The Top 9 Rock Bands Who Went Soft

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

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


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.

Rod Stewart

Yes, ragging on this legendary rocker turned softy is like picking low-hanging fruit, but back in his day, Stewart was a rock god. His earliest records are some of the finest examples of classic rock to be found, but now the dude is happy crooning other people's (soft) tunes like a supper club pro.

Alice Cooper

Vincent Furnier picked a cool, androgynous stage name and, at first, made some pretty great records like "I'm 18" and "School's Out." But throughout the '80s and into the '90s, Alice Cooper became something of a sad, soft joke. Trying on seemingly any style in order to get a hit, the man and the band never came close to their earliest creations. Then again, the '80s were the midlife crisis decade.

Led Zeppelin

Have you listened to

In Through the Out Door

? When the band released its final album in 1979 and "All of My Love" hit the radio, the collective groan was audible on other planets. This was the same band that did "Kashmir?"

Fleetwood Mac

After the greatness of most everything the band did with Lindsey Buckingham throughout the late '70s and early '80s, 1982's


was a major step into soft banality. And the next album, 1987's

Tango in the Night

was even worse. Fleetwood Mac came back fairly strong in

Say You Will

in 2003, but the band hasn't been heard from since.

Husker Du

Soft is not synonymous with acoustic. On "Never Talking to You Again" from the great album

Zen Arcade

, Grant Hart attacks this song about a failed relationship as if his life depended on it. By the time Husker Du released 1986's

Candy Apple Grey

, the acoustic meanderings and easygoing triteness of "Hardly Getting Over It" basically defined soft. And even though guitarist Bob Mould's most recent efforts have shown the guy still knows how to turn up an amplifier, his initial solo album,


, was a soft and pretentious mess.

The Goo Goo Dolls perform with Daughtry tonight, June 25, at Gexa Energy Pavilion


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