Music Monday #5: Power Ballads

29 Oct

A couple of weeks ago, La La over at Tales of a Charm City Chick wrote a post about power ballads. This is a woman speaking my language because I absolutely love songs where the singer is practically begging you to pull out a lighter and wave it in the air like you just don’t care. I asked her if I could steal use her idea for a Music Monday post, and she graciously agreed.

I tried to make a Top 10 list which turned into a Top 25 list which turned into a Top 500 list. I never realized how many power ballads I liked until I started writing this post. It started becoming a bit like asking a parent to name his/her favorite child, and unless you’re lucky enough to have a child like me, you just can’t do it.

So I’ve decided to take a different approach. I thought I’d pick a few power ballads that had a little more meaning to me, and share the stories behind the songs.

Journey – Open Arms

I am a great lover of Journey, but this song makes me want to hurl myself from a high place. It was the late 90’s, and I worked in a Hallmark store after school. Beanie babies were really popular at the time, and the store was filled with bored, bossy housewives who spent all of their free time collecting overpriced stuff animals. My job was to dust, straighten cards, arrange the display cases, and ring up customers. The store was slow on most days, and the only thing to help pass the time was the music on the stereo system. The last few months I worked there, this song came on the radio twice an hour, and I estimate I had to listen to that song a minimum of 750 times before I quit. It was enough to make a girl wish for death by paper cut.

Heart – Alone

I am rarely interested in someone, and you have a better chance at winning the lottery than getting me to fall in love with you. It’s not that I think I’m some special angel sent from dating heaven to make a man’s life better; rather, it’s strange wiring in my brain that prevents me from being commitment-minded. So imagine my surprise when I fell in love with someone I had just met. We barely spoke in the beginning, and all of our subsequent encounters were pleasant, but brief. Still, I was hopelessly and totally in love with this man. I couldn’t tell him how I felt because it just wasn’t good timing for either of us. My life was totally consumed by being in love with a person I couldn’t have, and there were times when I wished I had never met him. One day I heard this song on the radio, and almost fell to pieces because it made me think of him.

Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn

A friend of mine broke up with her boyfriend after she found out he was cheating on her with his ex-wife. She was completely devastated, and needless to say, she spent many months holed up in her apartment crying her eyes out over him. It got to the point where she wasn’t going to work regularly, had stopped hanging out with her friends, and every time I called her, or went over to her apartment, she was listening to this song. I drove over there one day with matches, a bucket, and some vodka. She opened the door and I said, “This has to stop. Now.” We drank way too much, accidentally broke a very expensive vase, listened to this song an ungodly amount of times, ripped a hole in my sweater, and burned a bunch of stuff her ex had left behind.ย  She was out on the town the very next weekend.

Mรถtley Crรผe – Home Sweet Home

I have a bionic liver. I have never been hungover, and used to be famous for my ability to drink almost anyone under the table. On my 25th birthday, a group of friends and I met at a bar we frequented quite often at the time. It was one of those parties that starts out with a few people who invite a few people who invite a few people, and by the end of the night you don’t recognize any of your party guests. People were very generous, and kept buying me drink after drink after drink. I got completely obliterated, and stumbled to the restroom to have a quiet moment alone to collect myself. There were floor-to-ceiling mosaic tiles in the bathroom, and as I looked around while sitting on the can, it appeared the walls were swirling around and closing in on me. I completely freaked out, and ran out of there like I had just stolen something. In my haste, I almost clotheslined a guy who was hanging all over the jukebox, and singing this song at the top of his lungs. I have not had that much to drink since that night, and no, I was not hungover the next day.

I love the dramatic nature of power ballads, and I really do think you could soundtrack your entire life using only this type of song. So tell me my dearest Hooked on Tonics, which songs define certain moments in your lives?

86 Responses to “Music Monday #5: Power Ballads”

  1. Bill Friday 10/30/2012 at 12:25 pm #

    Ray LaMontagne… “Let It Be Me”.

