I wish I could claim credit, but, I can't
This is friggin funny.
Blame it on KISS.
There was a time when rock and roll bands didn't have a "soft" edge to them. There were no soft, romantic songs mixed in among the rockers on their albums, and shit, we liked it that way. Black Sabbath didn't release ballads. AC/DC didn't do them, either. Hell, the closest thing that Zepplin had to a ballad was Stairway To Heaven, and even that tune rocks out at the end. Back then, rock bands just wanted to kick ass and get laid. They wanted to scare you, not make you fall in love with their sensitive sides. They had no aspirations to tug at your heartstrings with a lush, beautiful melody and heartfelt lyrics--no, they left shit like that to Barry Manilow and Michael "I-was-in-a-metal-band-before-I-realized-I-sucked" Bolton.
But when KISS was looking for a "B" side to their Detroit Rock City single, they scanned the track list of their Destroyer album and decided to choose the lone ballad, a song called Beth. Rest assured, this was not a shrewd promotional move on KISS' part, pairing a rocker with a soft song to appeal to a wider demographic--no, that would imply that KISS had some business savvy, when in fact most of their success has been almost completely accidental and happened pretty much in spite of themselves. At that particular time, they thought Beth was a real loser and put it on the "B" side to essentially bury it. But then, a strange thing happened; radio stations put Beth on their playlists and virtually ignored Detroit Rock City, the supposedly "better" song. KISS wound up with their biggest single ever, loads of air play, and a whole new batch of chicks at their concerts, holding up lighters and singing along with Beth--and I'll best most of them could sing the melody better than Peter Criss did. It was the first time (and definitely not the last) that KISS would sell out. KISS Kondoms, anyone? Just about every album they've released since then has had some version of a "power ballad" on it. And while none of their other slow jams have reached the same level of success as Beth, some of them have come close. Does anybody remember their big hit Forever? How about Reason To Live? Oh, you DO remember that one? Sorry about that.
Believe me when I tell you, other bands were watching and taking notes with their eyeliner pencils. And why not? They wanted more radio play, bigger sales and more chicks with lighters, too. When I was growing up in the era of the hair bands, the power ballads had long since been reduced to an exact science--and for many groups, the ballads were the only true hits they ever had. Seriously, would anybody remember Extreme without More Than Words? Would anybody have purchased Mr. Big's album if it didn't have To Be With You? And hell, would anybody remember that a group called Firehouse even existed without their big single Love Of A Lifetime? In a word, no.
So, I suppose that would beg the question--was the "power ballads" trend a good thing or a bad thing? To be fair, I did enjoy some of the songs that came out of it, like The Ballad Of Jayne by L.A. Guns and Love Song by Tesla. But many of the songs were just plain bad. Terribly bad. And me being me, these are the songs I want to spotlight and make fun of. I'm a prick that way.
Before I get started, I just want to say how much I love pointless lists like this one. They always seem to piss people off, like when Eddie Van Halen didn't even make the Top 50 when Rolling Stone did their "100 Greatest Guitarists" list. Which was fucking bullshit, by the way. Fuck you, Rolling Stone, and stick to putting Avril Lavigne on the cover of your "hasn't-been-relevant-in-30-years" rag. If you're anywhere near my age, this new list you're about to read will also probably piss you off. Some of your all-time favorite songs might even be on here, and I'm about to have a great time ripping on them. Or you might even agree with me. Who knows? More importantly, who cares? My columns are a complete waste of time, anyway, and nobody should care about my opinions one way or another. Shit, I don't even have respect for my opinions. So, let the bickering begin;
THE 10 WORST POWER BALLADS OF ALL TIME
Every Rose Has Its Thorn, by Poison
Only one song into my list, and I know I've already made a controversial choice. People seem to have an irrational love of this song, and some misguided types have even labled it a "classic." I don't think so. The words "classic" and "C.C. Deville" should never be used in the same sentence. (Oops, I just broke my own rule.) You want to know my opinion? I think people like the nostalgic aspects of a song like this more than the actual song itself. The 80's were much simpler times for many of us. You know, back when teenage guys proudly sported mullets and bad moustaches, and chicks teased their bangs until they were approximately three feet above their heads. People weren't even embarrassed to listen to Poison back then, and it's quite possible that you once copped a feel on a chick's ass to the strains of this song. But is this particular song good on its own merit? I mean, if you were to hear it for the very first time today, would you crank it up and say "Hey, that's a great song?" No. Jesus Christ, no.
