Poison is on tour providing support for Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe’s massive The Stadium Tour
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and Poison will support the long-awaited summer trek
These are the moments that rocked the musical world. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Moments in Music History.
For this list, we’re looking at the most memorable and electrifying moments that impacted music as an art form and the public that consumes it. We’re not counting the deaths of any musicians, as they all prove equally sad, and we’re also not including infamous moments like Kanye West’s interruption of Taylor Swift’s VMA acceptance speech, as they deserve a list of their own.
We’re sure you’ve jammed out to “Rapper’s Delight” once or twice, but did you know it was recorded in a single take? Didn’t think so. That single take, recorded by Englewood natives “Wonder Mike,” “Big Bank Hank,” and “Master Gee,” rocked the musical world when in January, 1980, it cracked the Billboard Top 40, landing the number 36 spot. It was the first time a hip-hop track had ever accomplished such a feat, as it legitimized the hip-hop genre as a force to be reckoned with. This moment paved the way for all future hip-hop acts, from Biggie to Kendrick Lamar who can all thank The Sugarhill Gang.
Considered among his best work, Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9” premiered on May 7th, 1824 at Vienna’s Theater am Kärntnertor to a packed audience. Matching the crowd, Beethoven packed the stage with the largest orchestra he had ever convened, including many of Vienna’s elite musicians. The premiere marked the first time Beethoven had taken the stage in 12 years. During that time he lost his hearing, and as a result wrote the symphony off musical intuition alone. All of this added to the crowd’s anticipation. Sharing the stage with the theater’s kapellmeister, Michael Umlauf, Beethoven’s symphony stunned the audience, earning five standing ovations. The 9th proved to be Beethoven’s last completed symphony, but it lives on as a masterpiece.
The music industry owes a lot to MTV given the game changing impact of its arrival, but the channel should also be recognized for some incredible music moments. Perhaps the most powerful performance ever aired on the channel was Nirvana’s 1993 appearance on “MTV Unplugged.” Recorded in November of that year and aired a month later, it was one of the last televised performances by Kurt Cobain, before his death in April of 1994. In the wake of his death, the performance inherited immense weight, where the funeral like set dressings and melancholic song choices brought Cobain’s declining mental state into focus.
Johnny Cash was never one to play by the rules, and that’s why the public loved the Man in Black. An outlaw spirit who had fair share of brushes with the law, Cash sympathized with prison inmates. He advocated for prison reform, and as early as the late 50s started to visit and perform in prisons. The real moment of magic came on February 24th, 1969, when Cash performed live at California’s San Quentin Prison. Fueled in part by his annoyance with the British film crew filming the concert, Cash led a rowdy crowd of inmates with a rebellious, energetic, and career defining set.
He didn’t create the move, but MJ sure as hell popularized it. The moonwalk has cropped up throughout pop culture since the 1930s, such as James Brown in The Blues Brothers for example, but there’s only one name synonymous with the move: Michael Jackson. He lit up the world when he first rocked the moonwalk at Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, and Forever in March 1983. Jackson added his signature flair and gravitas to the move by spinning and posing in his sequins, black jacket, and white glove, stopping the world for a moment, and then dropping the moonwalk bomb. In modern times it would have broken the internet but in the 1980s Jackson had to just settle for blowing minds.
On July 13th, 1985 the biggest bands in the world of rock and roll came together for Live Aid to support relief efforts for the Ethiopian Famine. On a day featuring a reunited Led Zeppelin, The Who, Black Sabbath, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and U2’s epic 14 minute rendition of “Bad,” it was Queen that stole the show. In a mere 21 minute set, they crammed in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Radio Ga Ga, ”Hammer to Fall,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and a finale of “We Will Rock You” and “We are the Champions.” The performance was incredible, as Freddie Mercury commanded the stage and the 72,000 person crowd in what proved to be one of his last major performances.
