Smooth Breakfast with Jenni Falconer 6am - 10am

Now Playing

Let's Groove Earth, Wind & Fire

The 20 greatest yacht rock songs ever, ranked

27 July 2022, 17:50

The greatest yacht rock songs ever

By Tom Eames

Facebook share

We can picture it now: lounging on a swish boat as it bobs along the water, sipping cocktails and improving our tan. Oh, and it's the 1980s.

There's only one style of music that goes with this image: Yacht rock.

What is Yacht Rock?

Also known as the West Coast Sound or adult-oriented rock, it's a style of soft rock from between the late 1970s and early 1980s that featured elements of smooth soul, smooth jazz, R&B, funk, rock and disco.

  • The 40 greatest disco songs ever, ranked
  • The 10 greatest and smoothest ever sax solos, ranked

Although its name has been used in a negative way, to us it's an amazing genre that makes us feel like we're in an episode of Miami Vice wearing shoulder pads and massive sunglasses.

Here are the very best songs that could be placed in this genre:

Player - 'Baby Come Back'

what it yacht rock

Player - Baby Come Back

Not the reggae classic of the same name, this 1977 track was Player's biggest hit.

After Player disbanded, singer Peter Beckett joined Australia's Little River Band, and he also wrote 'Twist of Fate' for Olivia Newton-John and 'After All This Time' for Kenny Rogers.

Steely Dan - 'FM'

what it yacht rock

It's tough just choosing one Steely Dan song for this list, but we've gone for this banger.

Used as the theme tune for the 1978 movie of the same name, the song is jazz-rock track, though its lyrics took a disapproving look at the genre as a whole, which was in total contrast to the film's celebration of it. Still, sounds great guys!

Bobby Goldsboro - 'Summer (The First Time)'

what it yacht rock

Bobby Goldsboro - Summer (The First Time)

A bit of a questionable subject matter, this ballad was about a 17-year-old boy’s first sexual experience with a 31-year-old woman at the beach.

But using a repeating piano riff, 12-string guitar, and an orchestral string arrangement, this song just screams yacht rock and all that is great about it.

Kenny Loggins - 'Heart to Heart'

what it yacht rock

Kenny Loggins - Heart To Heart (Official Music Video)

If Michael McDonald is the king of yacht rock, then Kenny Loggins is his trusted advisor and heir to the throne.

This track was co-written with Michael, and also features him on backing vocals. The song is about how most relationships do not stand the test of time, yet some are able to do so.

Airplay - 'Nothing You Can Do About It'

what it yacht rock

Nothin' You Can Do About It

You might not remember US band Airplay, but they did have their moment on the yacht.

Consisting of David Foster (who also co-wrote the Kenny Loggins song above), Jay Graydon and the brilliantly-named Tommy Funderburk, this tune was a cover of a Manhattan Transfer song, and was a minor hit in 1981.

Boz Scaggs - 'Lowdown'

what it yacht rock

Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (Official Audio)

We've moved slightly into smooth jazz territory with this track, which is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

The song was co-written by David Paich, who would go on to form Toto along with the song's keyboardist David Paich, session bassist David Hungate, and drummer Jeff Porcaro.

Steve Winwood - 'Valerie'

what it yacht rock

Steve Winwood - Valerie (Official Video)

This song is probably as far as you can get into pop rock without totally leaving the yacht rock dock.

Legendary singer-songwriter Winwood recorded this gong about a man reminiscing about a lost love he hopes to find again someday.

Eric Prydz later sampled it in 2004 for the house number one track ‘Call on Me’, and presented it to Winwood, who was so impressed he re-recorded the vocals to better fit the track.

Toto - 'Rosanna'

what it yacht rock

Toto - Rosanna (Official HD Video)

We almost picked 'Africa' , but we reckon this tune just about pips it in the yacht rock game.

Written by David Paich, he has said that the song is based on numerous girls he had known.

As a joke, the band members initially played along with the common assumption that the song was based on actress Rosanna Arquette, who was dating Toto keyboard player Steve Porcaro at the time and coincidentally had the same name.

Chicago - 'Hard to Say I'm Sorry'

what it yacht rock

Chicago - Hard To Say I'm Sorry (Official Music Video)

Chicago began moving away from their horn-driven soft rock sound with their early 1980s output, including this synthesizer-filled power ballad.

  • The 10 greatest Chicago songs, ranked

The album version segued into a more traditional Chicago upbeat track titled ‘Get Away’, but most radio stations at the time opted to fade out the song before it kicked in. Three members of Toto played on the track. Those guys are yacht rock kings!

Michael Jackson - 'Human Nature'

what it yacht rock

Michael Jackson - Human Nature (Audio)

A few non-rock artists almost made this list ( George Michael 's 'Careless Whisper' and Spandau Ballet 's 'True' are almost examples, but not quite), yet a big chunk of Thriller heavily relied on the yacht rock sound.

Michael Jackson proved just how popular the genre could get with several songs on the album, but 'Human Nature' is the finest example.

The Doobie Brothers - 'What a Fool Believes'

what it yacht rock

The Doobie Brothers - What A Fool Believes (Official Music Video)

Possibly THE ultimate yacht rock song on the rock end of the spectrum, and it's that man Michael McDonald.

Written by McDonald and Kenny Loggins, this was one of the few non-disco hits in America in the first eight months of 1979.

The song tells the story of a man who is reunited with an old love interest and attempts to rekindle a romantic relationship with her before discovering that one never really existed.

Michael Jackson once claimed he contributed at least one backing track to the original recording, but was not credited for having done so. This was later denied by the band.

Christopher Cross - 'Sailing'

what it yacht rock

Christopher Cross - Sailing (Official Audio)

We're not putting this in here just because it's called 'Sailing', it's also one of the ultimate examples of the genre.

Christopher Cross reached number one in the US in 1980, and VH1 later named it the most "softsational soft rock" song of all time.

Don Henley - 'The Boys of Summer'

what it yacht rock


Mike Campbell wrote the music to this track while working on Tom Petty’s Southern Accents album, but later gave it to Eagles singer Don Henley, who wrote the lyrics.

The song is about the passing of youth and entering middle age, and of a past relationship. It was covered twice in the early 2000s: as a trance track by DJ Sammy in 2002, and as a pop punk hit by The Ataris in 2003.

England Dan and John Cord Foley - 'I'd Really Love to See You Tonight'

what it yacht rock

England Dan & John Ford Coley - I'd Really Love To See You Tonight.avi

A big hit for this duo in 1976, it showcases the very best of the sock rock/AOR/yacht rock sound that the 1970s could offer.

Dan Seals is the younger brother of Jim Seals of Seals and Crofts fame. Which leads to...

Seals & Crofts - 'Summer Breeze'

what it yacht rock

Summer Breeze - Seals & Croft #1 Hit(1972)

Before The Isley Brothers recorded a slick cover, 'Summer Breeze' was an irresistible folk pop song by Seals & Crofts.

While mostly a folk song, its summer vibes and gorgeous melody make for a perfect yacht rock number.

Christopher Cross - 'Ride Like the Wind'

what it yacht rock

Ride Like The Wind Promo Video 1980 Christopher Cross

If Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins are in charge of the yacht rock ship, then Christopher Cross has to be captain, right? Cabin boy? Something anyway.

The singer was arguably the biggest success story of the relatively short-lived yacht rock era, and this one still sounds incredible.

Eagles - 'I Can't Tell You Why'

what it yacht rock

The eagles - I can't tell you why (AUDIO VINYL)

Many Eagles tunes could be classed as yacht rock, but we reckon their finest example comes from this track from their The Long Run album in 1979.

Don Henley described the song as "straight Al Green", and that Glenn Frey, an R&B fan, was responsible for the R&B feel of the song. Frey said to co-writer Timothy B Schmit: "You could sing like Smokey Robinson . Let’s not do a Richie Furay, Poco-sounding song. Let’s do an R&B song."

Gerry Rafferty - 'Baker Street'

what it yacht rock

Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street (Official Video)

Gerry Rafferty probably didn't realise he was creating one of the greatest yacht rock songs of all time when he wrote this, but boy did he.

  • The Story of... 'Baker Street'

With the right blend of rock and pop and the use of the iconic saxophone solo, you can't not call this yacht rock at its finest.

Michael McDonald - 'Sweet Freedom'

what it yacht rock

Michael McDonald - Sweet Freedom (1986)

If you wanted to name the king of yacht rock, you'd have to pick Michael McDonald . He could sing the phone book and it would sound silky smooth.

Possibly his greatest solo tune, it was used in the movie  Running Scared , and its music video featured actors Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines.

Hall & Oates - 'I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)'

what it yacht rock

Daryl Hall & John Oates - I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) (Official Video)

This duo knew how to make catchy hit after catchy hit. This R&B-tinged pop tune was co-written with Sara Allen (also the influence for their song 'Sara Smile').

  • Hall and Oates' 10 best songs, ranked

John Oates has said that the song is actually about the music business. "That song is really about not being pushed around by big labels, managers, and agents and being told what to do, and being true to yourself creatively."

Not only was the song sampled in De La Soul's 'Say No Go' and Simply Red 's 'Home', but Michael Jackson also admitted that he lifted the bass line for 'Billie Jean'!

More Song Lists

See more More Song Lists

ABBA's 20 greatest ever songs, ranked

The 20 best eurovision songs of all time, ranked in order of cheesy greatness, uk at eurovision: who has won the song contest for the uk and when have they finished last, the top 25 greatest 1980s synthpop songs ever, richard marx's 10 best songs, ranked, more features.

See more More Features

How John Travolta pulled some strings to get his sister a role in iconic musical Grease

TV & Film

Barry Gibb reveals the secret behind his long marriage to "special" wife Linda

Did abba appear at eurovision for the 50th anniversary of 'waterloo', joanna lumley facts: tv legend's age, husband, children, career and more revealed, bjorn ulvaeus facts: abba singer's age, wife, children, net worth and more revealed, smooth playlists, smooth's all time top 500, smooth soul, smooth country hot hits, smooth chill concentration, smooth podcast picks, they don't teach this at school with myleene klass, take that: this life, runpod with jenni falconer, the news agents.

If the Yacht Is a Rockin': Riding the Yacht Rock Nostalgia Wave

By maggie serota | jun 12, 2020.

Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina making some waves on the cover of 1973's "Full Sail" album.

It’s not often that an entire genre of music gets retconned into existence after being parodied by a web series, but that’s exactly what happened after writer, director, and producer J.D. Ryznar and producers David B. Lyons and Hunter D. Stair launched the Channel 101 web series Yacht Rock in 2005. Hosted by former AllMusic editor “Hollywood” Steve Huey, the series was a loving sendup of the late '70s/early '80s smooth jams to which many Millennials and late period Gen-Xers were likely conceived.

The yacht rock aesthetic was innovated by a core group of musicians and producers including, but not limited to, Christopher Cross, Steely Dan, Robbie Dupree, Kenny Loggins, Toto, David Foster, and hirsute soft rock titan Michael McDonald, along with scores of veteran session musicians from the Southern California studio scene.

The Yacht Rock web series was perfectly timed to coincide with a contemporary renaissance of smooth music from the late '70s, the kind that was previously considered a guilty pleasure because it fell out of fashion in the mid-'80s and was soon thereafter regarded as dated and square compared to other burgeoning genres, like punk rock and hip-hop.

Yacht Rock's Early Years

The yacht rock era began roughly around 1976, when yacht rock pillar Kenny Loggins split up with songwriting partner Jim Messina to strike out on his own. That same year, fellow yacht rock mainstay Michael McDonald joined The Doobie Brothers. The two titans of the genre joined forces when Loggins co-wrote the definitive yacht rock hit “What a Fool Believes” with McDonald for the Doobies. They collaborated several times during this era, which was par for the course with such an incestuous music scene that was largely comprised of buddies playing on each other’s albums.

"Look at who performed on the album and if they didn’t perform with any other yacht rock hit guys then chances are [it's] ‘nyacht’ rock,” Ryznar said on the  Beyond Yacht Rock podcast, referencing the pejorative term frequently used to describe soft rock songs that just miss the boat.

"The basic things to ask yourself if you want to know if a track is yacht rock are: Was it released from approximately 1976 to 1984? Did musicians on the track play with Steely Dan? Or Toto?," Ryznar said. "Is it a top 40 radio hit or is it on an album meant to feature hits?" And, of course, does the song celebrate a certain breezy, SoCal aesthetic?

Building the Boat

There are certain key ingredients necessary for a track to be considered yacht rock. For starters, it helps (though is not necessary) to have album art or lyrics that specifically reference boating, as with Christopher Cross's landmark 1980 hit “Sailing.” The music itself is usually slickly produced with clean vocals and a focus on melody over beat. But above all else, the sound has to be smooth . That’s what sets yacht rock apart from "nyacht" rock.

"Its base is R&B, yet it’s totally whitewashed," Ryznar explained on  Beyond Yacht Rock . "There [are] jazz elements. There can be complex, challenging melodies; the solos are all cutting-edge and really interesting. There’s always something interesting about a true yacht rock song. It goes left when you expect it to go right."

Yacht rock’s complex musicianship can be attributed, in part, to the session players on each track. Musicians like percussionist Steve Gadd, guitarist and Toto founding member Steve Lukather, and Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro don’t have much in the way of name recognition among casual soft rock listeners, but they’re the nails that hold the boat together. Steely Dan, “the primordial ooze from which yacht rock emerged,” according to Ryznar, famously cycled through dozens of session musicians while recording their 1980 seminal yacht rock album Gaucho .

"These musicians were not only these slick, polished professionals, but they were highly trained and able to hop from style to style with ease,” Huey explained on  Beyond Yacht Rock . “Very versatile.”

Steely Dan has been described as "the primordial ooze from which yacht rock emerged."

In Greg Prato’s 2018 tome, The Yacht Rock Book : An Oral History of the Soft, Smooth Sounds of the 70s and 80s , Huey broke down “the three main defining elements of yacht rock,” explaining that it requires “Fusing softer rock with jazz and R&B, very polished production, and kind of being centered around the studio musician culture in southern California … It’s not just soft rock, it’s a specific subset of soft rock that ideally has those elements."

Soft rock untethered

Whereas the music of the late 1970s and early ‘80s is often associated with the anti-establishment music of punk pioneers like the Dead Kennedys and the socially conscious songs being written by early hip-hop innovators like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, yacht rock is the antithesis of the counterculture.

Yacht rock occupies a world that is completely apolitical and untethered to current events. Between the oil crisis, a global recession, and inflation—not to mention the fact that the U.S. was still licking its wounds from the loss of the Vietnam War and the disgrace of Watergate—the late '70s were a dark time for Americans. Yet yacht rock, at its heart, is a tequila sunrise for the soul, whisking the listener away to a world where they have the time, and the means, to idle away the hours sipping piña coladas at sea while decked out in flowy Hawaiian shirts and boat shoes.

Yacht rock was never edgy, nor did it ever feel dangerous. Yacht rock didn’t piss off anyone’s parents and no one ever threatened to send their kid to boot camp for getting caught listening to Kenny Loggins's “This Is It.” Yacht rock tracks are more of a siren song that invite your parents to join in on the chorus anytime they hear Toto’s "Rosanna."

Yacht rock songs are meant to set the soundtrack to a life where the days are always sunny, but as Ryznar pointed out on Beyond Yacht Rock , there’s “an underlying darkness”—just not the kind that’s going to derail a day of sailing to Catalina Island. No, yacht rock has elements of low-stakes heartbreak with sensitive male protagonists lamenting their own foolishness in trying to get back together with exes or hitting on women half their age.

The aspirational aspect of the genre dovetailed nicely with the overarching materialism defining the Reagan era. “Yacht rock was an escape from blunt truths, into the melodic, no-calorie lies of ‘buy now, pay never,’ in which any discord could be neutralized with a Moog beat,” Dan O’Sullivan wrote in Jacobin .

Some Like it Yacht

Although the cult comedy series Yacht Rock ceased production in 2010, the soft rock music revival it launched into the zeitgeist is still going strong. For the past few years, SiriusXM has been running a yacht rock station during prime boating season, or what those of us without bottomless checking accounts refer to as the spring and summer months. Yacht rock tribute acts like Yacht Rock Revue are profitable business endeavors as much as they are fun party bands. There’s also a glut of yacht rock-themed song compilations for sale and a proliferation of questionably curated genre playlists on Spotify.

Whether you believe yacht rock is an exalted art form or the insidious soundtrack to complacency, any music lover would probably agree that even a momentary escape from the blunt truths of life is something we could all use every now and then.

A beginner’s guide to yacht rock in five essential albums

Yacht rock, soft rock – call it what you will. Here are five brilliant albums that define the genre in all its bearded, Hawaiian shirted glory

Segments of five classic yacht rock album covers

Was there really ever a genre called yacht rock ? Prior to the 2005 online comedy series of the same name, what we now know of as yacht rock was simply soft rock, largely of the 1970s variety, but occasionally dipping into the 80s as well. It was music that was smooth, slick and did little to challenge the listener in the way that heavy metal or punk rock would. Yet  sold in the multi-millions, made superstars of its creators, and was beloved by industry professionals for the stellar musicianship and high production values. And above all, it was detested by the critics.

Today, yacht rock is the ultimate guilty pleasure genre. Its patron saints - almost exclusively men, generally bearded – never appeared on posters that graced adolescents’ walls. Yet bands and artists such as The Doobie Brothers , Loggins & Messina and Christopher Cross made sweet, soulful music featuring some of the finest musicians of the era and sounding so, so perfect in the process.

Unlike prog, hair metal or krautrock, the boundaries of what constitutes yacht rock are blurred. There’s little to link the jazzy noodlings of Steely Dan , Boz Scaggs’ smooth pop and the later, 80s pop-rock of Hall & Oates beyond the fact that the various members of Toto appeared on many of these albums, making them kind of a yacht rock mafia.

Yacht rock, soft rock, call it what you will: the men who made it are laughing all the way to the bank in their Hawaiian shirts and well-sculpted facial hair while the rest of us celebrate their music in all its frictionless glory. Critics be damned, these are the five essential yacht rock albums for those who want to plunge into the genre.

Metal Hammer line break

Loggins & Messina - Full Sail (1973)

Kenny Loggins was a boyish-looking yet handsomely bearded fellow with a penchant for country-esque ballads. Jim Messina had been in Buffalo Springfield and country rockers Poco . The pair teamed up to record some of Loggins’ material and ended up becoming an unlikely success story, notching up hits with  1971 single The House At Pooh Corner and the following year’s Your Mama Don’t Dance , later covered by hair metallers Poison.

But 1973’s Full Sail was their apex. Featuring the ultimate yacht rock album cover (two men, one yacht), the album itself contains everything from the calypso frivolity of Lahaina , and the smooth jazz of Travellin’ Blues to the joyously upbeat My Music and hit ballad Watching The River Run . This is yacht rock’s ground zero. Boys, what did you unleash?

Boz Scaggs - Silk Degrees (1976)

An early member of the Steve Miller Band , guitarist and vocalist Boz Scaggs’ solo career had begun 1969. But nothing had clicked with the record buying public until he hooked up with David Paich, Jeff Porcaro and David Hungate, all of whom were on the verge of forming Toto , and recorded his seventh solo album, Silk Degrees . A masterful mix of smooth pop and slick ballads, it spawned hits in the shape of It’s Over , Lowdown , We’re All Alone (made famous by Rita Coolidge) and the pulsating Lido Shuffle , a bona fide dancefloor filler.

Classic Rock Newsletter

Sign up below to get the latest from Classic Rock, plus exclusive special offers, direct to your inbox!

Steely Dan - Aja (1977)

Arguments rage as to whether these protagonists of achingly cool and clever jazz rock belong in the yacht rock genre, but hey, if the people who made the Yacht Rock online series say the are, who are we to argue?

Their sixth album, Aja , saw Walter Becker and Donald Fagan stretching out into longer form pieces of music that were funkier and jazzier than they’d ever been before, capping it off with one of the most pristine production jobs ever – such were their levels of perfectionism that six crack session guitarists tried and failed to lay down the guitar solo on Peg to their satisfaction (it was the seventh, Jay Graydon, who nailed it). Bonus yacht rock points: auxiliary Dan backing vocalist/keyboard player Michael McDonald was also a member of The Doobie Brothers.

The Doobie Brothers – Minute By Minute (1978)

In 1974, Steely Dan guitarist Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter moved across to hugely successful blues rockers The Doobie Brothers on a free transfer. The following year, he suggested recruiting Dan backing singer/pianist Michael McDonald as a replacement for the Doobies’ ailing guitarist/vocalist Tom Johnstone.