    Okay, so it’s not a “Power Ballad”, but it is a ballad… and it has so much power… and, you know, it will always mean what it meant from the very first moment I heard it.

    • Jen and Tonic 10/30/2012 at 12:59 pm #

      I think we all have that song, the one that perfectly sums up a person or situation, and is perfect no matter how many years pass.

      Ray L. is a most excellent choice. I approve.

  2. Maggie O'C 10/30/2012 at 10:44 am #

    Alone…definitely winner. I think Heart was contractually obligated to only sign power ballads. I thought Every Rose was Guns n Roses? I’ve seen Def Leppard twice in concert, hello Bringin’ on the Heartbreak. And after my first devastating engagement I was huge on “Here I Go Again On My Own” so meaningful. We could go on forever.

    • Jen and Tonic 10/30/2012 at 11:37 am #

      Guns n Roses is responsible for “November Rain” and “Sweet Child ‘o Mine” which are also power ballads.

      And yeah, “Here I Go Again On My Own” is an AWESOME song.

  3. speaker7 10/29/2012 at 3:31 pm #

    I think Brett Michael sang Every Rose on every episode of Rock of Love, otherwise known as the greatest reality show on earth. That is why I love that song. And I so wish you were my friend when I went through a break up. I got through one watching Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo. Vodka woulda helped.

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 7:16 pm #

      I wish I had known. I would have shown up in a leopard print speedo and knocked over your fish tank. ALL BETTER!

  4. Christopher De Voss 10/29/2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Mine is Add It Up by Violent Femmes.

    • Stacie Chadwick 10/29/2012 at 5:00 pm #

      That’s not so much a power ballad song as an I wanna get laid song.

      (Jen, I’m light on sleep and a little in the GG mode from Le Clown assistantship, so forgive me for being so commentish).

      • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 7:15 pm #

        I love your enthusiasm! I still escort people to the bathroom ever since I was his assistant.

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 7:15 pm #

      I think this is a totally appropriate song to seduce a woman to while taking her for a spin in your Gremlin.

  5. calahan 10/29/2012 at 2:15 pm #

    This one has me stumped. I can’t think of any!

    • Stacie Chadwick 10/29/2012 at 5:00 pm #

      Calahan, when were you born?

      • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 7:13 pm #

        I think Calahan is around my age, but he wasn’t born 65 like I was.

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 7:13 pm #

      Just as long as you don’t include a Nickelback song, we’re square.

  6. Dani Heart 10/29/2012 at 1:30 pm #

    What a great post. I love it. Hmmmm let me think…..thinking thinking…uh oh…pulled a muscle…LOL
    David Cassidy (I think I love You) cause I was just figuring out if I was in love…and not without some pretty serious trepidation. LOL
    Modern English (I’ll stop the world and melt with you) cause it’s when I knew I would move heaven and earth for someone. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Bob Seger (Someday lady you’ll accompany me) cause it’s when I knew someone would move heaven and earth for me.
    Cheap Trick (The Flame) cause we knew we loved each other enough that we were willing to do whatever was in the each others best interest even if that meant letting go.
    Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes (I’ve had the time of my life) cause that’s how happy I am in love..
    and now that you are probably all gagging… let me think of some other songs that narrated some other times in my life that were a little less euphoric…:)
    Air Supply (I can’t fight this feeling anymore) because it’s when I knew he had to have me.
    Brian Adams (Run to You) cause it’s when I knew I would never be enough for him.
    England Dan & John Ford Coley (I’d really love to see you tonight) cause the opening verse began every hand written letter I wrote to someone I loved who has since passed on.
    Bette Midler (The Rose) because I sang it to my son every night at bedtime when he was little. I wanted him to know all things are possible and that he was beautiful and special.
    Vonda Shepard (I’ve been searching my soul) cause it makes me smile when I am feeling down and also makes me want to dance crazy. LOL

    Jen I love that you went to your friends with Vodka to snap her out of her funk. What a great friend you are! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 7:13 pm #

      I did gag at Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Come to think of it, people often tell me they’re gagging when I tell them that I love Air Supply. I’m not even going to be ashamed, I totally do! “Lost in Love” and “The One That You Love” and “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” just to name a few. COME ON PEOPLE, HAVE A HEART!

