The Speaking Out Loud
25 best Soft Rock Ballad - Cover Image
Home > Entertainment > 25 Best Soft Rock Ballads of All Time

25 Best Soft Rock Ballads of All Time

Top Powered Ballads Songs

Soft Rock Ballad is a niche genre of rock music which was mastered in the 80s. This era, also known as the “Hair Band Era” is the time when soft rock ballads really came into the bigger picture. A lot of popular artists started to express their hidden emotions and regrets through some mellow music.

The 80s was the time when Soft Rock Ballads, sometimes also referred to as “Powered Ballads” became very popular. There can be a lot of reasons for this, however, the major ones according to my research are that even the most popular Hard Rock bands started recording sentimental songs. And, anyone who likes hard rock, they are advocates of the band.

Although the 80s was just the decade when soft rock ballads got popular, it didn’t stop there. We got more tracks and terrific music that turns a frown into a smile. All you have to do is just listen.

With the introduction of soft rock ballads, the none-rock folks learnt another important thing; there is a different side to rock artists. In the end, they are also just humans.

This article features a list of Top 25 best soft rock ballads till date. The list is completely my perspective. Also, please do not follow the order, I am not ranking them. Music has a different impact on each and every individual. So just listen to it and cry, smile, dance or relax. But first, enjoy your emotions.

1. November Rain – Guns N’ Roses
2. Goodbye To Love – The Carpenters
3. I’ll Stand By You – The Pretenders
4. Dream On – Aerosmith
5. Everything I Do (I Do It For You) – Bryan Adams
6. I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) – Meat Loaf
7. Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
8. We Are The Champions – Queen
9. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
10. Wind of Change – Scorpions
11. Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones
12. Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon – Urge Overkill
13. I Want To Know What Love Is – Foreigner
14. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
15. I’ll be There for You – Bon Jovi
16. Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison
17. Said I loved You…But I Lied – Michael Bolton
18. Amanda – Boston
19. When It’s Love – Van Halen
20. I Live My Life for You – Firehouse
21. Courage – Manowar
22. Is This Love – Whitesnake
23. Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon
24. Open Arms – Journey
25. Honestly – Stryper

  1. November Rain – Guns N’ Roses

November Rain is one of the most promising soft rock ballads on our list. The song was recorded in 1991 and released in 1992 by the hard rock band, Guns N’ Roses. Axl Rose, the band’s lead vocalist wrote the lyrics of November Rain.

The music video depicts a common trend of the 80s, a mini-movie sequence. However, the showstopper of this soft rock ballad is the lyrics and Slash’s guitar solo. It was the first time Axl Rose ever wrote about lamenting lost love, change and loss.

The lyrics of the songs go like this:

Do you need some time on your own
Do you need some time all alone
Everybody needs some time
On their own
Don’t you know you need some time all alone

‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever
Even cold November rain

You can listen to the song here:

  1. Goodbye To Love – The Carpenters

Goodbye To Love is a classic soft rock ballad from 1972. This song by siblings – The Carpenters is one of the earliest powered ballads. The lyrics of Goodbye To Love were written by Richard Carpenter. Whereas, the lead vocals features the sister, Karen Carpenter.

The song is quite popular for its remarkable lyrics, fantastic vocals and a soothing melody. The song is about a simple message that is relevant even today: Grab a chance at Love when you have it. But, we are too afraid, so, it’s better to say Goodbye to Love.

  1. I’ll Stand By You – The Pretenders

I’ll Stand By You is a powered ballad by The Pretends that dates back to 1994. This heart-touching song about love, devotion and faith is one of the best on this list. The music video represents a young couple where the lady is assuring her man that anything happens, she is always going to be with here.

Well, that’s what the entire song is about – Unconditional Love, Respect and Faith. The song is a brilliant work focusing on a simple yet tender issue of personal darkness and its impact on the relationship with your loved one.

The lyrics of the songs are written by Chrissie Hynde, the band’s founding member and lead vocalist. It’s a soft rock ballad that you should enjoy for yourself.

  1. Dream On – Aerosmith

Dream On by Aerosmith is one of its kind soft rock ballads. Aerosmith released this song in 1973. Steven Tyler’s vocals and amazing music definitely make Dream On one of the finest powered ballads. The sing has a bit of history and significance in Steven Tyler’s life. This is the only song on the band’s first album where he sang in his original voice. He didn’t try to sound more like other pop artists.