With his blue-eyed soul croon and knack for writing uptempo R&B-infused songs, McDonald helped nudge the band towards smoother waters. By 1978’s Minute By Minute , they had fully transformed from moustachioed chooglers into yacht rock kingpins. The album’s blend of soft rock and R&B reached its apotheosis on the majestic What A Fool Believes – co-written with Kenny Loggins, naturally – which ultimately helped turn McDonald into a bigger star than the band. For the record, the singer’s 1986 Sweet Freedom compilation is also yacht rock gold.

Christopher Cross - Christopher Cross (1979)

When Christopher Cross released his self-titled debut album in December 1979, no-one knew who he was. A year later, he’d racked up four Top 20 hits and swept the boards at the Grammy Awards.

It’s not hard to see why: Cross’ spectacular voice was matched by the brilliance of his songs. Everyone knows Ride Like The Wind , featuring that Michael McDonald fella on backing vocals, but it was the mellower Sailing that hit the No. 1 spot ( Ride… only managed No. 2). A year later Cross’ theme to the movie Arthur won him and co-writer Burt Bacharach an Oscar.

Cross was no slouch as a musician either: Steely Dan had asked him to play on their albums and he even filled in for a sick Ritchie Blackmore at a Deep Purple US show back in 1970.

Jerry Ewing

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock.

"This is not easy for an old soldier like me": Watch Brian May perform with Jean-Michel Jarre in Bratislava for 30,000 fans

“I don’t want to hold you guys back. This is your dream.” Serj Tankian recalls the moment he invited System Of A Down to find a new singer, and even offered to train his replacement

"When I say it was a shit gig, they were literally throwing faecal matter from the porta-potties they'd turned over": Sheryl Crow on a lifetime of battles, triumphs, hardships and hopes

Most Popular

what it yacht rock

Houstonia Magazine

  • Eat & Drink
  • Arts & Culture
  • Style & Shopping
  • Travel & Outdoors
  • News & City Life
  • Home & Real Estate
  • Gift Guides
  • Health & Wellness

This Is the Definitive Definition of Yacht Rock

By Timothy Malcolm July 12, 2019

what it yacht rock

Michael McDonald. One might say the smoothest mother in music history.

Image: Randy Miramontez /

About 10 years ago , somebody showed me a YouTube video of Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins writing a song that’s smoother and more polished than anything else on the airwaves.

That video—lovingly spoofing the writing of the Doobie Brothers' 1978 hit “What a Fool Believes”— was the first episode of a series called Yacht Rock . Premiering in 2005 on the Los Angeles-based television incubator Channel 101, Yacht Rock struck a chord with a generation of music nerds who attempt to compartmentalize and categorize the songs they heard as children. The term “yacht rock” itself grew out of the video series, permeating our culture today as much as the music had back in the late 1970s and early '80s.

But here’s the thing about terms that permeate our culture today: They get compromised and bastardized to fit other people’s cozy narratives, typically based on their own nostalgia. Google “yacht rock” and you’ll find articles from across the media spectrum attempting to define the term , failing hard because these writers just don’t get it. There’s even a new BBC series about yacht rock , and while it went into great detail providing context on the emergence of the musical style, it still turned out to be one person’s definition that included songs that were—as some of us might say— nyacht rock.

I’m here to set the record straight—or smooth. Yacht rock is music, primarily created between 1976 and ‘84, that can be characterized as smooth and melodic, and typically combines elements of jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock. You’ll hear very little acoustic guitar (get that “Horse With No Name” out of there) but a lot of Fender Rhodes electric piano. Lyrics don’t get in the way of the song’s usually high musicality (some of the finest Los Angeles session players, including members of the band Toto, play on many yacht rock tunes.) The lyrics may, however, speak about fools. The songs are as light and bubbly as champagne on the high seas, yet oddly complex and intellectual.

And just to hammer this home: Fleetwood Mac is not yacht rock. Daryl Hall & John Oates are 98 percent not yacht rock. Those folkie songs from America, Pure Prairie League, and Crosby, Stills & Nash? Nope. Rupert Holmes's "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)"? Too wordy and not musically interesting—not yacht rock. How about "Summer Breeze" by Seals & Crofts? A little too folky, but close.

I’m not affected by personal nostalgia (I was born in 1984, just as the yacht rock era was ending); instead, I’m an objective music lover who just so happens to have been researching yacht rock for the past several years. I know the men who coined the term “yacht rock” ( they have a great podcast and actually rate whether or not a song is yacht rock ), and they can back me up on this. 

So whether you’re docked for the summer or about to set sail on an adventure, allow me to steer you in the right direction. I've crafted for you the definitive yacht rock playlist—below are a few highlights:

“What a Fool Believes,” The Doobie Brothers

I won’t get any nerdier, I’ll just say that this is the song that epitomizes yacht rock. It’s effortlessly melodic, bouncy, and bright, features a prominent Fender Rhodes electric piano, and includes an ultra-smooth vocal from Michael McDonald.

“Heart to Heart,” Kenny Loggins

Loggins never quite knew whether to be a jazzy folkie or a rocker, but in between those two phases were a couple yachty gems, including this cool breeze on a warm summer day, from the 1982 album High Adventure . Just listen to Loggins’s vocal—it’s butter.

“FM,” Steely Dan

Steely Dan brought a New York edge and a habit of wanting the best players on their records to Los Angeles. In time their sound morphed into the whitest smooth jazz on the planet, aka yacht rock. “FM,” from 1978, has both that snarky exterior and smooth center, but look up the band’s classic albums Aja and Gaucho for a number of yachty delights.

“Human Nature,” Michael Jackson

Once you get to know yacht rock, you can begin traveling into yacht soul—smooth songs from top studio players that lean just a little harder on the R&B. This classic song from the 1982 album Thriller was written and performed by Toto. Jackson provides the gorgeously breezy vocal.

“Rosanna,” Toto

Speaking of Toto, these guys were and still are awesome musicians. The 1982 hit “Rosanna” proves this in spades—the drum shuffle is iconic, the twists are remarkable, and the sound is smoother than a well-sanded skiff.

“Nothin’ You Can Do About It,” Airplay

Who is Airplay? A one-album band created by mega-producer David Foster and session guitarist Jay Graydon. These guys wrote Earth, Wind & Fire’s “After the Love Has Gone,” then this absolute stunner from 1980, a bouncy, giddy, and gentle pop classic.

“I Really Don’t Know Anymore,” Christopher Cross

Emerging out of nowhere with a Grammy-winning album in 1979, Cross is the perfect yacht rock figure, a normal-looking white dude who just so happens to sing like the wind on a summer’s evening. This song, from that debut album, is essential yacht rock with a noticeable background singer—of course, Michael McDonald.

If you want to catch McDonald and sing along to some of his yacht rock classics, he’s performing Friday night at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands. Chaka Khan—who also has a few yacht rock tunes in her catalog—will open. Tickets start at $39.50; prepare accordingly with this  summer yacht rock playlist on Spotify . You’re welcome.

Related Content

what it yacht rock

On The Town

What to Do and See This Summer

06/01/2021 By Chris Gray

what it yacht rock

Which Music Venues are Maintaining Covid-19 Restrictions?

03/15/2021 By Sydney Davis

what it yacht rock

Scary feet, scary feet, scary feet!

5 Things to Do in Houston This Weekend, Oct 23–25

10/23/2020 By Emma Schkloven

what it yacht rock

On the town

What to Do and See This Month, From Post Malone to Paw Patrol

03/02/2020 By Chris Gray

what it yacht rock

an image, when javascript is unavailable

Yacht Rock: Album Guide

By David Browne

David Browne

Summer’s here and time is right for dancing … on the deck of a large nautical vessel. During the late Seventies and early Eighties, the radio was dominated by silver-tongued white-dude crooners with names like Rupert and Gerry, emoting over balmy R&B beats, swaying saxes, and dishwasher-clean arrangements. Though it didn’t have a name, the genre — soft rock you could dance to — was dismissed by serious rock fans as fluffy and lame. But thanks to a web series in the mid-2000s, the style — belatedly named “ yacht rock ” — has since spawned a satellite-radio channel, tribute bands, and a Weezer cover of Toto’s “Africa.” Is the modern love of the music ironic or sincere? Hard to say, yet there’s no denying yacht rock is a legit sound with a vibe all its own that produced a surprising amount of enduring music perfectly at home in summer. (John Mayer even tips his own sailor’s hat to the genre on his new “Last Train Home” single, and even the aqua-blue cover of his upcoming Sob Rock album.) The resumption of the Doobie Brothers’ 50th anniversary tour, postponed last year due to COVID-19 but scheduled to restart in August, is the cherry atop the Pina colada.

Boz Scaggs, Silk Degrees (1976)

Before yacht rock was an identifiable genre, Scaggs (no fan of the term, as he told Rolling Stone in 2018) set the standard for what was to come: sharp-dressed white soul, burnished ballads that evoked wine with a quiet dinner, and splashes of Me Decade decadence (the narrator of the pumped “Lido Shuffle” is setting up one more score before leaving the country). Add in the Philly Soul homage “What Can I Say,” the burbling life-on-the-streets homage “Lowdown,” and the lush sway of “Georgia,” and Silk Degrees , internationally or not, set a new high bar for Seventies smoothness.

Steely Dan, Aja (1977)

The sophisticated high-water mark of yacht, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker’s masterpiece is the midway point between jazz and pop, with tricky tempo shifts, interlocking horn and keyboard parts, and pristine solos. Not settling for easygoing period clichés, these love songs, so to speak, are populated by a sleazy movie director (the gorgeous rush of “Peg”), a loser who still hopes to be a jazzman even if the odds are against him (the heart-tugging “Deacon Blues”), and a guy whose nodding-out girlfriend is probably a junkie (“Black Cow”). The most subversive cruise you’ll ever take.

The Doobie Brothers, Minute by Minute (1978)

The Doobies got their start as a biker-y boogie band, but they smoothed things out for Minute by Minute . Highlighted by “What a Fool Believes,” the unstoppable Michael McDonald-Kenny Loggins co-write, the LP piles on romantic turmoil, falsetto harmonies, and plenty of spongy electric piano. But it also proves how much personality and muscle the Doobies could bring to what could be a generic sound. McDonald’s husky, sensitive-guy delivery shrouds the unexpectedly bitter title song (“You will stay just to watch me, darlin’/Wilt away on lies from you”)  and honoring their biker roots, “Don’t Stop to Watch the Wheels” is about taking a lady friend for a ride on your hog.

Editor’s picks

Every awful thing trump has promised to do in a second term, the 250 greatest guitarists of all time, the 500 greatest albums of all time, the 50 worst decisions in movie history.

Further Listening

Seals & crofts, get closer (1976).

The Dylan-goes-electric moment of yacht, “Get Closer” validated the idea that folkie singer-songwriters could put aside their guitars (and mandolin), tap into their R&B side and cross over in ways they never imagined. In addition to the surprising seductiveness of the title hit, Get Closer has plenty of yacht-rock pleasures. In “Goodbye Old Buddies,” the narrator informs his pals that he can’t hang out anymore now that he’s met “a certain young lady,” but in the next song, “Baby Blue,” another woman is told, “There’s an old friend in me/Tellin’ me I gotta be free.” A good captain follows the tide where it takes him.

Christopher Cross, Christopher Cross  (1979)

Cross’ debut swept the 1981 Grammys for a reason: It’s that rare yacht-rock album that’s graceful, earnest, and utterly lacking in smarm. Songs like the politely seductive “Say You’ll Be Mine” and the forlorn “Never Be the Same” have an elegant pop classicism, and the yacht anthem “Sailing” could be called a powered-down ballad. Fueled by a McDonald cameo expertly parodied on SCTV , the propulsive “Ride Like the Wind” sneaks raw outlaw lyrics (“Lived nine lives/Gunned down ten”) into its breezy groove, perfecting the short-lived gangster-yacht subgenre.

Rupert Holmes, Partners in Crime (1979)

The album that made Holmes a soft-rock star is known for “Escape (The Piña Colada Song),” which sports a made-for-karaoke chorus and a plot twist worthy of a wide-collar O. Henry. But what distinguishes the album is the Steely Dan-level musicianship and Holmes’ ambitious story songs, each sung with Manilow-esque exuberance. The title track equates a hooker and her john to co-workers at a department store, “Lunch Hour” ventures into afternoon-delight territory, and “Answering Machine” finds a conflicted couple trading messages but continually being cut off by those old-school devices.

Steely Dan, Gaucho (1980)

The Dan’s last studio album before a lengthy hiatus doesn’t have the consistency of Aja, but Gaucho cleverly matches their most vacuum-sealed music with their most sordid and pathetic cast of characters. A seedy older guy tries to pick up younger women in “Hey Nineteen,” another loser goes in search of a ménage à trois in “Babylon Sisters,” a coke dealer delivers to a basketball star in “Glamour Profession,” and the narrator of “Time Out of Mind” just wants another heroin high. It’s the dark side of the yacht.

Going Deeper

Michael mcdonald, if that’s what it takes  (1982).

Imagine a Doobie Brothers album entirely comprised of McDonald songs and shorn of pesky guitar solos or Patrick Simmons rockers, and you have a sense of McDonald’s first and best post-Doobs album. If That’s What it Takes builds on the approach he nailed on “What a Fool Believes” but amps up the sullen-R&B side of Mac’s music. His brooding remake of Lieber and Stoller’s “I Keep Forgettin’” is peak McDonald and the title track approaches the propulsion of Christopher Cross’ “Ride Like the Wind.” With his sad-sack intensity, McDonald sounds like guy at a seaside resort chewing over his mistakes and regrets – with, naturally, the aid of an electric piano.

Related Stories

Yacht rock babylon, the ai randy travis song has officially charted at country radio.

Kenny Loggins, Keep the Fire (1979)

Loggins’ journey from granola folk rocker to pleasure-boat captain embodies the way rock grew more polished as the Seventies wore on. Anchored by the percolating-coffeemaker rhythms and modestly aggro delivery of “This Is It,” another McDonald collaboration, Keep the Fire sets Loggins’ feathery voice to smooth-jazz saxes and R&B beats, and Michael Jackson harmonies beef up the soul quotient in “Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong.” The secret highlight is “Will It Last,” one of the sneakiest yacht tracks ever, fading to a finish after four minutes, then revving back up with some sweet George Harrison-style slide guitar.

Dr. Hook, Sometimes You Win  (1979)

Earlier in the Seventies, these jokesters established themselves with novelty hits like “The Cover of ‘Rolling Stone,’’ but they soon paddled over to unabashed disco-yacht. Sometimes You Win features three of their oiliest ear worms: “Sexy Eyes,” “When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman” and “Better Love Next Time,” all oozing suburban pickup bars and the somewhat desperate dudes who hang out there. The album, alas, does not include “Sharing the Night Together,” recently reborn by way of its sardonic use in last year’s Breaking Bad spinoff El Camino .

Carly Simon, Boys in the Trees  (1978)

As a trailblazing female singer-songwriter, Simon was already a star by the time yacht launched. Boys in the Trees features her beguiling contribution to the genre, “You Belong to Me,” a collaboration with the ubiquitous Michael McDonald. The Doobies cut it first, but Simon’s version adds an air of yearning and hushed desperation that makes it definitive. The album also packs in a yacht-soul cover of James Taylor’s “One Man Woman” and a “lullaby for a wide-eyed guy” called “Tranquillo (Melt My Heart),” all proving that men didn’t have a stranglehold on this style.

Anchors Aweigh

More smooth hits for your next high-seas adventure.


George Benson, 1976

The guitarist and Jehovah’s Witness made the leap from midlevel jazz act to crossover pop star with a windswept instrumental that conveys the yacht spirit as much as any vocal performance.


Pablo Cruise, 1976

Carefree bounce from a San Francisco band with the best name ever for a soft-rock act — named, fittingly, after a chill Colorado buddy.


Gerry Rafferty, 1978

Rafferty brought a deep sense of lonely-walk-by-the-bay melancholy to this epic retelling of a night on the town, in which Raphael Ravenscroft’s immortal sax awakens Rafferty from his morning-after hangover.


Little River Band, 1978

The Aussie soft rockers delivered a slurpy valentine sung in the voice of an old man looking back on his “lifetime plan” with his wife. Innovative twist: flugelhorn solo instead of sax.


Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks, 1978

After its ethereal intro, this rare genre duet grows friskier with each verse, with both Loggins and Nicks getting more audibly caught up in the groove — and the idea of “sweet love showing us a heavenly light.”


Nicolette Larson, 1978

Neil Young’s sad-boy shuffle is transformed into a luscious slice of lounge pop by the late Larson. Adding an extra layer of poignancy, she was in a relationship with Young around that time.


Robbie Dupree, 1980

Is it real, or is it McDonald? Actually, it’s the best Doobies knockoff — a rinky-dink (but ingratiating) distant cousin to “What a Fool Believes” that almost inspired McDonald to take legal action.


Archie James Cavanaugh, 1980

Cult rarity by the late Alaskan singer-songwriter that crams in everything you’d want in a yacht song: disco-leaning bass, smooth-jazz guitar, sax, and a lyric that lives up to its title even more than the same-titled Eagles song.


Ambrosia, 1980

Ditching the prog-classical leanings of earlier albums, this trio headed straight for the middle of the waterway with this Doobies-lite smash. Bonus points for lyrics that reference a “lazy river.”


Daryl Hall and John Oates, 1981

The once unstoppable blue-eyed soul duo were never pure yacht, but the easy-rolling beats and shiny sax in this Number One hit got close. Hall adds sexual tension by never specifying exactly what he can’t go for.


Paul Davis, 1981

The Mississippi crooner-songwriter gives a master class on how to heat up a stalled romance: Pick a brisk evening, invite a female acquaintance over, and suggest . . . lighting a fire.


Bertie Higgins, 1981

Yacht’s very own novelty hit is corny but deserves props for quoting from not one but two Humphrey Bogart films ( Key Largo and Casablanca ).


The same year that members of Toto did session work on Michael Jackson’s Thriller, they released the Mount Kilimanjaro of late-yacht hits.


Crosby, Stills, and Nash, 1982

The combustible trio’s gusty contribution to the genre has choppy-water rhythms and enough nautical terminology for a sailing manual.

Viral Conspiracy Theories About Drake, Kendrick Beef Are Spreading Fast

  • Smoke and Mirrors
  • By Jeff Ihaza

Kelly Clarkson Enters 'Trolls' Land With ’NSync Cover

  • NSYNClarkson
  • By Tomás Mier

Karol G Broke Several Records During Her 'Mañana Será Bonito' Latin American Tour

  • Bichota Means Business

Grupo Frontera Announce 'Jugando a Que No Pasa Nada' Tour

  • On the road
  • By Ethan Millman

Most Popular

Warner bros. to release new 'lord of the rings' movie 'the hunt for gollum' in 2026, peter jackson to produce and andy serkis to direct, peter jackson working on new 'lord of the rings' films for warner bros., targeting 2026 debut, george & amal clooney’s latest parenting decision shows hollywood won’t be in their future, insiders claim, near the giza pyramids, archaeologists identify a newly discovered ancient egyptian structure, you might also like, how ‘doctor who’ exec producers jane tranter and julie gardner helped transform south wales into a buzzing hive of production, exclusive: lanvin opens a boutique in cannes, steps away from where jeanne lanvin set up shop in the 1920s, the best yoga mats for any practice, according to instructors, would adding ‘apes’ character koba make other movies better social media seems to think so, husch blackwell’s 2024 ncaa compliance report: college athletics in transition.

Rolling Stone is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2024 Rolling Stone, LLC. All rights reserved.

Verify it's you

Please log in.

uDiscover Music

  • Latest News

‘It Must Be Magic’: Teena Marie Hones Her Musical Vision

Teen idol, jazz stylist, protest singer, and more: the brilliant best of bobby darin, ‘small faces’: the album arrival of four sharp london boys, remembering jack bruce, a true giant of music, ‘slang’: how def leppard mastered a new rock language in the 90s, how carpenters’ self-titled album defined 70s pop music, ‘come home with me’: cam’ron’s breakthrough hit, apple music launches ‘100 best albums of all time’ with titles by lorde & more, keane’s classic hit ‘somewhere only we know’ celebrated in vevo footnotes, watch episode one of frank zappa ‘whisky a go go’ youtube video series, vevo footnotes celebrates weezer’s ‘buddy holly’ as the ‘blue album’ turns 30, remi wolf returns with two new singles, ‘toro’ and ‘alone in miami’, the los tigres del norte museum opens in sinaloa, olivia rodrigo and daniel nigro earn ascap pop music songwriters of the year, yacht rock: a boatload of not-so-guilty pleasures.

The idea of yacht rock conjures up a particular lifestyle, but beneath the surface lies a treasure trove of sophisticated hits that continue to resonate.

Published on

Artwork: UMG

Even some of those who signed up to the subgenre subtleties of what became known as yacht rock may consider it to be a time-locked phenomenon. Certainly, its chief protagonists first cast their subtle soft-rock sophistication in the 70s and 80s, but its melodic echoes can still be heard all these decades later.

