Incidentally: The Best Song Ever to Feature a Member of Night Ranger

It’s this one.

Indeed, in the grand pantheon of Arena Ballads — of songs explicitly genetically designed to be played in front of 10,000 stoned denim-jacked blue collar joes and janes, each waving a lighter — this is one of The Great Ones, easily outranking “Sister Christian” — although not “Come Sail Away,” to name check the work of Tommy Shaw’s other band. The greatest of all Arena Ballads, of course, is “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and you know that for truth.


63 Comments on “Incidentally: The Best Song Ever to Feature a Member of Night Ranger”

  1. The 80’s saw a lot of super groups, most of them pretty good, such as Asia, GTR, The Traveling Wilburys, and The Firm.

  2. I’m actually familiar with that Bad English song. I didn’t realize they were a super group. I’m going to have to concede that point and admit Damn Yankees is easily the SECOND least super super group.

  3. Malaclypse, I think Free Bird is more of a jam than a ballad. The song’s 8 minutes long, isn’t it?

  4. Every arena ballad ever written wants to be Freebird when it grows up.

    Well maybe Wild Horses. But The Stones, as usual, take on a genre that should suck and make it just barely not suck. See Miss You, vis-a-vis disco, for another example.

  5. Scalzi, I may have to revise my opinion on your musical tastes. The rock world has completely disavowed all knowledge of the existence of (I shudder to type it) Damn Yankees (brrr).

    However, at least we agree on GTR. Steve Howe, what were you thinking???

  6. God help me for saying this, but I am going to have to go with Whitesnake ‘Here I Go Again’ as being the best arena song of the ’80s

  7. Chris-O:

    Not “Arena Song”; “Arena Ballad.” Different things. Also, “Pour Some Sugar on Me” has “Here I Go Again” beat for Arena Song six different ways.


    I agree with the others that “Free Bird” is more of a jam than an Arena Ballad.

  8. Since “Pour Some Sugar on Me” lacks the requisite lengthy keyboard intro, clearly “Here I Go Again” is superior in it’s Arena Song-ness. Both are superior in every way to “The Final Countdown”.

    I saw Bad English open for Bon Jovi. Epic Fail.

    For your consideration: “Headed for a Heartbreak” by Winger, who I once saw perform “Sweet Home Alabama” as an encore with Cinderella and The Bullet Boys.

  9. I may get banninated for this, but trying to qualify any Arena Ballad as “greatest” strikes me as similar to rate the relative fun of Ebola, Flesh Eating Bacteria or Peyronie’s Disease.

    I’ll just choose to believe it’s a trick question.

  10. While I have personal problems with any music that is associated with the word “Arena,” I must categorically state that “Don’t Stop Believin” is not an Arena Ballad.

    My Arena Ballad test is simple: can you imagine a teary 16-year-old girl holding up a lighter while the song plays? “Believin” just doesn’t make it. On the other hand, I would think that “Open Arms” easily wins the crown.

  11. I’ll agree that “High Enough” is up there, but I think “Amanda” by Boston might have it beat. Agreed with “Don’t Stop Believin'” – if that’s not the best arena song EVAR, I’ll eat something unsavory which is not, in point of fact, my shorts (I do not eat clothing).

    Now, if this discussion were to include the kissing cousin hair metal power ballad, I’d have to say something like “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by the inestimable Poison would have a strong go at the title.

  12. Brian M:

    “Since ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ lacks the requisite lengthy keyboard intro, clearly ‘Here I Go Again’ is superior in it’s Arena Song-ness.”

    Pish and tosh. Fiddly keyboard openings are desirable but not necessary, and where it counts — easily singable, fist pumping choruses — “Pour Some Sugar On Me” is without peer. It also excels with an overabundance of “fist pump” moments outside the choruses too. I mean, my God, just look at the video. It’s in an arena. They knew what the song was about.

    I urge you to reconsider. Implore you.


    Still. Yeah. What were they thinking?

    Also, re: Arena Ballads, I once got conned into taking my little brother and his friends to see Kiss. Peter Criss singing “Beth” was one of the times I came closest to taking my own life. In self-defense. Luckily it was immediately followed by “God of Thunder,” fire, blood, &etc.

  14. My GOD. You made me browse first a Bad English video, then their wikipedia entry…then JOURNEY’S wikipedia entry.

    Why, John? WHY?