For one thing, let's take a look at what Poison was. They were a party band, plain and simple, and not a terribly good one. How good can you be when your drummer calls himself "Rikki Rocket?" And when I think of Bret Michaels as a songwriter, I'd rather not hear him waxing philosophical about a lost love--no way, he's the guy that told us how an Unskinny Bop just blows him away. That's right, he's a much better lyricist when he's talking about banging chubby groupies--just like Gene Simmons is. As it is, the lyrics to Rose don't even make any fucking sense! Consider the chorus;
Every rose has its thorn
Okay, I'm with you so far, Bret. He's making an analogy about love, comparing it with something delicate and beautiful, like a rose. However, also like a rose, love can hurt you. It can prick you like a thorn. It can make your soul bleed. Holy shit, that's deep. Talk dirty to me, Bret... uh, I mean, talk to me, Bret. Let me feel your pain.
Just like every night has its dawn
Here we are on the second line of the chorus, and it ALREADY DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. If he's going to compare a rose having a thorn to a night having a dawn, I guess that would imply;
So what the fuck is he trying to say here? That daylight is a bad, painful thing, like a thorn? Why would he say that? Is he nocturnal? Or is he a vampire who wears a headband to hide his rapidly balding head? (Oh, by the way, Bret, you aren't fooling anybody with that dumb rag you constantly wear.) Maybe he feared daylight because it meant he'd get a really GOOD look at the broad he took to bed the night before. Some of us look much better in dim lighting conditions. Trust me, I should know.
Just like every cowboy sings a sad, sad song
Again, this line makes no sense. I don't personally know any "cowboys," but I'm pretty sure that not ALL of them "sing a sad, sad song." What's so bad about being a cowboy, other than being forced to listen to country music? You get to drive around in a pickup truck, carry a shot gun AND bang your own cousins! Doesn't sound so bad to me. So why do they ALL have to have sad, sad songs? Hell, I'm sure some of them don't even have "happy, happy songs." But I'll tell you what's REALLY pathetic--watching Michaels try to pass himself off as a "country singer" nowadays while wearing those stupid cowboy hats. Now THAT'S a sad, sad song, cowboy. Go bald gracefully, you egomaniac.
Bottom line? Bland melody. Bad lyrics. Bad song. And it just narrowly beat out another shitty ballad from these guys, the ridiculous Something To Believe In. I guess we can just give that one a dishonorable mention and call it a day.
I'll Be There For You, by Bon Jovi
Ahhhh, the Bon Jovi boys are kings of the power ballads, and they have the notches on their bedposts to prove it. Was there ever a more girl friendly band than these guys? I'll bet that even if you were a greasy roadie that resembled Jabba The Hutt, you still got laid constantly when you went on tour with these clowns. Now, I know a lot of you reading this will also love this song, just like the Poison one. But try to remember, we're taking an objective look at these songs, and not taking into consideration whether or not we slow danced to them at the goddamn prom. Bon Jovi jumped on the slow jams bandwagon pretty early on, when they released the relatively obscure song Silent Night. And you know what? Some of their ballads, like Never Say Goodbye, have a certain lopsided charm to them. It's kind of like watching a Rocky movie--you know they're corny, but you can't help but love them anyway. But they went to the well once too often when they released I'll Be There For You, which is not only a dumb song but a boring one as well. And much like Poison's song, it also suffers from the "bad lyrics" syndrome;
I'll be there for you
These five words I swear to you
When you breathe, I wanna be the air for you
I'll be there for you
I'd live and I'd die for you
Steal the sun from the sky for you
Words can't say what love can do
I'll be there for you.
Okay, so here we have eight lines from the song--and of all the words in the English language, what is the ONLY word that Bon Jovi can come up with that rhymes with "you?" Just "do." That's all. What about view? Stew? Blue? Tattoo? Askew? Dew? Pooh? Love goo? Well, you get the point... either the guy just completely ran out of ideas, or he's a lazy ass. Maybe he thought his shaggy hair and toothy smile would get us to buy anything he released--and I guess he was right. For some odd reason, this song was a huge hit, even though a drunken first grader could write better lyrics.
What about that whole "steal the sun from the sky for you" bullshit? Is that supposed to be an incentive for this chick? What would a woman do with the sun, anyway? The last time I checked, women don't usually want gifts that will SET THEM ON FIRE when they get within several million miles of them. They want diamonds and shit.
Here's another part that bugs me;
I didn't mean to miss your birthday, baby
I wish I'd seen you blow those candles out
Oh, I get it... first, the guy claims that he'd "steal the sun" for you, live and die for you, blah blah blah, but now the dude can't even make it to your fucking birthday party?? I should think it would be easier to do that than to steal a huge, firey ball of gas that's 93 million miles away, but I guess not. I guess I don't anything about women, because I can't see for the life of me why a song like this would get them all hot and bothered.
