10 Perfect Soft Rock Music Albums Of The '80s

Masterclasses in a lighter sound from the decade of greed.

Fleetwood Mac

Having been around almost as long as rock itself, the soft rock subgenre has enjoyed highs, lows, and plentiful evolution over the decades.

When it comes to a particular era of public interest and commercial success, it's hard to argue against the '80s being soft rock's peak period. Everyone from Phil Collins to Fleetwood Mac to Don Henley was consistently operating at a high level throughout the decade, allowing soft rock to branch out and establish itself very much as its own scene independent of heavier, more conventional rock sounds.

Budding in the late '70s already, many of the key acts involved in its growth only further perfected their craft in the '80s. With a prog rock hangover in full effect, many listeners sought out friendlier melodies and more accessible lyrical storytelling as the '80s blew in. The result was not only an explosion in sales, but also a monumental number of artists moving into the soft rock scene.

From fun, pop-friendly tunes to powerful, emotional ballads, soft rock provided eclectic sounds for listeners, further ensuring its widespread popularity at the time. From solo breakouts to experimental masterpieces, here are 10 of soft rock's finest from the decade of hairspray and shoulder pads.

10. Don Henley - Building the Perfect Beast

The Eagles' legendary drummer found new life as a beloved solo artist in the years after the group's initial 1980 split. In 1984's 'Building the Perfect Beast', Henley managed to live up to the lofty title in finding a signature sound that fit perfectly with his thoughtful, often politically-charged lyrics.

Henley's second LP was led by classic singles such as 'The Boys of Summer' and 'All She Wants To Do Is Dance'. These tracks captured Henley at his most introspective, covering everything from remembering youth as middle age sets in to the hedonistic thrills and spills of the rockstar lifestyle he'd enjoyed for many years by that point. Somehow, the latter of the two even manages to cover issues with American foreign policy at the time as well.

The first side of the LP is far more focused on Henley's personal life and thoughts, providing a sensitive listening experience compared to the politically-focused ideas of the second side. In splitting his tracks thematically down the middle, Henley essentially managed to give listeners two compelling albums in one go.

Arguably the key release in completely establishing Henley as a prominent solo act, 'Building the Perfect Beast' is a seminal classic of the soft rock scene.


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