The 80's were certainly the era of rock power ballads. As the decade progressed, power ballads became so popular that rock bands were unable to release a record without at least one power ballad on it.
It was even acceptable for guys to enjoy power ballads because it was simply their heavy metal rockers slowing it down a little. However, 80's rock bands found that their true market for power ballads were the girls. Yes, chicks really loved the power ballad which the growth in record sales and songs hitting the Top 40 validated.
Suddenly, the Motley Crue audience was no longer just full of black t-shirted, leather jacketed metal heads – no, now there were girls wanting to hear 'Home Sweet Home' too. Rock ballads really revolutionized Hair Band Rock to a new level.
Overview and History of Rock Power Ballads
A power ballad is a type of song typically characterized by having a slow tempo, long voiced notes, electric and/or acoustic guitars, and deemphasized percussion and bass. Some sections of the song may include strong percussion and bass that are more typical of the hard rock and heavy metal genres for increased emotional effect, and often the electric guitar comes back in the song's climax. Common power ballad themes include (but are not limited to) emotional pain, need, love and loss.
It is believed by artists and fans that power ballads first came into existence in the 1970s at the insistence of record company executives who may have coerced their signed hard rock and heavy metal bands to include a powerful ballad on an album, reasoning that the power ballad would attract a larger listening audience than the bands' typical music. By the mid-1980s, hard rock and heavy metal bands routinely released power ballads in an effort to cross over to Top 40 radio.
Mötley Crüe's "Home Sweet Home" is often cited as the glam metal power ballad that popularized the genre, and aired frequently on MTV in 1985, eventually becoming the most requested video for three months straight. Def Leppard's "Bringin' On The Heartbreak" was an even earlier aired power ballad, which was popular on the MTV charts in 1981.
Power ballads are also widespread in power metal. Contemporary heavy metal bands continue to use the power ballad, usually with less focus on them. Also these are often sadder or darker than 80's ballads.