Soft rock (or lite rock) is a derivative form of pop rock that originated in the late 1960s in southern California and in the United Kingdom. The style smoothed over the edges of singer-songwriter and pop rock, relying on simple, melodic songs with big, lush productions. Soft rock was prevalent on the radio throughout the 1970s and eventually metamorphosed into the synthesized music of adult contemporary in the 1980s.
|Cultural origins||Late 1960s, Southern California, United States and United Kingdom|
Hard rock had been established as a mainstream genre by 1968. From the end of the 1960s, it became common to divide mainstream rock music into soft and hard rock, with both emerging as major radio formats in the US. Late 1960s soft rock artists included the Bee Gees, whose song "I Started a Joke" was a number one single in several countries; Neil Diamond with the 1969 hit "Sweet Caroline", the Hollies with their U.S. and UK Top 10 hit "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", and Elton John with his popular song "Skyline Pigeon".
By the early 1970s, softer songs by The Carpenters, Anne Murray, John Denver, Barry Manilow, and even Barbra Streisand began to be played more often on "Top 40" radio and others were added to the mix on many adult contemporary stations. Also, some of these stations even played softer songs by Elvis Presley, Linda Ronstadt, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Billy Joel, and other rock-based artists.
The Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts became more similar again toward the end of the 1960s and into the early and mid-1970s, when the texture of much of the music played on Top 40 radio once more began to soften. The adult contemporary format began evolving into the sound that later defined it, with rock-oriented acts as Chicago, the Eagles and Elton John becoming associated with the format. The Carpenters' hit version of "(They Long to Be) Close to You" was released in the summer of 1970, followed by Bread's "Make It with You", both early examples of a softer sound that was coming to dominate the charts.
Soft rock reached its commercial peak in the mid- to late 1970s with acts such as Toto, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Air Supply, Seals and Crofts, America and the reformed Fleetwood Mac, whose Rumours (1977) was the best-selling album of the decade. By 1977, some radio stations, notably New York's WTFM and NBC-owned WYNY, had switched to an all-soft rock format.
In the mid- to late 1970s, prominent soft rock acts included Billy Joel, Elton John, Chicago, Toto, Boz Scaggs, the Alessi Brothers, Michael McDonald, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Paul Davis, Air Supply, Seals and Crofts, Captain & Tennille, The Hollies, America, and Fleetwood Mac. By the 1980s, tastes had changed and radio formats reflected this change, including musical artists such as Journey.
A prominent counterpart of soft rock in the late 1970s and early 1980s came to be known as yacht rock. Originating from California's session musicians, yacht rock only partially overlapped with soft rock; it could include soft to mid-level (but rarely ever purely hard) rock. Much of the "West Coast sound" of yacht rock bore similarity to some of the East Coast soft rockers of the era such as Rupert Holmes and Hall & Oates, leading to the conflation.
In the early 1980s, the radio format evolved into what came to be known as "adult contemporary" or "adult album alternative", a format that has less overt rock bias than its forebear radio categorization. Although dance-oriented, electronic pop and ballad-oriented rock dominated the 1980s, soft rock songs still enjoyed mild success thanks to Sheena Easton, Amy Grant, Lionel Richie, Christopher Cross, Dan Hill, Leo Sayer, Billy Ocean, Julio Iglesias and Bertie Higgins. No song spent more than six weeks at #1 on this chart during the 1980s, with nine songs accomplishing that feat. Two of these were by Lionel Richie, "You Are" in 1983 and "Hello" in 1984, which also reached #1 on the Hot 100.
Soft rock persisted in the 1990s, with artists from previous decades continuing to release new music, such as Genesis, whose 1992 soft rock single "Hold on My Heart" topped the Canadian singles chart and Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. Extreme's 1991 single "More Than Words" was internationally successful, topping the national singles charts in at least five countries, including Canada and the United States. Eric Clapton's 1992 single "Tears in Heaven" was also successful, topping the national singles charts in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and six other countries. Richard Marx's 1994 single "Now and Forever" topped the Canadian adult contemporary chart and peaked in the top ten of the national singles charts in that country, Norway, and the United States. New bands and artists emerged such as the Danish group Michael Learns to Rock, who saw massive popularity in Asia, with many singles becoming commercially successful in the continent.
This week's sales topper is 'Tears in Heaven' by Eric Clapton. With Platinum sales in only one week, the single went up to the top slot, where it will probably stay for the next couple of weeks.
