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The 20 greatest yacht rock songs ever, ranked

27 July 2022, 17:50

The greatest yacht rock songs ever

By Tom Eames

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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'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics

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)'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics


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'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics

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'

yacht band lyrics

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)'

yacht band lyrics

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'!

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Feature: The 101 GREATEST YACHT ROCK SONGS OF ALL TIME for Your Summer Playlist - featuring Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Christopher Cross and Steely Dan

What Yacht Rock Classic Hit #1?


Yacht Rock is not for everyone. If you like your rock Cannibal Corpse intense or your hip hop extra Onyx edgy, then Yacht Rock will indubitably be your Kryptonite.

Some people consider this genre akin to musical wallpaper, marshmallow fluff, whiter-than-white bread snore-tunes or sax-heavy Sominex-inducing elevator muzak. They consider it slick, soulless pablum, even though true Yacht Rock vibrates with liveliness. Yes, it can be slow but it should never be sleepy; it should be relaxed and chill but never boring. Unfortunately, it's oft mistaken for any East Listening or Adult Contemporary tune (although, to be fair, many of the songs on this list do fall in these categories). But true Yacht Rock will not cause you to yawn; so don't worry, you won't find Air Supply, Barry Manilow or Dan Fogelberg anywhere near one of these rockin' yachts.

But what exactly is "Yacht Rock"? For those who don't know, it includes pop-rock songs from the late 1970's/early 1980's that would sound great on a yacht as you sip your pina coladas and get caught in the rain. Yacht Rock was not designed as thus; forty years ago, these songs that joyously filled the airwaves were called "soft rock" or "blue-eyed soul." It wasn't until the early 2000's when the term "Yacht Rock" was coined and the genre's guidelines were determined by the great J. D. Ryznar, Steve Huey, Hunter Stair, and David Lyons. Now it's everywhere, including on your SiriusXM radio app where a really bad Thurston Howell III soundalike introduces these Doobie-bounced ditties.

How can you identify a potential Yacht Rock classic? You can use Justice Potter Stewart's famous "I know it when I see it" (or, in this case, "hear it") dictum. To my ears, Yacht Rock is slick as an oil spill, part smooth pop, part light rock, both funky and jazzy. Most of the songs have tight harmonies, strong background singers (oftentimes sounding like Michael McDonald lost in an echo chamber), with added horns or strings. It's not lounge music, but it's music to lounge to. It's not disco, so you don't dance to it, but it's music where you can't help but tap your feet.

The joy of Yacht Rock is just that...its joyousness. This is bubblegum music for the jet set or the wannabe Richie Rich's. Its delightfully shallow, and part of its vibrancy is that it doesn't have a bad thought in its head. (Some of the songs obviously don't have any thoughts in their head, but if you want to have an intellectually stimulating conversation about, say, Toto's "Georgy Porgy," then have at it.) But never forget that part of its charm lies in its inability for deeper analysis; it's quite a stretch to compare some of these songs to a Winslow Homer painting or a Thomas Pynchon novel, but I'll try.

Officially, to be considered Yacht Rock, the song must have been released between 1976 and 1984, and I adhere to this rule for the 101. That means no songs that are proto-Yacht Rock, such as Seals & Crofts' "Summer Breeze," Ace's "How Long," or Steely Dan's "Dirty Work," are included. Neither did post-yacht rock favorites ("fire keepers") like Michael McDonald's "Sweet Freedom" (1986) get a chance. Some singers or groups, who are nowhere near Yacht Rock when looking at their oeuvre, may have a single YR classic in their midst; artists like Michael Jackson, Andy Gibb, the Eagles, and Earth, Wind and Fire have at least one Yacht Rock goodie on the list. And then there are those tunes that are not Yacht Rock: Nyacht Rock, which I tried but failed to avoid, but debates will happen nonetheless. For example, is "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" true Yacht Rock? Purists may say no, but I think there are few songs more yachty than the Rupert Holmes earworm.

Who would be on the Yacht Rock Mount Rushmore? Certainly Michael McDonald, whose presence is everywhere on this list with the Doobie Brothers, solos, duets, and as a backing vocalist on many of these tunes; he has 8 entries (not counting his prolific background singing). Kenny Loggins also epitomizes the genre (with 4 songs on the list, plus he co-wrote the #1 tune), as does Christopher Cross (with 5 songs on the list). But who gets that final position? Steely Dan (6 songs), Toto (6 songs), or Boz Scaggs (5 songs)? I'll let you try to settle on the filling of the fourth Rushmore slot.