      Oh, and your pick for Air Supply was actually REO Speedwagon ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Dani Heart 10/29/2012 at 7:33 pm #


        • Dani Heart 10/29/2012 at 7:34 pm #

          I do love Air Supply too.. Making love out of nothing at all was also a favorite. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Love and Lunchmeat 10/29/2012 at 11:25 am #

    Oh, and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” rocks! I think it’s the best of all of the eighties power ballads.

  8. Love and Lunchmeat 10/29/2012 at 11:24 am #

    I am a big fan of both Monster Ballads and La La. It’s not an eighties power ballad, but the song “Arms Wide Open” (by Creed) makes me cry. He wrote it when his wife was pregnant with their first child, and we have a video of our kid with that song playing in the background. At the end of the video, my kid goes “I love you daddy”. Our kid’s nursery school teacher made it for my husband for Father’s Day, and it’s really sweet. I’m such a sap that now I cry every time I hear it.

    I also have fond memories of Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” which is probably my favorite song of all time. And it’s impossible for me to hear “Penny Lane” and not think of my dad, who loves that song.

    • Stacie Chadwick 10/29/2012 at 4:57 pm #

      OK, Turn the Page is the ONLY Bob Seger song I like. And I love it. Love, love, love it. Good one!

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 7:07 pm #

      Oh man, that’s the kind of stuff parents LIVE for! There is a video of my nephew dancing to Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield” when he was about 2, and when I hear it I miss that little man.

      And I love “Turn the Page” as well as “Night Moves”. Bob Seger is great, such a distinct voice.

  9. The Waiting 10/29/2012 at 11:13 am #

    I heart Heart!!!! Magic Man reminds me so much of everything awesome in this world, but specifically, it reminds me of when I was 17 and I worked at a Restoration Hardware. We had a tricked out Bose sound system at that store and whenever that song came on I got so excited!

    • Stacie Chadwick 10/29/2012 at 5:01 pm #

      Restoration Hardware hadn’t even been conceived on the back of a cocktail napkin when I was 17.

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 7:02 pm #

      Magic Man is such a badass song. Actually, I own the “Best of Heart” album, and that entire collection makes me want to put on leather pants and kick in double doors at a saloon.

  10. Lyssapants 10/29/2012 at 10:42 am #

    I love “alone”!!! Many vocal chords of mine have been strained whilst on car trips with this song playing.

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 7:01 pm #

      I wonder how many throat surgeries were a direct result of “Alone”…

  11. Katy Kern 10/29/2012 at 10:33 am #

    I can’t even explain to you how much I love this post. As you know, I adore music. Can’t live without it – ever. There are sooooooooo many songs that I could list here, I fear if I started listing them your site would crash. But I will let you listen to one song that I can’t stop listening to these days: Crooked Still – Old Virginia

    • Katy Kern 10/29/2012 at 11:18 am #

      I do realize the song I listed above is not a power ballad…haha. Lack of sleep here…not good for clear thinking. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You – will ALWAYS give me chills. And I LOVE Home Sweet Home and Scorpions’ Still Loving You!

      • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 7:00 pm #

        Whitney Houston’s voice was unreal. All of her songs gave me chills because her voice was like silk, so smooth no matter how high the pitch. Have you heard this acapella version of “How Will I Know”?

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 6:58 pm #

      Maybe Tired of Previews will occasionally review movie soundtracks? ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Wow! I had not heard that song before. I really like it! I’m going to go look up their other songs.

      • Katy Kern 10/30/2012 at 8:49 am #

        I’ve talked about soundtracks before but haven’t in a long time. Not sure why. haha….adding it to the list.

