The Ultimate Playlist of 80s Rock Ballads for You
The Best Rock Ballads Of The 80s are encompassed by 1. Don't Stop Believin' 2. Under Pressure 3. Livin' On a Prayer and more. The 80s were full of them.
In fact, when it comes to Rock, one can say that in the decade, the genre was synonymous with Rock and power ballads. Yes, when dug deeper the genre saw much experimentation in the 80s, and even in the mainstream there were a variety of genres active like New Wave, Sophisti Pop, and even Metal.
However, looking back at the time, the biggest songs and artists that come to mind are those that boasted melodramatic lyrics sung with a soaring voice backed by instruments oozing sentimentality. This, of course, relates to the Rock and Power ballad.
Here, we have comprised 10 of the most popular Rock ballads based on Spotify streams:
The 10 Best Rock Ballads Of The 80s
|Song Name:||Spotify Streams:|
|Don't Stop Believin' by Journey||1,546,144,954|
|Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie||1,312,111,888|
|Livin' On A Prayer by Bon Jovi||1,219,798,508|
|I Want to Know What Love Is by Foreigner||637,295,316|
|Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen||547,130,343|
|Rock You Like A Hurricane||489,696,280|
|Purple Rain by Prince||394,920,711|
|Just Like Heaven by The Cure||356,200,262|
|Keep On Loving You by REO Speedwagon||261,295,399|
|Here I Go Again by Whitesnake||91,469,232|
10. Here I Go Again by Whitesnake
Here I Go Again by Whitesnake is a great example of 80s Rock Ballad songs. It brings with it all the pomp and energy the genre is known for.
Initially released in October 1982 for their fifth album Saints & Sinners, the song would see its deserved success five years later when the band re-released a radio mix of the song for the 1987 self-titled seventh album.
The re-release was not only a success but ended up becoming the band's only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 when it climbed up the chart on October 10, 1987. Similarly, the song saw great success in the UK where it reached #9, and Canada, where it reached #1 too.
Lyrically, the track talks about readying oneself for love despite having been hurt in the past before. The roaring riffs perfectly complement lead singer David Coverdale's yearning vocals.
9. Keep On Loving You by REO Speedwagon
Keep On Loving You by REO Speedwagon is one of the best Rock Ballads of The 80s. It is the first single off their landmark 1980 album Hi Infidelity.
As with the previous song, this too topped the Hot 100 song and since it was released right at the start of the decade, November 3, 1980, this single can be said to have started the craze for power ballads.
Lyrically, the track is part of the larger story being told in its parent album which revolves around an adulterous woman. Smartly hinted at in the name of the album, the song tells of the narrator telling his wife that no matter what she does, despite all her infidelity, he will keep loving her.
Despite its complex subject matter, the song proved a great success as it not only topped the Hot 100 but is also a platinum certified record.
8. Just Like Heaven by The Cure
Just Like Heaven by The Cure is one of the sweetest Ballads From The 80s. This 1987 single by the UK band was their breakthrough in the US.
Peaking at #40 in the Hot 100, despite the lower numbering compared to the previous two songs, this is a big deal because, unlike the previous bands, The Cure is an Alternative Rock group that was not supported by a large record company.
Both because of their initial success and the enduring legacy of the song, and the band, many believe it to be not only a great song in the group's catalog but one of the best songs ever.
Lyrically, it retells the story of when lead singer Robert Smith went on a seashore trip with his wife Mary Poole. He sings of his undying love for his wife, whom he has been happily in love with since they were both 14.
7. Purple Rain by Prince
Purple Rain by Prince is the quintessential 80s Ballad in every way. It is the title track and third single of the album of the same name.
The album in turn is a soundtrack record for the film of the same name. As for the song itself, it is a powerful mix of Power Ballad and Rock, R&B, Orchestral music, and Gospel.
The track reached all the way up to #2 on the Hot 100 and stayed in that position for two weeks. Considered one of the artist's signature songs, younger generations might know it more from when Prince performed it during the Superbowl XLI Halftime show.
As if an act of God, it ended up raining during his performance, which did not stop the artist one bit as he ended his set with this song, considered by many as one of the greatest live performances of all time.
