Editors' Notes The ‘80s maximalist ideal helped make its softer songs a little more grandiose. Hard rockers, synth-poppers, and soul singers all released ballads and meditations that accompanied their deep feelings with dramatic musical gestures—sparkling pianos, weepy guitar solos, slick saxophones, vocals that went the extra octave. While some artists, like Bruce Hornsby and Phil Collins, used their pop-star platforms to take on social issues, and others like The Police and Don Henley examined humans’ darker sides in their biggest soft-rock smashes, the inspiration for a lot of the decade’s best mellow gold was love. It didn’t always result in happy endings, as the wrenching vocals laid down by the likes of George Michael and Heart’s Wilson sisters showed. But no matter the emotion being conveyed, the soft rock dominating playlists often led to pure pop bliss.