Often synonymous with love songs, ballads typically combine stories with music—making for some of the most poetic songs to date. From traditional ballads of old to today's hottest pop ballads, these narratives set to music span a broad range of genres. Regardless of genre, however, the best ballads usually find themselves set to slower accompaniments, telling stories about things like lost love and old friendships. In short, ballads are those tracks we go to when we're down, pondering life, or just need something soft and soothing to calm our troubles. So, love songs or not, what are the best ballads of all time?
Many of the most popular ballads we've come to love today date back hundreds of years, to the point where the origins are almost uncertain. On the other hand, you have more modern takes on the ballad, including songs like "With or Without You" by U2 or Marvin Gaye's ever-sensual "Let's Get It On". Of course, we can't forget those favorite ballads that stray from the common love-infused lyrics, such as Pink Floyd's tribute to Syd Barrett, "Wish You Were Here", among plenty of others you can find on the list of top ballads below.
Now, the question remains: what are the best ballads ever written? Whether they be rock ballads, power ballads, traditional, or even pop, it's up to music fans like you to decide. Check out the list of ballad songs below and vote up your favorites. Also feel free to add your own choices to the list. If you're looking for more ballads, take a look at the best 80s ballads or the best 2000s ballads for more recent love songs.
The Sounds of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel
You’re Gonna Lose That Girl, The Beatles
Only the Lonely, Roy Orbison
Michelle, The Beatles
As Tears Go By, The Rolling Stones
Love, John Lennon
You Know What I Mean, The Turtles
Ruby Tuesday, The Rolling Stones
Nowhere Man, The Beatles
Surfer Girl, The Beach Boys
Pure and Easy, The Who