Perhaps unusually, the phrase itself was coined as a kind of lighthearted castigation of the adult-oriented rock that seemed to exude privileged opulence: of days in expensive recording studios followed by hedonistic trips on private yachts, typically around southern California. The web TV series of the mid-00s that parodied the lifestyle was even named Yacht Rock ; one of the biggest hits of a chief exponent of the sound, Christopher Cross, was, of course, “Sailing.”

The recent resurgence in the long career of another staple, Michael McDonald, is testament to the durability of a style that was, after all, grounded in musicianship and melodicism of the highest order. Nearly 40 years after he and fellow yacht rock principle Kenny Loggins co-wrote and performed the Grammy-winning “This Is It,” the pair were afforded the high praise of a collaboration with acclaimed modern-day jazz-funk bassist Thundercat, on his track “Show You The Way.” Ahead of that, McDonald’s guest appearance with Thundercat at the 2017 Coachella Festival was a viral sensation.

Thundercat- Show You the Way feat. Michael McDonald @ Coachella 2017 Day 2

Setting sail

Like other subgenres that grew from an existing style, just as Americana did from country, the starting point of yacht rock is a matter of endless debate. Some hear it in the early 70s soft rock of Bread and hits such as “Guitar Man,” or in Seals & Crofts, the duo of the same period whose 1973 US Top 10 hit “Diamond Girl” and its follow-up, “We May Never Pass This Way (Again)” are pure, classy, elegantly played and harmonised yacht rock.

As the 70s progressed and album rock radio became an ever more powerful medium in the US music business, studio production grew along with the budgets to fund it. High-fidelity citadels such as Sunset Sound and Ocean Way were the industry epitome of the Los Angeles hedonism of the day, and played host to many of the artists we celebrate here. Perhaps it was the combination of financial independence and the sun-kissed surroundings that gave rise to the phenomenon, but this was music that not only sounded opulent – it made you feel somehow more urbane just by listening to it.

California singer-songwriter Stephen Bishop was another of the artists who would retrospectively become part of what we might call the yachting club. Indeed, it’s important to point out that “yacht rock” was not a term that existed at the time the music was being made. Bishop’s acclaimed 1976 debut album, Careless , was a masterclass in well-crafted pop music for those no longer hanging on the words of every chart pin-up. Its tender opening ballad, “On And On,” which peaked just outside the mainstream US Top 10 and reached No.2 on the Easy Listening chart, is a prime example.

On And On

Making waves

McDonald, for his part, might be afforded the questionable honor of the Yacht Rock theme tune with his solo hit “Sweet Freedom,” but had earlier been a key part of the unconscious movement as a member of the Doobie Brothers. The double Grammy-winning landmark “What A Fool Believes,” again written by McDonald with Loggins, stands tall in this hall of fame. Similarly, Toto, another band of master studio craftsmen whose critical and commercial stock has risen again in recent times, stood for all the principles of yacht rock with tracks such as “99” and the undying “Africa.”

Guess The Song: The 80s Quiz - Part 1

That 1982 soft-rock calling card came from the Toto IV album, which was, indeed, recorded in part at Sunset Sound and Ocean Way. But Steely Dan , one of the bands to prove that yacht rock could come from other parts of the US where the attendant lifestyle was less practical, made perhaps their biggest contribution to the subgenre after Walter Becker and Donald Fagen moved back to their native East Coast.

After their initial incarnation as a live band, Steely Dan were well established in their peerless cocoon of pristine studio production when they moved back east. That was after recording 1977’s superb Aja , the album that announced their ever-greater exploration of jazz influences. Fans and critics of the band both used the same word about them, perfectionism: some as a compliment, others as an accusation. But 1980’s equally impressive Gaucho was their yacht rock masterpiece.

Hey Nineteen

Ripple effect

In such a subjective phrase, other artists seen by some as yacht rock representatives, such as Daryl Hall & John Oates, Journey, the Eagles, or even Canada’s Gordon Lightfoot, are thought by others to be creatively or geographically inappropriate, or just too mainstream to break out of the overreaching AOR terminology.

But a significant number of other artists, whose names are less quoted today, had their finest hours during the pop landscape of the late 70s and early 80s that we’ve been visiting here. Amy Holland won a Best New Artist Grammy nomination in 1981 helped by “How Do I Survive,” written by McDonald, whose wife she became soon afterwards. Robbie Dupree, a Brooklyn boy by birth, also epitomized the style with his 1980 US hit “Steal Away.” Then, in 1982, America, the band known for their definitive harmonic rock of a decade earlier, mounted a chart return with the suitably melodic “You Can Do Magic.”

America - You Can Do Magic (Official Music Video)

The final word goes to Michael McDonald, the unwitting co-founder of the yacht rock sound. When the aforementioned mockumentary series was at the height of its popularity, he was asked if he had ever owned a yacht, and replied (perhaps disappointingly) in the negative. But, he added, “I thought Yacht Rock was hilarious. And uncannily, you know, those things always have a little bit of truth to them.

“It’s kind of like when you get a letter from a stalker who’s never met you. They somehow hit on something, and you have to admit they’re pretty intuitive.”

Listen to the Soft Rock Forever playlist for more yacht rock classics .

October 28, 2019 at 8:42 pm

if you dig this sound, you gotta check out Yachty by Nature the best yacht rock band on the West Coast. They play it all live without the backing tracks (yuck) that some bands do. They just got voted #1 Best Live Cover Band in Orange County and spreading yacht rock all over the country. Dive in!!! #yachtrock

October 28, 2019 at 8:44 pm

BTW, great article!!!!! Well written and thoughtfully addressed the idea of Nyacht Rock artists to the purists following the genre!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Johnny Cash - Songwriter LP

  • Entertainment

Finally, a name for that music: “Yacht Rock”

A few little-known facts about singer/songwriter Michael McDonald: Aside from topping the charts in the 1980s, he was a tireless defender and advocate of smooth music. His best friend ...

Share story

A few little-known facts about singer/songwriter Michael McDonald: Aside from topping the charts in the 1980s, he was a tireless defender and advocate of smooth music. His best friend died in a back-alley songwriting contest, and he feuded with one-time songwriting partner Kenny Loggins. Actor Vincent Price, however, forced the two to make amends so they could conjure a spirit to help with the recording of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Sound a bit far-fetched? Rockin’ on the yacht JD Ryznar offers a curated selection of his favorite less-obvious songs of the era “Any World (That I’m Welcome To)” by Steely Dan “Aside from being totally awesome and beautiful, this is one of the first Dan songs to feature Michael McDonald’s huge background vocal power. The presence of McDonald’s voice pretty much legitimizes any song’s Yacht Rock status.” “It Keeps You Runnin’ ” by Carly Simon “This is not only a cover of the Doobie Brothers’ hit, but also actually features the Doobies as the backing band. Still, it’s a totally original take on the song, and a rare example of Yacht Rock female empowerment.” Kenny Loggins’ alternate versions “If you hear a song on a Doobie or Michael McDonald album that was co-written by Kenny Loggins, chances are, Loggins has a version of that song with a classic Loggins twist. Check out Loggin’s versions of the Doobies ‘What a Fool Believes’ and Michael McDonald’s ‘I Gotta Try’ & ‘No Lookin’ Back’ to see what I mean.”

Not to JD Ryznar, the Los Angeles based writer, actor and director who portrays the man with the beard in his series of short films called “Yacht Rock.” The shorts, which have garnered a cult following thanks to their success as part of the Web site Channel 101’s monthly film contests (and subsequent downloads and blog shout-outs), take a look behind the scenes at the creation of the ultra-creamy hits that made folks like McDonald, Loggins and Toto pop stars in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Ryznar coined the term “Yacht Rock” after he noticed a series of connections and similarities between Steely Dan and groups like the Doobie Brothers and Toto. Such as:

All of them seemed to share members and collaborate frequently with each other and people like Kenny Loggins. A lot of the music of the era featured albums with guys on boats on the cover and songs about sailing. This music sounds really good on boats because it’s good for relaxing, sitting back and drinking. And so “Yacht Rock” was born. The show (see the full episodes here: offers surreal backstories for singles known more for their gentle grooves than any underlying drama. But the series doesn’t attempt to satirize the musicians themselves. Instead, Ryznar takes aim at the songwriting process. “When people want to sit down and write a hit record, they get together and it’s trial and error — not so much fun,” he says. “But if you infuse it with some sort of completely made up fairy tale story, suddenly it becomes a lot more interesting.” This sly reverence for the subject matter gives the show an added nuance. After all, taking potshots at yesterday’s hit makers would be just too easy. But much of the humor also comes from inverting the stereotypical images people have of the musicians in question. “When artists like Hall & Oates and Michael Jackson have such huge personas, you don’t want to just see another impersonation,” says Ryznar. Thus, Hall & Oates become two thuggish trash-talkers from the hard streets of Philadelphia always looking for a fight and Michael Jackson gets portrayed as a brute womanizer. Even Journey front man Steve Perry gets the treatment, showing up in a couple of episodes as a motivational rocker who persuades Kenny Loggins to turn to the hard side. Ryznar’s show has gotten him some notice and even an agent. The moderate success he’s achieved underscores the growing impact that Channel 101 ( ) has as an important outlet for up and coming talent to showcase material that ordinarily wouldn’t get a cursory glance at major Hollywood studios. Started by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab in 2003, Channel 101 allows anyone to submit a pilot, the best of which are selected and shown at monthly screenings held in Los Angeles. A sister site, , recently opened up shop in New York. The top five vote-getters each month are added to a category called Primetime and are then allowed to make another episode. This constant influx of submissions means everyone has to keep upping the ante from month to month. While Yacht Rock’s subject matter might make it seem like a strange candidate for such a word-of-mouth following, Ryznar’s idea ended up in the right place at the right time.

The Bizarre History Of Yacht Rock Music

Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina on a yacht

Popular music has always been complex. Different musical styles break up into infinite sub-genres — what started off as rock 'n' roll has splintered into dozens of sub-genres, and even the considerably younger musical genre of rap has splintered into several distinct styles. And each of those sub-genres then splinters as musicians innovate and reinvent the form.

None of this is science, though, so it's easy to get lost down rabbit holes when discussing what bands or songs belong in what genre or sub-genre. Yacht rock is a perfect example: None of the artists currently considered to be yacht rockers called themselves that at the time or were even aware that they were carving out a distinct sub-genre of rock music. The whole idea of yacht rock is a modern invention — and yet it perfectly describes a specific type of music that ruled pop culture roughly between 1975 and 1985.

What was yacht rock? It's a soft rock musical style, sometimes called the California sound, exemplified by smoothness and melody — these weren't exactly bangers, but that doesn't mean they were bad. Yacht rock could be very musically complex, incorporating elements of jazz into their compositions. The songs were usually introspective and did not engage with politics or current events at all — they were frictionless. Imagine a wealthy white man sailing on his yacht in 1980, and the music he's listening to in your imagination is what we're talking about. Here's the bizarre history of yacht rock.

The term was coined in 2005

Although the roots of yacht rock arguably go back to the 1960s, the history of yacht rock begins in 2005. That's because prior to that year, the term and concept of yacht rock simply didn't exist.

According to Rolling Stone , it all began on June 26, 2005, when the 12-episode web series "Yacht Rock" was released by Channel 101. As explained by Mental Floss , the series was a lovingly mocking look back at the smooth music of the late 1970s and early 1980s, written and directed by J.D. Ryznar, produced David B. Lyons and Hunter D. Stair, and hosted by Steve Huey, a former editor at AllMusic. MasterClass notes that the series was fictional — it depicted rockers like Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald as a bunch of goofy friends hanging out and composing the smoothest rock music possible.

Ryznar and company were making gentle fun of those soft rock musicians, but the concept of yacht rock was so obviously appropriate it became viral. They defined it as perfectly produced, with a high level of musicianship and harmonic sophistication (in fact, far from being bad music, many yacht rock songs have been sampled numerous times by modern artists ), and imbued with the vibe and sound of 1970s Los Angeles. Although many yacht rock songs do have nautical references, it's not necessary to be considered yacht rock. 

The roots of yacht rock go back to the 1960s

Although not all yacht rock songs reference the ocean, yachts, or the beach, the distant roots of the sound and the vibe go back to 1961. That's the year The Beach Boys was formed. As noted by Jacobin Magazine , the cheerful fun in the sun beach aesthetic of The Beach Boys' sound provides the fundamental template for yacht rock's sound. What elevated The Beach Boys was the songwriting craft of Brian Wilson — without his subtle genius, all that was left was the perfect production standards and sunny vibe. As noted by Warm 106.9 , the band's classic song "Sloop John B" is often cited as a clear influence on the sailing-obsessed soft rock that hit the charts a decade later.

In fact, as noted by MeTV , The Beach Boys' 1973 song "Sail On, Sailor" is considered a proto-yacht rock song. Because it was co-written by troubled musical genius Brian Wilson, the song isn't really yacht rock, but it holds many of the seeds, from its perfect production to the jazzy complexity hidden under mellow good-time vibes. And everything came full circle in 1988 when The Beach Boys released their Number One hit, "Kokomo," a song Stereogum describes as "extremely boring and self-satisfied yacht-rock." Singer Mark McGrath cites "Kokomo" as probably the last legitimate yacht rock song to ever be released.

Two foundational groups form

It wasn't just the California vibe and sailing imagery that yacht rock took from The Beach Boys. As noted by The Guardian , in the mid-1960s, a man named Daryl Dragon began playing keyboards with The Beach Boys as a backup musician. Dragon had a habit of wearing a ship captain's hat as part of his on-stage costume, underscoring the nautical theme and earning him the nickname "The Captain." According to Jacobin Magazine , Toni Tennille also toured with The Beach Boys. Dragon and Tennille married and, a few years later, formed the group Captain & Tennille, whose Grammy-winning song "Love Will Keep Us Together" is considered one of the earliest yacht rock hits.

Meanwhile, another foundational yacht rock band formed in 1972: Steely Dan . According to  The Seattle Times , part of what defines yacht rock is the people involved. Members of The Doobie Brothers  – especially Michael McDonald, Toto , and Steely Dan tend to be involved in some capacity (songwriting, background vocals, or performing) on most yacht rock songs. This was the inspiration for the original comedy sketch that birthed the whole concept . Steely Dan came to define the perfect production, jazzy musicality, and smooth melody lines of the genre. And as noted by Mental Floss , Steely Dan shared session musicians with many of their musical genre peers, explaining the somewhat similar sound produced by these different groups.

Loggins and Messina broke up in 1976

Many of the pieces that would form yacht rock existed long before the genre coalesced into a recognizable sound and vibe. Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina formed Loggins & Messina in 1971, and according to The Chicago Tribune , their 1975 album "Full Sail" is part of yacht rock legend. The album's cover art depicts Loggins and Messina on an actual yacht, looking pretty relaxed and very California. The album was held up at the very beginning of the "Yacht Rock" series to demonstrate what the creators of the series were talking about.

Loggins & Messina are crucial to the yacht rock story because they broke up. As noted by The Seattle Times , one of the features of yacht rock is the loose collaborations between a small group of musicians — and Kenny Loggins is a key member of that group. Loggins wrote many yacht rock classics recorded and performed by other artists, and Loggins himself often released his own versions of songs he gave to other artists, increasing his influence over the genre.

Loggins, now a free agent, worked with Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers several times as the core yacht rock musicians collaborated freely, ensuring a certain uniformity of sound and style that resulted in a recognizable sub-genre.

Steely Dan releases Aja

Mention the band Steely Dan in conjunction with the concept of yacht rock, and many people will have a passionate reaction . Yacht rock is often erroneously believed to be bad music and is frequently conflated with soft rock. But the opposite is true: According to MasterClass , part of what defines yacht rock is the harmonic sophistication and jazz influences of the music. In other words, yacht rock was often composed and recorded at a very high level of musical ability.

That's where Steely Dan comes in. Famed for their complex arrangements and overt jazz influences, the band produced smooth, melodic songs that perfectly captured the late-1970s California vibe. Rolling Stone  considered the band's sixth studio album, "Aja," a pinnacle for the musical genre. The songs are intricate, the production is pristine, and the mood is mellow. Decider  was even more enthusiastic in their praise, establishing the album as essential listening to any fan of yacht rock and notes that by the time Steely Dan (Walter Becker and Donald Fagan) recorded "Aja" they weren't really a band — they were two guys with a lot of session musicians, musicians who often played on other yacht rock bands' recordings, resulting in a similar sound on many of these records. And Michael McDonald of The Doobie Brothers even sings backup on some songs.

U ltimate Classic Rock ranks one of the songs from the "Aja,"  "Peg," as the second-best yacht rock song of all time and describes "Aja" as having "impeccable airtightness that falls somewhere between soft pop and jazz."

The Doobie Brothers release What a Fool Believes

Movements in music and the evolution of sub-genres usually have deep roots that go back invisibly into the past. But they often also have a key moment that clearly marks their beginning. As noted by Mental Floss , for yacht rock, that beginning comes in 1978 with the release of "What a Fool Believes" by The Doobie Brothers.

The song was written by Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald. Not only did this song kick off the habit of collaboration between the artists that came to define this genre —  IGN pegs it as number three on its list of the best yacht rock songs, describing the song as quirky and mellow, while according to  Smooth Radio , the song is the ultimate example of what makes a yacht rock song. The song was a massive hit for The Doobie Brothers, one of the few non-disco hits that year.

The song is considered so "yachty," in fact, that according to Houstonia Magazine , the "Yacht Rock" series that defined the musical genre kicks off with an episode spoofing the writing of the song. The song is, indeed, kind of the platonic ideal of a yacht rock song: It's musically complex, smooth as heck, and lyrically focused on a lovelorn fool, a frequent topic of yacht rock songs. And, of course, it involves Loggins and McDonald.

Rupert Holmes releases Escape (The Piña Colada Song)

M ark McGrath , the lead singer of Sugar Ray, calls "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" by Rupert Holmes the ultimate yacht rock song and an inspiration for all future yacht rock songs to follow. The song's connection to the genre is so clear that ABC News reports it was chosen for inclusion in the "NOW That's What I Call Yacht Rock" compilation album.

It's easy to see why the song (and the album containing it, 1979's "Partners in Crime") is what a computer algorithm would create if tasked with composing a yacht rock song. As noted by Rolling Stone , Holmes displays the musicianship of Steely Dan while singing with the exuberance of Barry Manilow. That combination of mellow, smooth delivery and complex song arrangements, and a distinctly California vibe make this an iconic example of yacht rock. As MasterClass notes, the song's clean production links it to other yacht rock songs because it eliminates mistakes or rough spots and offers the illusion of smooth perfection.

The song is also one of the most enduring and well-known yacht rock songs of all time. If you're trying to explain yacht rock to someone, this is the song to use as an example.

The high point of yacht rock: Christopher Cross releases Sailing

The unquestioned high point of yacht rock came in 1980. Songs from bands associated with this genre of music had been big hits before, but that year a yacht rock album dominated pop culture, ensuring that this style of music would be remembered and defined decades later. We're talking about, of course,  "Sailing" by Christopher Cross .

U ltimate Classic Rock reports the song was a smash hit, earning Cross several Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Arrangement. Its yacht rock cred begins with its title and themes — it's literally about sailing, presumably on some sort of yacht (Cross doesn't seem the type to sail on anything less). The song is smooth as glass but extremely complex, combining strings, open-tuned arpeggios, and what Rolling Stone calls "an elegant pop classicism." And as Jacobin Magazine notes, the song features backing vocals from none other than the artistic glue that holds the genre together, Michael McDonald.

"Sailing," and the album it hailed from, remain the most successful examples of yacht rock, a pinnacle of sales and awards both Cross and the genre never managed again. No one knew they were part of the yacht rock movement at the time or that it was all (slowly) downhill from there.

Toto ties it all together

One of the characteristics of yacht rock, as noted by Mental Floss , is the extremely high level of musicianship on the records — largely due to the use of professional session musicians that were shared by yacht rock groups like Steely Dan. In the late 1970s, some of those session musicians decided to form their own band, and Toto was born. This was a key moment: As noted by the man who helped define yacht rock, J.D. Ryznar, one way to identify a yacht rock song is to ask if members of Toto played on it.

In 1982, Toto released "Toto IV," which Smooth Radio noted contains two all-time yacht rock classics in "Rosanna" and "Africa." Vinyl Me, Please calls "Toto IV" a perfect introduction to the musical genre, which makes sense since the members of Toto were involved in so many recordings we now consider to be yacht rock.

But Toto was involved in another project in 1982, one that proves how the yacht rock sound traveled through session musicians: Michael Jackson's "Thriller." As reported by NOW Magazine , Toto was heavily involved with the album, and Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro even contributed a classic yacht rock track that became the fifth Top Ten song from the album (per Rolling Stone ): "Human Nature." Porcaro originally wrote it for Toto but accidentally included it on a tape of demos for producer Quincy Jones — who immediately loved it.