I hate this song. I'm pretty sure I hate women now, too. I'm not stealing the sun for any of you bitches.
Carrie, by Europe
This is a band that will never be forgotten, unfortunately. The title song from their Final Countdown album is played at every sporting event known to man, everything from football to bowling. I think they even play it during cock fighting and water polo. You know, now that I think about it, these hair bands would have been a lot smarter had they gone the whole "stadium anthem" route, as opposed to writing embarrassing ballads. In the long run, it's a lot more profitable--and you probably won't get stalked by fat chicks in spandex. Just fat, drunken sports fans with beer breath going "Yeah, man! That Final Countdown song kicks major ass!"
My brother had this album, so I was forced to listen to it a few times. (That's what happens when siblings share rooms.) Yeah, my brother listened to some bad music back in the day, but we're all guilty of that. At least he never bought a Jacko album like I did. These days, I'd much rather listen to a Europe tune over P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) any old day of the fucking week.
Here's why Carrie sucks; for one, it's always a bad idea to name a song after a chick, whether she's fictional or not. If you're a member of the band, you'll have to deal with nasty women named Carrie asking you if you wrote the song about them--and this shit will go on for the rest of your miserable life. It's like "Hi, remember me? I'm Carrie, you know, from Duluth? So anyway, I just wanted to say that night we spent together at the Red Roof Inn was the best night of my life. You made me feel so sexy, even though I only have four teeth and I puked in your sink. I'm so flattered you wrote that song about me."
Meanwhile, the guy in the band is thinking, "Holy shit, did I actually bang this beast? That does it, no more Jagermeister on the tour bus."
In fact, I'll bet this song WAS written for some nasty groupie somewhere. Check out these lyrics;
Can't you see it in my eyes
This might be our last goodbye
Things they change my friend
Maybe we'll meet again
Sounds like a "wham, bam, thank you, ma'am" situation to me. And it's not even a good song. Bad singing, a stupid melody... but still, I'm sure that some of you dipshits out there had girlfriends named Carrie, and you probably played this song to impress them. If that happened, I hope she laughed at you, dumped your ass and started going out with a guy who actually had decent taste in music. Putz.
Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone), by Cinderella
I have to admit, I'm somewhat on the fence about including this song on the list. I liked it when I was a kid, as I liked many stupid songs, and I remember the video being in heavy rotation on MTV back in the day. In fact, I saw this video not more than two weeks ago on VH1 Classic for the first time in years. Thank GOD for that channel, otherwise I'd never see any decent videos--I mean, when was the last time MTV was even remotely watchable? 1993? Anyway, it all starts out pretty nicely, with an expansive, wide shot of mountains and an understated piano opening. Not a bad melody all in all, and when the camera cuts to Cinderella playing on a mountain top, I was looking forward to hearing the song again after all these years.
But then... Tom Keifer began to sing. Holy shit, did he ever.
I have never, ever heard such a mismatch between a voice and a melody in my entire life. It was so jarring, I damn near dropped my drink. If you have a singing voice which sounds as if you routinely swallow handfuls of double-edged razors and then gargle with warm cat piss, it's probably not a good idea to try to sing a pretty ballad. The sad thing is, it's not even that bad of a tune. But that voice... damn. It just doesn't work for the song, and that's me being nice about it. There's something so... so... wrong about it, kind of like if you were to hear Neil Diamond singing a Black Flag song. Or Pat Boone singing Metallica. No wait, that actually happened, didn't it? Never mind.
I know it sounds like I'm picking on Tom Keifer, and I suppose I am. But you know, sometimes his screeching worked well for the music he was doing. Some of the blues songs Cinderella did weren't too bad for the time they came out. And Keifer's voice worked a lot better for their first ballad, Nobody's Fool. But this time out, they should have paid a bum off the street to come in and do the vocals--it couldn't have sounded any worse than Keifer did. So yeah, maybe the guy isn't the best singer in the world--but in his defense, when was the last time that you had to be a decent singer to be a music star? Right, Macy Gray? Right, Britney?
I Hate Kissing You Good-bye, by Tuff
This is most definitely the most obscure song on my list, but it's so terrible that I wouldn't have felt right about not including it. You remember the group Tuff, don't you? They came on the scene just as hair metal was sounding the death rattle and grunge was about to take over the world--and possess perfectly sane people to buy lots of flannel for some reason. The first time I saw Tuff, I thought they were a joke. My friend Ord had a Tuff flyer hanging on the wall of his apartment, which was a very shitty promo for their album What Comes Around Goes Around. Now, my friend would NOT be the type of guy to listen to hair bands, so I was surprised to see a picture of what appeared to be a low rent Poison hanging on his wall.