A fan favourite of the Newport Folk Festival thanks to his appearances in 1963 and 64, Bob Dylan rattled the cage a little to hard in 1965. By ’65 Dylan had been labeled the “spokesman of a generation,” and had earned Newport’s headlining bill. Taking the stage with members from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and armed with a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, Mr Zimmerman parted ways with his folk brethren. As boos and jeers erupted from the purists of the festival, including its organizers, Dylan let loose with electric guitars and the energy of rock and roll. It was a major turning point, signalling the decline of folk, and the rise of rock and roll.
By the time he performed on the Milton Berle show on June 5th, 1956, Elvis had already appeared on television plenty of times, including a previous appearance on Berle’s show. This time around, however, things were different. Guitar-less and free to move around the stage, Presley became a quivering mass of windmilling arms and gyrating hips while performing an overcharged version of “Hound Dog.” He may have been chastised by the press and conservative America, but Elvis won over America’s youth who very promptly crowned him the King of Rock and Roll.
Woodstock – four days of peace and love—rocked the world with many incredible performances from groups as diverse as The Who to Jefferson Airplane. None, however, had the cultural impact of Jimi Hendrix. Due the festival being horribly off schedule, and following Sha-Na-Na, Hendrix finally took the stage early Monday morning, with a mere 30,000 of the 400,000 plus audience still in attendance. The remaining few were stunned when Hendrix broke out a passionate rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner with the full Jimi Hendrix treatment. It was a performance that both channelled counterculture rebellion and anger towards the Vietnam War, but also Hendrix’s unbridled love for America.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Gangnam Style
- Madonna, “Like a Virgin” on MTV Awards
- Invention of the Electric Guitar
- The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
- The Who on the Smothers Brothers
The Ed Sullivan Show gave the world a collection of incredible and controversial music moments, like the censored hip swinging of Elvis Presley, but no moment compares to the debut performance of The Beatles. On February 9th, 1964, to an estimated U.S. television record of 73 million viewers, The Beatles took the stage and kicked off the British Invasion. On that night, John, Paul, George, and Ringo bridged the gap between British and American music, globalizing the industry with a forged bond that would forever link the two. The performance launched America into a craze unlike anything before it. Beatlemania had arrived, and music would never be the same again.
There’s a soft side to everyone including your favorite cold-hearted rockstars. It’s not just that though because “power ballads” are the cash cows that never fail to line their pockets. In a nutshell, it’s a sure sell (do you have any idea how much hairspray, spandex suits and platform boots cost?). You see, for hard-rockin’ musicians, they’re not exactly too keen on adding overly-emotional stuff in their catalog and we totally get that.
Besides, there’s a reason why these songs received massive airplay and are regular fan favorites – they’re catchy tunes and it’s fairly easy to sing along to them. Are they cheesy? Maybe. But to be fair, some of them are seriously good of course, provided you keep an open-mind and not judge them even before listening.
Also, who doesn’t love a good drama? And these power ballads have tons of them – from love lost to longing.
Warning: these MAY range from “Eh, okay” to “How about no?”
10. Skid Row – “I Remember You”
This may not be their best song but it’s sure in the top five. It turns us into a big ball of cheese because we just love it. Part of the reason is Sebastian Bach’s jaw-dropping vocals – oh and did we mention his live vocal performance is as good as the recording, if not better?
This track showcased his range.
“’I Remember You’ was the #1 prom song in the United States of America in the year 1990….You talk about making memories! Literally the whole country of America did their prom dance to ‘I Remember You’ one year, and that’s a real heavy memory to beat.” – Sebastian Bach
Anyone who was a teen in the late ‘80s surely heard this often on the radio. It was a chart-topping hit and most probably, it’s also everyone’s favorite ballad at the time of its release. Admit it, you know the lyrics by heart.
9. Whitesnake – “Is This Love?”
It’s hard to think of power ballads and not include this epic tune from Whitesnake. Sure, the title is like a promise that the song’s going to be tolerable, at best, but hey it delivers. Besides, it’s not every day you get to hear a track that talks about love and still rocks hard. With this, you get the best of both worlds.