    Is THIS what you use the power of your website for? IS IT? …You should be ASHAMED.

  15. I see there is a neglect of mentioning the works of Bon Jovi, which should at least be some where on the list.

  16. I have had the privilege of seeing Damn Yankees do that song live (they were playing with Bad Company and it was a great show) and yes it is an amazing Arena Ballad, and yes I was in denim.

  17. I agree with the others that “Free Bird” is more of a jam than an Arena Ballad.

    You will get no Coke Zero at VP with that attitude.

    “If I leave here tomorrow
    would you still remember me
    For I must be travelling on now
    there’s too many places I gotta see

    And if I stay here with you girl
    things just wouldn’t be the same
    For I’m as free as a bird now
    and this bird you cannot change, oh
    and the bird you cannot change
    and this bird you cannot change
    Lord knows I can’t change”

    Admit it – the moment you read that you went looking for a cigarette lighter to stick in the air.

  18. My first concert where I paid for the tickets myself was Damn Yankees. If you ignored the hyper-macho posturings of The Nuge, they were a pretty decent live act.

    Now… the opening act was Jackyl. They were pretty… special.

  19. Bad English was a super group?!? There’s my “one thing” learned for today. Golly.

    And Lithera has it exactly correct. You can not, nay, *must* not, discuss 80s arena rock without mentioning Bon Jovi.

  20. Since you’ve done me the disfavor of reminding me of the mere existence of Night Ranger, let me send it right back atcha by asserting that the greatest arena ballad remains “The Final Countdown.” No need to thank me, I do it for the love of the blog.

  21. Eli @ 7
    8 minutes will get you about halfway through a live version of Free Bird (it’s 9:19 on album).

  22. Thanks to the extremely funny show Arrested Development, “The Final Countdown” just reminds me of some so-bad-it’s-good magic tricks. It just sets me giggling.

    I think we are missing some Bon Jovi on this list. “Wanted: Dead or Alive” would seem to qualify as worthy. And I’m in total agreement about Journey. Poison or Def Leppard, though? *bleck* Not my style.

    What? No “Stairway”? *ducks*

  23. Ok. Adam Lipkin cross-posted in the stem cell thread about Patton Oswald’s take on the video of this song. (See: this. The 80s metal bit is in the middle, after the stuff about steak houses). Considering the shark-jump Ted-Nugent-deflecting-bullets-with-RAWK!itude of the video, you should have posted it (instead of the single frame w/song in background version). So, just to make all of you listen to the song again, the full music video, in all its glory.

    Finally, I think that requires a chaser to cleanse the mind. I present to you an audiovisual mental enema: The official video of Strapping Young Lad’s “Love?”. It’s awesome, it’s MEH-TAL, and totally nerdy (in a good way). I know I needed it.

  24. This thread has made me realize why I hate the songs I do. If it’s the sort of song that fits the Arena Ballad” moniker, I’m just not a fan.

    I think that’s why I see so few concerts.

    That said, off to see if I can still get tickets to see Paramore with the wife.

  25. Tim Boerger – They’re not tricks. . . they’re ILLUSIONS!

    ‘Oh Sherrie’ isn’t in the running for ballad?

  26. This thread is killing me. I am now completely infected with earworms and will not be safe until I can purge them during my car ride home today.

  27. Kiran, that’s why I posted the chaser. Nothing like a little progressive death metal to burn out a case of the hairmetal ear mites.

  28. Scalzi:

    “Fiddly keyboard openings are desirable but not necessary, and where it counts — easily singable, fist pumping choruses — “Pour Some Sugar On Me” is without peer.”

    Taking the nigh-on requisite keyboard openings out of the “Arena Song” picture certainly complicates things.

    I will cloak myself in acid-washed denim in order to give some serious thought to this.

  29. You are right Dr. M. I almost forgot about that band. Somewhere in my basement, I have their cassette.

  30. “I didn’t know what to do when you called me baby”. After I first heard and understood those lyrics, I became a man. Then I went back to being a boy a few minutes later. But still, I knew it was at least possible to become a man, hence, I have been inspired to at least fake it ever since.

  31. @17 Rob Thornton:

    My Arena Ballad test is simple: can you imagine a teary 16-year-old girl holding up a lighter while the song plays? “Believin” just doesn’t make it. On the other hand, I would think that “Open Arms” easily wins the crown.