Dream On has a deep emotion behind its creation. It’s a song whose inspiration a father. Steven Tyler’s father was a Julliard-trained musician, and he remembers the composition of this song ever since he was three. So, a song that is inspired by the singer and lyricist’s father has to be powerful.

The song features a steady built up that ends with Tyler’s signature screaming. A soft rock ballad with inspiring chorus lyrics:

Dream on

Dream until your dreams come true

Yes, every great philosopher says the same thing.

  1. Everything I Do (I Do It For You) – Bryan Adams

There are a couple of songs that come to our mind when we hear Bryan Adams, one of which is Everything I Do (I Do It For You). The song was released in 1991. The song is a track from Adam’s album: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. A simple song with deep and real lyrics that go well with any teenager’s heart. Well, that’s what music is all about, transposing you to your deepest memory.

Everything I Do (I Do It For You) is a soft rock ballad talking about affection to your loved ones. Listen to this song and relive your memory of passionate love.

  1. I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) – Meat Loaf

There is usually a significant quality when we talk about soft rock ballads, there is no limit. But I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) is exactly saying to do the opposite. This hit from Meatloaf remains incredibly popular—and confusing. The song was released in 1993 as the first single from the album, Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell.

The song beautifully narrates a mature man’s love and willingness. Well, that what the song is all about, the willingness for love. Although it takes about a romantic relationship between a man and a woman, it can still be perceived in any romance. Just like, I’d do anything for success (But I won’t Cheat). Listen to the song and tell us your perceptions in the comment section below.

  1. Nothing Else Matters – Metallica

Nothing Else Matters is a soft rock ballad by one of the big fours of Heavy Metal, Metallica. Yes, this the power of music and diversity of artists, a pure Heavy Metal band comes out with a top of the line powered ballad track.

The song’s original release dates to 1991. It is one of the most popular songs by Metallica. Year-on-Year and Decade-on-Decade, people love this track. A simple proof is that Nothing Else Matters has more than 756 million views on YouTube.

Like all other songs, even this powered ballad has amazing lyrics:

So close, no matter how far

Couldn’t be much more from the heart

Forever trusting who we are

And nothing else matters

  1. We Are The Champions – Queen

We Are The Champions by Queen was released in 1977. The song was written by Freddie Mercury. The energetic chorus and perfect harmonization of the band give the chorus its own superiority. This soft rock ballad by Queen is a public favourite and grew to prominence due to its simple, deep and profound lyrics. Alongside, the vocals gave another dimension to the song altogether.

The song talks on the line of misfortunes and mishaps that happens in everybody’s life. However, it’s our duty as humans to fight back, because unless we quit and loose, We Are The Champions.

  1. Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin

Stairway To Heaven is another soft rock ballad by a Heavy Metal Band. Led Zeppelin recorded and released this song in 1971. The lyrics of Stairway To Heaven are real, brutal and relevant even to this day. In short, it’s just terrific. The progressiveness of music and vocals makes this a perfect song for any mood.

The song is written by the band’s guitarist, Jimmy Page and lead vocalist, Robert Plant. This is a song whose opening lines are a remark to society. Perhaps, I feel the first three lines are loosely inspired from the Audrey Hepburn’s film, Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Well, at least both spoke about the same thing:

There’s a lady who’s sure

All that glitters is gold

And she’s buying a stairway to Heaven

  1. Wind of Change – Scorpions

Wind of Change is an English soft rock ballad song by the German rock band, Scorpions. The song was recorded and released in 1990. One of the signature attributes of this song is that it connects with anyone instantly. You don’t have to listen to it twice. Ideally, you’ll end up listening to it a thousand times, but, once is enough for a love affair. You know, it’s “Love at first sound.”

The song is written and composed by band’s lead singer Klaus Meine. Wind of Change has been featured in many top lists, and it will continue to do so. Even I was inquisitive to listen to it after reading about it on many lists of Top Rock Songs. And, well, did I love it, to be honest, it was an enchanting experience.

The song has significance to the entire world as well. The song was composed during the band’s visit to USSR. By the timeline, it was the height of perestroika, when the enmity between the communist and capitalist blocs subsided concurrently in the USSR. Hence, it was a Wind of Change.

  1. Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones

Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones is often cited as Country Rock; however, with the likes of the other songs on this list, it can be called as a soft rock ballad.

