I don’t follow pop music that much but occassionally something sticks out.
I have the sense that the English language pop scene has pretty much lost the art of the romantic ballad, but I could be wrong. In the r&b field, ballads seem way over-emoted now (thus leaving me completely dry emotionally) and faux-Gospel flavored.
Other countries pick up the slack, though. This is a beautiful song by Mika Nakashima (fairly old).
Update/Edit: Good translation here. Kinda sappy, but hey, it’s a ballad.