The Top 9 Rock Bands Who Went Soft

Categories: Commentary

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Chapman Baehler
Goo Goo Dolls: They weren't always this soft.

It's a tradition as old as pop music itself: A band discovers how much money can be made by crossing over to the pop market and starts crafting softer music accordingly. It has happened to the best of bands. Most of the time, but not always, this occurs when a band has sadly decided to "mature." Some people call it selling out. Often, the bands have merely gone soft.

Once this softening happens, there is almost no going back. One soft single and the next thing you know, it's an entire album of power ballads. Yet even when some of the best bands have gone soft, their soft stuff is usually a hell of a lot better than folks who started out that way. So in honor of one such band, the Goo Goo Dolls, playing at Gexa Energy Pavilion tonight, here are nine of the most prominent rock bands who went soft.


The Goo Goo Dolls
Have you heard Hold Me Up? That was the Goo Goo Dolls way back in 1990 and it was a rocking slab of pop/punk that sounded like a sober Replacements. But then came "Name," the super-soft single from 1995's A Boy Named Goo and the flood gates were released. Then came "Iris" from the City of Angels soundtrack and there was no turning back. The band hasn't made a decent album since and covering Supertramp (the limp "Give a Little Bit") was just plain wrong.


The Replacements
Speaking of those influential and often inebriated guys from Minneapolis, Paul Westerberg and crew had the indie rock world by the ear from 1981 until 1988. But guitarist Bob Stinson was kicked out in in 1987 and the decline was fairly rapid. 1989's Don't Tell a Soul and 1990's All Shook Down were both major downers that featured enough softness to fill a grade-A mattress.


Soul Asylum
Another Minneapolis band, another potential softy. Prior to hitting it big with the song "Runaway Train" in 1992, Dave Pirner and Soul Asylum had made some fantastic alternative rock, including such great albums as While You Were Out, Hang Time and The Horse They Rode in On. But after achieving success with a soft ditty about runaways, the band never made another good record.


Buffalo Tom
This talented three-piece from Boston is the rare band that went soft, came back hard and then went soft again. From their self-titled debut in 1988 to 1992's Let Me Come Over, Buffalo Tom didn't let up on the alternative rock gas pedal. But then came 1993's Big Red Letter Day, an album filled with soft, over-produced tunes that somehow failed to send the band to the big time. Properly chastised, the band came back strong with 1995's Sleepy Eyed, but the last couple of efforts have been tepid to say the least.



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13 comments
wysoft
wysoft

Goo Goo Dolls' old school albums are still in regular rotation in my life.. I don't know or care what they're doing these days. As far as I'm concerned they broke up in '97. Before that, they had one hell of a catalog. After that, forget it.

meltdown006
meltdown006

You're nuts: The Replacements All Shook Down and Don't Tell A Soul are classic albums. Are they as great as Tim, Let It Be or Pleased To Meet Me? I'd say no, but that doesn't make them really good! Soul Asylum's Let Your Dim Shine is really good as well. This is one of the single dumbest things I've ever read! I sure sign of how far The Dallas Observer has fallen! Buffalo Tom had great stuff after their early rocking days. I agree on the Goo Goo Dolls as they always sucked.

meltdown006
meltdown006

Your wrong on the Replacements and Soul Asylum.

The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley
The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley

Before "Rock & Roll Clown", when they were fueled by plenty of alcohol and a two armed drummer, Def Leppard was a pretty good little hard rawk band. 

Lindy_Hop
Lindy_Hop

List fail:

Rod Stewart is a singer not a band

Alice Cooper was a band before Vince fired them and took the name for himself

Your sentence is commuted however since you took time out of your lfe to consider the oeuvre of the Goo Goo Dolls.

garyduffman
garyduffman

Sadly you're right on about Soul Asylum.  While You Were Out is one of my favorites, but after Grave Dancer's Union it seems they were trying to appeal to 12 year old girls.


 Have to disagree on The Replacements, I think their later albums were more of a reflection of Paul's influence being exercised.  Any band of the eighties that has the same video for two different songs (Alex Chilton and The Ledge) can't be accused of selling out.

rfreece1
rfreece1

Honorable mention to Aerosmith. Give me "Toys in the Attic" era drug-fueled Steven Tyler and Joe Perry any day over the guys that came up with "Janie's Got a Gun" and "Love in an Elevator"

jonfromtjs
jonfromtjs

Take away my replacements fan card, but my favorite album has always been the post-Bob please to meet me. Snapshot right at that transition – still rocking but struggling with pop aspirations. That struggle, the near miss at pop sensibility, is what makes it so good IMO.

meltdown006
meltdown006

Stupid writers like you that don't have a clue always go to the well on you're vs. your when they get their butt kicked .

meltdown006
meltdown006

Get a clue about music. ASD and Don't Tell a Soul are really great little pop records that were a preview of Paul Westerbergs solo work.

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