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The Five Best Bad Eighties Rock Ballads

Ah, the eighties, those heady days of mall bangs, Forenza sweaters, and rock ballads so bad they were good. These hit love songs by your favorite eighties rock bands are sure to bring back memories of those days of cassette tapes and shoulder pads. Of slow dances, of MTV, of singing into a hairbrush behind closed doors. Through an unscientific survey of Gen-Xers (okay, just my husband and me), I've compiled a list of the best of the worst of the bad eighties rock ballads. Raise your lighter (the real thing, no apps please) and take a trip down the only road you've ever known as we count them down.

5. "Heaven in Your Eyes" by Loverboy

This power ballad by Canadian rock band Loverboy was featured on the soundtrack for Top Gun, that Cold War-reffic fighter pilot movie that first introduced us to eighties stars Meg Ryan and Val Kilmer. The song reached number 12 on the Billboard charts in 1986. Loverboy keyboardist Doug Johnson refused to appear in the music video because he felt the movie over-glamorized war. Big-haired girls everywhere swooned over hottie lead singer Mike Reno and shots of Tom Cruise from the movie and did not notice Johnson's absence.

4. "Amanda" by Boston

Boston released Amanda in 1986 as the first single from the Third Stage album and the band's first single since 1978. It became one of the last songs of the century to hit number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart without a music video. Without the benefit of video footage, we are forced merely to imagine the creeper in the song who wants to declare his love for Amanda without scaring her away.

3. "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner

Despite such enduring rock hits as Cold as Ice and Juke Box Hero, British-American rock band Foreigner never topped the charts in either the U.S. or the U.K. until this gospel-inspired ballad hit number 1 in 1985. Fortunately, the whiny lyrics were upstaged by the New Jersey Mass Choir's backing chorus, giving Foreigner its only number 1 hit. The choir is featured in the video.

2. "The Flame" by Cheap Trick

The Flame paved Cheap Trick's comeback after a years-long slump. Known as the American Beatles in Japan, this band from Rockford, Illinois, peaked in the early eighties but saw their commercial fortunes decline after guitarist Tom Petersson left the band in 1980. He rejoined in 1987 and the group churned out this factory ballad in 1988, which became the band's first and only number 1 single in America.

1. "Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon

This soft-rock offering from REO Speedwagon's Wheels are Turnin' album topped the charts in 1984. It's a song about a man who's fallen in love with his friend but is afraid to let her know. Sound familiar? The video is the standard MTV fare of the day, featuring the floating heads of the clean-shaven, big-haired band members along with various other floating objects like teddy bears, candles, and ships. Watch for the scene where the boy finally stops fightin' that feeling and proposes to the girl; the girl's red taffeta dress with poufy shoulders and perfectly permed hair are pure eighties.

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Relive the Eighties


Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 23, 2013:

Thanks for reading and commenting, oldiesmusic. Glad you enjoyed it!

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oldiesmusic from United States on August 23, 2013:

Sweet hub - thanks for sharing!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 17, 2013:

"I Wanna Know What Love Is" is my favorite, too. Thanks for commenting, Hackslap.

Harry from Sydney, Australia on August 16, 2013:

Off this list my favs are 'I Wanna Know what Love is'.. 'Can't Fight this Feeling' and 'Heaven in your eyes' ...

There's a little trivia about 'Heaven in your Eyes'..Loverboy's keyboardist Doug Johnson didn't appear on the video coz it was his way of boycotting 'Top Gun'.. (he felt it glorified war)..

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on April 03, 2013:

Thanks for reading and commenting, Vimural. Glad you enjoyed my collection.

Vimural from Tucson on March 29, 2013:

Beautiful Collection!

Gail Louise Stevenson from Mason City on December 01, 2012:

Hi Deborah, I believe that the sad history is what the Surf is most famous for, too.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on December 01, 2012:

Hi Gail. I've never been to the Surf Ballroom but hear they have some good shows. I'm familiar with that bit of sad history, which is probably what the Surf is most famous for.