"What the hell is this?" I asked him.
"Oh, isn't that fucking hilarious?" he says. "I found that stapled to a telephone pole and it made me laugh my ass off. I just had to have it."
And I have to say, it was a pretty damn funny picture. Even as far as hair bands went, these guys looked like complete tools. One band member had a huge mass of frizzy black hair, under which one eye peered out enigmatically. The lead singer looked almost exactly like Bret Michaels, even down to the bandana. And the song titles listed on the flyer looked every bit as bland as the group, with really cliched titles such as The All New Generation and Spit Like This. That's right, I meant to type "spit." Had the song used the word "shit" in the title, that might have been just too darn outrageous for the masses. Oooooh, these guys were rebels!!!
After several years how wondering just how bad these guys must sound, we finally broke down and downloaded some Tuff tunes. Most of the songs weren't TOO bad... I mean, they were nothing special by any means, but they didn't sound any worse than some of the other shit people were listening to. But then, I made the mistake of listening to their power ballad, I Hate Kissing You Good-bye, and it surpassed any level of badness that I could have possibly imagined.
I hate kissing you goodbye, whoa ohh oh ooooh
I’ve heard it all before, and I know for sure
That it won't heal with time, baby
I hate kissing you, kissing you goodbye, whoa whoa yeah
Maybe, the things we shared were never meant to be
Our love is like a heart attack, and it's slowly killing me, yeah
This may seem hard to believe, but this song sounds even worse than it reads. Seriously. The only reason this song isn't higher on the list is because most people have never heard it (lucky them), and the Bret Michaels clone who is Tuff's lead singer is none other than Stevie Rachelle, the man behind Metal Sludge. I love the Sludge, and I'm always pimping that site and swinging off their nuts. But Stevie... your ballad really, really sucks.
And should this description make some people out there want to give the song a listen out of morbid curiousity, trust me when I say this... don't do it. Those three minutes of your life would be much better spent doing something productive, like clipping your toe nails. Or masturbating. Or killing yourself.
Headed For A Heartbreak, by Winger
Come on now, do I REALLY have to recite a laundry list of reasons as to why a Winger song sucks? We all know they suck. If Beavis and Butt-Head taught us nothing else, they taught us that Winger sucks. I'm sure even Stewart has quit listening to them by now.
Maybe Kip Winger's pouty, "I'm too cool to shave" good looks are the reason they are ridiculed today. Maybe it was his shiny white teeth that appeared to be seven inches in height. Maybe it was the fact that he posed in a CLOTHED pictorial for Playgirl--and I'd be willing to bet that women find clothed pics in a skin mag every bit as annoying as guys do. Or maybe... just maybe... the songs flat out sucked. As for me, I tend to believe the latter.
I'm sure there are some closeted Winger fans still in existence today, just waiting for the day that Kip puts the band back together and heads out on the road. But I'm not sure that's going to happen, because I think he's too busy doing ballet in his backyard. That wasn't even a rip on him, either. The guy is seriously into ballet.
Nothing funny about that. No-o-o-ope... nothing funny at all.
But let's get back to the subject here. This song blows. I don't even have the energy or desire to talk about it any further. It just blows.
Don't Close Your Eyes, by Kix
Like most bands of the genre, I'm sure Kix would resent being labled as a "hair band." (Just like The Bee Gees hate being called a "disco band.") These guys rocked just as hard as most bands of that era, but they fall under the category of "our-only-hit-was-a-fucking-ballad." I'm not sure why this is, exactly. Maybe it's hard to be taken seriously when you share a name with a brand of kid's cereal. I mean, what the fuck? Was the name "Alpha-Bets" already being used by another band??
In their defense, Don't Close Your Eyes has all the hallmarks of a ballad recorded under duress. It's a meandering, listless song, and the band doesn't seem into it at all. In fact, you should follow the advice given in the title, or you're likely to fall asleep while listening to it. Why was this piece of shit recorded? I think a shady manager must have been involved;
SHADY MANAGER: Hey guys, we need a power ballad on the new album.
KIX GUYS: No way, man! We're a rock band! We wear leather and shit!
SHADY MANAGER: Yeah, well, here's the thing... we need to get you guys on the Dial MTV Countdown. MTV means record sales. Record sales means limos and slutty women in halter tops.
KIX GUYS: No way! MTV sucks! We don't need them! We're all in it for the fans! Now, where the fuck is my Evian???