Interestingly, this was originally written for Tina Turner.
“Before I’d left [for the south of France] a friend at EMI had asked me for any ideas that would work for Tina Turner. So that was where the original idea for “Is This Love” came from.” – David Coverdale
“Is This Love?” was a huge hit for the band and it peaked at #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It remains one of the greatest and most well-loved ballads of all time. It does give us a glimpse into the soft underbelly of David Coverdale and well, who can resist that?
8. Poison – “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”
When glam metal rockers Poison released “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” you’d think they were going bubblegum pop because of the reaction of some fans. But after all the doubts, skepticism and feelings of betrayal, the initial shock proved to be fruitless. As it turns out, it’s one of the band’s greatest musical moments.
The song itself is well, sad, and just full of drama. But Bret Michaels shined here. And as it turns out, it became their biggest hit.
“When we played Every Rose… for our label and management they told us it would end our career. They were like: ‘This song is not Poison. It starts with an acoustic guitar, and you’ve got this cowboy thing going on and it’s just sad’.” – Bret Michaels
Not only did it chart but it became one of their signature songs. Who would have thought Michael’s relationship problem could turn into a classic?
7. Def Leppard – “Love Bites”
When we mentioned earlier that stuff like this sells, it’s an absolute fact. This song was released at a time when power ballad was everything. It dominated the radio stations and everyone who went to prom had to dance to at least one of these tracks.
Def Leppard’s “Love Bites” was their only single to ever top the US Billboard Hot 100. Just like Poison, when this song was brought to their attention, they didn’t know what to make of it because it wasn’t something they’ve done before and it’s not exactly “Def Leppard.”
“It was just a standard rock ballad but it had something else going for it. Lyrically, it kind of painted a picture, and in a song you always want to do that, paint a picture. ‘On a dark desert highway,’ the first line of ‘Hotel California,’ great song, it just paints an image for you straight off the bat and that’s the sign of a really good song. It takes you right there. ‘Love Bites’ did that as well.” – Def Leppard’s Phil Collen
For every band with their first power ballad, it’s always a huge risk – but these songs have proven that most of those paid off nicely.
6. Warrant – “Heaven”
Like the previous groups, this power ballad became Warrant’s most commercially successful single. The response was so overwhelming even Warrant’s own producers were surprised with its success. You see, songs like this have a certain appeal even to skeptical listeners – those who swore they don’t like ballads.
The lyrics are dramatic and emotional, something you don’t think you’ll ever hear from bad ass rockstars. But here’s Jani Lane in all his bluesy glory, singing his heart out.
“It sucks that I get labeled as a ballad writer, but I figure, if I write good ballads, then screw it, I write good ballads. I’ve never been one of those people that think if it’s not X amount heavy, that it’s not cool.” – Jani Lane
He has a good point. One great ballad is still a thousand times better than five mediocre rock songs. Just ask all these groups on this list.
5. Bon Jovi – “Always”
One of Bon Jovi’s main selling points is of course how hot JBJ is. So imagine him singing “And I will love you, baby, always / And I’ll be there forever and a day, always / I’ll be there ’til the stars don’t shine / ‘Til the heavens burst and the words don’t rhyme…” in all his sexy glory.
It’s hyper-emotional, we know, but it’s a lovely track and a definite crowd favorite as evidenced by the numbers – more than 3 million copies sold worldwide.
“It’s a sick little twisted lyric. So many people feel it’s so romantic and so wonderful, but truthfully, this guy is practically a stalker. He’s a sick human being.” – Jon Bon Jovi
Wow, okay, somehow we didn’t think the guy’s a creep. We thought it was just him professing his strong love for the girl. Clearly, JBJ had other ideas. Still, the song sold big time and is still a classic hit.
4. Meat Loaf – “I’d Do Anything For Love”
How can we forget Meat Loaf’s epic ballad masterpiece people are still singing more than two decades after it was first released? It served as his comeback song and man, what a way to announce his arrival! It was a massive success – it topped the chart in several countries and earned platinum status.
