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The six things that make an epic power ballad

Love it or loathe it, the power ballad is the musical genre that never gets old. These massive tunes from across the decades permeate popular culture from TV talent shows, to big-budget films and musicals. But what makes a power ballad really epic? Superfan Rev. Richard Coles has been finding out How to Write a Power Ballad.

1. The sheer power of the vocal

No matter what you put on top of a song, unless you have a lead vocal that resonates and a lyric that really touches people you're doomed. Paul Stanley from Kiss said that the greatest vocal delivery of all time is Phil Collins on Against All Odds.

The power of the vocal

Alex Gilbert talks to Rev. Richard Coles about the sheer power of the vocal.

2. Build it up!

The best example of this would be Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You. Musicologist David Metzer calls this power ballad a 'continuous escalation' - and probably the key to its massive success is the way it builds more than most as it starts with such with such a simple a cappella for 40 seconds and ends with a stupendous finale.

The importance of building intensity

Musicologist and power ballad expert David Metzer on a song's scope.

3. Take your time

Remember Toto's Africa? Who doesn't! That track featured most of the 1980s music aristocracy with most of the band who played on Michael Jackson's Thriller. In the heyday of power ballads in the 1980s and 1990s it wouldn't be unheard of to throw all the time and money available to craft the best possible song.

The theme of excess

Steve from Ultimate Power discusses how a key to power ballads is taking your time.

4. Get your song in a film

Don't underestimate the correlation between a hit song and a hit movie. They go hand in hand. The Bodyguard. Armageddon. Days of Thunder. Top Gun. Enough said.

Power ballads in film soundtracks

Steve from Ultimate Power talks about the use of power ballads in film soundtracks.

5. Forget dancing

Power ballads aren't about breaking out the moves. You don't need a perfectly choreographed routine. Concentrate on singing your heart out. Some air drumming may also come in handy.

Who needs dancing?

Rev. Richard Coles heads down to Ultimate Power to discuss dancing.

6. The key change

Last, but by no means least, the key change. It takes a song to the next level. Never underestimate the power of a key change to take the power ballad from average to unforgettable.

The key change

Record producer Trevor Horne talks through the power of the key change.

Superfan and ex-Communard Rev. Richard Coles dusts off his song writing skills and goes back to the 1980s to explore an era of inflated emotions, big production and even bigger hair in How to Write a Power Ballad.