The top 10 best soft rock ballads are a mixture of classic and contemporary singles, and the 80’s “Hair Band” era remains the most abundant source of hit soft rock ballads. Occasionally referred to as “power ballads,” the soft rock ballad is a distinct niche in the music industry which very few artists truly master. Combining memorable lyrics, emotionally-infused vocals and often a cheesy video, here are the ten best soft rock ballads recorded to date:
- “November Rain” by Guns ‘n Roses. With a music video which played more like a mini movie-a common trend in the 80s, thanks to Michael Jackson-“November Rain” has bad boy Axel Rose lamenting lost love, change and loss. "Nothing lasts forever/and we both know hearts can change/and it’s hard to hold a candle/in the cold November Rain.”
- “I’ll Stand By You” by The Pretenders. “Don’t be ashamed to cry/let me see you through/’cuz I’ve seen the dark side too.” This hit from The Pretenders reaches right into the secret hopes of even the most hardcore rocker to pluck at the heartstrings. A ballad about devotion, love and acceptance, it’s no wonder it remains a favorite soft rock ballad for many listeners.
- “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” by Bryan Adams. Featured on the “Robin Hood” soundtrack, “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” featured a movie-accompanying video, soulful lyrics and an abundance of soft rock ballad goodness. “Search your heart/Search your soul/when you find me there you’ll search no more.”
- “I Want To Know What Love Is” by Foreigner. Another 80s band with a variety of soft rock ballads, Foreigner was at the peak of their popularity with this smooth, compelling track. “I want to know what love is/I want you to show me/I want to feel what love is/I know you can show me.”
- “Is This Love” by Whitesnake. Crying guitars, throbbing drums and incredible vocals, Whitesnake reached deep within and delivered a compelling performance with “Is This Love” in the 80s. “I need you by my side to tell me it’s alright/because I don’t think I can take anymore/Is this Love/That I’m Feeling/Is this the Love/I’ve been searching for.”
- “Open Arms” by Journey. Another band whose popularity reached an all-time high in the 80s, Journey fans can easily list a dozen soft rock ballads from the band, but “Open Arms” deserves top billing. “So here I am/with Open Arms/hoping you’ll see/what your love means to me/Open Arms.”
- “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meatloaf. One of the most contradicting and debated soft rock ballads, this hit from Meatloaf remains incredibly popular—and confusing. “I would do anything for love/I’d run right into hell and back/I would do anything for love/But I won’t do that.”
- “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon. “What started out as friendship/has only grown stronger/I only wish I had the strength to let it show.” Combining tortured love, surrender and vivid lyrics, Reo Speedwagon had an instant hit with this one.
- “Said I loved You…But I Lied” by Michael Bolton. Few recording artists are so synonymous with soft rock ballads as Michael Bolton, and this 80s hit is the perfect example. “I said I loved you but I lied/’Cuz this is more than love I feel inside/I said I loved you but I was wrong/’Cuz love could never ever feel so strong.”
- “I’ll Be There For You” by Bon Jovi. Gods of the 80s, Bon Jovi has an impressive collection of hit songs to choose from, but few can compete with the soft rock ballad “I’ll Be There For You.” With a mixture of smooth and sensual-and screaming guitars paired with compelling vocals-this is one to not be missed. “I’d live and I’d die for you/I’d steal sun from the sky for you/words can’t say what love can do/I’ll be there for you.”
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