Top 10 Power Ballads of All Time

Categories: 2013

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Photo by Helge Øverås via Wikimedia Commons
If we're being completely honest, power ballads are responsible for some of the most resonant music-listening experiences in the entire world. They're a beautiful blend of sentiment and obviousness, a band willfully becoming emotionally available. Everybody makes fun of the power ballad, because sometimes it's hard to admit we gave over our souls so easily. We've all made fun of a lot of the songs on this list, but we've also had private, don't-look-at-me emotional moments with each of them. This is the foundational argument against anyone who maintains that pop music makes evil people, this is proof to any aliens that the human race is not beyond salvation, this is the top 10 power ballads of all time.

See also: Top 10 Douchiest Guitarists of All Time


10. The Antlers
"Putting The Dog to Sleep"
Yep. It's a deep cut from a mostly ignored indie-rock band that got a lot of flak for being a little too open-armed. But we don't care about any of that shit, because we will always happily sink into the scrapes of guitar that punctuate every one of Peter Silberman's ambiguous declarations of fate.The best songwriters know when to commiserate with their masses, even if they don't know what they're really saying.


9. Lynyrd Skynyrd -
"Simple Man"
"Simple Man" has long been the grown-up's choice for best Skynyrd song, and unsurprisingly it's the only one that my English dad could relate to. "Take your time, don't live too fast, troubles will come, they will pass" is very good advice, and it sounds even better when you're flatpicking a guitar.


8. U2
"With or Without You"
The entirety of The Joshua Tree could've made this list, but "With or Without You" gets its shoulders above the pack for being romantic, and capturing Bono at his reediest, believing-his-own-bullshit poetic heights. The Edge chips in with an effortlessly plaintive version of his usual overbearing self, and all of a sudden you can't hate U2 anymore.


7. Vampire Weekend
"Hannah Hunt"
It can be taken as proof that the power ballad is alive and well that the highlight track from last year's Important Rock Album was a deep cut that tonally and textually has a lot in common with Coldplay's "Fix You." (More on that later.) "Hannah Hunt" is very quiet, then it gets very loud. It's simple alchemy, and proof that someone as millennially complex as Ezra Koenig might be at his best when working with the basics.


6. Guns 'N Roses
"Knocking on Heaven's Door"
Yes, Axl Rose is at his Muppet-voice worst on this song, but when you tell Slash to rip through "Knocking on Heaven's Door," you're gonna get something unstoppable. His guitar oozes with all the love, pain, and sex that makes you simultaneously adore and despise the very concept of a "Knocking on Heaven's Door" cover.


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13 comments
John Tormey
John Tormey

Missing You, by John Waite, is definitely among them.

FloodOfBlood
FloodOfBlood

I bet the writer has only 10 CDs and 4 of'em are taken from her boyfriend.  And She's 10 year old.

paula_gerardi
paula_gerardi

I think you are now writing lists just to get people riled up. This one is so wrong, for so  many reasons, I cant be bothered going into details. I will say though, someone over there thinks they are too cool to pick anything predictable. Your not cool, you are just wrong.

dbraun2001
dbraun2001

Really!  It's absurd that the lamest song U2 ever recorded along with Guns-N-Roses and Nazareth butchering classics originally recorded by Bob Dylan and the Everly Brothers are considered the top anything.  I guess maybe power ballads as a genre set a pretty low bar.  

p.s. I like almost everything else U2 has done.

epac666
epac666 topcommenter

Note: it only became cool to hate U2 in the 90's, when they started to suck.

DrewHunkins
DrewHunkins

Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come" is one of the finest American songs of the 20th century.

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