The hovering synths on “The Power Of Love” seem to be coming from somewhere vastly above the listener, like a Star Wars spaceship-overhead shot which goes on and on and on until the scale just defeats you. We’re heading for something – yes, Aldebaran most likely. Or Rigel.
Jennifer Rush stretches her song till it comes at you like granite falling through treacle – the structure of her track is conventional enough but it’s not until three minutes twenty that we even get the middle eight. Previous number ones have been long, but usually because they’ve tried to pack a lot in, ring the changes on the track or go for some kind of cumulative effect. “The Power Of Love” doesn’t really build – it’s big like a whale is big: it just grew that way.
It’s like there’s an edge to the music your ears can’t quite reach, and what you can take in is too diffuse to make any real sense. The bonds of meaning that link line to line – things you take for granted as a listener without ever realising it – become dangerously weak. “Lost is how I’m feeling.” – oh OK, that’s bad, right? – “Lying in your arms.” – no wait, that’s good…isn’t it? “The feeling that I can’t go on.” – uh oh – “Is light years away.” – phew! The cold quaver of Rush’s imperious vocals and the slight European stiltedness of the lyrics amplify the effect.
In a funny way though, it makes the song more effective and memorable than most of the records that would take this monster as a model. “The Power Of Love” is after all a song about how love removes your own sense of scale, makes existence itself unfamiliar, so the disorientating disconnect between it and anything resembling my emotional reality makes a sort of warped sense. It helps that the chorus is so memorable, something to anticipate and cling to as the rest of the song drifts apart. This is a record which exhausts me and exhausts itself, but there’s something fascinating about its reach even so.