The song was recorded in 1971. Wild Horses is about a lover who is sturdy. Call it his passion or emotions, but, he is going to stand there, probably waiting for her. The lyrics clearly symbolize it:

Graceless lady you know who I am

You know I can’t let you slide through my hands

Wild horses couldn’t drag me away

Wild, wild horses couldn’t drag me away

It is many things one realizes after his/her lover has given up on them. A simple way to summarize this song is that it talks about the feelings you get once your loved one is no longer affected by you. Hence, asking us not to repeat the same mistakes. Alongside, the country-style rock music sets the tone straight. Although, not a designated soft rock ballad, it surely goes well with the playlist of powered ballads.

  1. Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon – Urge Overkill

Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon was originally recorded by Neil Diamond in 1967. The song again became popular in the 90s when Urge Overkill covered it in 1992. The track was then placed in Quintin Tarantino’s 1994 film, Pulp Fiction. That’s how I know the song, and it’s a delight to listen to.

The song’s signature guitar chords and uneven pace makes it a perfect song for road trips. The lyrics are about a guy proposing to a girl. Well, more than proposing, he’s trying to woo her. A weird soft rock ballad, but a delight to listen to.

  1. I Want To Know What Love Is – Foreigner

I Want To Know What Love Is is a soft rock ballad by American-British band Foreigner. The song was released in 1900. A classy song about a person figuring out what love is. The lyrics sound:

In my life, there’s been heartache and pain

I don’t know if I can face it again

Can’t stop now, I’ve traveled so far

To change this lonely life

I wanna know what love is

I want you to show me

The song is sweet, powerful and resembles every aspect of an 80s band, bass, echoing vocals and a soft ending to an energetic song.

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

Bohemian Rhapsody by British band Queen requires no introduction. It’s one of the most recognized rock songs for its diversity. The song consists of multiple sections including a theatrical opening followed by a ballad segment & operatic pass and a hard rock part. The song also features coda.

Bohemian Rhapsody has multiple meaning to different people. Overall, it’s a song that makes one of the best soft rock ballads.

Enough said, enjoy the song here:

  1. I’ll be There for You – Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi was one of the prominent bands of the 80s. Often referred to as the God of 80s, they were one of the pioneers of the Hair Band Era.

There are so many quality songs by Bon Jovi, so, it was really difficult to select one. But, across my research and personal opinion, the best soft rock ballad by Bon Jovi is I’ll Be There For You. It’s a shame that millennials are too keen on op music that revolve around EDM. Also, it’s a shame that they’ll only know The Rembrandts’ version of I’ll Be There For You; it was the theme song of the popular TC sitcom “F.R.I.E.N.D.S”

However, Bon Jovi’s version is a classic with powerful vocals, thrilling guitar and lyrics enough to give you Goosebumps. The song was released in 1988. Listen to it here:

  1. Every Rose Has Its Thorn – Poison

Every Rose Has Its Thorn is a soft rock ballad by the American rock band, Poison. The song is about a love affair in which there is just a physical presence, but, both the individuals are loneliness. A relationship that is going on just for the sake of fear of not loosing each other.

It’s a powerful and meaningful song for everybody. People have spent their lives with their spouses even without really knowing the spiritual connection between them. But, then again, passion is not the only form of expressing love and affection. This Poison song says a lot of things and hides many more. A simple take from this song is that nobody is perfect, and even a sweet-smelling flower can hurt you. That’s what Every Rose Has Its Thorn means, literally.

  1. Said I loved You…But I Lied – Michael Bolton

Michael Bolton is often regarded as one of the best pop artists of the 80s and 90s. However, Sai I Loved You…But I Lied will change your perspective about him. This soft rock ballad’s composition is an apology in a song that will touch you only if you have hurt your lover.

It’s a song about saying the truth, a musical masterpiece about being true and in the end, it’s a confession. Well, we all have made mistakes and lied, sometimes, it feels good to just listen to this song and analyse our deeds, towards others but priorly to ourselves. Hear this feel-good sad powered ballad here:

  1. Amanda – Boston

Amanda is a 1986 soft rock ballad by the American rock band, Boston. The song was released 6 years after the recording.

Amanda is the first powered ballad song on this list written on hope and faith. Here, the singer has hope that “Amanda” his love will not leave him, and he has faith that he will convince him that he loves her. A beautiful song featuring summertime-style love, Amanda is a soft rock ballad for any mood.

