Famous for its appearance in the smash hit 1985 film Back To The Future, ‘The Power of Love’ gave Huey Lewis and The News their first US chart topping single (and an Oscar nomination) following the song’s appearance on the soundtrack – it also brought the band chart success in the UK and was included on the British release of the Fore! album in 1986.
‘The Power of Love’ is one of a handful of pop songs that features frequent use of modal interchange. Wait, what? Take a look at the transcription and notice that the chorus sections are in C major but the verses and the middle 8 are in C minor – two different scales (and therefore key centres) built from the same root note.
Bassist Mario Cipollina underpins ‘The Power of Love’ with a no-nonsense approach, using driving quavers to propel the intro and choruses – rather than pedaling the C for a whole bar, Mario drops down to the open E to create a first inversion major chord sound (written as C/E). The verses feature the bass approximating the syncopated rhythm and the harmony of the guitar riff.
The highlight of ‘The Power of Love’ (for me, at least) is the middle 8 section, where we move into Eb major (the relative major of C minor) and we’re treated to some more expanded harmony, including the classic pop device of using a sus chord resolving to a major to lead back to the tonic minor chord. Other notable examples of this are ‘Long Train Runnin’’ by The Doobie Brothers and ‘Crazy’ by Gnarls Barkley.