    As a former 16-year-old girl, I can emphatically say that “Believin'” is lighter worthy, while “Open Arms” is my signal to go get another coke.

  32. “Here I Go Again” is not meant to be heard in an arena. It’s meant to be listened to, full blast, in your Dad’s car on a hot summer day, with all the windows up, while you speed petal to the metal down the road.

    Even better if you’ve just been dumped.

  33. I was overcome by nostalgia for my horrible, horrible youth and watched the video for Come Sail Away. God help me, I liked it. You have driven me down a road that leads to Boston. You bastard.

    Green Jelly may be the poor man’s Gwar — but that’s a good thing. In this context, may I suggest their song Anthem? Like all good satire, it represents as much as it mocks.

  34. Just to go in a *completely* different direction… Say what you want about the Final Countdown, there’s a *great* marching band arrangement. The kids in my last band absolutely refused to play anything else at the beginning of Q4. The football players used to show up in the band room on Monday morning ticked off at me if we hadn’t played it at Friday’s game…

  35. Kristin Chew@45:
    As a former 16-year-old girl, I can emphatically say that “Believin’” is lighter worthy, while “Open Arms” is my signal to go get another coke.

    HEAR, HEAR! I loved Believin’. Am lukewarm at best about Open Arms.

    If we’re going to go with the song I remember us wee teenage girls singing on the camp bus acapella and impromptu, I’ll have to add “High Enough” to the worthy ballad list as well as Styx’s “Show Me The Way” and Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero.” (Can only guys sing big arena ballads? I’m just saying that the Hero song came up in the same song sessions as High Enough and Believin for us kids at camp.)

  36. The prototypical arena rock ballad: Kiss – “Beth”. The beat on “Come Sail Away” is too fast to qualify: about twice as fast as “Beth”, “Sister Christian”, etc.

  37. Journey – “Don’t Stop Believin'” – Top 5.

    Kansas – “Dust in the Wind” – top 10, maybe top 5.

    REO Speedwagon – “Time for me to Fly” – top 10 (“Can’t Fight This Feeling” and “Keep on Loving You” charted higher, but (to me) rank lower as power/arena ballads).

    Boston – “More than a Feeling” – Assuming it qualifies at all (if “Come Sail Away” qualifies, this one does), top 5, possibly #1 or #2.

    Procol Harum – “Whiter Shade of Pale” – a pre-cursor of the arena ballad but doesn’t qualify since it pre-dates the arena rock era.

    Meat Loaf – “Bat out of Hell” and “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” – top 10 if they qualified. The problem is while Meatloaf was an arena performer, he wasn’t an arena BAND, and his music doesn’t quite fit the right style.

    Heart – “What About Love” – right genre, not particularly great. Maybe top 20, probably top 40. “Alone”, maybe top 40.

  38. We only had enough points left to buy one more song for Rock Band, and for some reason my 12 year old Jonas Brothers loving daughter picked that Journey song.

  39. Sadly, this was the first CD I ever bought. I got it because Ted Nugent was in the band. It doesn’t really sound like Ted Nugent is in the band :(

  40. Well, if you’re all big Damn Yankees fans, don’t forget they forgettable “Shaw-Blades” CD from the mid-90’s.

    (BTW, Damn Yankees was a 90’s supergroup, not 80’s….it just seemed that way)

  41. They formed in 1989, Randy. IN UNDER THE WIRE!!!!ONE!!1!

    But, yeah, you’re right.

    Also, owned that first Shaw-Blades CD at some point. Not the finest use of my money, I have to say.

  42. I have to say that “Pour Some Sugar on Me” is definitely in the top 5 of Arena Band Songs since it was that show that marked my introduction to live rock.

    Anyone got a Pandora station with all these in it? No? I’ll work on that.

  43. Hmm. My bad, but their original CD was released March 13, 1990.

    So, whether formed or not, the music was not unleashed until the 90’s….right?

    (BTW, I still own the Shaw-Blades CD. – And, both Damn Yankees albums on cassette. And I saw Damn Yankees live once, opening for Lynrd Skynyrd who were opening for Poison.)

  44. For my money the assembly of Nugent, Blades and Shaw was only superficially weird. Nugent was able to do his thing stage wise, and also dry out the lyrical content with his guitar work. In the name of longer shelf-life, pretty much like fish gene enhanced tomatoes. It is strange at first, and then you get used to it.

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