One of the most striking things about '80s popular music is how different the decade's rock music is from that of today. The '90s alternative revolution really changed the sound of mainstream rock. Listening to the styles from the '80s--new wave, heavy metal, and soft rock--they sound so tame by comparison. Soft rock was particularly popular in the early and middle part of the decade--a sort of tuneful pop/rock sound characterized by bright melodies of guitar, keyboard and other instruments. Toto's IV was one of the most popular of such works. The album was the group's most successful, going triple-platinum and winning the Album of the Year Grammy award in 1983. The album's two major hits bookend the work--the upbeat, heavily produced "Rosanna" and the more downbeat, keyboard-heavy "Africa." In between you get upbeat songs like "Make Believe," with its lively saxophone, guitar and keyboard effects, and slightly funky "Good for You." A standout is the rather lovely piano-and-strings ballad "I Won't Hold You Back" (later sampled by Roger Sanchez for "Another Chance," a 2000 #1 hit in Britain), which was also a top 10 hit. It doesn't set the world on fire, nor does it seem that was even the goal, but rather to just make something with commercial appeal that a mass audience would enjoy.
Best: Rosanna, I Won't Hold You Back, Africa