Brendan Schroer

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Top 10 Ballads

Well, a friend of mine died this week, so I'm feeling really emotional. I think rthis is a great opportunity to look at some great ballads. Unlike the Love rSongs list, these ballads can (obviously) be about any subject.
1Michael Jackson

Someone in the Dark -- What a perfect song. The orchestration is phenomenal, the atmosphere of the tune is wonderful, and Jackson's voice fits perfectly. The trademark sweetness in his voice is in full force, and the theme of the piece (it's part of the E.T. soundtrack) makes it even more emotional. Words can't describe how perfect this song is... it has to be experienced. Experience the song whenever you can... it may 5 of the most perfect minutes of music you've ever heard.
2Norah Jones
Come Away with Me

Seven Years -- More folk-oriented than the usual Jones fare, "Seven Years" is insanely impressive because of how much it does in two-and-a-half minutes. It's a humble ballad, but a beautiful one all the same. Norah Jones is accompanied by an acoustic guitar and some piano work here and there, and the music these instruments create is absolute magic. Highly recommended.
3The Tallest Man on Earth
The Wild Hunt

The Wild Hunt -- How couldn't I put this on the list? An amazing opener for my favorite album of all time, this song completely sets the tone for the rest of the album. One man and his guitar create a perfect folk song, and the joy I get from each and every note is indescribable. If you enjoy folk music, you need to listen to this song.
4Regina Spektor
Begin to Hope

Field Below -- Most of the song consists of only Regina Spektor's voice and piano, and that's completely fine. The amount of emotion in this song is breathtaking, and it's all about the little nuances that make up the song's atmosphere. Well, that and the incredible chorus. The piano work is great, Spektor's voice is dynamic and has a lot of range... the whole song is just wonderful.
5Brand New
The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me

Sowing Season (Yeah) -- I think this could technically qualify as a power ballad, and what a song it is. Similar to other songs on the album, "Sowing Season" has the same alternating themes of hope, desperation, and grief; however, I always feel something different with this particular song as well. The line "I'm not your friend! I'm just a man who knows how to feel" always hits me as extremely tragic and yet so powerful. Overall, this is an amazing song from an amazing album.
Ride the Lightning

Fade to Black -- Yup, considering how much I love Metallica, this one was probably a given. This song is absolutely phenomenal from beginning to end, giving a completely honest look at suicide and death as a whole. The opening guitar solo remains my favorite solo of all time, giving off the bleak atmosphere perfectly. This song always sends chills down my entire body whenever I listen to it, and I can't recommend the tune (and the album for that matter) enough.
Purple Rain

When Doves Cry -- One of the most bizarre ballads also happens to be a personal favorite. The song has no bassline whatsoever; in fact, Prince's multitracked vocals are what propel most of the song. This gives the song a very unique flavor and Prince's vocal harmonies are absolutely gorgeous. As the song builds, more synthesizers and other embellishments illustrate the song's atmosphere, further adding to the intensity. Amazing stuff.

Don't Try So Hard -- I'll always consider Innuendo the great underrated Queen album, and this song is one of the prime examples of the album's quality for me. The message throws away the concept of over-analyzing things and gives the listener a sense of hope, no matter how bleak a situation may be. This is supported by one of Freddie Mercury's best vocal performances (while he was deathly ill, no less!) and a great sense of unity between the band members.
9Alice in Chains

Down in a Hole -- The most downright depressing entry on this list (no surprise, considering it's Alice in Chains), "Down in a Hole" is also one of the best songs featured on the band's landmark release Dirt. You can hear the desperation and sadness in Layne Staley's voice, and the guitar work sounds just as doomy. The song plays out like a funeral march, but that's what makes it so consistently intense and intriguing. The way Staley's vocals are harmonized at the end of the song is absolutely beautiful too. Definitely worth a listen.
Dead End Kings

The Racing Heart -- Another one that can be considered a power ballad. This is the other really depressing entry on the list, but I couldn't leave it out. I'd consider this song the pinnacle of Katatonia's career, with Jonas Renkse's best vocal performance and a fantastic gloomy atmosphere. The symphonic opening sets the tone perfectly, while Renkse's crooning during the verse is extremely fitting for the music the band's going for. The guitar work gives off a suitably dreary atmosphere, and the drum work is nicely varied. All of this results in a fantastic ballad that had to be included in this list.
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