Everybody loves 1980s heavy metal music, but not everybody will admit it. Some people try to be all snobby about music and say that they prefer stuff like indie/folk music, but as for pure rock and roll, rock and roll as it was meant to be, nothing beats 1980s heavy metal. And then there are the ballads. These guys just knew how to write about love because, well let’s face it, they got all the women. ALL of them. Being guy in Los Angeles, back in the late 80s must have been tough because all the ladies were with the guys from the bands. Not with you. Here, now, are my 10 favorite heavy metal ballads of the 1980s.
10) House of Pain – Faster Pussycat. From 1989’s Wake Me When It’s Over album, this song is all about the relationship between a dad and his son. But it isn’t a good relationship. It’s more about a dad who, for whatever reason, can’t be a dad. If this applies to you it will break your heart. Very moving.
9) Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison. Off the 1988 Open Up and Say…Ahh album, this might be the definitive heavy metal ballad, just not my favorite. This song is notorious for containing the saddest line ever written in music, “I could have saved a love that night if I’d known what to say. Instead of making love we both made our separate ways.” That is pain. Bring on the waterworks.
8) Ballad of Jayne – L.A. Guns. This song, from 1989’s Cocked & Loaded album is just great music. Not the greatest ballad, not the worst. What makes it memorable is the way that it just sounds like it is moving in slow motion. Maybe it’s just me. Always had a thing for this song. R.I.P Jayne.
7) I Remember You – Skid Row. This song showed the softer side of one of heavy metal’s toughest bands. From their 1988 self-titled debut, this was every girl’s dream back in the late 80s. Sebastian Bach has a voice sent from the heavens and he showcases it here like there’s no tomorrow. “Woke up to the sound of pouring rain”. Just try not to listen after hearing that opening. Can’t do it.
6) Forever Free – W.A.S.P. This song, from one of rock’s most underrated bands of all-time is a song that will make you want to cry but since it is W.A.S.P. you won’t allow yourself to do it. It starts out as a pure ballad but halfway in it changes tempo and goes all out rock. Then it slows it back down again. If you’ve never heard this song, or anything from W.A.S.P., please do yourself a favor and listen to them.
5) Don’t Close Your Eyes – KIX. From the 1988 Blow My Fuse album, this song is one about not giving up; as it relates to the ultimate fight – the one for your life. It’s an anti-suicide song that has probably done more to save troubled teens lives than most therapists could dream of. This song is one of the most powerful songs just because of the way they brave the notion of such a delicate issue. Good job guys. For those losing hope, this song is a lifesaver in the ocean of depression.
4) Long Way To Love – Britny Fox. Another of the lesser-known gems, Britny Fox are the best music act ever named Britny (or any spelling of the name). From their 1988 self-titled debut, which also features the hit Girl School, this song has one of the best guitar solos of the heavy metal era. Britny Fox never got the attention or recognition that Poison, Warrant, or Def Leppard got, but this song is as good as anything they did. Check it out.
3) I’ll Never Let You Go – Steelheart. From their 1990 (technically not the 80s, but, so what) debut album, this beauty is known as the song where the singer has the highest scream ever. It’s no surprise that Steelheart were a one-hit wonder (even though they have many great songs). How could singer Miljenko Matijevic ever have a voice again after what he does on this song? Amazing.
2) Love Song – Tesla. This song, originally from 1989’s The Great Radio Controversy, is best heard on their 1990 Five Man Acoustical Jam album. The live, acoustic performance gives us some of the greatest acoustic guitar work of the genre, and it has a moment that, still to this day, sends chills up and down my spine more than any other in music history. When they switch from acoustic instruments to electric, it is my most powerful moment in music. It’s even more powerful if you see the DVD of the concert and see that the entire time it is acoustic until that solo. The switch was total genius. Thank you very much Philadelphia!
1) Home Sweet Home – Motley Crue. From 1985’s Theatre of Pain album, this is what heavy metal ballads are supposed to be about. It is about longing for the one you love and then getting to be with her. Every part of this song defines the way music should still be made today, but isn’t. Never has anybody wearing so much spandex and hair spray sounded more sincere. This is the sound of love.