A subgenre of rock music, “soft rock,” emerged in the ’60s as rock bands and musicians began incorporating pop-influenced chord progressions and lyrical themes into their ballads. Many bands eventually found success by fusing elements of pop and rock. A lot has changed since the ’60s, and so has the genre.
If you’re a true fan of the soft rock genre, this article is your holy grail! In the article, we featured the best of soft rock songs across various decades and took a close look at some of the best examples of soft rock music.
So, stay tuned till the end!
What Is Soft Rock Music?
Often referred to as “light rock,” soft rock is a subgenre of rock that features more subdued tones and often incorporates pop and folk elements. Soft rock has soothing music and strong vocals. Enchanting melodies make these tunes unique.
Soft rock emerged in the 60s when numerous groups from the country and folk music scenes experimented with a sound that included more polished rock ballad elements. It’s true that different bands’ takes on soft rock lyrical themes can vary widely, but at the genre’s core, there is an emphasis on romantic connections.
5 Best Soft Rock Songs
As time and culture progressed from the 1960s onward, the genre adapted. The genuine beauty of the genre has been captured in some timeless pieces. We’ve compiled a list of the five best soft rock songs.
The songs are:
1. “How Deep Is Your Love” by Bee Gees
Band: Bee Gees
Album: Saturday Night Fever (Soundtrack)
Lyricist: Robin Gibb, Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb
Although the Bee Gees are more widely recognized for upbeat songs like “Staying Alive,” the group also produced a number of popular soft rock songs, of which “How Deep Is Your Love” is a wonderful example with lyrics like
“…And it’s me you need to show
How deep is your love?…”
Despite its resemblances to rock songs of the era, the mournful light guitar and electronic piano keep the song firmly in the soft rock camp.
2. “How Long” by Ace
Lyricist: Paul Carrack
This song is the pinnacle of soft rock classics since it is anchored by one of the all-time great basslines. It’s got paranoid and spiteful lyrics like,
“…But I can’t help but have my suspicions
‘Cause I ain’t quite as dumb as I seem…”
The song has silky harmony, a slick electric piano, and melodic bass line—two of the most popular characteristics of soft rock music.
3. “Every Breath You Take” by The Police
Band: The Police
Lyricist: Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner (Sting)
One of the most original soft rock songs, “Every Breath You Take,” is a haunting song, which has remained iconic even today. Although seemingly harmless at first listen, upon closer inspection, the lyrics tell the tale of a disturbed stalker, with lyrics like
“…Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you…”
When out of context, it reveals itself to be a piece of gloomy and unsettling music with just enough soft-rock gloss to make the cut.
4. “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” by Air Supply
Band: Air Supply
Album: Greatest Hits
Lyricist: Jim Steinman
Air Supply’s biggest hit has been “Making Love Out of Nothing at All,” a soft rock ballad. It has a fluid framework and lively vocal ranges, with lyrics like
“…And I don’t know how you do it
Making love out of nothing at all…”
This song stands out thanks to its memorable melody. On top of all that, the production quality of this soft rock song is top-notch. Nonetheless, fans of soft rock music love this piece.
5. “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton
Artist: Eric Clapton
Lyricist: Eric Clapton and Will Jennings
Clapton’s son Conor, at 4 years old, died in New York City in March 1991 after falling from a window. After the death of his kid, he wrote the touching soft rock song “Tears in Heaven” to help him cope with his loss with lyrics like
“…Would you help me stand?
If I saw you in heaven…”
The song’s melodic approach is what makes it so beautiful to listen to. When you listen closely, you’ll hear that the song’s mellower parts place a heavy emphasis on the melody and harmony of Eric’s vocal. Making it one of the best soft rock songs of all time.
You can also check: Songs that Rock in the Title
The Best Soft Rock Songs of All Time
We’ve done our best to compile a list of the top soft rock tracks of all time. Inevitably, the 70s and 80s soft rock songs dominate this list. During this time period, the genre saw its greatest success, but it continues to have some holdouts even into the modern period.
The songs are:
- “You’re Beautiful”— James Blunt
- “More Than Words”— Extreme
- “Right Here Waiting”— Richard Marx
- “Just the Way You Are”— Bruno Mars
- “I Want to Know What Love Is”— Foreigner
- “The Lady in Red” — Chris de Burgh
- “When I Need You”— Leo Sayer
- “Faithfully”— Journey
- “All By Myself”— Eric Carmen
- “She’s Always a Woman”— Billy Joel
- “Wonderful Tonight”— Eric Clapton
- “Baby I Love Your Way”— Peter Frampton
- “Sailing”— Christopher Cross
- “Heaven”— Bryan Adams
- “Africa”— Toto
- “Dust in the Wind”— Kansas
- “Eternal Flame”— The Bangles
- “Iris”— Goo Goo Dolls
- “Almost Paradise”— Mike Reno and Ann Wilson
- “It’s All Up to You”— Jim Capaldi
- “Now and Forever” —Richard Marx
- “Dreams” —Fleetwood Mac
- “Cherry Wine” —Hozier