6. Rock You Like A Hurricane by Scorpion
Rock You Like A Hurricane by Scorpion is one of the premier 80s Rock Ballads Album Songs. It is the lead single off their ninth album, Love at First Sting.
Seen by many as their signature song, this track was written by the entire band and reached #25 on the Hot 100. It saw greater success in the Rock charts where it slid into the Top 5 at #5.
What makes the song particularly memorable is that it is a perfect mix of the varying popular Metal subgenres of the time like Glam and Heavy Metal alongside more mainstream influences like Hard Rock and Arena Rock.
Lyrically, it isn't talking about anything specific and is mostly an anthem about literally rocking someone, possibly an enemy or detractor, like a hurricane, which can be a subjective experience.
5. Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen
Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen is one of the Top Rock Ballads of the 80s. It was the first single from his 1984 album, Born in the U.S.A.
A standout track in the Boss's discography, this song shot right up to #2 on the Hot 100 and is seen as one of the biggest hits of his career. In fact, the song was so successful that it singlehandedly helped make its parent album the best-selling album of his entire recording career.
Lyrically, the song talks both of a love-affair while bemoaning the plight of the working man. A hook-filled mesmerizing endeavor, the song is especially beloved for its music video.
The video shows the singer dancing and performing the song in a live setting. He is then joined by a very young Courtney Cox, who would eventually gain fame on her own for playing Monica Geller on the television show, Friends.
4. I Want to Know What Love Is by Foreigner
I Want to Know What Love Is by Foreigner is as emblematic as it gets when it comes to Rock Ballads. This is the lead single to their fifth album Agent Provocateur.
This track earns the key distinction of being a #1 hit not only on the Billboard Hot 100 but also in the UK Singles chart. It is the group's biggest hit in the entirety of their career.
In fact, the song has been a favorite in the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Recurrents chart where it has charted within the top 25 in 2001, 2001, and 2002. The track has become a classic within the subgenre of Soft Rock, and is also emblematic of the genre as a whole too.
When it comes to the lyrics, the title says it all. This is a yearning track where the singer beseeches with their lover to teach them what love is.
3. Livin' On A Prayer by Bon Jovi
Livin' On A Prayer by Bon Jovi is an anthemic ballad by the perennial producers of ballads. It is the second single from their third album, Slippery When Wet.
Following in the success of their previous single You Give Love a Bad Name this song also went to #1. With the release of this song, not only did Bon Jovi get their second consecutive #1 hit on the Hot 100 but also their first #1 on the Mainstream Rock charts.
Simply put, Bon Jovi has built a career out of power ballads but this one stands high and mighty above all of the rest. In fact, many of their other ballads can be said to be a pale imitation of this song.
If that judgement is too harsh then it only speaks to the volume of love, adoration, and respect that this track commands both critically and commercially.
2. Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie
Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie is not only a great ballad but also an amazing duet. It is a single off their tenth album Hot Space.
However, the song's popularity has far surpassed the parent album to the point where it is remembered not as a single but for its own sake. Chart-wise, the track peaked at the UK singles chart and made it up to #29 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Aside from the UK, the song also peaked on the Dutch Top 40, the Netherlands Single Top 100, and the Canadian charts. It is one of both artist's signature songs which is saying something as both Queen and Bowie have a bevy of signature songs.
Lyrically, the song talks about feeling a lot of pressure but not being able to communicate it to their loved ones. Despite the dour meaning, the music is soaring and optimistic.
1. Don't Stop Believin' by Journey
Don't Stop Believin' by Journey is THE 80s Rock Ballad. It is the most enduring song of not only the band's catalog but of the decade itself.
This anthemic single is well-known for its distinctive opening keyboard riff as well as its highly quotable beginning lines. Much like the band's name, the song is a journey itself musically as it boats two pre-choruses and three verses before the central hook even arrives.
Lyrically, the song tells the story of two individuals: a small-town girl and a city boy who are both trying to escape their dour life and trying to find a chance at greater happiness.
The track has been covered in ad-nauseam and ranks as one of the most recognizable Rock songs of all time. Even the people who can't name the band's name know the song and can sing it.
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