Everyone had a person in mind as they sang along to the words.
Nothing describes the answer to what is love like a rocking 80’s Love Ballad. Love Ballads of the 80’s are in a league of their own. They were sang with so much passion and feeling as the bands belted them out. It was like they gave everyone a chance to purge all the emotions they had built up in their life about love over the years. Everyone had a person in mind as they sang along to the words. Maybe you thought about your first love who absolutely smashed your heart to pieces as Def Leopard’s lyrics cried out from your car radio, “Love Bites, Love Bleeds, It’s bringing me to my knees, Love lives, Love dies…”.
80’s Love Ballads have their own immortal status in our history now. It was so relieving to have someone up there really saying it the way those bands were. They weren’t necessarily poetic and profound but they were raw and real. They were sometimes even called Power Ballads because of the energy they put into them. They just let it all out. As you put a Bon Jovi tape in your hot pink tape player after being dumped by the most popular guy at school for your best friend you instantly had a channel open for all of your feelings to flow out. Bon Jovi was your friend who understood exactly how you were feeling. You began to feel better and better as you sang along to ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’, saving up for the final chorus and giving it your all with, “Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame, darlin’ you give love a bad name”, and you emphasised ‘bad name’ with all the spite and feeling you could muster that would have made Bon Jovi proud. You would possibly follow that up with ‘Hit Me with Your Best Shot’.
Of course, the songs weren’t always just about heartbreak and love doing you wrong. It was like the artists knew that if they were going to tackle the question of what is love and describe it in their songs they would need to cover the whole range of emotions that love brings. The Love/Power Ballads did just as well the rapturous joy and beauty that love is and the home it makes for our lonely hearts such as in, ‘I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight’ and Pat Benetar’s ‘We Belong, We Belong Together’. They didn’t necessarily give us the answer to the question what is love, in fact sometimes they pleaded, ‘I want to know what love is, I want you to show me’ but they painted a pretty good picture of what love is like.
All the heartache and all the hurt and all the joy that love can bring were captured in that little pocket of time where 80’s Love Ballads ruled and what is love and all the pain of it was being shouted from every stage and radio holding nothing back. So if you’re going to ask what is love, get on You Tube and see what those Hair Metal bands had to say.