Discover Me", "Silent Scream", and "Complicated Machine".
  • Future Pop artists usually do this at least once per album, such as Covenant's "Bullet" (from Northern Light), "The World is Growing Loud" (from Skyshaper) and "The Road"(Modern Ruin), VNV Nation's "Endless Skies" (from Matter + Form) and "Nova" (from Automatic), and Assemblage 23's "Old" (from Meta), "The Cruelest Year" (from Compass), and "Otherness" (from Bruise).
  • Goo Goo Dolls were an alternative rock band before crossing over with a string of them, such as "Iris", "Name", and "Black Balloon".
  • Green Day has had many: "Last Night on Earth", "Viva La Gloria", "Brutal Love", "The Forgotten", "Oh Love", "When It's Time", "Good Riddance", "Macy's Day Parade", and "Wake Me Up When September Ends", to name a few.
  • Guns N' Roses has the "Civil War" trilogy ("November Rain", "Don't Cry" and "Estranged") and "Patience" (although the latter, originally acoustic, is played electrically in live concerts).
  • Hammerfall's "Glory to the Brave," "Always Will Be," and "Send Me a Sign."
  • Heart's "Alone", "What About Love?", "These Dreams", and many other songs they made during the mid-to-late Eighties.
  • Hinder's "Lips of an Angel".
  • Iron Maiden's "Wasting Love." The acoustic song "Journeyman" kinda counts (though the lyrical content is pure Maiden). Also, "Strange World".
  • Journey's "Faithfully," "Open Arms," and "After All These Years," etc.
    • Steve Perry's solo hit "Oh Sherrie" alternates between power ballad-ish verses and a more uptempo chorus, but somehow still gets airplay on "Soft Hits" stations.
  • Most of Laserdance's albums included at least one ballad, and Ambiente consisted entirely of these.
  • "Amazed" by Lonestar is a rare country music example.
  • KISS's "Beth" and "Forever." "We Are One" probably counts as well.
  • "Screaming in the Night", by Krokus. It's pretty fast for a ballad, but they are what they are.
  • LeŠther Strip's "Carry Me".
  • Lights - "Pretend".
  • Linkin Park has "Shadow of the Day" and "My December".
  • Loudness has "Ares' Lament / So Lonely", "Silent Sword / Losing You/Never Again", "In My Dreams", "25 Days from Home", "Love of My Life" and most recently, "Never Comes".
  • Yngwie Malmsteen's "Dreaming."
  • Marillion's "Lavender" manages to pull this off with only one verse.
  • Manowar's "Master of the Wind," "Hymn of the Immortal Warrior," "Blood Brothers," and "Father." There is one in almost every album they've put out, really.
  • Ricky Martin's "She's All I Ever Had" and "Nobody Wants to be Lonely".
  • Meat Loaf has several, including "I'd Lie for You (and That's the Truth)," "For Crying Out Loud," and "It's All Coming Back To Me Now." Indeed, his style of performance tends to turn any song into this trope.
  • Megadeth's "└ Tout le Monde."
  • Metallica's "Fade to Black", "Hero of the Day" and "Nothing Else Matters". "The Unforgiven" and "The Unforgiven III" too.
  • Michael Bolton's stock in trade. Most of the songs he's written for other artists are saccharine power ballads too.
  • Midnight Resistance's "Sheltering Skies".
  • mind.in.a.box's "Whatever Mattered" is an unusual chiptune infused example. Also, "Not Afraid" and "Second Reality" (no relation to the Future Crew demoscene production).
  • M÷tley CrŘe's "Home Sweet Home," which made the power ballad a staple for all Hair Metal bands after that point. Better known now from the cover by Carrie Underwood on American Idol.
  • Mr. Big's number one hit "To Be With You" was probably the last really successful hair metal power ballad.
  • My Chemical Romance had one on almost every album: "The Ghost of You", "Welcome to the Black Parade", "Disenchanted", "I Don't Love You", "Cancer", "The World is Ugly", and "The Light Behind Your Eyes". Their last released song, "Fake Your Death", was also one.
  • Nickelback - "Never Gonna Be Alone".
  • Night Ranger's "Sister Christian".
  • It's been stated that the first rule of Oasis' singles discography is "for every rock out, there must be a heartbreaking follow-up." Examples include "Live Forever," "Wonderwall," "Stop Crying Your Heart Out," and "I'm Outta Time."
  • The Offspring's Gone Away from their fourth album. One of the very few ballads the band has ever written.
  • Ozzy Osbourne's two most successful songs are the ballads "Mama, I'm Coming Home" and the duet with Lita Ford "Close My Eyes Forever."
  • Pantera had a few, like "Cemetery Gates", "Hollow", and "Floods".
  • Paramore has "The Only Exception"
  • "Stevie" by Pat Travers, modeled after GFR's "Heartbreaker".
  • Poison has "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" and "Something to Believe In".