And shouldn't there be a Yacht Rock Broadway musical? There are Yacht Rock tours, online series, books, websites, radio stations, podcasts, Spotify playlists; why not an official jukebox musical?

Lastly, you may ask: What makes me, a theatre reviewer, a Yacht Rock expert? For starters, I lived through these songs during my teenage years; they are the soundtrack of my younger self, especially when listening to Casey Kasem every Sunday morning on American Top-40 on CK-101. No matter how cheesy, I have a place in my heart for them. And on my 60 th birthday, I hope to rent a yacht, invite friends, don an ascot and captain's hat, and while enjoying mounds of caviar, listen to the soothing sounds of my youth. I'll use this list, my YACHT ROCK 101, as our guide, and hopefully you will too. (And hopefully if a song is unfamiliar to you, then you'll seek it out on You Tube or Spotify.) So, without further ado, counting down Kasem-style from #101 to #1, let's climb aboard...


101. NOTHIN' YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT [Airplay; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: N/A]

We start our three-hour tour here, Mr. Howell, with Airplay's little-known yachter, "Nothin' You Can Do About It," featuring David Foster, who peppers much of the following 101, and Jay Graydon, who played guitar on the Yacht Rock classic, "Peg." And as you'll find in so many songs here, the session musicians from Toto play the instruments and lift this horn-pocked One-Off into the stratosphere. It's poppy and breezy and everything that a YR hit should be. And its lyrics could be the Yacht Rock credo: "Relax; enjoy the ride!"

100. GEORGY PORGY [Toto; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #48]

This sounds like an outtake from a lost Boz Scaggs album. I have a place deep (very deep) in my heart for this. Yes, it's annoying, and Cheryl "Got to Be Real" Lynn's "Georgy Porgy, pudding pie/Kissed the girls and made them cry" refrain will get horrifically stuck in your head, but my oh my, how I love its glorious badness. (Some might claim that this isn't Yacht Rock, it's Yuck Rock.) No other chart would dare unearth this lost remnant that many think should remain lost, but it's too late baby, yes, it's too late. And if you want a sign of the coming Apocalypse: The endearingly ridiculous "Georgy Porgy" is more popular and beloved now than when it was first released.

99. THE THEME FROM "THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO" (BELIEVE IT OR NOT) [Joey Scarbury; 1981; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #2]

Yacht Rock songs are usually called "likable," which is sort of a masked insult. When you can't think of something nice to say, you usually fall back on "likable," which doesn't mean you like it; it just means someone out there may like it. And "The Theme from 'The Greatest American Hero'" is certainly likable; it's maybe the only thing we remember from the otherwise forgotten William Katt TV series, which lasted three seasons. For "Seinfeld" fans, George's use of it on his answering machine in "The Susie" episode put the song on a level way above its pay grade. Just last year, it also showed up (with "Seinfeld's" Jason Alexander) in a Tide commercial. So, this song has planted its flag in our more current pop culture landscape; perhaps it and the roaches will be the only things to survive the end of the world. Believe it or not.

