10 Slow Jams of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s


Let’s take a trip back to the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s, a musical time when we didn’t need the internet, iPods, or even cell phones to function.  MTV was growing and music was changing, from disco, to electro-phonic, to 80’s rock, and grunge.  We are all in search of those few songs where everything is aligned.  When the artists have perfected the lyrics, rhythm and sound, and brought us something special.  As you can imagine, it is hard to identify the best soft jams from this era because there are so many great tunes.  I’m sure that your opinion might differ, but these songs call out perfection to me.  It would be great to get your feedback for future lists that I create.  Sit back, relax and enjoy the top 10 slow jams from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.

10. Heart – Alone

Heart is a Rock ‘N’ Roll band that achieved fame in the 1980’s.  The only constant members of the group are sisters Nancy and Ann Wilson.  They have sold over 30 million records world wide and were rated #57 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.”  This song was originally recorded by John Stamos in 1984, but was made a hit by Heart in 1987.  Heart’s version of “Alone” is considered a power ballad and shows off Ann Wilson’s amazing vocals.  It is Heart’s biggest hit and it spent three weeks as the #1 single in America and hit #3 in the UK.

9. Alphaville – Forever Young

Alphaville is a German synthpop band that achieved fame in the early 1980’s.  They have a bit of a different sound that was popular at that time.  “Forever Young” is one of two hits for Alphaville.  The song reached the top 10 in Europe, but never hit the top 40 in the States.  Since its release the song has been covered by numerous bands and has become extremely poplar.  “Forever Young” is featured in numerous movies and commercials all over the world.  The video is great and you have to check out the hairdo that lead singer Marian Gold is rocking.

8. Mike Reno & Ann Wilson – Almost Paradise

Mike Reno is the lead singer of the Canadian band Loverboy and Ann Wilson is the head vocalist for Heart.  The two came together and collaborated on the love theme for the hit movie Footloose.  The song was one of three top 10 hits off the record setting soundtrack.  In the U.S. the song peaked at #7 and spent 13 weeks in the top 40.  It hit #1 on the adult contemporary chart.  It is a beautiful song that might have been lost on your radar over the years.  This entry is also dedicated to the memory of Footloose actor Chris Penn who died too young.

7. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Somewhere Over the Rainbow

This song was idealized by Judy Garland in the movie The Wizard of Oz.  Garland’s version of the song is so popular that it was named the #1 song of the century by The Recording Industry of America.  In 1993, Hawaiian native Israel Kamakawiwo’ole covered the song on his album Facing Future.  With only a ukulele, the new sound he gave this song was remarkable.  Sadly, Israel died in 1997 after struggling with a life long obesity problem.  He died at age 38 and weighed around 700 pounds.  Israel remains one of the most influential and prized musicians in Hawaii.  His version of “Over the Rainbow” has a legacy that will never die.  It has gained most of its fame after Israel’s death and has become a low-charting best seller with over 1,348,000 downloads.  His version of the song has been featured in many television advertisements, shows, and movies.  Including the movie 50 First Dates and it was performed by Jason Castro on American Idol.  There is something very poetic about watching this man string his ukulele.  If you watch until the end of the video, you will see how many people came out and celebrated his death.

6. Poison – Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Poison is an American rock band that achieved fame in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  Headed by Bret Michaels, the band has sold over 25 million records world wide.  This song is considered a power ballad and it was released in 1988.  It is the band’s only #1 hit in the U.S. and reached #13 in the UK.  This song is built around great lyrics and can be the theme song for any love struck cowboy out there.  The video also captures the stereotypical vision of 80’s rock videos, which is great.  It shows Poison in there prime and that is how I prefer to remember them.

5. Warrant – Heaven

Heaven is another power ballad from the late 80’s.  Warrant is an American Rock band that achieved fame with two multi-platinum albums.  Heaven was released in 1989 and was the band’s most popular single.  It reached #2 on the U.S. charts and helped launch the band to success.  The video has also gained notoriety over the years starring Scottish model Tracy Allan and featuring the baby face looks of lead singer Jani Lane.  This song has a great mix of vocals and guitar solos that make it stand out.

4. Enya – Book of Days

Enya is an Irish singer, instrumentalist, and composer.  She is truly one of a kind and has a unique sound, mixing voice-layering and folk melodies to make incredible music.  She is Ireland’s best selling vocal artist behind only U2 in sales.  In 2008, she had sold an astounding 75 million records world wide.  She was the biggest selling female artist of 2001 when the album A Day Without Rain sold 15 million copies.  I am amazed at the number of people who still don’t know who Enya is after all of this success.  The song Book of Days was released on her 1992 album, Shepherd Moons.  It was featured in the Ron Howard film Far and Away starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.  The original song was Gaelic, but an English version was later created.  Her words and musical genius are mind spelling.  Here is a video featuring the song and its lyrics are included.