Kokomo: Yacht rock's last gasp

The heyday of this musical genre was between roughly 1975 and 1985. By the late 1980s, musical tastes had shifted, and most yacht rockers found themselves fading off the charts. But there was one final gasp of the genre in 1988 when the legendary band The Beach Boys released their No.1 hit  on the Billboard Hot 100, "Kokomo." 

Despite its success, the song is widely hated ( Mel Magazine shared their extreme dislike for the song and even Mike Love), but it's definitely a yacht rock song. According to Sugar Ray lead singer Mark McGrath , it's likely the last yacht rock song to be released. By the time The Beach Boys began working on it, however, they weren't too concerned about quality — as noted by , the band hadn't been on the charts in years, didn't have a record contract, and had been reduced to playing Oldies tours to pay the bills. The band accepted the invitation to contribute a song to the soundtrack of the Tom Cruise and Elisabeth Shue romantic comedy,  "Cocktail"  largely for the money and actually left the composition of the song to John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, and Terry Melcher, giving the song the traditional session-player touch of all yacht rock songs.

The song's yacht rock bona-fides are pretty clear — in fact, as Stereogum notes,  the original demo makes its yacht rock roots very, very clear. But even The Beach Boys' version with its earworm chorus retains the smooth, slickly-produced sound that marks all yacht rock tunes.

The resurgence of yacht rock

After being established as a distinct genre of music by the " Yacht Rock" web series in 2005 , yacht rock enjoyed a period of viral fame. Everyone who came across the term quickly realized it actually made sense to regard these songs as a specific style of soft rock, and there was a lot of buzz around the topic. But all buzz fades, and after a few years, yacht rock was no longer an exciting new idea — it was an accepted truth.

But in recent years, the genre has made a comeback, infiltrating pop culture for the second time. A seminal moment in this comeback was the release of "The Blue Jean Committee" in 2018. As noted by 100.9 The Eagle , "The Blue Jean Committee" is a "mockumentary" that has actually served as an introduction to yacht rock for a whole new generation of people. Esquire reports that the show (and the "fake yacht rock band" at its center) was created by comedians Fred Armisen and Bill Hader for their TV series "Documentary Now!" But they went as far as actually writing songs for the band — and even made a music video showcasing the very yacht rocky song "Catalina Breeze," eventually releasing an entire EP, according to Wired . Suddenly, yacht rock was on everyone's mind again, more than 15 years after the initial phenomenon and more than 40 years since the actual musical era ended.

Yacht rock is modern again

As noted by The Guardian , yacht rock is experiencing a full-on reappraisal. Long considered to be trite and boring, emblematic of the insincere late 1970s and early 1980s era, a new appreciation for the very things that make these songs yacht rock is developing. One key reason is that clear production noted by MasterClass  — yacht rock songs sound timeless and still slap today because they weren't thrown together. The bands spent a lot of time and money and care to make every song sound amazing, which has helped them pass the test of time. And recent years have seen bands like The Yacht Rock Revue achieve surprising success in the genre, as noted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution .

As InsideHook notes, the rise of Internet culture has helped people rediscover and appreciate yacht rock. Younger generations have grown up in a world where they can listen to anything, any time they want. The result has been a softening of genre edges, and the adoption of old, outdated musical trends. There's a whole new group of soft rock bands that aren't covering yacht rock songs; they're writing new ones.

And as reported by MTV , yacht rock original gangsters are also releasing new music, proving that the genre has fresh legs. According to NPR , in 2017, Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald collaborated with bassist and singer Thundercat on the song "Show You the Way."  Suffice it to say, this ship (or should we say yacht?) is still sailing. 

  • Bach on Skid Row Reunion
  • Stones Cover Dylan in Vegas
  • Rock's Best Four-Album Runs
  • Songs Stones Rarely Play Live
  • Snider: Induct Before They Die
  • Pat Benatar Kicks Off 2024 Tour

Ultimate Classic Rock

Top 50 Yacht Rock Songs

Yacht rock was one of the most commercially successful genres to emerge from the '70s and yet has managed to evade concise definition since its inception. For many listeners, it boils down to a feeling or mood that cannot be found in other kinds of music: Simply put, you know it when you hear it.

Some agreed-upon elements are crucial to yacht rock. One is its fluidity, with more emphasis on a catchy, easy-feeling melody than on beat or rhythm. Another is a generally lighthearted attitude in the lyrics. Think Seals & Crofts ' "Summer Breeze," Christopher Cross ' "Ride Like the Wind" or Bill Withers ' "Just the Two of Us." Yes, as its label suggests, music that would fit perfectly being played from the deck of a luxurious boat on the high seas.

But even these roughly outlined "rules" can be flouted and still considered yacht rock. Plenty of bands that are typically deemed "nyacht" rock have made their attempts at the genre: Crosby, Stills & Nash got a bit nautical with "Southern Cross," leading with their famed tightly knit harmonies, and Fleetwood Mac also entered yacht rock territory with "Dreams" – which, although lyrically dour, offers a sense of melody in line with yacht rock.

Given its undefined parameters, the genre has become one of music's most expansive corners. From No. 1 hits to deeper-cut gems, we've compiled a list of 50 Top Yacht Rock Songs to set sail to below.

50. "Thunder Island," Jay Ferguson (1978)

Younger generations might be more apt to recognize Jay Ferguson from his score for NBC's The Office , where he also portrayed the guitarist in Kevin Malone's band Scrantonicity. But Ferguson's musical roots go back to the '60s band Spirit; he was also in a group with one of the future members of Firefall, signaling a '70s-era shift toward yacht rock and "Thunder Island." The once-ubiquitous single began its steady ascent in October 1977 before reaching the Top 10 in April of the following year. Producer Bill Szymczyk helped it get there by bringing in his buddy Joe Walsh for a soaring turn on the slide. The best showing Ferguson had after this, however, was the quickly forgotten 1979 Top 40 hit "Shakedown Cruise." (Nick DeRiso)

49. "Southern Cross," Crosby, Stills & Nash (1982)

CSN's "Southern Cross" was an example of a more literal interpretation of yacht rock, one in which leftover material was revitalized by Stephen Stills . He sped up the tempo of a song titled " Seven League Boots " originally penned by brothers Rick and Michael Curtis, then laid in new lyrics about, yes, an actual boat ride. "I rewrote a new set of words and added a different chorus, a story about a long boat trip I took after my divorce," Stills said in the liner notes  to 1991's CSN box. "It's about using the power of the universe to heal your wounds." The music video for the song, which went into heavy rotation on MTV, also prominently displayed the band members aboard a large vessel. (Allison Rapp)

48. "Jackie Blue," the Ozark Mountain Daredevils (1974)

Drummer Larry Lee only had a rough idea of what he wanted to do with "Jackie Blue," originally naming it after a bartending dope pusher. For a long time, the Ozark Mountain Daredevils' best-known single remained an instrumental with the place-keeper lyric, " Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh Jackie Blue. He was dada, and dada doo. He did this, he did that ... ." Producer Glyn Johns, who loved the track, made a key suggestion – and everything finally snapped into place: "No, no, no, mate," Johns told them. "Jackie Blue has to be a girl." They "knocked some new lyrics out in about 30 minutes," Lee said in It Shined: The Saga of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils . "[From] some drugged-out guy, we changed Jackie into a reclusive girl." She'd go all the way to No. 3. (DeRiso)

47. "Sailing," Christopher Cross (1979)

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more quintessential yacht rock song than “Sailing.” The second single (and first chart-topper) off Christopher Cross’ 1979 self-titled debut offers an intoxicating combination of dreamy strings, singsong vocals and shimmering, open-tuned guitar arpeggios that pay deference to Cross’ songwriting idol, Joni Mitchell . “These tunings, like Joni used to say, they get you in this sort of trance,” Cross told Songfacts in 2013. “The chorus just sort of came out. … So I got up and wandered around the apartment just thinking, ‘Wow, that's pretty fuckin' great.’” Grammy voters agreed: “Sailing” won Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Arrangement at the 1981 awards. (Bryan Rolli)

46. "Just the Two of Us," Bill Withers and Grover Washington Jr. (1980)

A collaboration between singer Bill Withers and saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. resulted in the sleek "Just the Two of Us." When first approached with the song, Withers insisted on reworking the lyrics. "I'm a little snobbish about words," he said in 2004 . "I said, 'Yeah, if you'll let me go in and try to dress these words up a little bit.' Everybody that knows me is kind of used to me that way. I probably threw in the stuff like the crystal raindrops. The 'Just the Two of Us' thing was already written. It was trying to put a tuxedo on it." The track was completed with some peppy backing vocals and a subtle slap bass part. (Rapp)

45. "Sara Smile," Daryl Hall & John Oates (1975)

It doesn't get much smoother than "Sara Smile," Daryl Hall & John Oates ' first Top 10 hit in the U.S. The song was written for Sara Allen, Hall's longtime girlfriend, whom he had met when she was working as a flight attendant. His lead vocal, which was recorded live, is clear as a bell on top of a velvety bass line and polished backing vocals that nodded to the group's R&B influences. “It was a song that came completely out of my heart," Hall said in 2018 . "It was a postcard. It’s short and sweet and to the point." Hall and Allen stayed together for almost 30 years before breaking up in 2001. (Rapp)

44. "Rosanna," Toto (1982)

One of the most identifiable hits of 1982 was written by Toto co-founder David Paich – but wasn't about Rosanna Arquette, as some people have claimed, even though keyboardist Steve Porcaro was dating the actress at the time. The backbeat laid down by drummer Jeff Porcaro – a "half-time shuffle" similar to what John Bonham played on " Fool in the Rain " – propels the track, while vocal harmonies and emphatic brass sections add further layers. The result is an infectious and uplifting groove – yacht rock at its finest. (Corey Irwin)

43. "Diamond Girl," Seals & Crofts (1973)

Seals & Crofts were soft-rock stylists with imagination, dolling up their saccharine melodies with enough musical intrigue to survive beyond the seemingly obvious shelf life. Granted, the lyrics to “Diamond Girl,” one of the duo’s three No. 6 hits, are as sterile as a surgery-operating room, built on pseudo-romantic nothing-isms ( “Now that I’ve found you, it’s around you that I am” — what a perfectly natural phrase!). But boy, oh boy does that groove sound luxurious beaming out of a hi-fi system, with every nuance — those stacked backing vocals, that snapping piano — presented in full analog glory. (Ryan Reed)

42. "What You Won't Do for Love," Bobby Caldwell (1978)

Smooth. From the opening horn riffs and the soulful keyboard to the funk bass and the velvety vocals of Bobby Caldwell, everything about “What You Won’t Do for Love” is smooth. Released in September 1978, the track peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went on to become the biggest hit of Caldwell’s career. It was later given a second life after being sampled for rapper 2Pac's posthumously released 1998 hit single “Do for Love.” (Irwin)

41. "We Just Disagree," Dave Mason (1977)

Dave Mason's ace in the hole on the No. 12 smash "We Just Disagree" was Jim Krueger, who composed the track, shared the harmony vocal and played that lovely guitar figure. "It was a song that when he sang it to me, it was like, 'Yeah, that's the song,'" Mason told Greg Prato in 2014. "Just him and a guitar, which is usually how I judge whether I'm going to do something. If it holds up like that, I'll put the rest of the icing on it." Unfortunately, the multitalented Krueger died of pancreatic cancer at age 43. By then, Mason had disappeared from the top of the charts, never getting higher than No. 39 again. (DeRiso)

40. "Crazy Love," Poco (1978)

Rusty Young was paneling a wall when inspiration struck. He'd long toiled in the shadow of Stephen Stills , Richie Furay and Neil Young , serving in an instrumentalist role with Buffalo Springfield and then Poco . "Crazy Love" was his breakout moment, and he knew it. Rusty Young presented the song before he'd even finished the lyric, but his Poco bandmates loved the way the stopgap words harmonized. "I told the others, 'Don't worry about the ' ooh, ooh, ahhhh haaa ' part. I can find words for that," Young told the St. Louis Dispatch in 2013. "And they said, 'Don't do that. That's the way it's supposed to be.'" It was: Young's first big vocal became his group's only Top 20 hit. (DeRiso)

39. "Suspicions," Eddie Rabbitt (1979)

Eddie Rabbitt 's move from country to crossover stardom was hurtled along by "Suspicions," as a song about a cuckold's worry rose to the Top 20 on both the pop and adult-contemporary charts. Behind the scenes, there was an even clearer connection to yacht rock: Co-writer Even Stevens said Toto's David Hungate played bass on the date. As important as it was for his career, Rabbitt later admitted that he scratched out "Suspicions" in a matter of minutes, while on a lunch break in the studio on the last day of recording his fifth album at Wally Heider's Los Angeles studio. "Sometimes," Rabbitt told the Associated Press in 1985, "the words just fall out of my mouth." (DeRiso)

38. "Moonlight Feels Right," Starbuck (1976)

No sound in rock history is more yacht friendly than Bruce Blackman’s laugh: hilarious, arbitrary, smug, speckled with vocal fry, arriving just before each chorus of Starbuck’s signature tune. Why is this human being laughing? Shrug. Guess the glow of night will do that to you. Then again, this is one of the more strange hits of the '70s — soft-pop hooks frolicking among waves of marimba and synthesizers that could have been plucked from a classic prog epic. “ The eastern moon looks ready for a wet kiss ,” Blackman croons, “ to make the tide rise again .” It’s a lunar make-out session, baby. (Reed)

37. "Same Old Lang Syne," Dan Fogelberg (1981)

“Same Old Lang Syne” is a masterclass in economic storytelling, and its tragedy is in the things both protagonists leave unsaid. Dan Fogelberg weaves a devastating tale of two former lovers who run into each other at a grocery store on Christmas Eve and spend the rest of the night catching up and reminiscing. Their circumstances have changed — he’s a disillusioned professional musician, she’s stuck in an unhappy marriage — but their love for each other is still palpable if only they could overcome their fears and say it out loud. They don’t, of course, and when Fogelberg bids his high-school flame adieu, he’s left with only his bittersweet memories and gnawing sense of unfulfillment to keep him warm on that snowy (and later rainy) December night. (Rolli)

36. "Eye in the Sky," the Alan Parsons Project (1982)

Few songs strike a chord with both prog nerds and soft-rock enthusiasts, but the Alan Parsons Project's “Eye in the Sky” belongs to that exclusive club. The arrangement is all smooth contours and pillowy textures: By the time Eric Woolfson reaches the chorus, shyly emoting about romantic deception over a bed of Wurlitzer keys and palm-muted riffs, the effect is like falling slow motion down a waterfall onto a memory foam mattress. But there’s artfulness here, too, from Ian Bairnson’s seductive guitar solo to the titular phrase conjuring some kind of god-like omniscience. (Reed)

35. "Somebody's Baby," Jackson Browne (1982)

Jackson Browne 's highest-charting single, and his last Top 10 hit, was originally tucked away on the soundtrack for the 1982 teen comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High . That placed Browne, one of the most earnest of singer-songwriters, firmly out of his element. "It was not typical of what Jackson writes at all, that song," co-composer Danny Kortchmar told Songfacts in 2013. "But because it was for this movie, he changed his general approach and came up with this fantastic song." Still unsure of how it would fit in, Browne refused to place "Somebody's Baby" on his next proper album – something he'd later come to regret . Lawyers in Love broke a string of consecutive multiplatinum releases dating back to 1976. (DeRiso)

34. "Still the One," Orleans (1976)

Part of yacht rock’s charm is being many things but only to a small degree. Songs can be jazzy, but not experimental. Brass sections are great but don’t get too funky. And the songs should rock, but not rock . In that mold comes Orleans’ 1976 hit “Still the One.” On top of a chugging groove, frontman John Hall sings about a romance that continues to stand the test of time. This love isn’t the white-hot flame that leaves passionate lovers burned – more like a soft, medium-level heat that keeps things comfortably warm. The tune is inoffensive, catchy and fun, aka yacht-rock gold. (Irwin)

33. "New Frontier," Donald Fagen (1982)

In which an awkward young man attempts to spark a Cold War-era fling — then, hopefully, a longer, post-apocalyptic relationship — via bomb shelter bunker, chatting up a “big blond” with starlet looks and a soft spot for Dave Brubeck. Few songwriters could pull off a lyrical concept so specific, and almost no one but Donald Fagen could render it catchy. “New Frontier,” a signature solo cut from the Steely Dan maestro, builds the sleek jazz-funk of Gaucho into a more digital-sounding landscape, with Fagen stacking precise vocal harmonies over synth buzz and bent-note guitar leads. (Reed)

32. "Sail On, Sailor," the Beach Boys (1973)

The Beach Boys were reworking a new album when Van Dyke Parks handed them this updated version of an unfinished Brian Wilson song. All that was left was to hand the mic over to Blondie Chaplin for his greatest-ever Beach Boys moment. They released "Sail On, Sailor" twice, however, and this yearning groover somehow barely cracked the Top 50. Chaplin was soon out of the band, too. It's a shame. "Sail On, Sailor" remains the best example of how the Beach Boys' elemental style might have kept growing. Instead, Chaplin went on to collaborate with the Band , Gene Clark of the  Byrds  and the Rolling Stones – while the Beach Boys settled into a lengthy tenure as a jukebox band. (DeRiso)

31. "Time Passages," Al Stewart (1978)

Al Stewart followed up the first hit single of his decade-long career – 1976's "Year of the Cat" – with a more streamlined take two years later. "Time Passages" bears a similar structure to the earlier track, including a Phil Kenzie sax solo and production by Alan Parsons. While both songs' respective album and single versions coincidentally run the same time, the 1978 hit's narrative wasn't as convoluted and fit more squarely into pop radio playlists. "Time Passages" became Stewart's highest-charting single, reaching No. 7 – while "Year of the Cat" had stalled at No. 8. (Michael Gallucci)

30. "I Go Crazy," Paul Davis (1977)

Paul Davis looked like he belonged in the Allman Brothers Band , but his soft, soulful voice took him in a different direction. The slow-burning nature of his breakthrough single "I Go Crazy" was reflected in its chart performance: For years the song held the record for the most weeks spent on the chart, peaking at No. 7 during its 40-week run. Davis, who died in 2008, took five more songs into the Top 40 after 1977, but "I Go Crazy" is his masterpiece – a wistful and melancholic look back at lost love backed by spare, brokenhearted verses. (Gallucci)

29. "Biggest Part of Me," Ambrosia (1980)

Songwriter David Pack taped the original demo of this song on a reel-to-reel when everyone else was running late, finishing just in time: "I was waiting for my family to get in the car so I could go to a Fourth of July celebration in Malibu," he told the Tennessean in 2014. "I turned off my machine [and] heard the car horn honking for me." Still, Pack was worried that the hastily written first verse – which rhymed " arisin ,'" " horizon " and " realizin '" – might come off a little corny. So he followed the time-honored yacht-rock tradition of calling in Michael McDonald to sing heartfelt background vocals. Result: a Top 5 hit on both the pop and adult-contemporary charts. (DeRiso)

28. "Africa," Toto (1982)

Remove the cover versions, the nostalgia sheen and its overuse in TV and films, and you’re left with what makes “Africa” great: one of the best earworm choruses in music history. Never mind that the band is made up of white guys from Los Angeles who'd never visited the titular continent. Verses about Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti paint a picture so vivid that listeners are swept away. From the soaring vocals to the stirring synth line, every element of the song works perfectly. There’s a reason generations of music fans continue to proudly bless the rains. (Irwin)

27. "Hello It's Me," Todd Rundgren (1972)

“Hello It’s Me” is the first song Todd Rundgren ever wrote, recorded by his band Nazz and released in 1968. He quickened the tempo, spruced up the instrumentation and delivered a more urgent vocal for this 1972 solo rendition (which became a Top 5 U.S. hit), but the bones of the tune remain the same. “Hello It’s Me” is a wistful, bittersweet song about the dissolution of a relationship between two people who still very much love and respect each other a clear-eyed breakup ballad lacking the guile, cynicism and zaniness of Rundgren’s later work. “The reason those [early] songs succeeded was because of their derivative nature,” Rundgren told Guitar World in 2021. “They plugged so easily into audience expectations. They’re easily absorbed.” That may be so, but there’s still no denying the airtight hooks and melancholy beauty of “Hello It’s Me.” (Rolli)

26. "Smoke From a Distant Fire," the Sanford/Townsend Band (1977)

There are other artists who better define yacht rock - Michael McDonald, Steely Dan, Christopher Cross - but few songs rival the Sanford/Townsend Band's "Smoke From a Distant Fire" as a more representative genre track. (It was a Top 10 hit in the summer of 1977. The duo never had another charting single.) From the vaguely swinging rhythm and roaring saxophone riff to the light percussion rolls and risk-free vocals (that nod heavily to Daryl Hall and John Oates' blue-eyed soul), "Smoke" may be the most definitive yacht rock song ever recorded. We may even go as far as to say it's ground zero. (Gallucci)