98. INTO THE NIGHT [Benny Mardones; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #11]

97. WE JUST DISAGREE [Dave Mason; 1977; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #12]

96. KEY LARGO [Bertie Higgins; 1982; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #8]

95. ESCAPE (THE PINA COLADA SONG) [Rupert Holmes; 1979; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #1]

These four songs, including one #1 hit, will cause arguments from purists; they score them low on the official Yacht Rock scale and label them the dreaded Nyacht Rock. But I think each of them deserve to be on the list, even if this low. Benny Mardones was a key part of one of my high school experiences as the special musical guest for 1981's Grad Night at Disney World; I remember hearing "Into the Night" into the nighttime distance and knowing that I was in the right place at the right time. (And I take the song's narrator as a teenager crooning about a girl-because with lines like "she's just sixteen years old/Leave her alone, they say," it's just too creepily cringy to contend with otherwise.) "We Just Disagree" builds as the best Yacht Rock songs do, even if it may be too gloomy in subject matter (the breaking up of a relationship). "Key Largo" by Tampa Bay area native Bertie Higgins may be more Tropical Rock than Yacht Rock, but it's yachty enough to make the cut; besides, who can resist the Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall allusions? And Rupert Holmes's "Escape," the last word in 70's pop, is what many people think of when they read the term "Yacht Rock." And yes, it may be excessively wordy for the genre, complete with a twist ending, but to leave it off the list entirely would be a pop culture misdemeanor if not a crime. For the purists who will not escape the strict Yacht Rock guidelines and unnecessarily nix great and yachty songs like these, then we just disagree.

94. YAH-MO BE THERE [James Ingram with Michael McDonald; 1983; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #19]

A Yacht Rock staple and the first appearance of the ubiquitous Mr. McDonald on our list. I'm sure more than one person agrees with Paul Rudd from the move The 40-Year-Old Virgin when he, having McDonald's songs on a continuous loop at his work place, exclaims, "...If I hear 'Yah-Mo Be There' one more time, I'm gonna 'yah mo' burn this place to the ground!"

93. BREEZIN' [George Benson; 1976; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #63]

The first of two instrumentals on the list and the initial Yacht Rock sighting of George Benson. I mentioned earlier that none of these songs should be compared to paintings by Winslow Homer, but if any comes close, it's this one, especially Homer's "Breezin' Up." Try looking at the painting and hearing the Benson hook at the same time, and I'll see you in the morning.

92. FOOLISH HEART [Steve Perry; 1984; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #8]

Although Steve Perry is more famous as the onetime front man for Journey, and for making "Don't Stop Believin'" the most overplayed track from the Eighties, this is his sole entry into my Yacht Rock 101. His smooth voice haunts this with an uber-emotional yearning that seldom finds its way onto the feel-good vibes found elsewhere on this list.

91. 99 [Toto; 1979; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #26]

Chalk up another inspiration from a George Lucas film, although not the film you may think it is. Star Wars may be Lucas' biggest achievement, but this song takes its idea from the seldom-seen Lucas cult hit, THX 1138 , which is dystopian cold in feeling. That such a stark story (losing your identity and only being known as numbers) gets the smooth pop-light Toto treatment can only be construed as ironic.

90. ONE STEP CLOSER [The Doobie Brothers; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #24]

The Doobie Brothers' last gasp of the Michael McDonald era before our bearded musical Michelangelo would meander into a solo career.

89. HARD HABIT TO BREAK [Chicago; 1984; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #3]

Love is an addictive drug that lasts years in this beautiful if not overwrought ballad produced by David Foster.

88. DO RIGHT [Paul Davis; 1979; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #23]

A rare example of RYR: Religious Yacht Rock. Certainly the most unabashedly Christian song on the list, its opening lines like something out of an old Jim and Tammy Bakker telecast from the early 1980's: " I know that he gave his life for me/Set all our spirits free/So I want to do right, want to do right/All of my life ..." Musically it has a total yacht quality, a toe-tapping buoyant drive, that didn't stop it from being the 10 th biggest Adult Contemporary Christian hit of 1980.

87. DON'T TALK TO STRANGERS [Rick Springfield; 1982; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #2]

A year after "Jessie's Girl," Rick Springfield nearly hit the top of the charts with this Yacht Rock plea of jealous rage (though Springfield's demeanor doesn't come across as "rage"; he seems disdainful but laid back, which is why this perfectly fits the YR mold). It's too much fun to rival "Every Breath You Take" in the paranoid Top-10 hit department. Make sure not to miss the lyrics in French near the song's end which are there because...well, I don't know exactly why they're there, but I appreciate the nod to Francophiles.

86. WAITING FOR YOUR LOVE [Toto; 1982; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #73]

This is Toto's third song in the 101, paving way for claims that they should be the final slot on the Yacht Rock Mount Rushmore. "Waiting for Your Love" may not have hit big, stalling at a disappointing #73 on the charts, but has since been cited as one of Toto's greatest songs.