Gail Louise Stevenson from Mason City on November 30, 2012:

Your welcome. I've always like Heart and their songs. I've never been to any conserts. At the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa they've had some famous bands there, and also Bill Cosby just recently. Alice Cooper was at the Surf, and I think that Joan Jett was there, too. Richie Valens and the Big Bopper was there many years ago when they had that tragic plane crash that killed Buddy Holly. I like the song by Boston called: More Than a Feeling.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on November 30, 2012:

How could I have forgotten Heart?! Thanks for the comment, Gail.

Gail Louise Stevenson from Mason City on November 25, 2012:

I like the ballads by Heart, too. I like the song, "Alone", and "Never" , and I really love to listen to songs by Boston. There were a lot of good songs in the 1980s. Nice list! I like the one song that Ozzie Osbourne sings with Lita Ford, but I can't remember the name of the song.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on November 04, 2012:

Thanks, DanaTeresa. Foreigner was my very first concert, back in the day. Have never seen those others, though.

Dana Strang from Ohio on November 02, 2012:

I LOVE a good power ballad! These are great. I have seen Journey, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, and Chicago in concert over the years. And I am not ashamed to admit it. I loved every moment!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on November 02, 2012:

Rasta, for me it's a toss-up between Foreigner and REO Speedwagon. Thanks for commenting.

Jools, awesome! I'd love to see pictures of that sometime. Maybe you can write a music hub about Ozzy! Thanks for sharing my hub. : )

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on November 02, 2012:

I went to a fancy dress party as Ozzy Osbourne. He would fit a few decades I think :o), took me ages to wash all of the tattoos off my arms!

Marvin Parke from Jamaica on November 02, 2012:

Of course foreigner is going to win the appeal. It had the greatest international success.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 17, 2012:

Just like many things from the 80s, they're so bad they're good. Thanks for the comment, Shinkicker. : )

Shinkicker from Scotland on October 17, 2012:

I must have BAD taste because I loved all these 'bad' ballads. Great songs :-)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on September 28, 2012:

I love your list, Richard! Thanks for sharing it.

Rich from Kentucky on September 27, 2012:

Deborah - Great job of selecting these fine songs. You've done well to bring the top of the pop here. As music lists are mostly opinion (and since you asked, : ) ) my top five power ballads would be these. #5 - Whitesnake - "Is This Love", #4 - April Wine - "Just Between You And Me", #3 - Poison - "Something To Believe In", #2 - Warrant - "Heaven", #1 - Guns 'N' Roses - "November Rain". There's another 20 lists of power ballads we could choose from, so no one would ever be satisfied. Great Job and Fun Hub! Up & Interesting

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 04, 2012:

Thank you, bredandagnes!

bredandagnes from Ireland on August 04, 2012:

fun hub-thanks

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on July 03, 2012:

Thanks for the comments, everyone. My favorite is Foreigner, with REO close behind. Brittany, your parents?! Stop, you're making me feel old! : )

Peanutritious, it's nice to meet you. You'll have to check out my other hub on the best New Wave songs of the 80s. It sounds like it would be more your kind of music.

Tara Carbery from Cheshire, UK on July 03, 2012:

OMG! I loved the eighties! Not Rock stuff but more of the Electro type stuff like Gary Numan, Japan etc. It was my childhood and will always be nostalgic to me!

Brittany Kennedy from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on July 03, 2012:

This is a fabulous hub idea! I love the songs you chose. My parent's grew up in the 80's, so I have a great appreciation for all this music. These songs define the time and also are known as "jams" in my house. Great work! Voted up.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on July 03, 2012:

I chose REO...that's a great song! 80's music brings back some fun memories! Rockin' Hub!

Daisy Mariposa from Orange County (Southern California) on July 03, 2012:


What a fun Hub! Thanks for publishing it.

My favorite of the five is Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is."

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on March 31, 2012:

They're so cheesy you just gotta love 'em! Thanks for stopping by, PP.