25. "Dream Weaver," Gary Wright (1975)

Unlike many other songs on our list, “Dream Weaver” lacks lush instrumentation. Aside from Gary Wright’s vocals and keyboard parts, the only added layer is the drumming of Jim Keltner. But while the track may not have guitars, bass or horns, it certainly has plenty of vibes. Inspired by the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda – which Wright was turned on to by George Harrison – “Dream Weaver” boasts a celestial aura that helped the song peak at No. 2 in 1976. (Irwin)

24. "Reminiscing," Little River Band (1978)

The third time was the charm with Little River Band 's highest-charting single in the U.S. Guitarist Graeham Goble wrote "Reminiscing" for singer Glenn Shorrock with a certain keyboardist in mind. Unfortunately, they weren't able to schedule a session with Peter Jones, who'd played an important role in Little River Band's first-ever charting U.S. single, 1976's "It's a Long Way There ." They tried it anyway but didn't care for the track. They tried again, with the same results. "The band was losing interest in the song," Goble later told Chuck Miller . "Just before the album was finished, Peter Jones came back into town, [and] the band and I had an argument because I wanted to give 'Reminiscing' a third chance." This time they nailed it. (DeRiso)

23. "Heart Hotels," Dan Fogelberg (1979)

Ironically enough, this song about debilitating loneliness arrived on an album in which Dan Fogelberg played almost all of the instruments himself. A key concession to the outside world became the most distinctive musical element on "Heart Hotels," as well-known saxophonist Tom Scott took a turn on the Lyricon – a pre-MIDI electronic wind instrument invented just a few years earlier. As for the meaning of sad songs like these, the late Fogelberg once said : "I feel experiences deeply, and I have an outlet, a place where I can translate those feelings. A lot of people go to psychoanalysts. I write songs." (DeRiso)

22. "Year of the Cat," Al Stewart (1976)

Just about every instrument imaginable can be heard in Al Stewart's "Year of the Cat." What begins with an elegant piano intro winds its way through a string section and a sultry sax solo, then to a passionate few moments with a Spanish acoustic guitar. The sax solo, often a hallmark of yacht-rock songs, was not Stewart's idea. Producer Alan Parsons suggested it at the last minute, and Stewart thought it was the "worst idea I'd ever heard. I said, 'Alan, there aren’t any saxophones in folk-rock. Folk-rock is about guitars. Sax is a jazz instrument,'" Stewart said in 2021 . Multiple lengthy instrumental segments bring the song to nearly seven minutes, yet each seems to blend into the next like a carefully arranged orchestra. (Rapp)

21. "How Long," Ace (1974)

How long does it take to top the charts? For the Paul Carrack-fronted Ace: 45 years . "I wrote the lyric on the bus going to my future mother-in-law's," he later told Gary James . "I wrote it on the back of that bus ticket. That's my excuse for there only being one verse." Ace released "How Long" in 1975, reaching No. 3, then Carrack moved on to stints with Squeeze and Mike and the Mechanics . Finally, in 2020, "How Long" rose two spots higher, hitting No. 1 on Billboard's rock digital song sales chart after being featured in an Amazon Prime advertisement titled "Binge Cheat." (DeRiso)

20. "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)," Looking Glass (1972)

Like "Summer Breeze" (found later in our list of Top 50 Yacht Rock Songs), Looking Glass' tale of an alluring barmaid in a busy harbor town pre-dates the classic yacht-rock era. Consider acts like Seals & Crofts and these one-hit wonders pioneers of the genre. Ironically, the effortless-sounding "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" was quite difficult to complete. "We recorded 'Brandy' two or three different times with various producers before we got it right," Looking Glass' principal songwriter Elliot Lurie told the Tennessean in 2016. The chart-topping results became so popular so fast, however, that Barry Manilow had to change the title of a new song he was working on to " Mandy ." (DeRiso)

19. "I Can't Tell You Why," Eagles (1979)

Timothy B. Schmit joined just in time to watch the  Eagles disintegrate. But things couldn't have started in a better place for the former Poco member. He arrived with the makings of his first showcase moment with the group, an unfinished scrap that would become the No. 8 hit "I Can't Tell You Why." For a moment, often-contentious band members rallied around the outsider. Don Henley and Glenn Frey both made key contributions, as Eagles completed the initial song on what would become 1979's The Long Run . Schmit felt like he had a reason to be optimistic. Instead, Eagles released the LP and then promptly split up. (DeRiso)

18. "Sentimental Lady," Bob Welch (1977)

Bob Welch  first recorded "Sentimental Lady" in 1972 as a member of Fleetwood Mac . Five years later, after separating from a band that had gone on to way bigger things , Welch revisited one of his best songs and got two former bandmates who appeared on the original version – Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie – to help out (new Mac member Lindsey Buckingham also makes an appearance). This is the better version, warmer and more inviting, and it reached the Top 10. (Gallucci)

17. "So Into You," Atlanta Rhythm Section (1976)

Atlanta Rhythm Section is often wrongly categorized as a Southern rock band, simply because of their roots in Doraville, Ga. Songs like the seductively layered "So Into You" illustrate how little they had in common with the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd . As renowned Muscle Shoals sessions ace David Hood once said, they're more like the " Steely Dan of the South ." Unfortunately, time hasn't been kind to the group. Two of this best-charting single's writers have since died , while keyboardist Dean Daughtry retired in 2019 as Atlanta Rhythm Section's last constant member. (DeRiso)

16. "Dreams," Fleetwood Mac (1977)

Stevie Nicks was trying to channel the heartbreak she endured after separating from Lindsey Buckingham into a song, but couldn't concentrate among the bustle of Fleetwood Mac's sessions for Rumours . "I was kind of wandering around the studio," she later told Yahoo! , "looking for somewhere I could curl up with my Fender Rhodes and my lyrics and a little cassette tape recorder." That's when she ran into a studio assistant who led her to a quieter, previously unseen area at Sausalito's Record Plant. The circular space was surrounded by keyboards and recording equipment, with a half-moon bed in black-and-red velvet to one side. She settled in, completing "Dreams" in less than half an hour, but not before asking the helpful aide one pressing question: "I said, 'What is this?' And he said, 'This is Sly Stone 's studio.'" (DeRiso)

15. "Minute by Minute," the Doobie Brothers (1978)

Michael McDonald was so unsure of this album that he nervously previewed it for a friend. "I mean, all the tunes have merit, but I don't know if they hang together as a record," McDonald later told UCR. "He looked at me and he said, 'This is a piece of shit.'" Record buyers disagreed, making Minute by Minute the Doobie Brothers' first chart-topping multiplatinum release. Such was the mania surrounding this satiny-smooth LP that the No. 14 hit title track lost out on song-of-the-year honors at the Grammys to "What a Fool Believes" (found later in our list of Top 50 Yacht Rock Songs) by the Doobie Brothers. (DeRiso)

14. "Lonely Boy," Andrew Gold (1976)

Andrew Gold’s only Top 10 U.S. hit is a story of parental neglect and simmering resentment, but those pitch-black details are easy to miss when couched inside such a deliciously upbeat melody. Gold chronicles the childhood of the titular lonely boy over a propulsive, syncopated piano figure, detailing the betrayal he felt when his parents presented him with a sister two years his junior. When he turns 18, the lonely boy ships off to college and leaves his family behind, while his sister gets married and has a son of her own — oblivious to the fact that she’s repeating the mistakes of her parents. Gold insisted “Lonely Boy” wasn’t autobiographical, despite the details in the song matching up with his own life. In any case, you can’t help but wonder what kind of imagination produces such dark, compelling fiction. (Rolli)

13. "Baby Come Back," Player (1977)

Liverpool native Peter Beckett moved to the States, originally to join a forgotten act called Skyband. By the time he regrouped to found Player with American J.C. Crowley, Beckett's wife had returned to England. Turns out Crowley was going through a breakup, too, and the Beckett-sung "Baby Come Back" was born. "So it was a genuine song, a genuine lyric – and I think that comes across in the song," Beckett said in The Yacht Rock Book . "That's why it was so popular." The demo earned Player a hastily signed record deal, meaning Beckett and Crowley had to assemble a band even as "Baby Come Back" rose to No. 1. Their debut album was released before Player had ever appeared in concert. (DeRiso)

12. "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight," England Dan & John Ford Coley (1976)

There aren't too many songs with choruses as big as the one England Dan & John Ford Coley pump into the key lines of their first Top 40 single. Getting there is half the fun: The conversational verses – " Hello, yeah, it's been a while / Not much, how 'bout you? / I'm not sure why I called / I guess I really just wanted to talk to you " – build into the superpowered come-on line " I'm not talking 'bout moving in ...  ." Their yacht-rock pedigree is strong: Dan Seals' older brother is Seals & Croft's Jim Seals. (Gallucci)

11. "Hey Nineteen," Steely Dan (1980)

At least on the surface, “Hey Nineteen” is one of Steely Dan’s least ambiguous songs: An over-the-hill guy makes one of history’s most cringe-worthy, creepiest pick-up attempts, reminiscing about his glory days in a fraternity and lamenting that his would-be companion doesn’t know who Aretha Franklin is. (The bridge is a bit tougher to crack. Is anyone sharing that “fine Colombian”?) But the words didn’t propel this Gaucho classic into Billboard's Top 10. Instead, that credit goes to the groove, anchored by Walter Becker ’s gently gliding bass guitar, Donald Fagen’s velvety electric piano and a chorus smoother than top-shelf Cuervo Gold. (Reed)

10. "Rich Girl," Daryl Hall & John Oates (1976)

It’s one of the most economical pop songs ever written: two A sections, two B sections (the second one extended), a fade-out vocal vamp. In and out. Wham, bam, boom. Perhaps that's why it’s easy to savor “Rich Girl” 12 times in a row during your morning commute, why hearing it just once on the radio is almost maddening. This blue-eyed-soul single, the duo’s first No. 1 hit, lashes out at a supposedly entitled heir to a fast-food chain. (The original lyric was the less-catchy “rich guy ”; that one change may have earned them millions.) But there’s nothing bitter about that groove, built on Hall’s electric piano stabs and staccato vocal hook. (Reed)

9. "Fooled Around and Fell in Love," Elvin Bishop (1975)

Elvin Bishop made his biggest pop-chart splash with "Fooled Around and Fell In Love," permanently changing the first line of his bio from a  former member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band to a solo star in his own right. There was only one problem: "The natural assumption was that it was Elvin Bishop who was singing,” singer  Mickey Thomas told the Tahoe Daily Tribune in 2007. Thomas later found even greater chart success with Starship alongside Donny Baldwin, who also played drums on Bishop's breakthrough single. "A lot of peers found out about me through that, and ultimately I did get credit for it," Thomas added. "It opened a lot of doors for me." (DeRiso)

8. "Baker Street," Gerry Rafferty (1978)

Gerry Rafferty already had a taste of success when his band Stealers Wheel hit the Top 10 with the Dylanesque "Stuck in the Middle With You" in 1973. His first solo album after the group's split, City to City , made it to No. 1 in 1978, thanks in great part to its hit single "Baker Street" (which spent six frustrating weeks at No. 2). The iconic saxophone riff by Raphael Ravenscroft gets much of the attention, but this single triumphs on many other levels. For six, mood-setting minutes Rafferty winds his way down "Baker Street" with a hopefulness rooted in eternal restlessness. (Gallucci)

7. "Dirty Work," Steely Dan (1972)

In just about three minutes, Steely Dan tells a soap-opera tale of an affair between a married woman and a man who is well aware he's being played but is too hopelessly hooked to end things. " When you need a bit of lovin' 'cause your man is out of town / That's the time you get me runnin' and you know I'll be around ," singer David Palmer sings in a surprisingly delicate tenor. A saxophone and flugelhorn part weeps underneath his lines. By the time the song is over, we can't help but feel sorry for the narrator who is, ostensibly, just as much part of the problem as he could be the solution. Not all yacht rock songs have happy endings. (Rapp)

6. "Ride Like the Wind," Christopher Cross (1979)

“Ride Like the Wind” is ostensibly a song about a tough-as-nails outlaw racing for the border of Mexico under cover of night, but there’s nothing remotely dangerous about Christopher Cross’ lithe tenor or the peppy piano riffs and horns propelling the tune. Those contradictions aren’t a detriment. This is cinematic, high-gloss pop-rock at its finest, bursting at the seams with hooks and elevated by Michael McDonald’s silky backing vocals. Cross nods to his Texas roots with a fiery guitar solo, blending hard rock and pop in a way that countless artists would replicate in the next decade. (Rolli)

5. "Summer Breeze," Seals & Crofts (1972)

Jim Seals and Dash Crofts were childhood friends in Texas, but the mellow grandeur of "Summer Breeze" makes it clear that they always belonged in '70s-era Southern California. "We operate on a different level," Seals once said , sounding like nothing if not a Laurel Canyon native. "We try to create images, impressions and trains of thought in the minds of our listeners." This song's fluttering curtains, welcoming domesticity and sweet jasmine certainly meet that standard. For some reason, however, they released this gem in August 1972 – as the season faded into fall. Perhaps that's why "Summer Breeze" somehow never got past No. 6 on the pop chart. (DeRiso)

4. "Lowdown," Boz Scaggs (1976)

As you throw on your shades and rev the motor, the only thing hotter than the afternoon sun is David Hungate’s sweet slap-bass blasting from the tape deck. “This is the good life,” you say to no one in particular, casually tipping your baseball cap to the bikini-clad crew on the boat zooming by. Then you press “play” again. What else but Boz Scaggs ’ silky “Lowdown” could soundtrack such a moment in paradise? Everything about this tune, which cruised to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, is equally idyllic: Jeff Porcaro’s metronomic hi-hat pattern, David Paich’s jazzy keyboard vamp, the cool-guy croon of Scaggs — flexing about gossip and “schoolboy game.” You crack open another cold one — why not? And, well, you press play once more. (Reed)

3. "Lido Shuffle," Boz Scaggs (1976)

Scaggs' storied career began as a sideman with Steve Miller  and already included a scorching duet with Duane Allman . Co-writer David Paich would earn Grammy-winning stardom with songs like "Africa." Yet they resorted to theft when it came to this No. 11 smash. Well, in a manner of speaking: "'Lido' was a song that I'd been banging around, and I kind of stole – well, I didn't steal anything. I just took the idea of the shuffle," Scaggs told Songfacts in 2013. "There was a song that Fats Domino did called 'The Fat Man ' that had a kind of driving shuffle beat that I used to play on the piano, and I just started kind of singing along with it. Then I showed it to Paich, and he helped me fill it out." Then Paich took this track's bassist and drummer with him to form Toto. (DeRiso)

2. "Peg," Steely Dan (1977)

"Peg" is blessed with several yacht-rock hallmarks: a spot on Steely Dan's most Steely Dan-like album, Aja , an impeccable airtightness that falls somewhere between soft-pop and jazz and yacht rock's stalwart captain, Michael McDonald, at the helm. (He may be a mere backing singer here, but his one-note chorus chirps take the song to another level.) Like most Steely Dan tracks, this track's meaning is both cynical and impenetrable, and its legacy has only grown over the years – from hip-hop samples to faithful cover versions. (Gallucci)

1. "What a Fool Believes," the Doobie Brothers (1978)

Michael McDonald not only steered the Doobie Brothers in a new direction when he joined in 1975, but he also made them a commercial powerhouse with the 1978 album Minute by Minute . McDonald co-wrote "What a Fool Believes" – a No. 1 single; the album topped the chart, too – with Kenny Loggins and sang lead, effectively launching a genre in the process. The song's style was copied for the next couple of years (most shamelessly in Robbie Dupree's 1980 Top 10 "Steal Away"), and McDonald became the bearded face of yacht rock. (Gallucci)

Top 100 Classic Rock Artists

Gallery Credit: UCR Staff

More From Ultimate Classic Rock

David Sanborn Dies at 78 After Cancer Battle

  • International edition
  • Australia edition
  • Europe edition

Toto; Joni Mitchell; Steely Dan.

I can go for that: five essential yacht rock classics

Katie Puckrick’s new TV doc reappraises the smooth, sad and seedy side of the maligned genre. Here she reveals the best tracks

  • Modern Toss on yacht rock

Christopher Cross: Ride Like the Wind (1979)

With its urgent pace and aim to “make it to the border of Mexico”, Cross sums up the exhilaration of escape so essential to yacht. The power of the genre lies in the longing, so it’s most effective when heard in a landlocked location a million miles away from the nearest marina. Since aspiration crosses class, it doesn’t matter whether one’s home turf is the country club or a trailer park: listening to this song has the same effect – it nurses that ache for freedom.

The Doobie Brothers: What a Fool Believes (1979)

A YR hallmark is “upbeat-downbeat”: an approach that folds life’s bittersweet complexities within happy-snappy musical flourishes. A great example of upbeat-downbeat is this Doobie Brothers classic, showcasing the misplaced optimism of a wounded romantic. Singer Michael McDonald is in full fuzzy-throated throttle. Those are his BVs on Ride Like the Wind, and on any number of Steely Dan tracks, including …

Steely Dan: Hey Nineteen (1980)

The frisson of yacht rock derives from its blend of bourgie feelgood bounce crossed with a shiver of thwarted desire. Steely Dan self-deprecatingly called their work “funked-up muzak” but, lyrically, there are none more acidic than these egghead jazzbos with tales of grown-up screw-ups. Thanks to LA’s session musician elite, Hey Nineteen is polished to a sheen, but the narrator’s regretful realisation that he is too old to mack on teenage girls makes for uneasy listening.

Joni Mitchell: The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975)

Generally, female musicians didn’t focus their talents on the yacht genre: its palette was too limiting for the era’s sophisticated female artists beyond a song or two. In 1975, Mitchell made what’s considered “accidental yacht rock”. This chilly saga of tarnished love concerns a woman trapped in a big house and a loveless marriage. Mitchell made the misery of rich people seem glamorous, creating “dark yacht” in the process.

Toto: Africa (1982)

By the time the 1980s rolled around, black musicians had reclaimed the surging soul and quiet storm of yacht that was rightfully theirs. Artists such as George Benson, Lionel Richie and Raydio raised the bar by turning this “funked-up muzak” into a dance party. Ironically, an anthem called Africa turned out to be helmed by a clump of the whitest dudes going. With its questing lyrics and triumphant chorus, it became a blockbuster smash for the ages, proving that yacht rock is for ever.

I Can Go for That: The Smooth World of Yacht Rock begins Friday 14 June, 9pm, BBC Four

  • Pop and rock
  • Joni Mitchell

Comments (…)

Most viewed.

  • Skip to main content
  • Keyboard shortcuts for audio player
  • World Cafe Playlist
  • Sense Of Place
  • Latin Roots
  • Heavy Rotation
  • New Orleans

That '70s Week: Yacht Rock

David Dye, host of World Cafe.

Talia Schlanger

what it yacht rock

Donald Fagen (left) and Walter Becker of Steely Dan. Danny Clinch/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

Donald Fagen (left) and Walter Becker of Steely Dan.

  • The Doobie Brothers, "What A Fool Believes"
  • Christopher Cross, "Sailing"
  • Sade, "Smooth Operator"
  • Nielsen/Pearson, "If You Should Sail"
  • Ned Doheny, "Get It Up For Love"
  • Iron & Wine, "Desert Babbler"
  • Young Gun Silver Fox, "You Can Feel It"

What's the best way to become the unchallenged expert on a particular genre of music? Invent it. Enter JD Ryznar, Hunter Stair, David B. Lyons and Steve Huey: coiners of the description "yacht rock," creators of a hilarious web series of the same name and now de facto captains of the genre. Broadly speaking, yacht rock is an ocean of smooth, soft-listening music made in the late '70s and early '80s by artists like Toto, Hall & Oates and Kenny Loggins — music you can sail to. But as David and Talia learn in this conversation with the arbiters of Yacht Rock , the waters are much murkier than that.

For example, according to Ryznar, "There's also a common misconception that just because it's about a boat, or the ocean, or sailing, that it's yacht rock. That is most definitely nyacht true." Thankfully, on their Beyond Yacht Rock podcast, our guests have developed a sound system of logical criteria to define what is "Yacht" and what is "Nyacht." They employ their patented "Yachtzee scale" to examine a song's "Yachtness" based on a number of factors, including its personnel (is there a Doobie Brother in there?), amount of jazz and R&B influence, geographic origin (Southern California is a plus) and lyrical obtuseness.

Listen as Ryznar and Lyons steer us towards the musical marina with a buoyant "Yacht or Nyacht" debate that includes Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross, Sade and the most serious discussion you can have about the proper soundtrack for standing shirtless on a deck wearing boat shoes and a sailor cap. Dive on in --the water's great.