85. IT KEEPS YOU RUNNIN' [The Doobie Brothers; 1976; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #37]

Michael McDonald's soulful vocals and the band's mesmerizingly funky rhythm catapult this entry into the stratosphere. Yes, it was shoved onto the soundtrack of Forrest Gump , but its Yacht Rock status comes from it being featured in another film (and soundtrack that is a Yacht Rock purist's dream): the forgotten film FM (which spawned an even higher entry on this list...Steely Dan's infectious title cut).

84. LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO ME [Boz Scaggs; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #14]

Boz Scaggs wasn't born with the name "Boz." Actually born William Royce Scaggs, he got the nickname "Boz" after someone kept wrongly referring to him as "Bosley" at St. Marks Academy. And with a name like "Boz," Yacht Rock elite status was certainly destined. In the 1970's, Scaggs would perfect that laid back soft rock sound with a slight funky beat, the quintessence of Yacht Rock. This song, slower than most on this list, would become his big reaching-for-the-stars power pop ballad, and it didn't hurt that it was featured in a John Travolta film (Urban Cowboy).

83. KISS YOU ALL OVER [Exile; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #1]

It's hard to imagine that learned people that I deeply admire have a difficult time including this as a Yacht Rock staple. With synthesized strings and inspired by the grizzly growling org*smic sound of Barry White in "It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me," "Kiss You All Over" was voted ninth in Billboard's 2010 list of "The 50 Sexiest Songs of All Time" (for the record, "Physical" was #1).

82. BABYLON SISTERS [Steely Dan; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: N/A]

Dante-esque tour of California, with the jaded Yacht Kings, Steely Dan, playing the part of Virgil as your guide. Singing backup on this track, crooning those haunting words "Here comes those Santa Ana winds again," is none other than Patti Austin, who will be even more involved with another Yacht Rock classic that you'll find further down the list [see "Baby, Come to Me"]. A delicious downer.

81. SMOKE FROM A DISTANT FIRE [Sanford Townsend Band; 1977; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #9]

One of the great One Hit Wonders of the 1970's.

80. HOLD THE LINE [Toto; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #5]

The song that put the session musicians of Toto on the map and the fourth of their hits to make our 101.

79. TAKIN' IT TO THE STREETS [The Doobie Brothers; 1976; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #13]

The world was introduced to Michael McDonald as a Doobie right here, their first song written by him for the Doobie's and with him on lead vocals. And thus, the King of Yacht Rock started his reign. Also, who can forget the 1978 episode of "What's Happening" with Rerun illegally recording the Doobie's singing this very song?

78. KEEP THE FIRE [Kenny Loggins; 1979; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #36]

Mr. and Mrs. Howell, let me introduce you to our next entry...Kenny Loggins with his very own Herbie Hancock-inspired vocoder long before it was in vogue.

77. ISN'T IT TIME [The Babys; 1977; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #13]

Michael Corby's opening piano, backed with syrupy violins, leads way to John Waite's oxymoronic soft bombastic vocals and Tony Brock's pulsating drum work. Lisa Freeman-Roberts, Myrna Matthews and Pat Henderson get their gospel groove on while backing Waite's hearty screech in this scrumptious pop treat.

76. YOU CAN'T CHANGE THAT [Raydio; 1979; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #9]

A cool breeze of a song by Ray Parker Jr. & Co., one of the few Yacht Rock light-soul classics that you can dance to, though it's way too laid back to be considered disco. A song that immediately puts you in a good mood no matter how bad your day had been previously.

75. LIDO SHUFFLE [Boz Scaggs; 1976; Chart Position on the Billboard 100: #11]

Boz again, with this ode to a drifter looking for some luck. The galvanizing music would be created by none other than David Paich (keyboards), David Hungate (bass), and Jeff Porcaro (drums), all of them future members of Toto. Whoa-oh-oh-oh!

74. WHAT'CHA GONNA DO? [Pablo Cruise; 1977; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #6]

Is there a more apt band name for Yacht Rock greatness than "Pablo Cruise"? And this tune, a key part of that summer of 1977, was where they first introduced themselves to us in all their infectious pop-light glory. The group hit #6 in the U.S., which isn't bad, but Canada got it right when they elevated this tasty morsel to #1 on their charts.

