NFB Listens To Number Ones: “The Power Of Love” – Jennifer Rush

Like me, you may have gotten very excited when you saw the title of this song, and then much less excited when you saw the singer. No, it’s not Frankie Goes To Hollywood or Huey Lewis & The News, it’s instead Jennifer Rush’s distinctly less awesome 1985 power ballad, that hit the heights in Ireland for four weeks that October. One of three songs of this title released that year alone, Rush’s song (that was originally written in German), I would say is probably the one most likely to sink to the bottom of the popular consciousness. And if you’re anything like me, you probably didn’t remember this song until it gets to the chorus, and then it all became clear. You will probably also be forgiven for wondering if this is the Celine Dion version of the same.

There are songs that have their remembrance hinge almost entirely on one line, and for “The Power Of Love”, it’s “Cause I’m your lady” or rather “Cause I’m your laaaaadyyyyyyyy”. Rush has the voice alright, but she doesn’t have the song: leaving aside the impressive vocal range she demonstrates in the chorus, the rest of “The Power Of Love” is a really humdrum, and very forgettable, 80’s love song, where the distinction between verse and chorus is so faint as to be invisible, and where the backing music is so insubstantial that it probably needed a single take to record. It also drags and drags: four-and-a-half minutes of drawn out warbling, that approaches Chris de Burgh levels of faux-emotion (similar music too). And unlike other long songs that pack a whole lot in – like say, “Bohemian Rhapsody” – this one feels like it is more stretching things out, with Rush’s slow croon designed to make “The Power Of Love” feel like a much more epic song than it really is. Which is not to say that it is beyond any recognition: Rush’s general thesis of how love affects your understanding of self and time is interesting for sure, I just wish she didn’t need five minutes to tell us about it.

The music video though: here’s one where Rush commits to telling something of a story, but one that seems obtuse to the point of being incomprehensible. So, Rush’s boyfriend is in deep to loan sharks or something? And she thinks this is a good set-up for her to sing about how much she loves him, even as they are both getting shaken down? Lots of shots of people talking on phones occur before said boyfriend gets run over by a car, which really doesn’t go with the heights that Rush is reaching with her performance at the same time. The 80’s was the time of the power ballad, and there are many different, and much better, options to choose from. “The Power Of Love” is a one-line song, one that would sink pretty fast if released in the modern age, and not likely to ever lodge itself in the consciousness.

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