Listen: JD Ryznar's Yacht Rock Primer

Episode playlist.

  • Hall & Oates
  • Michael McDonald
  • Eagle Birthday Club
  • Join The Eagle’s Nest Today!
  • Contest Rules
  • Donate to HPFB – Together We Can!
  • Stacks of Wax
  • Check In With The Eagle
  • Show Schedule
  • Advertise With Us

100.9 The Eagle Logo

What Is ‘Yacht Rock’ And Why Do We Love It?

Recent articles by johnny black.

  • Sopranos Marathon This Week? Fuggedaboudit!!
  • Winter Blues? Try Exploring Amarillo!
  • Golden Globes – Best Movies & Television, Winners & Losers
  • Check Yard Sales This Spring for These 10 Records Worth $1000 Or More!
  • What’s The Difference Between Tex-Mex and Mexican Food?

What Is ‘Yacht Rock’ And Why Do We Love It?

Yacht Rock – What Is It and Why Do We Love It ?

First, let’s define our terms.  ‘Yacht Rock’ is a style of lush, smooth music that doesn’t require any deep thought.  It is best represented by artists from California who released albums between 1974 and 1983.  Guys with neatly-trimmed beards who sat in boats on their album covers.

The term ‘Yacht Rock’ was never used during the heyday of these artists. Nobody referred to this music using that term.  Instead, it was first used in a 2005 web series called Channel 101 .  Later, it was better defined in a 2015 Rolling Stone articles called “Sail Away: The Oral History of Yacht Rock”.  That’s where it first caught my ears.  The hook was set in a Mockumentary about a Yacht Rock duo called “ The Blue Jean Committee ” (here’s a link ).

Here’s a begat list:  Michael McDonald sang backup vocals for Steely Dan .  He also wrote songs with and for Kenny Loggins.  Loggins recorded albums with Jim Messina .  Guys from The Beach Boys recorded Yacht Rock Classics with Chicago .  Members of Fleetwood Mac recorded solo albums which further defined the Yacht Rock style.  Listen to Michael McDonald’s backup vocals on this Steely Dan song and Yacht Rock will spring to life all around you. And then there’s just plain ol’ Michael McDonald with his neatly-trimmed beard.

And then?  Well, there’s Pablo Cruise, Boz Scaggs, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Captain & Tennile, Ambrosia, Seals & Crofts, Orleans, The Blue Jean Committee, Christopher Cross, and at least a dozen others recorded albums that allowed us to pop a cassette into the tape deck of our Volvos and sail off into bliss on the way to our Time Share Sales class.  You get the idea.  Yacht Rock represents an era.  A moment in time when men wore sandals to board meetings. Jeans with blazers and neatly-trimmed beards.

what it yacht rock

Now more than ever, we hold our Yacht Rock close.  When our lives become complicated and our days become difficult, we want to stretch out on the musical hammock that is Yacht Rock.  It requires nothing but a laid-back state of mind.  I recently came across a clip of Al Stewart performing “Year Of the Cat” on the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test in 1976.  It was in early July, during one of the most difficult weeks of my life.  I saw bell-bottoms and, yes, more dudes with neatly-trimmed beards.  Nobody seemed to mind that the smooth, languid, mid-tempo tune was over 6 minutes long.  How could anyone care?  In those days, we were too busy eating granola and taking Yoga classes.

I can’t explain it to you.  But I know it when I hear it.  Yacht Rock is like a special blend of too much production, over-processed vocals, and non-threatening lyrics. All combined with denim-clad Americans singing and playing during a time when everyone was wondering what had just happened in the 60s, and what was coming next in the 1980s.

So go enjoy some Yacht Rock on one of these balmy Summer evenings here in the Texas Panhandle.  Chill out.  Trim your beard.  Sip a sticky blender drink.  Forget your troubles, come on, get happy. Relax.  Maybe we’ll feature The Best of Yacht Rock on Saturday Night Solid Gold sometime soon.

Love, -Johnny

Happy Wet Nose Wednesday, this Fun Guy is Rufus!

Happy wet nose wednesday, this guy is toffee, out of touch for good: daryl hall confirms end of hall & oates as he announces new solo album, cyndi lauper makes surprise appearance at nicki minaj’s brooklyn concert, cher reveals why she dates younger men, recently played.

How do you want to listen?

Picking a plan can be tricky and we're here to help.

Tell us how you want to listen to SiriusXM, and any hardware details you know. We'll show you to the best plans and pricing for you.

You can listen on your connected device, on the app, or with our web player

  • Browse Content
  • Channel Guide
  • Howard Stern
  • News & Issues
  • Talk & Entertainment
  • Hear & Now Blog
  • Ways to Listen
  • Compare Plans
  • Inside the Car
  • On the SiriusXM App
  • Returning Listener Offers
  • Shop Radios
  • Traffic, Weather & More
  • For Business
  • Auto & Truck Fleets
  • Listen on the SiriusXM App
  • Transfer My Subscription
  • Refresh My Radio
  • Help Center
  • Do Not Call Policy
  • Browse Plans and Pricing
  • Subscribe Now
  • Get a Free Trial
  • Pay My Bill

Page content follows

Yacht Rock 311

Channel 311 Yacht Rock Radio celebrates the smooth-sailing soft rock from the late '70s and early '80s. You’ll hear artists like Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross, Steely Dan and other titans of smooth music. It's the kind of rock that doesn’t rock the boat!

Gordon Lightfoot

what it yacht rock

Channel 311

Yacht rock radio.

SiriusXM’s tribute to Yacht Rock celebrates the smooth-sailing soft rock from the late 70s and early 80s. You’ll hear artis … more

SiriusXM’s tribute to Yacht Rock celebrates the smooth-sailing soft rock from the late 70s and early 80s. You’ll hear artists like Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross, Hall & Oates and other titans of smooth music. It’s the kind of rock that doesn’t rock the boat!

I'm The Captain Now

I'm The Captain Now

Each week, we let a new celebrity takes the yacht for a spin around the marina and pick out their favorite Yacht Rock songs. … more

Each week, we let a new celebrity takes the yacht for a spin around the marina and pick out their favorite Yacht Rock songs. Because ... they're the captain now!

Now Playing

Set Your Listening Preferences

We’ve got plans for every kind of listener

Exclusive channels, sports play-by-play, A-list hosts. The variety you want, where you choose to listen.

Discover More

You may also like.

70s pop hits

Convoy (75)

C.W. McCall

80s pop hits


(I Just) Died In Your Arms (87)

Cutting Crew

Classic Rewind

70s/80s classic rock


Rock and Roll Girls

John Fogerty

Mellow classic rock

Chicago VI

Just You 'N Me

No Shoes Radio

Kenny Chesney's music channel

Sign 'O' the Times


Please use a modern browser to view this website. Some elements might not work as expected when using Internet Explorer.

  • Landing Page
  • Luxury Yacht Vacation Types
  • Corporate Yacht Charter
  • Tailor Made Vacations
  • Luxury Exploration Vacations
  • View All 3610
  • Motor Yachts
  • Sailing Yachts
  • Classic Yachts
  • Catamaran Yachts
  • Filter By Destination
  • More Filters
  • Latest Reviews
  • Charter Special Offers
  • Destination Guides
  • Inspiration & Features
  • Mediterranean Charter Yachts
  • France Charter Yachts
  • Italy Charter Yachts
  • Croatia Charter Yachts
  • Greece Charter Yachts
  • Turkey Charter Yachts
  • Bahamas Charter Yachts
  • Caribbean Charter Yachts
  • Australia Charter Yachts
  • Thailand Charter Yachts
  • Dubai Charter Yachts
  • Destination News
  • New To Fleet
  • Charter Fleet Updates
  • Special Offers
  • Industry News
  • Yacht Shows
  • Corporate Charter
  • Finding a Yacht Broker
  • Charter Preferences
  • Questions & Answers
  • Add my yacht

Rock.It Charter Yacht

View More Photos

  • Luxury Charter Yachts
  • Motor Yachts for Charter
  • Amenities & Toys
  • Rates & Regions
  • + Shortlist


60.05m  /  197'   feadship   2014 / 2020.

  • Previous Yacht

Cabin Configuration

Special Features:

  • Timeless and elegant interiors
  • Choice of 3 bars make her ideal for entertaining
  • Expansive sundeck with elevated jacuzzi
  • Master stateroom en suite with marble sink and floors
  • Skylounge with widescreen TV
With her Feadship craftsmanship and elegant, yet cosy interior styling, luxury yacht ROCK.IT is the perfect charter yacht for socializing at sea.

The 60.35m/198' 'Rock.It' motor yacht built by the Dutch shipyard Feadship is available for charter for up to 11 guests in 5 cabins. This yacht features interior styling by Dutch designer Sinot Yacht Design.

Built in 2014, Rock.It boasts a multitude of decks ideal for relaxation and entertainment indoors or outdoors, ensuring guests will live la dolce vita on the open waters.

Guest Accommodation

Families will particularly love Rock.It thanks to her child-friendly setup. She offers guest accommodation for up to 11 guests with a layout comprising a master suite located on the main deck, two VIP cabins, one double cabin and one twin cabin. The supremely spacious full beam master suite features extensive storage space provided by the dressing room benefits from a his and her bathroom. There are 7 beds in total, including 3 king, 1 queen, 2 singles and 1 pullman. She is also capable of carrying up to 14 crew onboard to ensure a relaxed luxury yacht charter experience.

Onboard Comfort & Entertainment

Keeping comfortable and entertained on Rock.It is easy thanks to the available amenities, notably a state-of-the-art movie theatre for movie nights.

Whatever your activities on your charter, you'll find some impressive features are seamlessly integrated to help you, notably Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to stay connected at all times, should you wish. Guests will experience complete comfort while chartering thanks to air conditioning.

Performance & Range

Built with a steel hull and aluminium superstructure, she offers greater on-board space and is more stable when at anchor thanks to her full-displacement hull. Powered by twin MTU engines, she comfortably cruises at 12 knots, reaches a maximum speed of 15 knots with a range of up to 5,300 nautical miles from her 126,000 litre fuel tanks at cruising speed. Rock.It features at-anchor stabilizers providing exceptional comfort levels.

Rock.It has a good selection of water toys and accessories to entertain you and your guests whilst on charter. Take to the sea on the Jet Skis offering you power and control on the water. In addition there are six waterskis that are hugely entertaining whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro. Also there are two SEABOBs, that allow you to skim along the surface or steer under the crystal water and see a variety of aquatic sea life. If that isn't enough Rock.It also features wakeboards, fishing equipment, scuba diving equipment, paddleboards and snorkelling equipment. Rock.It features two tenders, but leading the pack is a 15.85m/52' Spencer Chase Tender to transport you in style.

Rock.It and her crew are available for charter this summer for cruising within the Mediterranean. She is already accepting bookings this winter for cruising in the Caribbean.

With its luxurious interiors, vast array of onboard facilities and a highly-trained and professional crew, a luxury yacht vacation onboard motor yacht Rock.It promises to be nothing short of spectacular.


There are currently no testimonials for Rock.It, please provide .

Rock.It Photos

Rock.It Yacht 11

Amenities & Entertainment

For your relaxation and entertainment Rock.It has the following facilities, for more details please speak to your yacht charter broker.

Rock.It is reported to be available to Charter with the following recreation facilities:

  • 15.85m  /  52' Spencer Custom Chase Tender with 2 x CAT
  • 7.01m  /  23' Pascoe Tender Mercury 250 HP engine

For a full list of all available amenities & entertainment facilities, or price to hire additional equipment please contact your broker.

Rock.It Awards & Nominations

  • The World Superyacht Awards 2015 Displacement Motor Yachts of 500GT to 1,299GT Finalist
  • The ShowBoats Design Awards 2016 Interior Design Award – Motor Yacht over 500GT Finalist
  • The ShowBoats Design Awards 2016 Naval Architecture Award – Displacement Motor Yacht Finalist
  • International Superyacht Society Awards 2015 Best Power 40m - 65m Nomination
  • + shortlist

For a full list of all available amenities & entertainment facilities, or price to hire additional equipment please contact your broker.

'Rock.It' Charter Rates & Destinations

Mediterranean Summer Cruising Region

Summer Season

May - September

€425,000 p/week + expenses Approx $459,000

High Season

€450,000 p/week + expenses Approx $486,000

Cruising Regions

Mediterranean France, Italy, Monaco

HOT SPOTS:   Corsica, French Riviera, Sardinia

Caribbean Winter Cruising Region

Winter Season

October - April

$395,000 p/week + expenses

$425,000 p/week + expenses

Caribbean Antigua, Saint Martin, St Barts

HOT SPOTS:   Virgin Islands

Charter Rock.It

To charter this luxury yacht contact your charter broker , or we can help you.

To charter this luxury yacht contact your charter broker or

Update your yacht

Yacht Owner, Captain or Central Agents - Send us latest Photos, Charter Rates or Corrections Send Updates


Aelia charter yacht

56m | Benetti

from $367,000 p/week ♦︎

After You charter yacht

55m | Heesen

from $350,000 p/week

Aifer charter yacht

from $378,000 p/week ♦︎

Almax charter yacht

63m | Sunrise Yachts

from $497,000 p/week ♦︎

Amigos charter yacht

55m | Amels

from $295,000 p/week

Andiamo charter yacht

59m | Benetti

from $395,000 p/week

Aqua Mekong charter yacht

Aqua Mekong

62m | Saigon Shipyard Co Ltd

from $358,000 p/week

Arience charter yacht

61m | Abeking & Rasmussen

from $642,000 p/week ♦︎

Artisan charter yacht

63m | Benetti

Baraka charter yacht

58m | Turquoise Yachts

from $347,000 p/week ♦︎ *

Baton Rouge charter yacht

Baton Rouge

63m | Icon Yachts

from $454,000 p/week ♦︎

Bella Vita charter yacht

60m | Lurssen

from $550,000 p/week

NOTE to U.S. Customs & Border Protection



  • Share on Facebook
  • Share Yacht


Here are a selection of yachts which are similar to the current charter yacht. To view all similar luxury charter yachts click on the button below.

 charter yacht

As Featured In

The YachtCharterFleet Difference

YachtCharterFleet makes it easy to find the yacht charter vacation that is right for you. We combine thousands of yacht listings with local destination information, sample itineraries and experiences to deliver the world's most comprehensive yacht charter website.

San Francisco

  • Like us on Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Follow us on Instagram
  • Find us on LinkedIn
  • Add My Yacht
  • Affiliates & Partners

Popular Destinations & Events

  • St Tropez Yacht Charter
  • Monaco Yacht Charter
  • St Barts Yacht Charter
  • Greece Yacht Charter
  • Mykonos Yacht Charter
  • Caribbean Yacht Charter

Featured Charter Yachts

  • Maltese Falcon Yacht Charter
  • Wheels Yacht Charter
  • Victorious Yacht Charter
  • Andrea Yacht Charter
  • Titania Yacht Charter
  • Ahpo Yacht Charter

Receive our latest offers, trends and stories direct to your inbox.

Please enter a valid e-mail.

Thanks for subscribing.

Search for Yachts, Destinations, Events, News... everything related to Luxury Yachts for Charter.

Yachts in your shortlist

Music | This Bay Area band was ‘yacht rock’ way before…

Share this:.

  • Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
  • Click to print (Opens in new window)
  • Click to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)

Today's e-Edition

Things To Do

  • Food & Drink
  • Celebrities
  • Pets & Animals
  • Event Calendar

Music | This Bay Area band was ‘yacht rock’ way before ‘yacht rock’ was a thing

Pablo cruise brings its soft-rock hits to guild theatre.

Soft-rock band Pablo Cruise got its start in the 1970s when members of Bay Area bands Stoneground and It's a Beautiful Day joined forces.

For Bay Area band Pablo Cruise , however, the connection to the genre has been longer — and more literal — than for most.

“Our headquarters was an 82-foot schooner in the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon,” says Cory Lerios, who co-founded Pablo Cruise in 1973. “So, we were definitely yacht rockers back before yacht rock was a term.”

From that base, the band has delivered some defining gems in what is now known as the yacht rock genre, which celebrates the smooth a.m. radio staples of the ‘70s and early ‘80s delivered by such artists as Toto, Nicolette Larson, Poco and the Little River Band.

Most notably, Pablo Cruise was responsible for the meticulously produced soft-rock numbers “Whatcha Gonna Do?” and “Love Will Find a Way,” both of which were Top 10 hits and rank as first-tier yacht rock staples.

Those songs — which sound as good today as they did when they first came out in the late ‘70s — are two of the biggest reasons why fans will turn out to see Pablo Cruise when it performs May 9 at the Guild Theatre in Menlo Park. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $49, . The group also plays May 8 at the Felton Music Hall and May 10 at the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma, .

The Menlo Park show will be a homecoming for Lerios, who now lives in Thousands Oaks but was born in San Francisco and grew up in nearby Palo Alto. It was on the Peninsula where he began playing piano and joined his first bands in junior high school.

“I never really thought I would make a career of it,” Lerios says of playing music. “But one thing led to another and I kind of never looked back.”

He’d find his first taste of real success as a member of Stoneground, a Concord-based rock act that released a number of albums on the Warner Bros. records label in the 1970s. After a few years, however, Lerios and two other Stoneground members — vocalist-guitarist David Jenkins and drummer Steve Price — would leave the fold and go on to form Pablo Cruise with the help of bassist Bud Cockrell (previously of the Bay Area act It’s a Beautiful Day).

One thing to note from that list of original band members is that none of them are, in fact, named Pablo Cruise. Neither are any other of the current or former members, for that matter. So, it’s probably a good time to pause and clear up the origin of the moniker, which Lerios says has certainly drawn plenty of questions over the years.

“The truth is that it was a nickname of a buddy of mine from Colombia, South America,” he says. “It was just a nickname I gave him — Pablo Cruise. He was a very bright guy, very charismatic. And I just called him Pablo Cruise.”

So, when it came time to name this new post-Stoneground outfit, Lerios remembered his ol’ pal’s nickname and thought it fit in with one of the trends of the era.

“It was kind of at that point where you had Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull — a lot of two names for these bands — and Pablo Cruise just had a great ring to it,” Lerios reckons.

Whatever they called themselves, these four musicians were bound to get discovered at some point — given that they were all great players and wrote memorable tunes. So, not surprisingly, it wasn’t all that long before A&M came knocking and Pablo Cruise was thrilled to sign with such a well-regarded record label.

“A&M was notable for sticking with a band,” Lerios says. “Today, labels barely sign bands. But they don’t support bands like they did a lot of back in the day. They supported tours. They supported the making of the record, the travel — all kinds of things that they don’t do anymore.”

The result was the band’s 1975 eponymous debut, which eeked its way into the Billboard 200 and began setting the foundation for the success that would later come. It didn’t produce any hit singles, but it did give listeners a wonderful 12½-minute instrumental number called “Ocean Breeze” that drew plenty of spins at album oriented radio (AOR) stations.

“If you want to check out some deep Pablo Cruise, you should listen to that — because it’s a phenomenal piece of music,” Lerios says. “And that (song) really got us going. Still, everywhere we play now, people ask to hear ‘Ocean Breeze,’ which is always nice to know that people have gone that deep into the repertoire.”

A second album, titled “Lifeline,” followed in 1976 and managed to hoist the band a bit further up the charts, but Pablo Cruise still lacked that hit to really take it to the next level.

All of that would change with the third album, 1977’s “A Place in the Sun,” although not overnight. In fact, the first single released from that album was “Atlanta June” and it didn’t live up to expectations. Oh, but the B-side was a catchy little number called “Whatcha Gonna Do?”

“(Radio stations) played ‘Atlanta June’ and it got some acclaim, but it didn’t really take off the way they’d hoped,” Lerios remembers. “So, somebody flipped it over and put on ‘Whatcha Gonna Do?’ and, all of sudden, it started to blow up.”

The song slowly climbed the charts, eventually breaking into the top 10. The group then scored a second hit with the album’s terrific title track.

“When it gets to that point, everything changes,” Lerios says. “The phones really start to ring. You are getting offers to be on TV shows. All of a sudden, it’s like you’ve arrived.”

The band quickly followed up that album with another winner, 1978’s “Worlds Away,” which produced three hits – including the slam-dunk single “Love Will Find a Way.”

Both albums, “A Place in the Sun” and “Worlds Away,” would be certified platinum.

That would be the zenith of the band’s career, although it did produce two more albums — 1979’s “Part of the Game” and 1981’s “Reflector” — which still did quite well on the charts. The same could not be said of the band’s last studio record, 1983’s “Out of Our Hands,” which failed to chart as listeners had moved on from Pablo Cruise-style soft rock to other styles of music.

“There was a certain instrumentation, a certain form of writing that was predominant back then,” Lerios says of the a.m. hits of the era. “Then, all of a sudden, like the Knack, Johnny Rotten and all these bands came in and punk rock kind of took over and just squashed soft rock.”