73. SENTIMENTAL LADY [Bob Welch; 1977; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #8]

Bob Welch, a former member of Fleetwood Mac, originally recorded this for their 1972 album Bare Trees . After leaving the band, he recorded it again, giving it the lush Yacht Rock treatment. Fleetwood Mac may not be considered official Yacht Rock gurus, but this song comes closest, with the majority of their members performing on it: Mick Fleetwood on drums, John McVie on bass, Christine McVie on piano as well as joining Lindsey Buckingham in background vocals. All that's missing is Stevie.

72. MISS SUN [Boz Scaggs; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #14]

We can thank this record for giving us our beloved Toto. Originally recorded by them in 1977, and due to their tight musicianship, Toto made a deal with Columbia Records solely based on their performance of this song. Ironically, it didn't make Toto's first LP, but Boz and the Toto gang recorded it for his Hits! compilation and the rest is Yacht Rock history.

71. JOSIE [Steely Dan; 1977; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #26]

One of Steely Dan's very best, especially Chuck Rainey's hypnotic bass. And those lyrics: " When Josie comes home/So bad/She's the best friend we ever had/She's the raw flame/The live wire/She prays like a Roman/With her eyes on fire." Question: Where is Josie coming home from? College? War? Prison? With Steely Dan's don't-care-if-listeners-understand-them obtuse lyrics, we'll never know.

70. YOU ARE THE WOMAN [Firefall; 1976; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #9]

69. STILL THE ONE [Orleans; 1976; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #5]

Two light-rock classics from Year One of Yacht Rock. "You Are the Woman" would become a quasi-staple of yachty wedding reception playlists, especially if a flautist happened to be on board; "Still the One" would be the commercial jingle for both ABC-TV in the 1970's and Applebee's restaurants just a couple of years ago.

68. YEAR OF THE CAT [Al Stewart; 1976; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #8]

Perhaps the most haunting song on the list; it's what you get when you mix Casablanca with the Vietnamese Zodiac.

67. THUNDER ISLAND [Jay Ferguson; 1977; ; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #9]

This passionate ode to island lovin' can be heard in Anchorman 2 , the hockey movie Miracle , and the great "To'Hajiilee" episode of Breaking Bad .

66. RICH GIRL [Hall & Oates; 1977; ; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #1]

Hall & Oates first chart-topper and perhaps the first #1 single to use the word "bitch" in it. Interestingly, the song was written about a guy initially-the spoiled heir to a Chicago-based entrepreneur who owned Walker Bros. Original Pancake House and ran fifteen KFC restaurants; the gender of the person was changed and the song suddenly became destined for pop culture immortality. And yes, it entered skin-crawling notoriety when Son of Sam himself, David Berkowitz, claimed the song inspired him to continue his serial killing rampage that paralyzed New York City that summer of '77.

65. MORNIN' [Al Jarreau; 1983; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #21]

64. LOVELY DAY [Bill Withers; 1977; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #30]

Two of the peppiest songs imaginable, both about splendid sunshine days, perfect for relaxing while you count your money on your very own yacht. Jarreau's "Mornin'" sounds like the feel-good opening of a Broadway show, while Withers hit the motherlode with "Lovely Day," ubiquitous in ads and movies for the past 45 years, complete with an impressive 18-second note that Withers sings that may be the longest ever in a Top-40 hit

63. ARTHUR'S THEME (BEST THAT YOU CAN DO) [Christopher Cross; 1981; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #1]

Christopher Cross is up there with Michael McDonald as the face of Yacht Rock, and this Academy Award winner for Best Song from the movie Arthur put Cross at the pinnacle of his success. He never came close to those heights again, but Yacht Rock gave his cannon (and career) a whole new life.

62. LONELY BOY [Andrew Gold; 1976; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #7]

Teenage psychopathy never sounded so good.

61. BEING WITH YOU [Smokey Robinson; 1981; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #2]

Smokey's "Being with You" was kept out of the #1 position because Kim Carnes' owned the top of the '81 charts with the behemoth "Bette Davis Eyes." So the story goes, Smokey loved Carnes' version of his own "More Love" from the year before that he wrote a song specifically for her...and that song was "Being with You." But it was such a strong tune that he opted to record it himself and eventually had to settle with it at #2, behind the person who the song was originally intended for.

60. HOW MUCH I FEEL [Ambrosia; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #3]

Ambrosia is another Yacht Rock giant whose slick soft pop sound and lush harmonies would epitomize the genre.