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on March 30, 2012:

You know, I still love those oh-so-cheesy songs, although I would never admit it! Oh wait, I just did. :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on March 30, 2012:

Thanks, Sam. And that's another good one for the list! Glad you stopped by.

sam209 on March 30, 2012:

Wow! With so many bad rock ballads coming out in the 80's, it's hard for me to name just one. When I seen Foreigner, I couldn't help but think of "Waiting For A Girl Like You."

This is a very cool hub Deborah! When I seen the title I knew I had to click on it.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 26, 2012:

Haha! I think we all had some unfortunate hairstyles back in the day. And putting on eye makeup was kind of like painting a mural. Yikes!

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on February 26, 2012:

I was a big Heart fan and they churned out a few ballads in the eighties, the best of which was probably 'Alone' but when I watch the video now on You Tube I am only reminded of my mullet haircut and wearing too much eyeliner during those years..but I was much thinner then so not all bad! Great hub, interesting and fun.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 13, 2012:

Thanks for all the great comments. You guys are killing me with all these songs you're bringing up! I will say "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" was a finalist, as was "Open Arms" by Journey and "When It's Love" by Van Halen, but after applying a sophisticated (yeah, right) scoring method, this is what I ended up with. And I limited this to the rock love ballad genre, but I agree that there was a lot of great music in the 80s. The Cure also was a favorite of mine back in the day.

Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on January 12, 2012:

I would add some Journey to this list but overall it's fun. I really enjoy REO Speedwagon and Foreigner especially. But overall my top 80s ballad would definitely be "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," it's 80s and timeless all at once. Cool list!

pftsusan from Eatontown on January 11, 2012:

That was some list. I voted it up. I very much was for Foreigner. Even more so for Van Halen (who just released Tattoo with David Lee Roth), Bonjovi, Simple Minds and The Cure.

Then don't forget Annie Lennox and The Human League. And before I hit the send button, Journey.

WANDA on January 11, 2012:


ThoughtSandwiches from Reno, Nevada on January 11, 2012:


Ahhh...the 80s.

So many bad ballads to pick from and you have a wonderful selection. If I had my druthers? I would endorse your Foreigner..."I Want to Know What Love Is..."

Thanks for bringing me back!


Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 03, 2012:

Thanks, Falcon. I'm a sucker for it, too. Last year at New Orleans Jazz Fest I drug my traveling companions over to the stage where Bon Jovi was playing, much to their dismay. But to see Jon Bon Jovi singing Livin' on a Prayer made my whole festival!

Karen S Falcon from Las Vegas, NV on January 03, 2012:

I voted 'I wanna know what love is' ha ha, since I've yet to be married :-) I'm a sucker for 80's music. Great Hub

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 03, 2012:

Thanks, Chaplin. I was a teen in the 80s also, not that there's anything wrong with it. : )

Sarah Johnson from Charleston, South Carolina on January 03, 2012:

All of my informative teen years were in the 80s. Maybe that is what is wrong with me! I voted with the majority for Foreigner's song, and must admit I sing along on XM radio - as recently as last week. Thanks for sharing an awesome hub!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 03, 2012:

Thanks for reading and commenting, jenubouka. It's fun to crank up a good eighties power ballad and recall those days.

jenubouka on January 03, 2012:

Oh how the eighties were a time of innocence in some weird way. These songs do recall those times of air instruments and karaoke tributes. I love all of the songs.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 03, 2012:

Thanks for checking out my hub, LucyBell. Glad I could help bring back some memories!

Bonny OBrien from Troy, N.Y. on January 02, 2012:

Wow this hub is bringing back some memories. Love it. Nice trip down memory lane!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 02, 2012:

Thanks, Nicole. That band needs to reunite and go on tour again.

Nicole on January 02, 2012:

I'm a fan of the group in the picture at the beginning of your article!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 02, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by, Tina. There are so many good bad ballads from that era, it was hard to narrow down the list to just 5. But I assure you we applied a detailed scoring process to get to the finalists.

Christina Lornemark from Sweden on January 02, 2012:

This was a great list of Best Bad eighties Rock Ballads:) I love ballads and the ballad " I want to know what love is" is my favorite. I wonder why some bands just managed to get one hit! Great topic, I loved the music and it brings back many good memories! Thanks,


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