Archives: Soft rock debate.

By: Hannah Herner, In The Record Store staff writer.

In The Record Store hosts Vince and Grant were stuck between a rock and hard place when they debated the legitimacy of soft rock on the podcast’s 15th episode.

For Vince, soft rock is a “complete oxymoron.”

“To me, it seems like mixing oil and water. Rock, in it’s essence is rebellion and soft rock is kind of like a fleece blanket of sorts,” he said on the podcast.

For Grant, it’s more nuanced than that.

“When you look at the genre, you look at the people involved in soft rock, the tune kind of changes,” he said on the podcast.

Grant cited examples of Carole King, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Bread, and of course, Fleetwood Mac as artists within the genre. Even greats like Billy Joel, Elton John and Toto would apply for the term, “soft rock.”

Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors” album and Christopher Cross’ “Ride Like The Wind” epitomize this genre, the duo agreed.

On the show, Grant read a Wikipedia definition of soft rock, which has actually changed since the show aired, further proving that soft rock is not concrete. The current definition describes it as a “sub genre of rock music with a more commercial and less offensive sound.” The older definition emphasized that it used the softer themes of love, everyday life and relationships.

But Grant really hits the nail on the head a couple minutes into the podcast.

“I think soft rock was probably a hastily defined term coined by somebody in the radio industry... These were ex-rockers or rockers that were doing some soft stuff and they needed a new name,” Grant said.

And in reality, that’s all genres are anyway.

They’re made up terms that we use to help us describe and categorize music. We’ve come to accept terms like rap and hip hop and rock, but at some time, they were just made up by someone in the music industry, too. The term “soft rock” stuck, but as Vince and Grant discussed, there’s no hard line to define where it starts and ends.