59. LIVING INSIDE MYSELF [Gino Vannelli; 1981; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #6]

Is this too intense for Yacht Rock? Maybe at times with Vannelli's head-bursting vocals. But it's a musical treasure trove, at times as dramatic as any Hamlet soliloquy, and Vannelli sings it like an overemotive Johnnie Ray resurrected with big hair.

58. JOJO [Boz Scaggs; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #17]

Smoothly soulful as it is , "Jojo" deals with the darker side of Yacht Rock. The title character is quite obviously a pimp, especially with lines like "fifty dollars, he'll get you all you want" or "His baby stays high...he keeps her on the street." As rough as the thematic waters may seem, the music is smooth sailing, the perfect fusion of pop, jazz and funk. All this and Toto, too.

57. WHAT YOU WON'T DO FOR LOVE [Bobby Caldwell; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #9]

Of course this made the list. A heart-shaped pressing of the song was released just in time for Valentine's Day, 1979, and cost a whopping $7.98 from consumers (which was the price of most LP's back then) . So many artists from Boys II Men, Michael Bolton and even Tupac Shakur either covered it or sampled its contagious mellowness.

56. LOVE TAKES TIME [Orleans; 1979; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #11]

At the time, here's how Cash Box described the music of this winner: "...synthesizer coloration, firm pounding beat, piano, searing guitar fills, tambourine and dynamic singing." In other words, 100% pure Yacht Rock!

55. KISS ON MY LIST [Hall & Oates; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #1]

Certainly on my list of the best things in life.

54. SO INTO YOU [Atlanta Rhythm Section; 1977; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #7]

The lightest of Southern Rockers, Atlanta Rhythm Section's laid back brand of guitar rock suited the late 70's perfectly, a nice alternate to the disco pandemic but not quite in Lynryd Skynyrd territory either. Also, is the title "So Into You" a double entendre? And were the lyrics more sexually explicit than we ever imagined? " It's gonna be good, don't you know/From your head to your toe/Me into you, you into me, me into you..."

53. YOU'RE THE ONLY WOMAN [Ambrosia; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #13]

In sone ways Ambrosia may be the most Yacht Rocky of all groups (don't worry, Toto and Steely Dan will always give them a run for the money). But this song underscores the carefree feel of the genre, like reclining on a yacht with these words on the breeze in the background: "You and I've been in love too long/To worry about tomorrow/Here's a place where we both belong/I know you're the only woman I'm dreaming of..." Not worrying about tomorrow, just floating without a care in tthe world. Is there anything more yachty than that?

52. I'D REALLY LOVE TO SEE YOU TONIGHT [England Dan & John Ford Coley; 1976; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #2]

Ingenious opening, the listener privy to a one-way phone conversation: " 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 ..." It's up to the listener to decide whether the caller is pathetic or sweet. "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight" may be the perfect easy listening song of all time, better than anything by Barry Manilow (who would cover it decades later); it's its sing-along boisterousness that saves it from being unceremoniously tossed into the Nyacht Rock bin.

51. EVERY TIME I THINK OF YOU [The Babys; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #13]

Another feel-good Babys bombast, pounding the power pop vibes in a song that's both intense and full of positive feelies.

50. ALL NIGHT LONG (ALL NIGHT) [Lionel Richie; 1983; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #1]

This massive hit has a bit of everything, a sort of melting pot of styles--adult contemporary, pop, R&B, Richie's soothing easy listening vocals, all to a Caribbean beat. The song was everywhere in 1984, in the popular music video (directed by Five East Pieces' Bob Rafelson and produced by Mike Nesmith of the Monkees), heard in the premiere of "Miami Vice," and sung by Richie at the closing ceremonies of the '84 Olympics. And what is the translation of the lines, " Tom bo li de say de moi ya/Yeah jambo jumbo"? Don't even bothering going to Google Translate; turns out they're just gibberish with no deeper meaning. No deeper meaning, i.e. the way we like our Yacht Rock.

49. IF YOU LEAVE ME NOW [Chicago; 1976; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #1]

So popular that it's featured in works as diverse as "The Modern Family," "South Park," Shaun of the Dead and even the video game, Grand Theft Auto V . It's perhaps the most soaring, lush, heartfelt and yearning ballad on the list, with Peter Cetera's lead vocals drowning listeners in waves of pure reverie.

