What happens when you listen to your favorite band rocking the hell out of a beautiful ballad? Well, you have the time of your life (at least I do). My immense adoration for Def Leppard comes as no surprise, especially to people who have been following my blog and/or twitter page. To me, they are the perfect rock act and I don’t see myself connect with another band’s music on such deep, emotional level as I did with Def Leppard’s. There’s just something so special about these hardworking Sheffield guys and their turbulent, but exceptional career, spawning some of the most brilliant rock classics of all time! I can talk all day and night about Def Leppard’s accomplishments and unquestionably legacy, starting with their raw debut in 1981 with “On Through The Night”, moving on to the biggest blockbuster of the ‘80s, “Hysteria” (1987) and end up with their latest self-titled release in 2015, proving that they can still blow our minds away with solid rock music. However, now I would like to focus on a specific side of their music catalog – Def Leppard’s ballads. The majority of rock fans are well aware of classics like “Love Bites” or “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak”, but there are a couple of more mellow rockers that deserve your attention. Leppard’s ‘90s releases, especially, are filled with beautiful ballads which unfortunately are not as popular as their ‘80s classics. As a die-hard fan of Def Leppard and a rock ballad enthusiast, it’s my duty to remind you of some of those songs or give you at least one new ballad to add to your playlist! Let’s listen to 10 essential Def Leppard ballads!
Long Long Way To Go (from “X”, 2002)
“Long Way to Go” is by far one of Def Leppard’s saddest songs, at least to me. The ballad comes from their 2002 release, titled “X” and is their last UK Top 40 hit single, surprisingly. This tune became a major reason why I fell in love with the album, as it was the first “X” song I heard back in the day. The crying guitars, accompanied by Joe Elliott’s heavyhearted but hopeful vocals are drawing the perfect ballad picture for me. The lyrics are what caught my attention in the first place, as I found myself in them…
“…Then every time I turn around
And you’re nowhere to be found
I know I got a long, long way to go
Before I can say goodbye to you…”
Unbelievable (from “X”, 2002)
I always wondered why critics were judging “X” so harshly and condemning it as Leppard’s worst release, when in fact it is filled with so greatly-written and delicate songs like “Long Way to Go” and “Unbelievable”. It wasn’t as commercially successful as their previous releases but who the hell cares? “Unbelievable” is unbelievably astonishing. Not as gloomy as “Long Way to Go”, but sweeter, more uplifting with such a memorable anthem-like ending. Both ballads are the only two songs from “X” not co-credited by a member of Def Leppard.
“…You don’t say that it’s over, over
Never thought this could die
But you speak without words
Making me feel so damn good, ‘bye
Goodbye (from “Euphoria”, 1999)
“Goodbye” comes from Def Leppard’s 1999 release, titled “Euphoria”. Written by Rick Savage, this has to be one of their most overlooked ballads, despite being one of their best in my book. The song is a beautiful confession; the protagonist is proclaiming his love and is ready to give his everything for that special person. After all, who wouldn’t like to hear words like that:…
“…I’d be there if the sun refused to shine
As the night gets colder I will be your shoulder
I give you my heart until death us do part
Every day, every moment, forever?”
Blood Runs Cold (from “Slang”, 1996)
Written by Joe Elliot and Phil Collen, this has to be my favorite tune from Def Leppard’s 1996 release, titled “Slang”. “Slang”, along with “X” are the two albums to which critics didn’t do much justice, despite being absolutely phenomenal. I mean, just listen to the elegant guitars and Joe’s perfect vocal harmonies and tell me how it is possible to say something bad about the song or the album? Not to mention that “Blood Runs Cold” is another beautiful tribute to the late Steve Clark, who died of an alcohol poisoning. Def Leppard turned their immense pain over the loss of their friend to a superb ballad. It carries and important message too:…
“I guess what I’m trying to say
Is whose life is it anyway because livin’
Living is the best revenge
You can play…”
When Love & Hate Collide (from “Vault”, 1995)
In 1995, Def Leppard released their greatest hits album, titled “Vault”. In addition to their timeless classics, fans got the opportunity to enjoy one newly recorded song, the power ballad “When Love and Hate Collide”. The history of that tune dates back to their 1992 album “Adrenalize”; its demo was actually the last recorded guitar solo by Leppard’s original guitarist, Steve Clark before he died in 1991.
