Top 10 Power Ballads of All Time
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.
Photo by Helge Øverås via Wikimedia Commons
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" 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.
"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
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.