First Hit #1: March 21, 1981
I have to admit to a certain love of power ballads. They can be cheesy, granted, but that’s the beauty of them. They’re big songs with big choruses that are great fun to sing along to. Some people say they enjoy them ironically, but they’re all lying, they don’t work that well if you’re not just abandoning your inhibitions and just going with it. That’s when the songs become fun, because it’s a moment of shared joy, as everyone dives in and just goes for it, embracing the full-bodied expression that the songs tend to use.
So, REO Speedwagon, which is named after an old timey firetruck, has one of the all time power ballad classics in Keep On Loving You. It’s the chorus that’s the star here, the full-bodied expression of love that dominates the song and makes one forget the rest of it exists. For whatever reason I thought it went directly from “Should have seen the look in your eyes,” to the big chorus. But no! it takes its time, even going so far as to trick you into thinking it’s going to launch into the part everyone sings along to. It takes an entire minute to get there, which doesn’t seem like very long, but it actually kind of feels drawn out. Then again, they don’t waste time for the rest of the song, doubling down on that chorus and inspiring many intoxicated people around the world to sing about continuing to love someone. It’s a bit cheesy, so what, it’s pop music. More importantly, it’s very fun.