By the mid ‘80s, the band members parted ways.

“Success can change things and as we just evolved in our lives, Dave (Jenkins) and I weren’t hitting it anymore,” Lerios says. “We really weren’t writing a lot. And what we were writing, we didn’t really like – and nobody else seemed to like it either.

“I had other aspirations and I know Dave did. So, we split. We didn’t necessarily break up the band. We just went different directions.”

Lerios managed a really cool second act in Hollywood, scoring films and TV shows. In that realm, his credits include the 1993 Wesley Snipes action flick “Boiling Point,” the awesome 1991 horror epic “Child’s Play 3” and, most famously, “Baywatch.”

Jenkins also experienced a good deal of post-Pablo success, including spending a few years in the country group Southern Pacific and recording with Hawaiian vocalist Kapono Beamer.

About 20 years ago, Lerios and Jenkins decided to give Pablo Cruise another shot and they’ve been peddling the soft rock to eager crowds ever since. Yet, it’s not just the old-school fans who are showing up. Pablo Cruise — which now consists of Lerios, Jenkins, bassist Larry Antonino, drummer Sergio Gonzalez and vocalist Robbie Wyckoff — is also seeing a healthy contingent of younger listeners.

“One of my jokes is that ‘you are too young to be here,’” Lerios says. “Kids come up and say, ‘My parents played this music in the house all the time. I love it. Big fan.’

“You know, music — even though we try to compartmentalize it and try to give it a decade or a whatever – good music is good music.”

  • Report an error
  • Policies and Standards

More in Music

He played with such artists as Stevie Wonder, the Rolling Stones and David Bowie, and had several successful solo albums.

News Obituaries | David Sanborn dies at 78; Grammy-winning musician ‘put the saxophone back into Rock ’n Roll’

The Netherlands’ contestant in the Eurovision Song Contest was dramatically expelled from competition hours before Saturday’s final of the pan-continental pop competition, which has been rattled by protests over the participation of Israel.

Music | Dutch contestant kicked out of Eurovision hours before tension-plagued song contest final

We can thank Will Ferrell for helping reignite career of Pablo Cruise, the yacht rock act that is still wowing fans 50 years after getting its start.

Music | Review: Meet the most underrated band in Bay Area rock music history

Swift told her Paris crowd that they were the first to see songs from “Tortured Poets” performed. She jokingly called the album “Female Rage: The Musical.”

Music | Taylor Swift debuts revamped ‘Eras Tour’ setlist with ‘Tortured Poets Department’ songs

East Bay Times

Music | Review: Meet the most underrated band in Bay…

Share this:.

  • Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
  • Click to print (Opens in new window)
  • Click to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)

Today's e-Edition

Things To Do

  • Food & Drink
  • Celebrities
  • Pets & Animals
  • Event Calendar

Music | Review: Meet the most underrated band in Bay Area rock music history

Pablo cruise is way more than just the radio hits.

what it yacht rock

Pablo Cruise is the most underrated band in Bay Area music history.

The Sausalito-born group proved to be the complete package during its approximately 90-minute set at the lovely Menlo Park venue, solidly delivering 14 songs that appealed to listeners in various ways. There were the concise, hook-driven hits as well as other shiny pop-rock nuggets that should have been a.m. radio smashes back in the ’70s. There were also folksy numbers, jammed-out rockers and plenty of mesmerizing instrumental interludes.

And all of it was delivered by a band of first-rate players — founding members Cory Lerios on keyboards and David Jenkins on vocals and guitar as well as bassist Larry Antonino, drummer Sergio Gonzalez and vocalist Robbie Wyckoff.

Yet, the band rarely gets the credit for those kinds of things. Instead, many think of the group as a late ’70s flash in the pan with two, maybe three, songs you might want to hear and a career that was resurrected in large part due to Will Ferrell wearing a Pablo Cruise shirt in the 2008 comedy “Step Brothers.”

And none of that could be further from the truth (well, except for the Ferrell part). The band actually has a strong and deep songbook, built from seven albums that were released from 1975 to 1983.

Following a well-received opening set from Palo Alto bluesman AJ Crawdaddy (who once was a member of Pablo Cruise), the lights dimmed and a fun seven-minute video — covering the career arch of Pablo Cruise — was shown to the audience. (FYI: The video did touch upon the Ferrell factor.)

Then the five-piece outfit took the stage and opened with a charged-up version of “Worlds Away,” the title track to Pablo Cruise’s platinum-plus-selling fourth album from 1978. It was straight-up pop-rock joy — the kind that Journey and Toto fans would certainly appreciate — and performed with both great flare and meticulous care.

It was the first of many times in the evening when Jenkins would cause jaws to drop with his mighty guitar work. His playing, which has always provided the teeth to Pablo Cruise’s soft-rock hits and other recordings, has even more bite in concert than in the studio.

Pablo Cruise guitarist and vocalist, David Jenkins, performs in concert at the Guild Theatre in Menlo Park, Calif., on Thursday, May 9, 2024. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

From there, the band peddled some fine yacht rock — the genre that championed smooth a.m. radio hits of the ’70s and early ’80s — as it sailed on with a pair of gorgeous ballads, “Cool Love” (from 1981’s “Reflector”) and “Raging Fire” (from 1977’s platinum-selling smash “A Place in the Sun”).

The latter was highlighted by incredible harmony vocal work and was so beautiful that it could have been a Crosby, Stills & Nash number. And if it had indeed been a CSN tune, it would have made it on their greatest hits album.

Next up was “Atlanta June,” which, believe it or not, was the original A-side to the single that gave the band it’s huge “Whatcha Gonna Do?” hit. And while that song failed to make it on the charts, it was one of the absolute highlights of this concert as it nicely showcased the powerful vocals of Wyckoff (who spent years singing with Roger Waters on tour).

Turning the calendar on “Atlanta June,” four-fifths of the band left the stage and Jenkins performed “Livin’ Inside of Your Love,” a mesmerizing solo acoustic folk-pop offering, filled with crafty and endearing lyrics, which was deeply reminiscent of the late-great John Prine. (And that’s about as big a compliment as we can give any folk-pop tune.)

Then Lerios — who grew up in Palo Alto, a stone’s throw (or so) away from the Guild  — took the stage and offered up a funny counterpoint to Jenkin’s softly romantic number with his own “I Get Tired Just Thinking of You.”

Pablo Cruise keyboardist Cory Lerios acknowledges fans as the band performs in concert at the Guild Theatre in Menlo Park, Calif., on Thursday, May 9, 2024. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Humor was a huge part of the night, as Lerios and Jenkins playfully bickered and joked throughout the evening. The person sitting next to me compared the duo to the Smothers Brothers, a reference that probably says a lot about the age of both the band and their audience.

Lerios, for example, would draw big laughs when he discussed why he split ways with Jenkins in the ’80s, leading to the band’s breakup.

“We weren’t getting along very well,” he said, before adding with solid deadpan delivery and a sideways glance at Jenkins. “We still don’t.”

There was also a fun self-effacing zinger that came during the band member introductions, after Wyckoff explained how, before he got the call to join Pablo Cruise, he used to fly in private jets around the globe while touring with Roger Waters.

“After that phone call, I had to ask Robby, ‘Have you ever flown Southwest?’” Lerios joked of Pablo Cruise’s apparent means of air travel these days.

Lerios, however, probably isn’t hurting for money one bit. After all, he went on to have a very successful career in composing for TV and film after Pablo Cruise called it quits in the ’80s. His most notable work in that realm came when he landed the gig to do the music for “Baywatch” — and, as a reminder of such to fans, the band performed that TV show’s theme during the Guild concert.

The show reached another high point with the incredible jam through “Zero to Sixty in Five,” a standout from 1976’s “Lifeline” album that thoroughly reminded us of the great instrumental numbers that the group has recorded through the years. (I actually wish the band had played more instrumental songs — especially “El Verano” from “A Place in the Sun” and the 12-minute-plus “Ocean Breeze” from the first album.)

From there, it was hit city as Pablo cruised through the favorites “Don’t Want to Live Without It,” “I Go to Rio” and, of course, the dual smashes “Love Will Find a Way” and “Whatcha Gonna Do?”

It was a superb showing by a group that should be mentioned way more frequently whenever the topic of best Bay Area bands comes up.

Pablo Cruise plays tonight (Friday, May 10) at the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma. For more information, visit .

1. “Worlds Away”2. “Cool Love”3. “Raging Fire”4. “Atlanta June”5. “Livin’ Inside of Your Love”6. “I Get Tired Just Thinking of You”7. “A Place in the Sun”8. “Will You, Won’t You”9. “Baywatch” theme10. “Zero to Sixty in Five”11. “Don’t Want to Live Without It”12. “I Go to Rio”13. “Love Will Find a Way”14. “Whatcha Gonna Do?”

Pablo Cruise keyboardist Cory Lerios, left, and guitarist and vocalist,...

Pablo Cruise keyboardist Cory Lerios, left, and guitarist and vocalist, David Jenkins, perform in concert at the Guild Theatre in Menlo Park, Calif., on Thursday, May 9, 2024. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Pablo Cruise keyboardist Cory Lerios acknowledges fans as the band...

Pablo Cruise keyboardist Cory Lerios acknowledges fans as the band performs in concert at the Guild Theatre in Menlo Park, Calif., on Thursday, May 9, 2024. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Pablo Cruise performs in concert at the Guild Theatre in...

Pablo Cruise performs in concert at the Guild Theatre in Menlo Park, Calif., on Thursday, May 9, 2024. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Pablo Cruise performs in concert at the Guild Theatre in...

Pablo Cruise guitarist and vocalist, David Jenkins, performs in concert at the Guild Theatre in Menlo Park, Calif., on Thursday, May 9, 2024. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Pablo Cruise keyboardist Cory Lerios cheers with fans as the...

Pablo Cruise keyboardist Cory Lerios cheers with fans as the band performs in concert at the Guild Theatre in Menlo Park, Calif., on Thursday, May 9, 2024. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Pablo Cruise keyboardist Cory Lerios, left, and guitarist and vocalist,...

  • Report an error
  • Policies and Standards

More in Music

He played with such artists as Stevie Wonder, the Rolling Stones and David Bowie, and had several successful solo albums.

News Obituaries | David Sanborn dies at 78; Grammy-winning musician ‘put the saxophone back into Rock ’n Roll’

The Netherlands’ contestant in the Eurovision Song Contest was dramatically expelled from competition hours before Saturday’s final of the pan-continental pop competition, which has been rattled by protests over the participation of Israel.

Music | Dutch contestant kicked out of Eurovision hours before tension-plagued song contest final

Its Antioch venue will host Tina Turner tributes, western chainsaw demonstrations, beef cattle shows and more.

Local News | On Tap: Contra Costa County Fair offers four days of fun May 16-19

Swift told her Paris crowd that they were the first to see songs from “Tortured Poets” performed. She jokingly called the album “Female Rage: The Musical.”

Music | Taylor Swift debuts revamped ‘Eras Tour’ setlist with ‘Tortured Poets Department’ songs

  • Share full article

A man in a paisley button-up shirt stands outside, with a large R.V. vehicle visible behind him and a few white flowers in close-up in front of him.

He Sang ‘What a Fool Believes.’ But Michael McDonald Is in on the Joke.

The singer and songwriter with a silky-smooth voice has written a memoir with Paul Reiser that recounts his story of pain and redemption with dashes of humor.

Michael McDonald’s new memoir is titled “What a Fool Believes,” after the Grammy-winning hit he wrote in 1978 with Kenny Loggins. Credit... Ariel Fisher for The New York Times

Supported by

Alexandra Jacobs

By Alexandra Jacobs

Reporting from Santa Barbara, Calif.

  • Published May 9, 2024 Updated May 11, 2024

The voice of Michael McDonald has been compared to velvet , silk and sandpaper , melted chocolate and last year, by a besotted 11-year-old girl, an angel . He has harmonized with the best in the business. But his latest duet might cause even the most Botoxed foreheads of Hollywood to furrow.

“How you like us so far?” joked Paul Reiser, the actor and comedian, from one corner of a squishy sofa in McDonald’s Santa Barbara, Calif., aerie on a recent Tuesday morning. He was there to talk about the singer’s memoir, which they wrote together and will be published by Dey Street Books on May 21.

In the other corner, emanating the equanimity that’s as beloved as his baritone, was the man whose 50-plus-year career has included backup vocals for Steely Dan, Elton John , El DeBarge , Toto , Bonnie Raitt and on and on — backup so extensive and distinctive it’s inspired playlists on Apple Music and Spotify . He was wearing a paisley-patterned shirt, black trousers and, as one might expect of an angel who must tread this cursed Earth, puffy Hoka sneakers .

McDonald, 72, has also spent decades in the spotlight, albeit sidlingly, often with his famous blue eyes shut . (“Singing is such an intimate act,” he explains in the book, “and like kissing, it does no real good to see what the other person is doing.”) He led the Doobie Brothers in various iterations with his gospel-inflected keyboard style; released nine solo studio albums traversing multiple genres and continues to make live appearances at venues from Coachella to the Carlyle .

A man in a black shirt and dark pants stands a few feet behind a man in a paisley shirt with a white beard, both outside in a garden near a house with an angled roof.

The book is titled “What a Fool Believes,” after the Grammy-winning hit McDonald wrote in 1978 with Kenny Loggins, though with some hesitation. “I thought, ‘Well, that’s just too obvious,’” he said. “I wanted it to be something clever and mind-provoking, and I couldn’t really think of anything because, you know, I have a problem provoking my own mind.”

He was convinced by Reiser, who among many other projects wrote the best-selling books “Couplehood” and “Babyhood” in the 1990s, and a follow-up, “Familyhood,” in 2011.

“I mean, how lucky am I?” McDonald said.

“Awwww,” Reiser said. But seriously: “He’s very introspective, which you don’t see at first and then you go, ‘Oh, this guy is deeper than you think.’” A beat. “Not that I thought you were shallow!”

As if in a marathon therapy session, they plunged together back to the past. McDonald grew up Irish Catholic, bracketed by two sisters in a suburb of St. Louis. His father was a streetcar driver and ex-Marine, a teetotaler with an eye for the ladies and a beautiful singing voice. His mother worked in a trading stamps store and had a weakness for pep pills. The marriage didn’t last.

He had an Aunt Mame with a Victrola from which, at age 5, he learned to imitate Mario Lanza warbling “ Love is a Many-Splendored Thing ”; an Aunt Bitsy who introduced him to Rodgers and Hammerstein; and an Aunt Ann Catherine whose record collection included, revelatorily, Ray Charles. Burt Bacharach was a big influence, too. Beatles-wise, he gravitated more toward McCartney than Lennon.

“I always related to him,” McDonald said, “because I could sense from him that he heard a lot of the same music I heard — that kind of barroom, Tin Pan Alley chord progression.”

In one devastating passage, McDonald writes of getting his girlfriend pregnant in eighth grade and biking over to confront her parents, who insisted, along with his own, that she give the baby up for adoption. Too young to sort through this emotional wreckage, he steered away. “Disappearing became my MO,” he writes. “Distancing myself from whatever it was that might require accountability.”

He dropped out of high school and joined a series of colorful-sounding bands — the Majestics, the Sheratons, the Delrays, the Guild, the Blue. Old ballrooms; natty threads. Beer and marijuana became staples, and later, after he moved to Los Angeles and began breaking into the big time, cocaine.

Referred to Steely Dan by the drummer Jeff Porcaro in 1973, he “came to rehearsal a few days later and knocked everyone out,” Donald Fagen, the band’s surviving founder, wrote in an email. “There was a serious discussion about whether he should replace me as the lead singer, which would have been my personal preference. But, for some dumb reason, I was voted down. I didn’t insist, and I’ve regretted it ever since. I mean, here’s this monster singer and musician, and he’s also really funny and a sweetheart of a guy. What’s not to like?”

Patti LaBelle called about recording “ On My Own ” (1986) with McDonald, after a solo version went sour. “I said, ‘The person I would love to sing it with is quiet, beautiful Michael,’” she remembered. Recently they crooned it together on a jazz cruise on the Norwegian Pearl where, she said, he confessed nerves beforehand; when he emerged onstage, the crowd went bananas. “He’s one of a kind. He comes out whispering and then — all this power. It’s like he doesn’t even open his mouth, he’s just so laid back.”

Indeed, so constitutionally low-key is McDonald that Loggins, with whom he also composed “ This is It ” and “ I Gotta Try, ” and who released his own memoir, “ Still Alright ,” in 2022, didn’t even know his old collaborator is about to join him on the bookshelves.

On the phone, Loggins remembered the first time he heard McDonald in the Doobies’ “ Livin’ on the Fault Line .” “I just felt like, ‘Oh, this is going to be a major American voice,’” he said. “He kind of goes into a trance when we write, and if I say ‘play it again,’ he won’t remember, so I have to record all the time. We have completely different styles vocally, but blend really well. It’s not logical.”

In 2005, the duo, along with Hall and Oates, Christopher Cross, Toto, Steve Perry and others, were affectionately spoofed in J.D. Ryznar’s web series, “ Yacht Rock .” A strain of the much-maligned catchall “adult contemporary” category was suddenly rebranded as “smooth music”: gleaming with high production values and a general mellifluence; the polar opposite of punk. McDonald was portrayed as the genre’s earnest common denominator: its anchor, its intergenerational secret sauce, who stumbles out of fashion and then rises again when “ I Keep Forgettin ’” is sampled by Warren G in 1994.

McDonald compared the yacht-rock phenomenon to oldies radio. “Even though I was a little ambivalent about both, at first, they turned out to be the two best things that ever happened to us from the ’70s,” he said, “because we kept getting airplay.”

This wasn’t his first time as a figure of comedy. In 1981, in an SCTV sketch, Rick Moranis portrayed McDonald driving intently down a highway in a convertible to clap on headphones and sing bits of backup for Cross’s “Ride Like the Wind” before rushing off to his next gig. McDonald contributed a song to the 1999 “South Park” movie and sang at a fictional “30 Rock” benefit . In “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (2005), an electronics-store manager played by Jane Lynch is excoriated by an employee for broadcasting a McDonald concert video ad nauseam. (“If I have to hear ‘ Yah Mo B There ’ one more time I’m going to yah mo burn this place to the ground!”) And in 2013 Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake donned silver McDonald wigs to sing “ Row, Row, Row Your Boat ” with him.

We have his current writing partner to thank, or blame, for the chapter title “Doobie or Not Doobie, That Is the Question.” Reiser, an accomplished musician himself who can sit down at the Yamaha and spontaneously ripple off a Rachmaninoff concerto, first encountered McDonald performing during an event at a neighbor’s house. “And in a surge of moxie, I went, ‘I live literally next door, and I got a music studio with two pianos that I put in just in case this ever happened,’” Reiser recalled. “Would you like to come over?’”

A jam session ensued. A friendship developed. Then the pandemic descended. McDonald thought that during lockdown he might apply himself with renewed vigor to his painting hobby . Reiser had another idea. “He’s the only reason the book exists, as far as I know,” McDonald said. “Putting one foot in front of the other was never my strong suit, on my own power. By myself, I become like a blob.”

McDonald’s wife, the singer Amy Holland, wandered briefly into their living room, which is large, cozy and barnlike, with plenty of blankets and candles and a banjo mounted on the wall bearing the visage of her mother, Verna Sherrill Boersma, who did a hillbilly routine as Esmereldy in the 1940s and resembled …. was it Bette Davis? “Celeste Holm,” McDonald said.

He and Holland were married in 1983, with David Pack, the lead singer of Ambrosia performing “Biggest Part of Me” at the reception. They have two adult children, a submissive golden retriever, and a possessive Chihuahua who sleeps in between the couple.

One of their previous pooches cringed at his singing, McDonald noted, and would try to pry his master’s hands off the piano keys every time he played.

“Everyone’s a critic,” Reiser said.

Working with McDonald, he said, was often just a process of having him slow down and fill out anecdotes that, to him, seemed like no big deal — Steely Dan partying in the penthouse of a London hotel, for one. “I’m going, ‘That’s like a Fellini movie!’” One chapter is devoted to an extended bender with the band’s co-founder, Walter Becker , who died in 2017; another features an unintentional acid trip. ( David Gest also makes an appearance.)

“I remember looking to the guys who seem to manage it well — guys who did a little of this and did a little of that but didn’t have a problem like I suspect that I already did,” McDonald said. “Their whole thing was ‘You just got to manage it — you can’t overdo it, man.’” He paused. “And every one of those guys, to a man, is gone.”

Sober since the mid-80s — he said his current vices are “food and sloth” — McDonald is not only still here, but discreetly ubiquitous.

Forget about velvet and silk: The more you read and think and listen, the more his voice seems like a connecting thread running through America’s popular-music tapestry that, if pulled, might unravel the whole thing — or at least, leave a significant, unmendable hole.