In North American music, adult contemporary music (AC) is a form of radio-played popular music, ranging from 1960s vocal and 1970s soft rock music to predominantly ballad-heavy music of the present day, with varying degrees of easy listening, pop, soul, rhythm and blues, quiet storm, and rock influence. Adult contemporary is rather a continuation of the easy listening and soft rock style that became popular in the 1960s and 1970s with some adjustments that reflect the evolution of pop/rock music.Adult contemporary tends to have lush, soothing and highly polished qualities where emphasis on melody and harmonies is accentuated. It is usually melodic enough to get a listener's attention, and is inoffensive and pleasurable enough to work well as background music. Like most of pop music, its songs tend to be written in a basic format employing a verse–chorus structure. The format is heavy on romantic sentimental ballads which mostly use acoustic instruments (though bass guitar is usually used) such as acoustic guitars, pianos, saxophones, and sometimes an orchestral set. The electric guitars are normally faint and high-pitched. However, recent adult contemporary music may usually feature synthesizers (and other electronics, such as drum machines).An AC radio station may play mainstream music, but it excludes hip hop, dance tracks, hard rock, and some forms of teen pop, as these are less popular among adults, the target demographic. AC radio often targets the 25–44 age group, the demographic that has received the most attention from advertisers since the 1960s. A common practice in recent years of adult contemporary stations is to play less newer music and more hits of the past. This de-emphasis on new songs slows the progression of the AC chart.Over the years, AC has spawned subgenres including "hot AC", "soft AC" (also known as "lite AC"), "urban AC", "rhythmic AC", and "Christian AC" (a softer type of contemporary Christian music). Some stations play only "hot AC", "soft AC", or only one of the variety of subgenres. Therefore, it is not usually considered a specific genre of music; it is merely an assemblage of selected tracks from musicians of many different genres.Air Supply
Air Supply are a soft rock duo, consisting of English singer-songwriter and guitarist Graham Russell and Australian lead vocalist Russell Hitchcock. They had a succession of hits worldwide, including eight Top Ten hits in the United States, in the early 1980s. They formed in Australia in 1975 and have included various accompanying musicians and singers. The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) inducted Air Supply into their Hall of Fame on 1 December 2013 at the annual ARIA Awards.Captain
Captain is a title for the commander of a military unit, the commander of a ship, airplane, spacecraft, or other vessel, or the commander of a port, fire department or police department, election precinct, etc. Captain is a military rank in armies, navies, coast guards, etc., typically at the level of an officer commanding a company of infantry, a ship, or a battery of artillery, or similar distinct unit. The terms also may be used as an informal or honorary title for persons in similar commanding roles.
The term "captain" derives from katepánō (Greek: κατεπάνω, lit. "[the one] placed at the top", or "the topmost") which was used as title for a senior Byzantine military rank and office. The word was Latinized as capetanus/catepan, and its meaning seems to have merged with that of the late Latin "capitaneus" (which derives from the classical Latin word "caput", meaning head). This hybridized term gave rise to the English language term captain and its equivalents in other languages (Capitan, Capitaine, Capitano, Capitão, Kapitan, Kapitän, Kapitein, Kapteeni, Kapten, kapitány, Kapudan Pasha, Kobtan, etc.).Contemporary Christian music
Contemporary Christian music (or CCM—and occasionally "inspirational music") is a genre of modern popular music which is lyrically focused on matters concerned with the Christian faith. It formed as those affected by the 1960s Jesus movement revival began to express themselves in a more contemporary style of music than the hymns, Gospel and Southern gospel music that was prevalent in the church at the time. Today, the term is typically used to refer to pop, rock, or praise & worship styles.
It has representation on several music charts including Billboard's Christian Albums, Christian Songs, Hot Christian AC (Adult Contemporary), Christian CHR, Soft AC/Inspirational, and Christian Digital Songs as well as the UK's Official Christian & Gospel Albums Chart. Top-selling CCM artists will also appear on the Billboard 200. In the iTunes Store, the genre is represented as part of the Christian and gospel genre while the Google Play Music system labels it as Christian/Gospel.Seals and Crofts
Seals and Crofts were an American soft rock duo made up of James "Jim" Seals (born October 17, 1941) and Darrell "Dash" Crofts (born August 14, 1940). They are best known for their Hot 100 No. 6 hits "Summer Breeze" (1972), "Diamond Girl" (1973), and "Get Closer" (1976). Both members have long been public advocates of the Bahá'í Faith. The duo disbanded in 1980. They reunited briefly in 1991–1992 and again in 2004, when they released their final album, Traces.The Alan Parsons Project
The Alan Parsons Project were an English rock band active between 1975 and 1990, whose core membership consisted of Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson. They were accompanied by a varying number of session musicians and some relatively consistent band members such as guitarist Ian Bairnson, arranger Andrew Powell, bassist and vocalist David Paton, drummer Stuart Elliott, and vocalists Lenny Zakatek and Chris Rainbow. Parsons was an audio engineer and producer by profession, but also a musician and a composer. A songwriter by profession, Woolfson was also a composer, a pianist, and a singer. Almost all the songs on the Project's albums are credited to "Woolfson/Parsons".WMEZ
WMEZ is a soft rock radio station in the Pensacola, Florida, market owned by Cumulus Media Inc. through licensee Cumulus Licensing LLC. It broadcasts an adult contemporary format using the name "Today's Soft Rock 94.1" on FM frequency 94.1 MHz. Its studios are in Pensacola and its transmitter is near Robertsdale, Alabama.Wet Wet Wet
Wet Wet Wet are a Scottish soft rock band formed in 1982. They scored a number of hits in the UK charts and around the world in the 1980s and 1990s. The band is composed of Graeme Clark (bass, vocals), Tommy Cunningham (drums, vocals), Neil Mitchell (keyboards, piano, vocals) and, since 2018, former Liberty X singer Kevin Simm. Lead vocalist and founding member Marti Pellow quit the band in 2017. A fifth, unofficial member, Graeme Duffin (lead guitar, vocals), has been with them since 1983. The band were named Best British Newcomer at the 1988 Brit Awards.They are best known for their 1994 cover of The Troggs' 1960s hit "Love Is All Around", which was used on the soundtrack to the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. It was a huge international success and spent 15 weeks atop the British charts. One week before potentially equalling the record for the most consecutive weeks at number 1 on the UK singles chart, held by Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You", it dropped to number two.Yacht rock
Yacht rock (originally known as the West Coast Sound or adult-oriented rock) is a broad music style and aesthetic identified with soft rock. It was one of the commercially successful genres of its era, existing between the late 1970s and early 1980s. Drawing on sources such as smooth soul, smooth jazz, R&B, funk, and disco, common stylistic traits include high-quality production, clean vocals, and a focus on light, catchy melodies. Its name, coined in the 2000s by the makers of the online video series Yacht Rock, was derived from its association with the popular Southern Californian leisure activity of sailing.
decade of origin