Power ballads: They’re some of music’s most powerful expressions, and while their popularity exploded in the ‘80s, they can be found in multiple decades as is evident in our list.
According to Cambridge University Press’ academic journal Popular Music, “The power ballad has become a mainstay of popular music since the 1970s…The songs are defined by the use of both a musical formula based on constant escalation and an expressive formula that combines the euphoric uplift created by rousing music with sentimental themes and ploys.”
The journal further notes, “Contrary to views that power ballads first appeared in 1980s rock and are primarily rock numbers, the songs emerged in the 1970s pop recordings of Barry Manilow and others, and from early on crossed genre lines, including pop, rock and R&B…The songs are part of a shift toward more effusive and demonstrative styles of ballads underway since the 1960s. In addition, the emotional excesses of the power ballad fit into a larger change in the expressive tone of works across different popular culture media. With those works, emotions are to be large, ecstatic and immediate.”
With the above explainer in mind, our list of the 50 Best Power Ballads list below might include some surprising songs as well as the massive tunes you’d expect to see on this list.
There’s one other parameter that was set for this list: Bands/artists will only be represented by one song to provide for fun variety. However, solo tracks and band recordings count as two separate entry, which means certain musician might show up more than once on this list.
Without further ado, bust out your lighters and enjoy our list of the 50 Best Power Ballads!