In 2014 I wrote a silly blog post about how we as a society could make Valentine’s Day more tolerable for everyone. One of the things I suggested was that Power Ballads be treated as Valentine’s Day’s version of Christmas Carols. And I’m here to push that again.
So, Friends of The World: Let’s make Valentine’s Day better by listening to Arena Rock Love Songs, in order to part-genuinely/part-ironically enjoy the cheesy feelings that Love gives us. Valentine’s Day is traditionally just for couples, but these songs are for everyone—the single, the committed, the divorced, the happily-coupled, the pining, and everyone in between. Call these songs whatever you like—Power Ballads, Monster Ballads, The Songs That Ruined Heavy Metal, whatever—I consider any love song designed to make an arena full of fans wave a lighter, pump a fist, or shed a tear a viable Valentine’s Day Carol.
Honestly, I don’t expect anyone to get on board with this, but maybe you will anyway. So, you are cordially invited to join me in my social media-based campaign to spread the love of Love. Valentine’s Day is forced and corny, and so let’s take fourteen days to listen to the only music forced and corny enough to match. I’m calling this A Fortnight From The Heart.
I’ll be sharing one song, one of my favorite Power Ballads, each day on Facebook and on this blog, from now until February 14th. Feel free to share your own favorites.
Day 1: “High Enough” by Damn Yankees
The once double-platinum-selling supergroup, Damn Yankees, has become mostly forgotten now. While they could be trivialized as something like the original (and more successful) Chickenfoot, Damn Yankees were kind of a big deal in the early 90s, partially because they wrote “High Enough,” which is probably the quintessential Power Ballad. Who knew it would take Ted Nugent, Tommy Shaw from Styx, Jack Blades (WHAT A NAME!) from Night Ranger, and an un-famous drummer (Michael Cartellone was mostly unknown at the time, and frankly remains that way, but he’s apparently playing with Lynyrd Skynyrd, so good for him) to write the perfect rock love song?
And this Monster Ballad truly is a monster, it has everything you could want: orchestral sweeps; instrumental dynamics that continually build; a big, silly, shredding guitar solo; vulnerable heartfelt lyrics (“I just made one mistake/ I didn’t know what to say/ when you called me baby”), in which the speaker learns a valuable lesson just one verse later (“I would live and die for you/ And I’d know just what to do when you call me baby”); wonderful background vocals; an absolutely ridiculous music video that nearly tells a story (so ridiculous that Patton Oswalt even has a bit about it).
In my opinion, this is the Power Ballad by which all others should be judged. That being said, there are plenty more good ones out there, and I’ll be sharing thirteen others throughout Fortnight From The Heart.