Soft rock music, also known as yacht rock, was a dominant genre in the 1970s and 1980s. It brought together the smoothness of ballads with the instrumentation of rock and soul. Artists like Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, and Todd Rundgren were acclaimed for their contributions to the soft rock genre.
Soft rock songs often feature the use of electric piano and melodic bass, creating a polished sound. This genre explores adult themes and showcases distinct voices. From heartfelt ballads to catchy tunes, soft rock has a wide range of sounds and emotions.
In this article, we will explore the best soft rock songs from the 1970s and ’80s, as well as the artists who have made significant contributions to this captivating genre. Get ready to dive into the world of soft rock music and discover classics and modern hits that will leave you wanting more.
- Soft rock, also known as yacht rock, emerged as a popular genre in the 1970s and 1980s.
- Artists like Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, and Todd Rundgren were influential in the soft rock genre.
- Soft rock songs often feature the use of electric piano and melodic bass, creating a smooth and polished sound.
- Soft rock explores adult themes and showcases distinct voices.
- This article will focus on the best soft rock songs from the 1970s and ’80s, as well as the artists who have made significant contributions to the genre.
The 25 Best Soft Rock Songs of All Time
Soft rock songs have become timeless classics, beloved by many for their melodic sound and relatable lyrics. This list showcases the top 25 soft rock songs of all time, including hits from artists like Hall and Oates, Christopher Cross, and The Bee Gees. These songs have achieved commercial success and have left a lasting impact on the genre.
- “Rich Girl” by Hall and Oates
- “Sailing” by Christopher Cross
- “How Deep Is Your Love” by The Bee Gees
- “Private Eyes” by Hall and Oates
- “Africa” by Toto
- “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” by Hall and Oates
- “Hotel California” by The Eagles
- “To Love Somebody” by The Bee Gees
- “Every Breath You Take” by The Police
- “Ride Like the Wind” by Christopher Cross
- “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac
- “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Richie
- “More Than a Feeling” by Boston
- “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers
- “Reelin’ In the Years” by Steely Dan
- “Alone” by Heart
- “Easy Lover” by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins
- “Babe” by Styx
- “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey
- “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green
- “Just the Way You Are” by Billy Joel
- “Hold the Line” by Toto
- “We’ve Only Just Begun” by Carpenters
- “Georgia On My Mind” by Ray Charles
- “Baby, I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton
Hall and Oates’ Popular Soft Rock Hits
Hall and Oates, the dynamic duo of soft rock, have left an indelible mark on the genre with their catchy and infectious hits. With their seamless blend of soft rock and synth-pop, they created a unique sound that resonated with audiences worldwide. Their music, characterized by unforgettable melodies and relatable lyrics, continues to captivate fans to this day.
One of Hall and Oates’ most iconic songs is “Private Eyes,” a chart-topping hit that showcases their signature style. The upbeat tempo, groovy bassline, and memorable chorus make it an instant classic. Let’s take a look at the lyrics:
I see you, you see me
Christopher Cross’ Soft Rock Anthem
One of the most iconic soft rock songs of all time is Christopher Cross’s hit, “Sailing.” Released in 1979, this song quickly climbed the charts and became a timeless classic. With its soothing melody and Cross’s silky smooth vocals, “Sailing” perfectly captures the essence of soft rock music.
Christopher Cross, a singer-songwriter from Texas, gained widespread recognition for his self-titled debut album, which featured “Sailing” as the lead single. The song earned Cross five Grammy Awards in 1981, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Its popularity has endured over the years, making it an essential inclusion in any soft rock playlist.
Through his heartfelt lyrics and captivating melodies, Christopher Cross has solidified his place as one of the key figures in soft rock music. “Sailing” continues to resonate with listeners, evoking a sense of calm and nostalgia with every play. Whether you’re a longtime fan or discovering Cross’s music for the first time, “Sailing” is a must-listen for any soft rock enthusiast.
The Bee Gees’ Soft Rock Ballads
The Bee Gees, known for their iconic disco hits, also showcased their talents in creating beautiful soft rock ballads. Songs like “How Deep Is Your Love” and “To Love Somebody” serve as examples of their harmonies and exceptional songwriting abilities. With heartfelt lyrics and enchanting melodies, these songs capture the very essence of soft rock music.
Despite their disco fame, The Bee Gees proved their versatility by venturing into the realm of soft rock. Their unique vocal harmonies and top-notch musical compositions made them stand out even in this genre. Their ballads, often exploring themes of love and longing, possess a timeless quality that resonates with audiences to this day.
The Smooth Operator: Sade’s Soft Rock Sound
Sade, a Nigerian-born British singer, songwriter, and composer, is renowned for her unique blend of jazz and soft rock elements. With her velvety voice and exotic instrumentation, Sade creates a distinctive sound that has captivated audiences around the world.
One of Sade’s most iconic songs is “Smooth Operator,” which perfectly showcases her smooth and sultry vocals. Released in 1984, the song instantly became a hit, reaching the top 10 in several countries. Its seductive melody and captivating lyrics make it a standout in the soft rock genre.