And yet, he said, “to this day I keep expecting the doors to fly open and the impostor police to come and grab me and take me out.”

Alexandra Jacobs is a Times book critic and occasional features writer. She joined The Times in 2010. More about Alexandra Jacobs

Find the Right Soundtrack for You

Trying to expand your musical horizons take a listen to something new..

Cass Elliot ’s death spawned a horrible myth. She deserves better.

Listen to the power and beauty of African guitar greats .

What happens next  for Kendrick Lamar and Drake?

He sang “What a Fool Believes.” But Michael McDonald  is in on the joke.

Hear 9 of the week’s most notable new songs on the Playlist .


Yacht Rock Classics

April 27, 2024 100 Songs, 6 hours, 51 minutes ℗ 2024 Sony Music Entertainment

Music Videos

Keith Whitley

Cheap Trick

Kenny Loggins

Eddie Money

Featured On

Apple Music Classic Rock

Apple Music 2000s

Apple Music Feel Good

Apple Music ’80s

Apple Music

Apple Music ’90s

Select a country or region

Africa, middle east, and india.

  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Congo, The Democratic Republic Of The
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Niger (English)
  • Congo, Republic of
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sierra Leone
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania, United Republic Of
  • Turkmenistan
  • United Arab Emirates

Asia Pacific

  • Indonesia (English)
  • Lao People's Democratic Republic
  • Malaysia (English)
  • Micronesia, Federated States of
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Philippines
  • Solomon Islands
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • France (Français)
  • Deutschland
  • Luxembourg (English)
  • Moldova, Republic Of
  • North Macedonia
  • Portugal (Português)
  • Türkiye (English)
  • United Kingdom

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina (Español)
  • Bolivia (Español)
  • Virgin Islands, British
  • Cayman Islands
  • Chile (Español)
  • Colombia (Español)
  • Costa Rica (Español)
  • República Dominicana
  • Ecuador (Español)
  • El Salvador (Español)
  • Guatemala (Español)
  • Honduras (Español)
  • Nicaragua (Español)
  • Paraguay (Español)
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • St. Vincent and The Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos
  • Uruguay (English)
  • Venezuela (Español)

The United States and Canada

  • Canada (English)
  • Canada (Français)
  • United States
  • Estados Unidos (Español México)
  • الولايات المتحدة
  • États-Unis (Français France)
  • Estados Unidos (Português Brasil)
  • 美國 (繁體中文台灣)
  • Community Service
  • People in the News
  • Podcast Ink™
  • Eric Rhoads – Chairman
  • Deborah Parenti – Publisher
  • John Shomby
  • Buzz Knight
  • Marc Greenspan
  • Chris Stonick
  • Jeffrey Hedquist
  • Roy H. Williams – The Wizard of Ads
  • Jeff McHugh
  • Women To Watch with Charese Fruge’
  • Paige Nienaber’s Midweek Idea Dump
  • View Job Listings
  • Submit a Job Listing (employers)
  • View Resumes (employers)
  • Submit Your Resume (job seekers)
  • Contact Radio Ink
  • About Radio Ink
  • Submit a News Tip
  • Submit a Community Service Story
  • Send us a Classic Photo
  • New Subscription (Print or Digital)
  • Subscription Renewal
  • Log In (Existing Digital Subscriptions Only)

Free Daily Radio News

  • Change of Address
  • Back Issues
  • Free Trial Issue
  • Advertise with Radio Ink
  • Digital Magazine Login

Radio Ink - Radio\'s Premier Management & Marketing Magazine

Yacht Rocker Walter Egan Joins Nashville’s Hippie Radio

Travis Daily

Travis Daily Takes Country Format Reins At Cumulus Media

The Gracies

AWMF Taps Tamera Mowry-Housley To Host 2024 Gracies

John Catsimatidis

WABC Owner Catsimatidis Details Giuliani First Amendment Fallout

Walter Egan

American rock artist Walter Egan is set to host a new radio show on Nashville’s Hippie Radio 94.5 ( WHPY-FM/WYGI-AM ). Titled Walt’s Record Vault , the program will debut on Sunday, May 19. Egan is best known for his 1978 Top 10 hit “Magnet & Steel” which was inspired by Stevie Nicks, featuring both her and Lindsey Buckingham on backing vocals.

Over the years, he has performed alongside Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, and Bob Welch. Currently residing in Middle Tennessee, Egan remains active in the music scene, collaborating with bands like Ambrosia, Orleans, and Firefall, and participating in Yacht Rock Tours.

Egan says, “The show will be a lot of original hippie music from the late 60’s early 70’s centered around the Haight-Ashbury era. It’s kind of a post-grad college radio playlist. Should be lots of fun!”


Jay Michaels

Jay Michaels Heads To Jackson To Program For New South Radio

Steve Holm

Cumulus Elevates Steve Holm To Grand Rapids Market Manager

Leave a reply cancel reply.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

  • Job Title * Please choose an option President/CEO Market Manager General Manager Director of Sales Sales Manager Programming / Ops Manager Account Executive On-Air / Host Digital Manager Marketing Manager News Director Producer Engineer Consultant Administration Legal Counsel Other
  • Example: Consultant
  • Company Name *
  • Name This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Our Print Magazine: Radio Ink

Radio Ink - Radio\'s Premier Management & Marketing Magazine

From swinging to Swifties, there's truly a themed cruise for everything nowadays.

Seasoned cruisers know you can take your travel up a level by boarding a themed cruise, exploring the seas with those with the same passions and interests as you.

Whether you adore the cheesy Christmas movies that come out every year or you're a hip-hop fanatic, here are some of the top-themed cruises sailing out of Florida over the next year.

Big Nude Boat

The " Big Nude Boat " cruise is an 11-day adventure set for 2025 on the Norwegian Pearl, departing from the Port of Miami on Feb. 3 and returns to the same port on Feb. 14 (just in time for Valentine's Day).

"Bare Necessities’ newest nude cruise is a private island double-dip with a brand new travel partner," the company wrote on its website .

The itinerary includes stops at the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Dominica, Martinique and St. Lucia. Rates for an inside cabin start at $2,000 per person and go to up to $33,000 for a top room.

Guests are encouraged to park their bare behinds on towels provided on board in areas including the pool deck and the buffet area, according to the website.

"Passengers can easily follow our rule on nudist etiquette by always placing a towel down before sitting," it reads. "Remember to pack a swimsuit; not all excursions are clothing optional."

In My Cruise Era

The “ In My Cruise Era … ” is a  Taylor Swift-themed cruise  that is set to launch from Port of Miami on Oct. 21,

The cruise, on a Royal Caribbean ship, leaves for the Bahamas the day after Swift's final show of her three-day stop in Miami. According to the website, the cruise fare includes stateroom accommodations, dinner in the main dining room nightly as well as additional buffet and a la carte options around the ship. It also includes entertainment.

All aboard the Taylor Swift ship! Popstar-themed cruise sets sail in Florida next year

"This cruise is for all fans, so bring your besties, your moms and dads, your baby fans, and if you need someone to room with, post on our page and ask," the organizers wrote on the  website .

The itinerary, though not finalized and "subject to change," includes:

  • " We can’t make any promises now can we babe, but you can make me a drink " Welcome Cocktail Party
  • " Make the friendship bracelets, take the moment and taste it " Friendship Bracelet Swapping
  • " I don't wanna dance if I'm not dancing with you " ThemedDance Party
  • " Heartbreak is the national anthem, we sing it proudly " Themed Karaoke
  • " Can I ask you a question? " Taylor Trivia
  • "Lately she’s been dressing for revenge " Nightly eras outfit themes

Halloween on the High Seas on the Disney Cruise Line

Looking for a more family-friendly option? The Disney Cruise line has you covered.

The Disney Cruise Line will offer its " Halloween on the High Seas " cruises in September and October. Patrons can choose from sailings ranging from 3-7 days, most of which travel to the Bahamas or the Caribbean islands. The Halloween-themed cruise is offered on four of the Disney cruise ships, including the Disney Magic, Disney Wish, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy.

While on board the Halloween on the High Seas cruise, AAA writes guests will enjoy magical, spooktacular entertainment every day, such as:

  • Meet and greets with your favorite Disney characters, all decked out in their own Halloween costumes.
  • Halloween parties with Mickey, Minnie and the whole gang.
  • Ghoulish menus at every meal.

Hallmark Christmas Cruise

In case Halloween isn't your preferred holiday to spend on the seas, why not pretend you're in your own made-for-TV Christmas movie?

The Hallmark Channel, holiday season film factory, will host a Christmas Cruise that will embark on a four-night sailing on Nov. 5 from Miami. According to USA Today, passengers will be able to experience holiday cheer on the high seas, complete with cookie making, “carol-oke,” photo ops with network stars, and an exclusive movie premiere of one of the famed Countdown to Christmas films.

The Christmas cruise will take place aboard the Norwegian Gem Cruise Ship, a 965-foot Jewel-class ship.

The company announced that the cruise has already sold out, sharing to USA TODAY via email last year: "Christmas cheer filled every tier, and now the first ever Hallmark Channel Christmas Cruise is SOLD OUT."

Rock the Bells Cruise

Hip Hop Hooray! The Rock the Bells Cruise: A Hip-Hop Experience is a four-day jam session founded by LL Cool J back in 2023. After seeing major success last year, the cruise is returning for 2024.

MCs, DJs, and producers will lead nonstop parties and live performances on the Norwegian Gem from Nov. 13 through 17. The cruise leaves from Miami to Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau.

Some of the acts lined up for the cruise include Busta Rhymes, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Method Man & Redman, Scarface, Kid Capri and more.

Comic-Con: The Cruise

Get ready to join the CCU (Cruise Cinematic Universe). San Diego Comic-Con and Entertainment Cruise Productions have team up for Comic-Con: The Cruise . It will run from Feb. 5 through 9 of 2025.

Sailing on Royal Caribbean's  Serenade of the Seas  from Tampa to Cozumel, participants will interact with Comic-Con icons and attend nonstop activities on board, such as cosplay events, trivia, parties and more

Some of the stars who are slated to be on board include:

  • George Takei
  • Robb Pearlman
  • Mary McDonnell

Star Trek - The Cruise

Live long and prosper! Trekkies can geek out with one another on best cruise experience in the galaxy, according to U.S. News .

Sailing on Royal Caribbean International's Explorer of the Seas, the Star Trek cruise will sail from Miami on Feb. 23-through March 2 of 2025. Passengers will head to Costa Maya, Cozumel and Belize.

"Each night of the cruise celebrates a different dimension of the Star Trek experience and, since the cruise's debut in 2017, guests have knocked it out of the park with show-stopping costumes," U.S. News writes.

Norwegian: Ultimate Disco Cruise

Dig out those old bell-bottom pants and practice your dance moves while you have time!

Norwegian Cruise Line Ultimate Disco Cruise leaves from Miami on Feb. 19 through 24, 2025. During this groovy cruise, you will travel aboard the Norwegian Pearl to ports of call such as Cozumel and Costa Maya. Awhile attending the hottest disco parties along the high seas.

AAA notes these are some of the performers and guests that are going to be on board alongside you:

  • Kool & The Gang
  • Original Stone City Band
  • The Spinners
  • Shalamar featuring Howard Hewett, Carolyn Griffey and Jeffrey Daniel

When is the best time to cruise?

Here are AAA’s trend forecasts for the best times to cruise in 2024, according to the kind of cruise you choose:

  • The Caribbean  is popular year-round, but spring and summer are the most popular sailing times. 
  • Alaska cruise  season runs from May to September. Because this is an abbreviated period, there’s more competition for availability.  
  • Weekend cruises  have gained popularity in recent years. Weekend warriors have realized the value an all-inclusive cruise compared to a weekend getaway in a big city resort. Cruise lines have recognized this growing trend and are making weekend cruises more of a priority in 2024, by mobilizing some of their newest ships to accessible ports for weekend excursions. 
  • European river cruising  is now operational year-round. Because European travel is most popular during the summer, travelers can avoid the crowds and find lower priced cruises and airfares in the early and later parts of the year.


  1. What is Yacht Rock? Yachty by Nature captains of smooth sail

    what it yacht rock

  2. What is yacht rock?. There is this musical style

    what it yacht rock

  3. Sail Away: The Oral History of ‘Yacht Rock’

    what it yacht rock

  4. HOME

    what it yacht rock

  5. I Can Go For That: The Smooth World of Yacht Rock, BBC4, review: retro

    what it yacht rock

  6. Yacht Rock Playlist for DJs on Beatsource

    what it yacht rock


  1. Instant Yacht Rock!


  1. Yacht rock

    Yacht rock (originally known as the West Coast sound or adult-oriented rock) is a broad music style and aesthetic commonly associated with soft rock, one of the most commercially successful genres from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. Drawing on sources such as smooth soul, smooth jazz, R&B, and disco, common stylistic traits include high-quality production, clean vocals, and a focus on light ...

  2. What Is 'Yacht Rock'?

    This is the story of Yacht Rock, told from stem to stern — a reimagining of a bygone soft-rock renaissance, courtesy of hipsters with fake mustaches, impeccable record collections and a love of ...

  3. The 20 greatest yacht rock songs ever, ranked

    What is Yacht Rock? Also known as the West Coast Sound or adult-oriented rock, it's a style of soft rock from between the late 1970s and early 1980s that featured elements of smooth soul, smooth jazz, R&B, funk, rock and disco. The 40 greatest disco songs ever, ranked; The 10 greatest and smoothest ever sax solos, ranked

  4. Yacht Rock: A History of the Soft Rock Resurgence

    Yacht rock began as a sendup of the late '70s and early '80s smooth jams to which many Millennials and late period Gen-Xers were likely conceived, then morphed into a beloved musical genre that ...

  5. Yacht Rock: A Beginner's Guide In 5 albums

    Classic Rock. A beginner's guide to yacht rock in five essential albums. By Jerry Ewing. ( Classic Rock ) published 1 July 2023. Yacht rock, soft rock - call it what you will. Here are five brilliant albums that define the genre in all its bearded, Hawaiian shirted glory. (Image credit: Columbia/Warner Bros/ABC)

  6. Yacht Rock Guide: A Brief History of Yacht Rock

    The name "yacht rock" didn't enter the popular imagination until decades after its heyday in the early 1980s. It was a public access comedy show that gave this genre its name, which evokes the breezy marinas of southern California.

  7. This Is the Definitive Definition of Yacht Rock

    Yacht rock is music, primarily created between 1976 and '84, that can be characterized as smooth and melodic, and typically combines elements of jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock.

  8. Yacht Rock: Album, Record Guide

    Before yacht rock was an identifiable genre, Scaggs (no fan of the term, as he told Rolling Stone in 2018) set the standard for what was to come: sharp-dressed white soul, burnished ballads that ...

  9. Yacht Rock: A Boatload Of Not-So-Guilty Pleasures

    Setting sail. Like other subgenres that grew from an existing style, just as Americana did from country, the starting point of yacht rock is a matter of endless debate. Some hear it in the early ...

  10. Finally, a name for that music: "Yacht Rock"

    Finally, a name for that music: "Yacht Rock". Originally published January 9, 2006 at 12:00 am. A few little-known facts about singer/songwriter Michael McDonald: Aside from topping the charts ...

  11. Yacht Or Not?: Sailing The Seas of Yacht Rock

    Yacht rock doesn't just have an earnestness to its lyrics, the sax solos come with the same level of sincerity. If the style was the last gasp of unadulterated pop, it was also the dying breath ...

  12. The Bizarre History Of Yacht Rock Music

    Yacht rock is a perfect example: None of the artists currently considered to be yacht rockers called themselves that at the time or were even aware that they were carving out a distinct sub-genre of rock music. The whole idea of yacht rock is a modern invention — and yet it perfectly describes a specific type of music that ruled pop culture ...

  13. Top 50 Yacht Rock Songs

    The result is an infectious and uplifting groove - yacht rock at its finest. (Corey Irwin) 43. "Diamond Girl," Seals & Crofts (1973) Seals & Crofts were soft-rock stylists with imagination ...

  14. I can go for that: five essential yacht rock classics

    Steely Dan: Hey Nineteen (1980) The frisson of yacht rock derives from its blend of bourgie feelgood bounce crossed with a shiver of thwarted desire. Steely Dan self-deprecatingly called their ...

  15. That '70s Week: Yacht Rock : World Cafe : NPR

    Broadly speaking, yacht rock is an ocean of smooth, soft-listening music made in the late '70s and early '80s by artists like Toto, Hall & Oates and Kenny Loggins — music you can sail to. But as ...

  16. What is Yacht Rock?

    What are Yacht Rock Songs? As you can imagine the list is extensive, and we take a look at our favorites with the Best Yacht Rock songs, but here are a few that might be familiar to you: The Doobie Brothers "What A Fool Believes". Christopher Cross "Sailing". Seals & Croft "Summer Breeze". Steely Dan "Deacon Blues". Hall & Oats ...

  17. What Is 'Yacht Rock'? Plus 10 Essential Yacht Rock Albums

    Join Pete Pardo for a show all about that breezy pop rock music labeled 'yacht rock'. #yachtrock 💰Donate via Ko-Fi:

  18. What Is 'Yacht Rock' And Why Do We Love It?

    First, let's define our terms. 'Yacht Rock' is a style of lush, smooth music that doesn't require any deep thought. It is best represented by artists from California who released albums between 1974 and 1983. Guys with neatly-trimmed beards who sat in boats on their album covers. The term 'Yacht Rock' was never used during the ...

  19. What is yacht rock?. There is this musical style

    The creation of Yacht Rock. Despite the fact that the brightest representatives of yacht-rock performed in the seventies and eighties, this term first appeared only in 2005. It all started with one man - let's call him Captain - who invented a new show for the Channel 101 monthly film festival, which was called Yacht Rock.

  20. What Is Yacht Rock & Should You Play It in Your Store?

    What Is Yacht Rock? Yacht rock is a genre of music made between 1976 and 1984 in Southern California. It is a mellow kind of soft rock that often has a high level of musicality encompassing elements of rock, jazz, and rhythm and blues. Typical yacht rock is more musical than lyrical, and it has more electric piano than acoustic guitar.

  21. Yacht Rock Radio: 70s & 80s Soft Rock

    Wednesday. All times listed EDT. 3:30 pm. Now Playing. Yacht Rock Radio SiriusXM's tribute to Yacht Rock celebrates the smooth-sailing soft rock from the late 70s and early 80s. You'll hear artists like Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross, Hall & Oates and other titans of smooth music. It's the kind of rock that doesn't rock the boat!

  22. List of yacht rock artists

    The following is a list of yacht rock bands and artists. Yacht rock. Airplay [1] [2] Alessi [1] Ambrosia [3] [4] America [5] Attitudes [1] Patti Austin [1] Average White Band [6]

  23. ROCK.IT Yacht Charter Price

    ROCK.IT is a 60m luxury motor super yacht available for charter built in 2014, refitted in 2020. Charter up to 11 guests in 5 cabins (1 Master, 2 VIP, 4 Double & 1 Twin) with a crew of 14.

  24. Pablo Cruise brings its clool yacht rock sound to Guild in Menlo Park

    "Our headquarters was an 82-foot schooner in the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon. So, we were definitely yacht rockers back before yacht rock was a term."

  25. Review: Pablo Cruise bring yacht rock songs to Guild in Menlo Park

    From there, the band peddled some fine yacht rock — the genre that championed smooth a.m. radio hits of the '70s and early '80s — as it sailed on with a pair of gorgeous ballads, "Cool ...

  26. He Sang 'What a Fool Believes.' But Michael McDonald Is in on the Joke

    McDonald compared the yacht-rock phenomenon to oldies radio. "Even though I was a little ambivalent about both, at first, they turned out to be the two best things that ever happened to us from ...

  27. ‎Yacht Rock Classics

    Listen to Yacht Rock Classics by Various Artists on Apple Music. 2024. 100 Songs. Duration: 6 hours, 51 minutes.

  28. Yacht Rocker Walter Egan Joins Nashville's Hippie Radio

    American rock artist Walter Egan is set to host a new radio show on Nashville's Hippie Radio 94.5 ( WHPY-FM/WYGI-AM ). Titled Walt's Record Vault, the program will debut on Sunday, May 19 ...

  29. 'Big Nude Cruise': See 7 other themed cruises leaving out of Florida

    The Rock the Bells Cruise: A Hip-Hop Experience is a four-day jam session founded by LL Cool J back in 2023. After seeing major success last year, the cruise is returning for 2024.

  30. Album Bucket List Favorite Albums By Genre: What's Your ...

    70's Alt Rock -King Crimson-Lark's Tongue In Aspic 80's Alt Rock - Talking Heads-Remain In Light 90's Alt Rock- Nirvana- Never mind 2000's Alt…