There is no way to approach this and be fair to everyone. It hurts me to leave Bonnie Rait off the list because I love her, and her songs “Nick of Time” and “Have a Heart” were both from the 80’s. (Her most popular ballads were from the 90’s) Still, she doesn’t fit the typical stereotype of a power ballad, and in comparison to the other contenders, she had to sit on the sidelines in her uber-coolness and watch the others take the stage.
I also have left off three other powerful female rockers of the 80’s. One is Lita Ford, who was never a favorite of mine. The only song I felt deserved consideration was “Close Your Eyes Forever” and let’s face it, for me, that was all about Ozzy anyway. Another one I left out, which may elicit a gasp from my husband, is Joan Jett. While her “I love Rock and Roll” is a theme ballad for young women in the 80’s, I just felt personally that she came in at #7 for me. I also thought I should include Bonnie Tyler because “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is so well known for the era, but in the end I had to go with the songs that meant something to me in the 80’s, and so it slipped off the chart.
That being said…the rest of the group would have come in at #7 and beyond if I had truly given all the top spots to the one woman who deserved them: Pat Benatar. There was not a doubt when I was a young Cosmo woman of 1981 that the one person I listened to in the middle of the night when I wanted to hit someone was Pat Benatar. She was the icon of a powerful woman. Sexy. Determined. Independent. While we all knew she was rocking her cute guitar player on the side, (and who wouldn’t have?) we also knew that if push really came to shove, she would be doing the shoving and right out the door if necessary. For young women coming into their power in the early 80’s, you just couldn’t do better than Pat Benatar.
In fairness…I only gave her spot #1, but it should be noted that the following songs would all be worthy of the list: “Fire and Ice”, “Heartbreaker”, “Hit me with your Best Shot” and “Love is a Battlefield.” (Aint it, though?)
- Promises in the Dark - Pat Benatar, Precious Time
- Edge of Seventeen - Stevie Nicks, Belladonna
- I'll Stand By You - The Pretenders, Last of the Independents
- Alone - Heart, Bad Animals
- Only The Lonely - The Motels, All Four One
- What's Love Got To Do With It - Tina Turner, Private Dancer
Pat Benatar: “Promises in the Dark”
Stevie Nicks: “Edge of Seventeen”
Pretenders “I’ll Stand By You”
The Motels: “Only the Lonely”
Tina Turner: “What’s Love Got to Do with it?”