With her soothing and romantic music, Sade has earned her place as one of the top soft rock artists of all time. Her music has a timeless quality that continues to resonate with listeners today.
|“Smooth Operator,” “Your Love is King”
|“The Sweetest Taboo,” “Is It a Crime”
|Stronger Than Pride
|“Paradise,” “Love Is Stronger Than Pride”
|“No Ordinary Love,” “Kiss of Life”
|“By Your Side,” “King of Sorrow”
|Soldier of Love
|“Soldier of Love,” “Babyfather”
With a discography spanning over four decades, Sade has consistently delivered captivating music that showcases her incredible talent and artistry. Her albums have received critical acclaim and commercial success, solidifying her status as a true soft rock icon.
Soft Rock Gems of the 1970s: Rupert Holmes and Boz Scaggs
Rupert Holmes and Boz Scaggs may not always be the first names that come to mind when discussing soft rock, but their contributions to the genre are undeniable. These talented artists have left a lasting impact with their signature songs and unique styles.
Rupert Holmes is best known for his catchy and clever soft rock classics. One of his most iconic songs, “Escape (The Pina Colada Song),” has become a staple of the genre. Known for its infectious melody and playful storytelling, this hit has stood the test of time and continues to captivate audiences. Another notable track from Holmes is “Him,” a heartfelt ballad known for its emotional lyrics and beautiful composition.
Boz Scaggs brings a funky and groovy vibe to the soft rock scene. His song “Lowdown” is a prime example of his unique vocal style and musicality. With its infectious rhythm and soulful sound, “Lowdown” became a chart-topping hit and solidified Scaggs’ place in the soft rock genre. His smooth and captivating performances continue to resonate with fans to this day.
These two artists have made their mark on soft rock, showcasing their talent and contributing to the genre’s rich tapestry of music.
A Comparison of Rupert Holmes and Boz Scaggs
|Catchy and clever soft rock classics
|Funky and groovy soft rock hits
|Iconic song: “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”
|Iconic song: “Lowdown”
|Emotional ballad: “Him”
|Soulful hit: “Lowdown”
Soft Rock Singer-Songwriters: Jackson Browne and Carole King
Jackson Browne: Crafting Introspective and Emotional Songs
Jackson Browne is a highly acclaimed singer-songwriter known for his evocative and deeply personal soft rock tunes. One of his most famous songs, “Doctor My Eyes,” showcases his raw talent for storytelling and introspection. With heartfelt lyrics and a soulful melody, Browne captures the essence of soft rock, connecting with listeners on a profound level.
Born in Heidelberg, Germany, Browne began his music career in the late 1960s and gained recognition as a powerful songwriter in the 1970s. Drawing inspiration from his own life experiences, Browne infuses his songs with emotion and vulnerability, making them resonate with a wide audience. His contribution to the soft rock genre has left an indelible mark, making him one of the genre’s most influential artists.
Carole King: Crafting Timeless Soft Rock Hits
Carole King is a legendary singer-songwriter known for her beautiful and timeless soft rock classics. Her signature song, “It’s Too Late,” captivates listeners with its poignant lyrics and King’s soulful vocals. With her ability to craft melodies that stick with you long after the song ends, King has become an icon in the soft rock genre.
King’s career as a songwriter began in the 1960s, penning hits for other artists before stepping into the spotlight herself. Her deep understanding of music theory and masterful songwriting skills shine through in her soft rock compositions. Carole King’s contributions to the genre have stood the test of time, making her an enduring figure in the world of soft rock music.
“Soft rock singer-songwriters like Jackson Browne and Carole King have the extraordinary ability to connect with listeners through their introspective and emotional songs. Their contributions to the soft rock genre have left an indelible mark, and their music continues to resonate with audiences worldwide.”
Soft Rock Legends: Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles
Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles are two iconic soft rock bands that have left an indelible mark on the music industry. These legendary bands have produced numerous hits that continue to resonate with audiences of all ages and have solidified their place in the history of soft rock.
Fleetwood Mac, formed in 1967, is known for their captivating harmonies, compelling storytelling, and captivating instrumentals. One of their most famous hits, “Dreams,” showcases their unique sound and emotional depth. With Stevie Nicks’ haunting vocals and Lindsey Buckingham’s masterful guitar work, Fleetwood Mac’s music has become synonymous with the soft rock genre.
Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” is a testament to their artistry and is often regarded as one of the greatest soft rock songs of all time.
The Eagles, formed in 1971, are renowned for their impeccable vocal harmonies, exceptional musicianship, and timeless songwriting. Their iconic hit, “Hotel California,” is a classic in the soft rock genre, captivating audiences with its memorable guitar solos and thought-provoking lyrics.
“Hotel California” by The Eagles has become an anthem in the world of soft rock, showcasing the band’s instrumental prowess and poetic storytelling.
Both Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles have carved out their own distinct sound within the soft rock genre, drawing on influences from folk, country, and rock music. Their ability to create captivating melodies and deliver poignant lyrics has cemented their status as true legends of soft rock.