  12. The Bumble Files 10/29/2012 at 9:33 am #

    This is great, Jen! I think you could soundtrack your entire life. What an interesting idea. I’m going to include Phil Collins “Against All Odds.” This was a special song for me and this boy. I thought it was OUR song and it played on the radio at least twice an hour! Like your Open Arms!

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 6:56 pm #

      Can you listen to that song without cringing? In your case you can probably look back and say, “Oh man, that’s pretty silly that I did that.” I feel that way about Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration” which I used to sing to MYSELF in the mirror.

  13. Carrie Rubin 10/29/2012 at 9:29 am #

    I’m not much of a power ballad kind of gal, but it’s funny you mentioned Heart’s Alone, because that was the song I identify with when I started dating my husband. Brings back a lot of memories. But unlike the song, my husband was pretty easy to get alone (and I don’t mean that in a dirty sense, but by all means, take it that way if you like ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 6:55 pm #

      Mr. Carrie Rubin, you little hussy!

      It’s one of those songs that could go either way, that’s a good point. Either she’s struggling to open her heart and accept the man, or she’s struggling because she doesn’t.

  14. Brigitte 10/29/2012 at 8:36 am #

    Great tunes, Jen. I also love Purple Rain and In Your Eyes.

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 6:54 pm #

      Peter Gabriel! It’s strange because every time I hear that song I instantly look out the window of the car, and imagine myself driving through a jungle.

      This is why I have no friends.

  15. El Guapo 10/29/2012 at 8:20 am #

    No The Captain and Tennille?
    You wound me, Jen.

    • Stacie Chadwick 10/29/2012 at 4:56 pm #

      Love Will Keep Us Together…Muskrat Love…the list goes on and on.

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 6:52 pm #

      I apologize, how could I do that? Gross oversight on my part.

      Love, love will keep us together. Think of me babe whenever. Some sweet talking girl comes along singing her song. Don’t mess around, you gotta be strong.

      Seriously, if you cheat on me I’ll cut you.

  16. La La 10/29/2012 at 8:12 am #

    Good ones. Heart! I love Heart and Alone has been shouted in my car more than once for certain. And actually…today would be perfect for that. Thank you.

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 6:48 pm #

      Singing this song at the top of your lungs is so cathartic. Hope you flexed your pipes and got it all out.

  17. Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher 10/29/2012 at 8:10 am #

    Ha ha – I have a feeling we have diamtetrically OPPOSITE taste in music – but I will submit my favorite romantic song:

  18. saradraws 10/29/2012 at 7:19 am #

    Jolene! Like Stacie said.
    Nothing compares 2U, like Becca said.
    Also, have we all forgotten about Bohemian Rhapsody? One of the greatest power ballads of all time?
    Also, Tweeter and the Monkey man covered by the Headstones (no one has heard of them except me and 4 of my friends). BUT IT IS RESPLENDENT.
    And Under Pressure by queen makes me openly weep. I cannot hold it together when watching Happy Feet II.

    • Dani Heart 10/29/2012 at 12:12 pm #

      Love that you are keeping AWESOME on notice….RESPLENDENT is well….resplendent. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Bohemian Rhapsody is such a great song.

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 6:47 pm #

      Bohemian Rhapsody always makes me think of that scene from Wayne’s World when they really get into it. You can’t help but let that song TAKE OVER YOUR LIFE when you listen to it.

      And yeah, I feel the same way about Under Pressure. It’s such a simple, beautiful snapshot of humanity.

      • saradraws 10/30/2012 at 7:37 am #

        As far as I’m concerned, the Wayne’s World version is the only important version.

  19. aliceatwonderland 10/29/2012 at 7:01 am #

    My favorite’s Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl. I like most of his stuff. That one has been a favorite since I was a kid. I just always liked that story of the poor guy marrying the rich girl (and of course Billy and Christie were a fairy tale type thing (frog-eyed guy marries the supermodel) even if they didn’t stay together, The video was great too. Come to think of it, I married a mechanic.