When it was released as a single in 1995, the song became an instant success – as a matter of fact it’s one of their most successful singles in the UK. Not surprised at all, the tune is so attractive; you must have a “heart of stone” to not fall in love with it.
One night alone Is like a year without you baby
Do you have a heart of stone
Can’t stop the hurt inside
When love and hate collide…”
Two Steps Behind (from “Retro Active”, 1993)
Track number 4, on Def Leppard’s 1993 album, “Retro Active” is the acoustic bliss, titled “Two Steps Behind”. It’s also featured on the “Last Action Hero” soundtrack. “Two Steps Behind” is another ballad with a long history, going back to 1989, when Joe recorded the original demo. It was also released on the “Make Love like a Man” single in 1992 (from “Adrenalize”). There are two versions of this tune, equally brilliant; however, for the purpose of this playlist, I preferred to take the acoustic one over the electric.
Joe Elliot wrote the song, but it was Phil Collen’s suggestion to record an acoustic version – a pretty good suggestion, don’t you think? The results were magnificent; I love every note and every word! Its simplicity is groundbreaking.
“…(Whatever you do)
I’ll be two steps behind you
(Wherever you go)
and I’ll be there to remind you
that it only takes a minute of your precious time
to turn around and I’ll be two steps behind…”
Miss You In A Heartbeat (from “Retro Active”, 1993)
The second ballad on “Retro Active” (1993) is “Miss You in a Heartbeat”, which I think is one of their most touching and heartbreaking compositions. Once again, there are two versions – acoustic and electric and I am giving you the chance to check both of them out, because I couldn’t pick just one. Written by Phil Collen as a bonus track for “Adrenalize” (1992), it was originally recorded by The Law, led by the great Paul Rodgers (ex-Free, Bad Company and The Firm). I am not going to compare both versions, I will leave it to you, guys.
“Miss You in a Heartbeat” gives you the perfect chance to say “I miss You” to someone you love…The lyrics are breathtaking:…
“…I believe, that there’s something deep inside
That shouldn’t be from time to time.
I sure found out, thought love was such a crime
The more you care, the more you fall
No need to worry, no need to turn away
‘Cause it don’t matter, anyway …”
“Miss You in a Heartbeat” by The Law
Have You Ever Needed Someone so Bad (from “Adrenalize”, 1992)
Let’s move on to Def Leppard’s “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad”, from their multi-platinum 1992 release, “Adrenalize”. The ballad was a total success – not only did it reach top chart positions but it turned into one of Def Leppard’s most beloved mellow rockers of all time. It was destined for such enormous worldwide appreciation and I blame it on the relatable lyrics. Def Leppard always mange to convey a strong, engaging message in a simple, yet elegant way.
“…Why save your kisses for a rainy day
Baby let the moment take your heart away…
Have you ever needed someone so bad, yeah
Have you ever wanted someone
You just couldn’t have
Did you ever try so hard
That your world just fell apart
Have you ever needed someone so bad…”
Love Bites (from “Hysteria”, 1987)
One way or another, we were destined to bump into “Love Bites” because let’s face it, we can’t talk about essential Def Leppard ballads and not mention their GREATEST, most successful one of all time – “Love Bites”, released from the 1987 blockbuster “Hysteria”. The influence it had on the audience was colossal – not only it topped the charts but it completely redefined the importance of power ballads in the last couple of years of the ‘80s. Brilliantly produced by Mutt Lange, “Love Bites” will forever remain synonymous with “power ballad”.
“…I don’t wanna touch you too much baby
‘Cos making love to you might drive me crazy
I know you think that love is the way you make it
So I don’t wanna be there when you decide to break it
Bringin’ On The Heartbreak (from “High ‘n’ Dry”, 1981)
I will wrap things up with Def Leppard’s 1981 power ballad “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak”. Released as the second single from their “High ‘n’ Dry” album, the tune marks a very important point as it set an early standard for power ballads. It’s also one of Def Leppard’s catchiest, least-sweet and “cheesy- sounding” ballads of their career. It was written by Steve Clark, Pete Willis, and Joe Elliott. Mariah Carey did a cover version in 2002 – if you are curious about it, go to YouTube, I won’t be posting it on my blog. The lyrics are very engaging, I love the chorus!
“…I’m sorry but it’s true
You’re bringin’ on the heartbreak
Takin’ all the best of me
Oh can’t you see?
You got the best of me
Whoah can’t you see? …”