Through their timeless songs, these two bands have touched the hearts of millions of listeners worldwide and continue to inspire generations of musicians. Their contributions to the soft rock genre have undeniably shaped its evolution and have left an enduring legacy that will stand the test of time.
Soft Rock Royalty: Elton John and Steely Dan
Elton John and Steely Dan are two of the most influential and revered soft rock artists of all time. Their contributions to the genre have shaped its sound and left a lasting impact on music history.
Elton John, known for his flamboyant style and powerful voice, has been captivating audiences for decades. His hit song “Rocket Man” is a true testament to his artistry, showcasing his ability to blend heartfelt lyrics with infectious melodies. With his distinctive sound and charismatic presence, Elton John continues to be a beloved figure in the world of soft rock.
Steely Dan, on the other hand, brought a unique jazz-infused sound to the soft rock scene. Their song “Do It Again” exemplifies their mastery of complex arrangements and sophisticated harmonies. Steely Dan’s music is a fusion of genres, incorporating elements of rock, jazz, and pop, resulting in a sound that is both intricate and accessible.
Both Elton John and Steely Dan possess a remarkable talent for crafting memorable melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. Their ability to evoke emotion and tell compelling stories through their music has cemented their status as true pioneers of soft rock.
Elton John’s “Rocket Man”
Released in 1972, “Rocket Man” is a standout track from Elton John’s iconic album “Honky Château.” The song tells the story of an astronaut’s loneliness and longing for his family while traveling in space. Elton John’s soaring vocals and intricate piano melodies create a sense of wonder and beauty, making “Rocket Man” a timeless soft rock anthem.
Steely Dan’s “Do It Again”
From their debut album “Can’t Buy a Thrill” released in 1972, “Do It Again” is a captivating blend of rock, jazz, and funk influences. The song’s infectious guitar riff and catchy chorus immediately draw listeners in. Steely Dan’s meticulous attention to detail and musical craftsmanship shine through in every note, solidifying their status as one of the greatest soft rock bands of all time.
Elton John and Steely Dan’s remarkable careers have spanned decades, and their music continues to resonate with audiences around the world. Their contributions to the soft rock genre have earned them a rightful place among the royalty of soft rock.
Soft rock music has been mesmerizing audiences for decades with its smooth melodies and relatable lyrics. From the classic hits of the 1970s to the modern gems of today, soft rock continues to be a beloved genre that stands the test of time. Whether you’re a fan of the timeless classics or discovering new favorites, soft rock offers a melodic escape for music lovers of all ages.
Soft rock’s distinctive blend of ballad songwriting, rock instrumentals, and soulful melodies creates a sound that is both soothing and captivating. Artists like Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, and Todd Rundgren have masterfully crafted soft rock songs that have become classics in their own right. The use of electric piano and melodic bass further adds to the polished and refined nature of soft rock music.
While the genre has evolved over the years, soft rock still retains its original quality and charm. It explores adult themes and showcases the distinct voices of its artists. Soft rock songs delve into topics like relationships, love, and introspection, resonating deeply with listeners. Whether you’re looking for heartfelt ballads or catchy tunes, soft rock has something for everyone.
So, sit back, relax, and let the soothing sounds of soft rock transport you to a world of musical bliss. Whether you’re reminiscing about the classics or exploring the modern hits, soft rock music will continue to captivate and provide an escape for music enthusiasts for years to come.
Q: What is soft rock music?
A: Soft rock music is a genre that features a lighter, mellower sound compared to traditional rock music. It often incorporates elements of pop and folk music.
Q: Who are some famous soft rock artists from the 70s and 80s?
A: Some famous soft rock artists from the 70s and 80s include Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, and Air Supply.
Q: Where can I listen to soft rock classics from the 70s and 80s?
A: You can find soft rock classics from the 70s and 80s on music streaming platforms, such as Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube.
Q: What are some popular soft rock hits from the 90s?
A: Some popular soft rock hits from the 90s include “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith and “Torn” by Natalie Imbruglia.
Q: Are there any modern soft rock artists worth listening to?
A: Yes, modern soft rock artists such as John Mayer, Norah Jones, and Adele have gained popularity for their soulful and mellow sound.
Q: What are some themes commonly found in soft rock lyrics?
A: Soft rock lyrics often explore themes of love, relationships, introspection, and personal emotions.
Q: Can you recommend some soft rock love songs for a romantic playlist?
A: Certainly! Some timeless soft rock love songs include “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton, “Your Song” by Elton John, and “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers.
Q: Is soft rock music suitable for relaxation and unwinding?
A: Yes, soft rock music is often associated with creating a soothing and relaxing atmosphere, making it a popular choice for unwinding and de-stressing.
Q: What distinguishes soft rock music from other subgenres of rock?
A: Soft rock music is characterized by its emphasis on melodic and harmonic elements, as well as its gentle and subdued approach to instrumentation and vocals, setting it apart from other subgenres of rock.
Q: Can I discover new soft rock artists and songs through curated playlists?
A: Absolutely! Many music streaming platforms offer curated playlists specifically dedicated to soft rock music, allowing listeners to explore new artists and songs within the genre.