  1. When It’s Love – Van Halen

When It’s Love by Van Halen is a soft rock ballad released in 1988. The song is about the inevitable question, “How and when do you know it’s love?” This powered ballad by Van Halen is one of its own kind and does answer the question:

How do I know when it’s love

I can’t tell you but it lasts forever

How does it feel when it’s love

It’s just something you feel together

When it’s love

Sometimes, it’s so simple yet we complicate it. Well, that’s a trait of maturity, I guess. Nevertheless, When It’s Love is a good song for your powerful workout sessions.

  1. I Live My Life for You – Firehouse

Firehouse’s I Live My Life For You is a love poem in the form of a soft rock ballad. I Live My Life For You is the most positive, cheesy and happy song on this list. Besides, this Firehouse song is one of those that you need after a fight with your lover. Just remind them that they mean a lot to you. It’s quite evident when people listen to music together and feel the same thing, they are practically sharing souls.

A romantic soft rock ballad is ideal for you and your loved ones during the current COVID-19 quarantine. Stay indoors, listen to romantic music and be happy to be with your lover. Listen to this graceful song here:

  1. Courage – Manowar

Courage is a positive soft rock ballad by American Metal band Manowar. The song was released in 1996 as a part of the album – Louder Than Hell.

Courage is a feel-good song about the extra piece of bravery that is essential every day. Thus, the song gives an important message, “when you are ready to lose hope, raise your hand and show some courage. “

The message is portrayed by the line:

So For Now Wave Good-bye Leave Your Hands Held High

Hear This Song Of Courage Long Into The Night

  1. Is This Love – Whitesnake

Is This Love is a 1987 soft rock ballad by British band Whitesnake. The song has crying guitars, throbbing drums and incredible vocals making it a perfect listen for the initial stages of falling in love.

The lyrics perfectly complement the music, perhaps it’s vice versa. But this is a feel-good song about the feeling you get when you’re falling in love. The song is just alright for you to understand whether he/she is the one. Listen to your heart, let your mind speak to you and take that leap of faith; because trust me, you won’t get this chance again and again. Listen to this melody of a racing heart:

  1. Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon

Can’t Fight This Feeling is a 1984 soft rock ballad song by American band REO Speedwagon. The song is about friendship which has blossomed into something more but only for one person. Unrequited love is a strong emotion, it can either make you or break you. So, choose wisely, because your every decision shall be impactful, if not now then in the future.

The music video of Can’t Fight This Feeling is a visual adaptation of All The World’s a Stage by William Shakespeare. Do watch this video song and relax:

  1. Open Arms – Journey

Another soft rock ballad on the list is Open Arms by Journey. The song is a powered ballad which attempts to renew a drifting relationship.

Journey was at the peak of its popularity in the 80s, and Open Arms was the band’s most recognized song. Besides powerful vocals, intense guitar and pleading lyrics, this song is one of the best power ballad songs of all time.

  1. Honestly – Stryper

The last soft rock ballad on this list is Honestly by Stryper. This 1987 powered ballad is about friendship and unrequited love. However, the different harmony in this song is that friendship has a foot ahead of love.

This song is a very clear message to everyone, whatever happens, do not let go of your friendship. And, yes, friends stick to each other through thick and thin. So, revive your lost friendship, be friends with your partner and enjoy some solace in Honestly.

Listen to this song here:

You might feel why am I giving a back story of every song? Well, soft rock ballads must have emotions for the impact. As people say:

There can be no will, motivation or strength with emotions

Well, that’s exactly the case.

On this note, I end my list. Some of these songs have an emotional influence on me, so please be gentle with comments. Alongside, do let me know if there are any other soft rock ballads.

And, here is a bonus: The entire playlist on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL…

Vatsal Vora

A writer with flair sense of writing and a creative mind which continues to explore new places to visit and quirky delicacies for the whole and sole purpose stating that life is given to us only once; why not experience the human emotions in the form of food rather than whining about the missed opportunities.
Vatsal Vora started his professional career as a client servicing executive to a writer and being the editor and founder of this blog. Working with just one motive: “No matter how it is done; it is supposed to be completed with quality and result being the integrated aspect of any work in hand.”
A believer of second chances and many more after them, because people tend to change, and once loved can always be loved again, just need time and enough confidence in the universe and more than required faith in oneself.

Add comment

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.