How to Ballad like the 80s.

Things have been pretty heavy on this blog for the past couple of weeks. Mainly because, as many of you know, our parents have moved – and safely arrived in Australia while Sara and I remain firmly here. So to liven things up a bit and to remind you all how delightful we are, I thought this week we would concentrate on something a little bit more fun. And that is 80s Power Ballads.

What makes an 80s Power Ballad? Is it something that can only exist in the 80s, or was that when the concept was invented? These questions, plus many more, will be tackled in this blog post.

This idea/thought/question/tick first came to me when I had Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be” stuck in my head as I was, you guessed it, trying to fall asleep. The music video is below for your convenience. I suggest you find a lighter to light so you can get the full experience.

My mind was turning this tune over and over and I started to think about what genre this song would be in. I immediately thought of it as a power ballad. To me, this song has all the same concepts that carried our favorite 80s tunes. It’s a hard rock song with a slow tempo and an epic, upswinging chorus complete with sexy saxophone. The only difference is that this song was released in 1998, a full eight years to late to the 80s party. So I then wondered if these epic ballads could only exist in the 80s or if they could/had become their own genre of music. Later I brought this idea up to my roommate, and she disagreed. To her, power ballads don’t really exist anymore and are instead just slower rock songs. They are an invention of that existed for one shining decade and then faded away along with mullets and leg warmers.

This is where things got pretty theoretical. First I wanted to see if there was an actual definition of 80s power ballads floating around. If so, they argument would be settled, and I could move on to more pressing matters like what exactly is the threshold between semi-sweet and dark chocolate. So I turned to the trusty internet. Urban Dictionary, which defines Power Ballads as a, “trademark of heavy metal bands of the 80’s that are making a comeback. An acoustic rock song with heavy guitar.” Hmmmm, this is a pretty vague statement. First off, it would seem from this definition the 80s band in question has to be making a comeback for their song to be considered a power ballad. But this statement also says that these songs just have to be an acoustic rock song with “heavy guitar” whatever that means.

The absence of a right answer or a definitive definition did nothing to quell my desire to categorize these songs. I dug further into genre. Do Power Ballads only exist in the rock music? Would we classify Alicia Key’s music or Adele’s music power ballads or is that just R&B? What about country songs? Do their sad, sorry love songs work as power ballads, or is country music it’s own thing all together?

Right now, I don’t have any more insight into this subject than when I started. I go back and forth a lot. So days I think that the only actual power ballad is Poison’s Every Rose Has It’s Thorn, and some days I think the 80s Power Ballad is actually every song ever made. I would love to hear your thoughts, especially from those people who lived and rocked out during that time.

And in case you had zero idea of what I was talking about during this whole post, please refer to the videos below.

Poison’s Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Bon Jovi’s I’ll Be There For You

Def Leppard’s Love Bits


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