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by Justin Farrar

February 11, 2014

Classic Rock's Most Soul-Wrenching Power Ballads

by Justin Farrar  |  February 11, 2014

The love song may have its roots in the Middle Ages, but I suspect the troubadours and trobairitzes of 12th-century Europe scarcely would recognize their art form in the pained shrieks and screaming axes of Nazareth's "Love Hurts" or the high-tech sheen and excessively splashing cymbals of Boston's "More Than a Feeling." Of course, chances are good they would fall fast in love with Steve Perry while hearing "Open Arms" for the first time. A voice like his certainly transcends history. But despite Perry's timeless talents, the power ballad is a thoroughly modern creation, one that wraps the eternal questions of love and desire, heartbreak and rejection inside the electricity, volume and grandeur unique to the rock 'n' roll era. After all, only in our current epoch, where the ecstasies of love-making are commonly equated to exploding bombs and firing canons, could the words power and ballad possibly be paired.

As the title makes clear, my playlist is packed only with classic rock's most soul-wrenching power ballads. "Love Hurts," "More Than a Feeling" and "Open Arms" all are present and accounted for, obviously. But so are "Dream On" (arguably the first power ballad), the incredibly syrupy "Beth" and "Keep On Loving You" (photo-finish, but it does beat out "Can't Fight This Feeling"). I also included a couple of personal favorites: Queen's "Somebody to Love" (no messing with Freddie, people) and Bryan Adams' "Heaven" (a slow-dance staple during my junior high years). Note: best to crank this playlist during romance.

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