|Cultural origins||Early 1970s|
Soft rock (or lite rock) is a subgenre of rock music with a more commercial and less offensive sound. Originating in the early 1970s in southern California, the style smoothed over the edges of singer-songwriter and pop rock, relying on simple, melodic songs with big, lush productions. Soft rock dominated radio throughout the 1970s and eventually metamorphosed into the synthesized music of adult contemporary in the 1980s.
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.
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. This eventually reached its commercial peak in the mid-to-late 1970s with acts such as Billy Joel, Elton John, Chicago, Toto, Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald, 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, like New York's WTFM and WYNY, and Los Angeles' KOST had switched to an all-soft rock format. Phoenix, Arizona's KBBC "Mellow Rock" formula focused on picking non-yet-hit tracks that fit the easier tempo of soft rock but introduced an album orientation. By the 1980s, tastes had changed and radio formats reflected this change, including musical artists such as Journey.
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