3. Billy Joel – Just the Way You Are

William Joel is an American rock musician and composer who became famous in the early 1970’s.  He is the 6th best-selling artist in United States history.  He has sold a whopping 150 million albums world wide and won 6 Grammy Awards.  This song was featured on his record selling The Stranger album and shown in the 1984 film Just the Way You Are.  The song reached #3 on U.S. charts and #20 in the UK.  It won the Grammy for song and album of the year in 1978.  The song has been covered by many bands, but nobody can sing it like Billy.  The video features a live performance of the song.  Billy Joel is one of a kind live and it shows in this tape.

2. Jon Bon Jovi – Bed of Roses

Bon Jovi is an American band that has achieved large-scale success since the 1980’s.  Over the past 25 years, Bon Jovi has sold over 120 million records world wide.  The band features lead singer Jon Bon Jovi and guitarist Richie Sambora.  The song was released in 1993 on the album Keep the Faith.  It was a world wide hit and showed the band’s depth of performance.  “Bed of Roses” reached #10 in the U.S, #13 in the UK, and #10 on the German single charts.  Jon claims to have written the song one morning when he was hung over and you can hear it in the lyrics.  It features great guitar riffs by Richie and is loaded with Jon’s unique vocal patterns. This should make up for the Bon Jovi fans who didn’t like the top 10 list of the worst Bon Jovi Cover Songs.

1. Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah

Hallelujah is a song originally written and performed by Leonard Cohen.  In 1994, singer Jeff Buckley covered the song for his album Grace.  Not satisfied with just one take, Buckley recorded the song more then twenty times.  In 2004, his version was named #259 on Rolling Stones list of the greatest songs of all time.  It is a perfect recording and a powerful song.  The lyrics have biblical references and it has thus become a song of memorial for many, including Jeff Buckley, who sadly drowned in 1997 after going for a swim in Wolf River Harbor, a channel of the Mississippi River.  He was only 31 years old.  Since Buckley’s recording, the song has received world wide success and has been featured on the soundtrack of numerous television shows and movies, probably the most notable being Shrek in 2001.  Hallelujah is one of the most covered songs in history with over 180 different bands releasing it on albums.  This video is a must see.  It combines Buckley’s song with a touching memorial to 9/11 victims.  It actually shows video of a family vacation taken to the twin towers months before the tragedy.

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  1. Dude, when you make a top ten list of slow jams of the 70s and 80s and include poison, warrant and bon jovi… the list is automatically void of all respectability. I am not a hater but DAMN! Warrant.. Poison… Really?? they are whack as hell… just an opinion


  2. brandywilson on

    @toptenz Wow I didn’t know that John Stamos recorded “Alone” before Heart did. #wowfacts #coverbetterthantheoriginal

  3. :] Nice list, but these songs really don't classify as slow jams. Slow jams are technically R&B singles. CB is correct. They can definitely be classified as power ballads.

  4. Ok, this is just too eerie.

    Several years ago, my wife and I visited my sister and her husband, Mike, in Phoenix, AZ. My BIL was enthusiastic about a new artist he had just discovered, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, and he played "Over the Rainbow" for me.

    Loved it, loved it, loved it.

    Unfortunately, Mike fell ill to cancer and soon made his own trip over the rainbow.

    At his memorial service, my sister played another of Mike's favorite songs.

    Jeff Buckley singing "Hallelujah".

    Good memories, and bad. That's life, I guess.

  5. agree with Jen. these are not slow jams, "power ballads" yes.. no real slow jams. i was expecting some marvin gaye, some soul.. bon jovi? are you serious?

  6. Celebrating Israel Kamakawiwo’ole's death would be pretty terrible.

    I wouldn't call Somewhere over the Rainbow a "slow jam". Same for "Forever Young", "Just the Way You Are", or anything by Enya. To most people, part of being a slow jam means that the song is R&B influenced.

  7. Not a bad list, but I have to bring attention to the fact that Heart came to fame in the mid to late '70's with their million selling album "Dreamboat Annie". They also had two other albums in the '70's, "Dog and Butterfly" and "Little Queen" that were hugely successful.

    (had a buddy who turned me on to Heart; he owned a Plymouth Barracuda, btw)

    I have the Israel Kamakawiwo’ole version of "Rainbow" on my blog and get Google search hits on it at least a few times a week. I've also had to change out the vid several times as YouTube keeps taking it down. Not to nitpick, but I'd say his fans celebrated his LIFE in the last part of the vid.

    Love Enya, and while "Only Time" is probably too "new" by a year or so to make this list, it's also been used in many 9/11 tributes.