Tim has been waiting for this week. This week we chose Power Ballads for our One Song theme. These uplifting songs by 80's hair bands occupy a special place in Timmy's heart. These are the songs that filled his make-out mix tapes. The songs he lost his virginity to (last month). The songs that will provide the soundtrack to the first dance he shares with his future wife. (Joel's edit: I bet you Tim never marries his lady because he's a vegan and vegans never marry bro.)
Who can blame Tim for getting sentimental with this music? Power Ballads provided a release for tough-imaged rock n' roll stars of the 80s; songs that would allow them to showcase their sensitive side. Syffal also has a sensitive side. Albeit not through music, we choose to release pent up testosterone through different activities. Let's share:
Now that we are all closer spiritually, let's watch some fucking POWER BALLADS:
Guns N' Roses were the best hair band to come out of the 80s. So much so, that I have a hard time generalizing them as a hair band. Today hair bands are the washed up dirty old men with stinky pinks that play at your local fair. BUT if Guns N' Roses were still together they'd be selling out stadiums. 3 of their songs occupy my top ten power ballads list, but their best is November Rain. No other ballad to come out of that genre is as ambitious or grandiose as this epic piece that consists of a legendary piano track, an entire strings ensemble, and not 1....not 2....but 3 earth shattering guitar solos. This week.....I WIN...hands down, bitches.
There's nothing that connects better with a poor white trash audience then telling them that being rich and famous, partying all the time and banging groupies aint all its cracked up to be. "I guess that's the price you pay, to be some big shot, like I am." At least, after last year's NBA Finals loss, Lebron had the balls to tell America that they could go back to their lame lives while he'd be champaignin and campaignin. After feeling sorry for himself for a few stanzas, Rock starts getting pissed and decides that he's done a lot of good things but hasn't been paid back accordingly, so he's just going to keep on keeping on and not worry about it. Again, I harken back to the fact that he's a rich and famous rock star, the preferred career of, probably, everyone in the US who doesn't want to be a pro jock or actor....is that not enough to slake his thirst? Or, maybe the whole song is just a metaphor for humanl insatiability and jealousy. Bottom line, I find myself screaming along with him as he hits the, "BUT I AINT SEEN MINE!" crescendo every time. When this record came out and Kid Rock broke out in a big way, he appeared on Saturday Night Live and belted this out on a baby grand piano...no band...no autotune...no hat...no bullshit...and he delivered the goods. I hope that made him a little less self conscious when he followed Tommy Lee into Pam Andersen's Mariana Trench.
What makes a power ballad a power ballad? The main ingredients are usually Love torn lyrics (possibly also about how the road is taking its toll on the rocker's relationship w/ his lady rocker), a change in the artists sound sensibilities from rock power to introspective burning and the inclusion of pianos and or big orchestra sized strings. If the song is sung from the seated on a stool position even better. That's all it takes to fall into the power ballet category. The knee jerk reaction when one decides to determine the finest of the fine is to dig into the golden age power ballads (AKA the 1980s hair metal era)... but if you are truly looking for the BEST then look no further than 1976. With "Beth" Kiss' Peter Criss stepped out from behind the drum kit and Gene Simmons shadow and by doing so changed the perception of what the Kiss Army thought of their face painted leaders. This song is the reason why anyone should ever listen to Kiss and was probably responsible for so many teen pregnancies in 1976 for girls named Beth. So many love guns were going off to this epic power ballet. I'd like to see some charts or graphs to back up that claim up. If only Teen Mom were on back then.
This was one of the first songs I learned on the guitar and one of the first songs I ever broke a kiss off with a fifi just to play air guitar at the solo. Yes, I told this fifi to get on off the dills so I could air-wail yo. Best decision I ever mades. I would consider this song near the top of things that remind me of getting my dick touched by pre-pubescent chicks. My boombox was filled to the brim with le musicz that brought me trim. Yes, I was as horny then as I am now and I didn't even know I can supply my own handcreamz. ANYONE ELSE THINKING BOUT ME DICK? DEL?