SHADY MANAGER: Well, okay, then. I guess we'll have to find another group to open on the upcoming Iron Maiden tour.
KIX GUYS: You mean... we'd actually have an audience to play in front of? People that won't throw shit at us and won't pick fights with us when we're putting on our makeup in the men's bathroom?
SHADY MANAGER: Sure... but I need a power ballad first.
KIX GUYS: Okay, but we ain't singing about love. How about if we sing about suicide or some shit? And can I still sing as if I'm pissed off?
SHADY MANAGER: Whatever. Just as so long as it gets played at high school dances.
For Kix's sake, I hope this is how it really went down. I'd prefer to not blame this song on them.
Have You ever Needed Someone So Bad?
Two Steps Behind, by Def Leppard
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
I used to really dig Def Leppard, despite their poor spelling skills. Pyromania was (and is) possibly the best pop metal album of all time, and you can STILL catch me jamming to Photograph and Foolin' on a fairly regular basis. Back then, the closest thing these guys had to a "ballad" was a song like Too Late For Love. But by the time they released Hysteria, cracks were forming, the music was softening, and chicks were swooning. It was a bad sign of the times. Was it because their drummer lost an arm? Possibly. Was it because they were getting too old to rock out anymore? Nope. I think it's because they tasted the profits from a power ballad like Love Bites and the greedy bastards thirsted for more.
What a long, depressing fall it has been. These guys were once a pretty good rock band, but now they've sold their souls to the "adult contemporary" devil. Why, oh why?? Maybe they enjoyed hearing their music while they thumbed through magazines in a dentist's office waiting room. Maybe they enjoyed the idea of muzak versions of Two Steps Behind being played at discount department stores. Maybe they just woke up one day and said "I know! Let's suck!" I have no idea.
I couldn't decide which of these two songs I hated more, so they both get to be on the list. Both of these tunes suck so badly, just thinking about them makes my ears bleed. If you're a so called "metal" band and they're playing your music on a station my mom would listen to, something is seriously wrong.
I don't know how it's humanly possible for Def Leppard to suck as much as they do these days. Maybe their contract with Satan expired. Either way, should I happen to hear one of these two pieces of shit, I'm liable to grab my Pyromania CD, fall to the floor and start sobbing while rolled up into the fetal position. Bad, bad songs... and it's about to get even worse.
Honestly, by Stryper
The worst of the worst, these guys had the balls to proclaim themselves a "Christian" band, which is a gimmick they used right up until it stopped selling records for them. Even the title of their first album was offensive to me; To Hell With The Devil. Um, okay, what the fuck is that supposed to mean? Is that supposed to be punishment for him? That's like when your mom would punish you by sending you to your room. If you REALLY want to piss of the devil, send him to heaven for a few days--he'll stick out like a sore thumb up there. And hopefully, he'll talk the angels into burning their Stryper CDs.
These guys were such dolts, they used to throw bibles into the crowd during their concerts. What the hell is up with that? I go to concerts to see women flashing their tits and to get a good contact weed buzz, not to score Christian literature. And you know what really pisses me off? These guys dressed in black and yellow striped tights, like bumblebees with too much hair and mascara. It's damn near impossible to look cool when you're dressed like a fucking bee--even Aykroyd and Belushi couldn't pull it off in those old SNL skits.
To make matters even worse, Michael Sweet had the most annoying voice ever recorded on record, and he wails like a poor man's Dennis DeYoung. It made it even MORE annoying when he was singing shit like;
Jesus in your heart
It's time for you to start
Giving God all the glory
Eat a bullet, you dickheads. Instead of giving God all the glory, how about instead I give you a foot up your black and yellow striped asses? And if singing about Jesus wasn't bad enough--and I'm sorry, rock bands just can't sing about Christianity without sucking--they had to release a power ballad, too. The fact that this song was a hit makes me want to drive down to the mall with an AK-47 and save society from itself.
And I loo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ove yo-o-o-o-o-o-o-u
Can-n-n-n-nt you se-e-e-e-e-e-e??
That I can sa-a-a-a-a-y I lo-o-o-o-o-o-ve yo-o-o-o-o-ou
Bah, just typing those lyrics out made me want to put my head through the computer moniter. Or at the very least, start worshipping Satan. I'd rather have my genitals ravaged by rabid wolverines than to listen to this fucking garbage. Fuck you, Stryper. I'll see you guys in hell, you damn phonys... I just know it.
If there was ever any wonder as to why hair bands became extinct, one needs only to look at a list like this one to see why it happened. Now, if only we could figure out a way to kill off hip hop, too...
That was a really stupid rant.
At least he acknowledged that 'Love Song' was pretty cool.