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March 28, 2024

The Acoustic Ballad Craze of the Early ’90s

via Ultimate-Guitar

For seemingly much of the ’80s, power ballads ruled the airwaves in the United States. Want some proof? Here ya go: “Keep On Loving You“, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Sister Christian,” “Home Sweet Home,” “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” etc.

But shortly after the dawn of the ’90s, power ballads had seemingly mutated into acoustic power ballads, where electric guitars had been replaced with the sweet strum of acoustic guitars.

In my 2015 book, “Survival of the Fittest: Heavy Metal in the 1990s“, the era which gave us such tunes as “More Than Words” and “Love Is On the Way” plus the immensely popular MTV Unplugged series, was explored in great detail, by many of the artists that contributed to the apparent rediscovery of acoustic guitar in rock.

Nuno Bettencourt

“To be honest with you, without the fear of sounding egotistical, there was no acoustic music. This is pre-‘Unplugged.’ So there was no acoustic music on the radio, nothing was happening at the time. And even when we wanted to release [‘More Than Words’], the label did not want to release it. A, they didn’t think it was a hit, and B, they were like, ‘What stations are going to play this?’ There was nothing acoustic happening since like, the mid ’70s.”

“We just fought for it, fought for it, and fought for it, and kind of forced them to make a video for it. And then that’s what happened. And then we went on MTV to perform. They wanted us to perform it, but we were like, ‘Well, we’re not just an acoustic band. Can we do some of the rock stuff acoustically?’ There was an audience, we did it. The next thing you know, a month later, MTV ‘Unplugged’ comes out. And ironically enough, we never got invited to do it.”