It even gave Meat Loaf his Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo.
“It sort of is a little puzzle and I guess it goes by – but they’re all great things. ‘I won’t stop doing beautiful things and I won’t do bad things.’ It’s very noble. I’m very proud of that song because it’s very much like out of the world of Excalibur. To me, it’s like Sir Lancelot or something – very noble and chivalrous. That’s my favorite song on the record – it’s very ambitious.” – Meat Loaf
By now you probably know the music industry is very hard to please. And in line with that, this song actually made it to numerous WORST lists. Also, over the years there were speculations about what the “THAT” in “I won’t do that” refers to. Maybe that’s part of the appeal, no?
3. Journey – “Open Arms”
Journey’s biggest hit is also one of their signature songs. Even though it has been covered by other artists, it’s hard not to think of the original version and of course, Steve Perry’s spine-chilling vocal performance.
The thing is, behind every ballad there’s always a band member who’s against it. For them, they feel like they’re abandoning their style and betraying their fans but hey, some of them eventually come around. For Journey, it was guitarist Neal Schon who wasn’t exactly thrilled at the prospect of performing a track which he thought “sounds kinda Mary Poppins.”
“I had to keep my head down on the console when “Open Arms” was on. There is one line in the song that I always wanted to be a certain way. I have ideals about certain things. The line “wanting you near” — I just wanted that line to go up and soar. I wanted it to be heartfelt. Every time it would come by I would just have to keep my head down and try to swallow the lump in my throat. I felt so proud of the song.” – Steve Perry
Well he should be proud, it’s a beautiful track and an unforgettable one at that.
2. Guns ‘n Roses – “November Rain”
This is Guns ‘n Roses at their finest. GnR with all their bad boy image and typical rock lifestyle is not immune to the allure of power ballads. And they took this to the next level too with the help of an orchestra. It was nothing short of majestic.
It was released in 1992 but according to Tracii Guns, Axl Rose has been working on “November Rain” since 1983, around two years before GnR was formed. Well, all that hard work definitely paid off because it was commercially successful after selling over a million copies.
“When we were doing that EP for L.A. Guns, like ’83? He was playing “November Rain” — and it was called “November Rain” — you know, on piano. The guitar solo is amazing. Way back then. It was the only thing he knew how to play, but it was his. He’d go, “Someday this song is gonna be really cool.” And I’d go, “It’s cool now.”” – Tracii Guns
Only GnR can make something this dramatic still sound kick ass. Oh and don’t even get us started on the phenomenal music video. That’s seriously one for the books.
1. Aerosmith – “Dream On”
The ultimate power ballad is Aerosmith’s stellar tune “Dream On.” It was the band’s first major hit and until today, it continues to remain a staple in any classic rock radio station. It’s an incredibly touching tune that’s difficult not to love.
This song also showcased Steven Tyler’s talents – from singing to playing the piano part. The man was a musical powerhouse.
The Stadium Tour now set to begin June 2021 through September
“Your tickets will be honored for all postponed shows and refund policy information will be made available shortly,” they wrote in a group statement
Poison frontman Bret Michaels has revealed he’s undergoing surgery after been diagnosed with skin cancer.
This time we want to write about best power ballads in the history of rock music. Simply, we are talking about those songs that make you want to hold up your lighter up and waving it around. For this list, we’re focusing on rock songs that conjure up intense emotion deep within the soul for listeners and musicians alike.
#10: I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) – Meat Loaf
Ok, let’s be clear: not all power ballads require an epic music video to become legendary, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. For this 1993 hit, Meat Loaf actually recorded a 12-minute album version of the song, in which he passionately, and perhaps obsessively, details out his crippling loneliness, a fondness for both fire and ice, and of course, his fair set of standards for love. From the opening piano to the intense final act, this song would be absolutely nothing without the wrenching vocals of the man known as Meat Loaf.