I have a cousin who is about 8 years my senior. While I was kind of a chubby little poser when it came to really being a true hescher, he was most decidedly of an age of big hair, and making out in the back of a Camaro. While that seems crunchy, and tight in all the wrong places nowadays, back then this dude put me on game. I used to sit in his room and be subjected to cassette after cassette of pure, uncut hair metal. From Dio to Europe, this was an age before Slayer and Anthrax thrashed metal into something I'm not embarrassed to have represented. I didn't know many of the bands on first listen, but I had a go-to answer when I had no idea who was screaming high-pitched over equally high-pitched, yet dexterous guitar fingering: Dokken. I was such a little shit and thought I had outsmarted the game. Maybe I didn't know what leather-clad Trans-ammies he was playing, pausing, rewinding, and playing again while punching me in the chest and demanding that I really fucking listen this time. But I knew Dokken. It made me seems like less a 8-year old flesh bag, and more an dagger-earring-rocking scum bag. At least I hoped it did. I wanted to be nothing more than that dude smoking loosies in the back of 7/11 looking equal parts bored, pissed off, and irresistible to faster pussycats. That is until one day he actually played "Alone Again" by fucking Dokken! Nowadays I would say something along the lines of George Lynch's guitar work was legit, and distinguishable, but back then I couldn't have told you the difference between a rhythm and lead guitar. I got my balls super busted for guessing something other than Dokken when he finally played me something by fucking Dokken! What a prick! "Alone Again" was like the "Somebody that I Used to Love" of the 80s only less on every Wet Seal and Forever 21 soundtrack. Love taketh, sure, but love also giveth...the power ballad!
If you look up the definition of power ballad is a soft song that builds to a big climax, often incorporating drums and electric guitar. Well mine has neither drums or electric guitar but meets my definition of a power ballad, Mr Big's "To Be With You." Now I have to give credit where credit is due, my older sister freakin' loved this song, so if it weren't for her I probably wouldn't be writing about this; nice musical taste Melissa Rappaport. While there are no electric guitars this song follows the idea of a soft song building up to a climax (see 2:51 mark). What makes it even better is the 4 guys standing in a half circle singing around one mic and hand claps replacing the drums(a la bryan adams, sting, and rod stewart in "all for one"). How can you hate on hair bands going soft, trying to cover up their love for booze, drugs and groopies, trying to show fans that they can love too, its not just for intelligent human beings. As I digress...This song definitely brings memories back to my childhood when I think of ultimate power ballads. Tell me the terrible hair and sitting on the backwards facing chair doesn't bring you back to your childhood and some of the stupid fashionable decisions you made!
Take a good look at Billy Idol. I mean, REALLY take a good goddamned look at the dude during his prime! Remember that cyberpunk phase he went through? Me neither, but the man is an icon of sexy danger that churned out approximately three terrible songs for every decent one. "Eyes Without a Face" is awesome for a ballad because it sounds so sweet and chilled that you could easily play it for a significant object of desire and have it instantly feel real wooed (this is all under the presumption that said object has developed the neurological capabilities to do so, you weirdo). With this being said, inside this song also lies those creepy "Idol undertones", thus setting your date up for some shit that would make Buffalo Bill blush. A true classic!
As a PhD of the power ballad and all of its glorious forms I knew two things going into this:
1. That the power ballad is America's greatest contribution to the international music scene outside of the groupie, and...
2. That my colleagues would miss an all important aspect of the power ballad...the power ballad that doubles as social commentary.
I cannot think of a better song to illustrate this subgenre of power ballad than Faster pussycat's House of Pain. Faster pussycat is best known for being besties with Ricki Rackman and looking like post menopausal housewives, but they kicked fucking serious ass and nothing shows their range more than their gutwrenching power ballad House of Pain.
House of Pain is the tale of a young man who's father left him and the trials and tribulations he must go through. It was a stroke of genius because lord knows the only thing 18 year old girls love more than a power ballad is a damaged bad boy with a sensitive side. I bet these fuckers cleaned up!
Every single morning I play this song and white guy the Fuck OUT. An unconventional form of the power ballad? Sure, I'll give you that much. But its unorthodox nature is what lends itself to this tour de force. Forget Axl & Slash: they've got nothing on the duo that is Waka Flocka & Lex Luger. Its emotional side is heard in Waka recounting the death of his younger brother that led to him abandoning his own education. However, the power is rooted in Waka's defiant chant of standing in his front yard in broad daylight flaunting potent automatic weaponry. That's fucking awesome. "I PICKED THE BURNER UP AND I GRABBED SOME MARIJUANA/THREE YEARS LATER...SCREAMIN' OUT "YURRRRRRR HONOR!"