    • aliceatwonderland 10/29/2012 at 7:02 am #

      WTF with some of these comment boxes – they jump up and down and induce seizures. I’d have more fun with songs I couldn’t stand. Dave Barry has an entire book of them. They promote definite rage in people.

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 6:46 pm #

      A mechanic is a GREAT person to marry. Seriously, think of all the savings.

  20. becca3416 10/29/2012 at 6:44 am #

    Linger by the Cranberries is my go-to for new crushes song. Break ups? Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’connor

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 6:40 pm #

      I can’t remember where I read or heard this, but the crying in Sinead O’Connor’s (that’s a lot of apostrophes) wasn’t originally written into the video. She got so emotional singing the song that she cried, and they just happened to capture it. THAT’S how good the song is, it makes HER cry.

      • becca3416 10/30/2012 at 6:37 am #

        Now I love it even more. I am going to go visit YouTube for a while now. Thanks Jen!

  21. RFL 10/29/2012 at 6:35 am #

    Love your picks. Monster Ballads is one of the only infomercials that really made me want to pick up the phone and buy something from the tv. My oldest brother played keyboard in some hair bands when we were growing up, so Whitesnake is on my list. Here I Go Again.

    • aliceatwonderland 10/29/2012 at 6:58 am #

      Whitesnake! I remember those videos with Tawny throwing herself all over a car.

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 6:37 pm #

      Oh man, I know what informercial you’re talking about. It’s 2AM, you’re eating cold pizza and nothing is on tv. You end up getting caught up in watching this, and two weeks later a box set is on your doorstep

  22. Stacie Chadwick 10/29/2012 at 6:32 am #

    We were definitely separated at birth J&T.

    Here’s my Top 10 in no particular order:

    1. Sail On: Commodores (when Lionel Ritchie was famous: pre-Nicole Ritchie.)
    2. Jolene: Dolly Parton (not really a power ballad, but anything Dolly is totally awesome. Ray LaMontage’s version is pretty great too.)
    3. Let the Music Play: Shannon (because it’s the first song I sort of couples skated to.)
    4. Missing You: John Waite (he was super-hot in that video…then he sort of disappeared, possibly because he only weighed 80 pounds and literally blew away in the wind.)
    5. Here I Go Again: White Snake (any song/video featuring a pre-drug addicted Tawny Kitaen is A-OK with me.)
    6. Bringin on the Heartbreak: Def Leppard (two words: Eric Williams…that fucker totally screwed me over.)
    7. In a Big Country: Big Country (OK, not really a power ballad, but I just love that song.)
    8. Purple Rain: Prince (freshman year homecoming theme song…everything purple? big hair? 80s? LOVE it.)
    9. Against All Odds: Phil Collins (I would sing this song to Sting, inside my head, whenever I sat down to write him a fan letter…which was often.)
    10. With or Without You: U@ (two words…Matt Jennings…that fucker totally broke my heart.)

    Thanks for the early morning walk down memory lane!

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 6:35 pm #

      Seriously, what DID happen to John Waite? Your theory is definitely sound. Every time I watch that Whitesnake video and see Tawny Kitaen before she got bad plastic surgery that made her look like a lion, it makes me sad. Doing cartwheels on the hoods of cars does something to a person.

      Seriously excellent picks!

  23. Fern DeVilliers 10/29/2012 at 6:30 am #

    Now, you are speaking my kind of language – I couldn’t live without music. I love all those songs you just listed. And I’m like you, I don’t fall in love easily. This song – while not a power ballad – was the song I danced to with my husband on the night we first met. It was love at first sight. Love it!

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 6:29 pm #

      Do you know that song is 24 years old?! It still sounds as good in 2012 as it did in 1988.

  24. Le Clown 10/29/2012 at 6:08 am #

    I’ll add just one. To me, the mother of them all: Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven:

    Le Clown

    • Jen and Tonic 10/29/2012 at 6:26 pm #

      What’s funny about that specific video URL has been blocked in my country because of copyright issues. It’s a good thing this song is permanently imprinted on my SOUL.


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