#9: Bringin’ On the Heartbreak – Def Leppard
Produced by Shania Twain’s ex Mutt Lange, this monster ballad is notable for its powerhouse music video released during the early days of MTV. In other words, lovers suffering from the horrors of heartbreak could not only listen to a mildly depressing jam, but also see their pain come to life though the oddly shaped guitars of Def Leppard and their power mullets. This chorus was specifically designed to make listeners sport their most badass leather jacket, smoke a Marlboro Red and embrace their passing pain. This all coming from the band that also taught us that “Love Bites”.
#8: November Rain – Guns N’ Roses
You know it’s about to get real when Axl Rose steps away from the mic stand and cues the orchestra. It’s time for an agonizing power ballad that will gently rip away at your soul and make you sort through old photos of your ex. Let’s face it: “November Rain” wasn’t created for couples enjoying a picnic at the local park. It’s for recently broken-up lovers to lip-synch into the mirror with the passing chance that a cold winter romance could blossom into something more. At almost nine minutes in length, GNR had early nineties rock fans bawling their eyes out to this emotional epic.
#7: Open arms – Journey
It’s really hard to choose one song between “Don’t stop believing” or “Faithfully” or basically any other song by Journey as the best power ballad from this band. It’s almost like they were put on earth only for making epic power ballads. But then again, with those beautiful compositions and vocalist’s amazing and powerful voice, you can’t expect anything else from this band.
#6: Home Sweet Home – Motley Crue
It’s no secret that Mötley Crüe consumed a heavy amount of hard drugs and alcohol, but they were also passionate storytellers, with “Home Sweet Home” as their most poetic example. Through contrasting themes like “high” and “low,” along with “right” and wrong,” Mötley Crüe showcased their ability to demonstrate the long and winding road of life. Even if their home was a tiny studio off Sunset Boulevard, this power ballad struck a chord with listeners and became one of the definitive videos of the MTV generation.
#5: Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison
While some of the entries on our list are best listened to AFTER a break-up, this one is best enjoyed during the MAKE-up. Acoustic guitar. Classic ’80s guitar solo. Existential lyrics about an unknown DJ. What’s not to like? In a time when rock stars and their fans were straight up getting buckwild on a nightly basis, Poison dropped this power ballad and essentially offered everybody a time out from the madness.
#4: Still Loving You – Scorpions
You want a heavy dose of power ballad drama, you say? Well, here it is. Behold: heavy opening whispers…followed by a killer riff. Yes, this Scorpions classic contains an ebb and flow of power ballad emotion, as the lyrics touch on the concept of building a psychological wall, only to tear the sucker down with unconditional love. “Still Loving You” takes us on a journey over six stirring minutes, as lead singer Klaus Meine delivers vocals filled with anxiety, pain and unhealthy obsession.
#3: I Want to Know What Love Is – Foreigner
Well, here’s a heavy burden to bear for any would-be lover, since it’s one thing to ponder the idea of love, and another to want someone to show you actual love. Ok, you get the idea of this Foreigner hit, well, because it’s all in the title. “I Want to Know What Love Is” came at a crucial moment in music history, as music videos allowed musicians another medium to express their utter confusion in regard to romance, and thus channel their energy to a world of equally troubled listeners.
#2: Alone – Heart
It’s not our #2 because the title references a universal feeling that everyone can relate to, or even that the band’s name is “Heart,” it’s because of the deeply unsettling lyrics about an individual completely wrapped up in love. Oh, and it’s also because of the irresistible chorus that has inspired countless karaoke renditions around the globe. The lyrics of “Alone” allow listeners to long for their potential lovers, and it’s the perfect companion piece to Heart’s equally potent single “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You.”
#1: Nothing else matters – Metallica
I (and probably yourself ) can name a few people that in some part of their life, knew this song as the best song to be heard. Of course Metallica’s commercial power makes it a lot easier than the rest of list for being heard even by those who have no interest in rock genre, and probably make them fall in love with it. It would really hard to find someone who doesn’t find this song amazing.