  • Project Pitchfork has "Green World", "Ghosts of the Past", "We Will Descend", "Contract", et al.
  • Plain White T's got big with an iconic one: "Hey There, Delilah".
  • Queen had "Save Me", "Jealousy", "All Dead, All Dead". "White Queen (As It Began), "We Are The Champions", "Lily Of The Valley". "Sail Away Sweet Sister", "Las Palabras De Amor", "Teo Toriatte", "Is This The World We Created?", "Who Wants To Live Forever" and "These Are The Days Of Our Lives", to name a few.
  • Queensr che had the song "Silent Lucidity".
  • The Ramones' "Poison Heart."
  • Rammstein's "Amour" And "Ohne Dich."
  • Almost everything Rascal Flatts has released since 2004, starting with "What Hurts the Most." Having noted rock producer Dann Huff behind the boards helps.
  • The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus had "Your Guardian Angel", probably their biggest and best known song.
  • REO Speedwagon proved capable of truly Epic Rocking before The Eighties set in (see "Riding The Storm Out"), but their first two #1 hits in the United States fall under this category: "Keep On Loving You" and "Can't Fight This Feeling."
  • Rise Against's "Swing Life Away" and "Hero of War".
  • Tiziana Rivale's "Don't Walk Away" and "Kiss on My Lips". A throwback to 80's ballads complete with the use of Award Bait sparkle synth.
    • Galaxy Hunter, who produced Rivale's True album, has a couple power ballads of his own, namely "How Can You Be So Cruel" and "I Miss You So Much".
  • Every other hit Roxette had was one of these. The more well-known are: "Listen to your heart", "It must have been love", "Spending my time", "Almost unreal" and "Fading like a flower."
  • Aside of "In Trance", Scorpions had "Still Loving You" and "Wind of Change," and "Believe In Love." Probably also "Send me an Angel."
  • Post-grunge metal band Seether covered George Michael's "Careless Whisper" in this manner.
  • "When I'm With You" by Sheriff. A minor hit in 1983, it was re-released and hit #1 in 1989, four years after the band had broken up. After lead singer Freddy Curci and guitarist Steve DeMarchi unsuccessfully tried to talk the others into reuniting, they grabbed some ex-members of Heart and formed Alias. Their biggest hit, "More Than Words Can Say" (not to be confused with Extreme's "More Than Words") could serve as the textbook example of a Power Ballad.
  • Simple Plan has a song titled "Untitled" (alternatively, How Could This Happen To Me).
  • Jessica Simpson & Nick Lachey - "Where You Are".
  • Skid Row has "18 and Life," "I Remember You," "In a Darkened Room," and "Wasted Time." Actually, if you only knew Skid Row's hits, you might think the band only plays power ballads.
  • Skillet: "Yours to Hold."
  • Trance act Solarstone has "Filoselle Skies" on Rain Stars Eternal; and "There's a Universe" on Touchstone.
  • Sonata Arctica has lots, such as "Tallulah", "Draw Me" and "The Misery". Some fans complain that too many of them are played at concerts.
  • Theocracy has "Sinner" and everything before the solo in "The Gift of Music". "Drown" could also count.
  • American rock and borderline Hair Metal band Steelheart recorded multiple power ballads, such as "I'll Never Let You Go (Angel Eyes)," and "She's Gone (Lady)." These are particularly noteworthy for showcasing lead singer Miljenko Matijevic's phenomenal vocal range, with a clear and powerful upper register.
  • Slipknot has "Snuff" and possibly "Dead Memories."
  • A little heavy for a ballad, perhaps, but Three Days Grace have "Over and Over" off One-X.
  • The Veronicas' "In Another Life".
  • Versailles has at least one power ballad per album: "The Love from a Dead Orchestra" on Lyrical Sympathy, "windress" on Noble, "Amorphous" and "Serenade" on JUBILEE, and "DESTINY -The Lovers-" and "Remember Forever" on Holy Grail. The Japanese version of "Love will be born again" is also a power ballad (the original English version is just a ballad).
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic has "Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me", a pastiche of Jim Steinman-penned power ballads.
  • "Is This Love" by Whitesnake.
  • Conchita Wurst - "Rise Like A Phoenix", winner of the European Song Contest 2014.
  • X Japan has "Endless Rain," "Voiceless Screaming," "Say Anything," "Crucify My Love," "Forever Love," and "Without You." "Jade," at least in its current form, straddles the line between Power Ballad and a heavier rock song.
  • "Endless History", the ending credits theme from the Ys anime, which is also a vocal remix of "The Morning Glow" from the first game.
  • Ylvis's "Stonehenge", although this is probably more of a parody.
  • Firehouse, natch. "Love of a Lifetime", "When I Look Into Your Eyes", and "I Live My Life For You".

References:

  • The Rock Band World challenge "The Power Ballad Challenge" is all about these.