48. JUST REMEMBER I LOVE YOU [Firefall; 1977; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #11]

Such a sober, serious song in such a vibrantly feel-good genre, and yet it's uplifting and filled with hope. I think of someone on the verge of suicide, maybe wanting to jump off a building or maybe seeking help calling a hotline, and the singer, perhaps a close friend, talking him or her down: " When there's so much trouble that you want to cry/When your love has crumbled and you don't know why/When your hopes are fading and they can't be found/Dreams have left you waiting, friends let you down..." But then the friend reminds the sorrowful soul, "just remember I love you and it will be all right" and that "maybe all your blues will wash away..." And that's really what Yacht Rock does, doesn't it? It washes those blues away.

47. BABY, COME TO ME [Patti Austin & James Ingram; 1982; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #1]

As with so many songs on this list, Michael McDonald adds superb backing vocals here, in this enchanting ballad made famous by its appearance on "General Hospital" as Luke and Holly's love song.

46. HEY NINETEEN [Steely Dan; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #10]

An aging boomer can't connect with his young lover; not quite Nabokovian but close, especially when the leering singer exclaims to his youngling in the perviest way possible, "Skate a little lower now!" The 19-year-old girl in question doesn't even know who Aretha Franklin is; I was 18 when the song was released and I sure knew the Queen of Soul as did most of my peers. Who, I wondered way back when, is this ditsy girl? Perhaps the most startling thing about the work is the singer's unblinking dive into cocaine and alcohol in order to be able to deal with a world that is slowly leaving him behind: " The Cuervo Gold / The fine Colombian / Make tonight a wonderful thing..."

45. YOU BELONG TO ME [Carly Simon; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #6]

44. HE'S SO SHY [The Pointer Sisters; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #3]

43. THROUGH THE FIRE [Chaka Khan; 1984; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #60]

Yacht Rock is not known for its diversity. Of course there are several songs by people of color, and there are definitely strong women on the chart, but we would be remiss if we did not mention that overall the genre is mostly male and white. But the women who do appear on the list have created some of the finest tunes of them all. Carly Simon's wondrous "You Belong to Me," written by Simon and Michael McDonald with backing vocals by James Taylor, started as a Doobie ballad, but Simon's more poignant version actually bests the "Brothers." The Pointer Sisters are not Yacht Rock, but their hit, "He's So Shy," certainly is; that they sang it with Isaac on an infamous episode of "The Love Boat" is about the highest order of Yachtdom there is. And Chaka Khan's "Through the Fire," produced by David Foster, is one her all-time greatest songs, even though it didn't score big in the Land of the Hot-100; still, Khan's vocals are breathtaking in this scorching torchy ballad that is nothing short of Yacht Rock gold bullion.

42. TIME OUT OF MIND [Steely Dan; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #22]

One of the funkiest songs about heroin ("chasing the dragon") ever written.

41. AN EVERLASTING LOVE [Andy Gibb; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #5]

40. AFTER THE LOVE HAS GONE [Earth, Wind & Fire; 1979; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #2]

39. I CAN'T TELL YOU WHY [The Eagles; 1979; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #8]

38. HUMAN NATURE [Michael Jackson; 1982; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #7]

Not all Yacht Rock hits are by Yacht Rock artists, as is the case with these four songs. The Bee Gees are definitely not Yacht Rock, especially their disco hits, and neither is brother Andy Gibb...with one exception. Gibb's "An Everlasting Love" with its nonstop overlapping vocals (combined with Barry Gibb's falsetto and the string arrangement) make this irresistible. Earth, Wind & Fire's "After the Love Has Gone," another David Foster masterpiece, with its rousing vocals and brilliant use of horns, is EWF's most gorgeous tune. The Eagles, certainly not a Yacht Rock group (though often mistaken as such), has one hit in their oeuvre that's unadulterated YR: "I Can't Tell You Why," with Timothy B. Schmidt, pulling out his inner Smokey Robinson and Al Green, providing its stirring lead vocals. And Michael Jackson's Yacht Rock entry, "Human Nature" from the Thriller album , was backed by members of Toto, with some of Jackson's most lush vocals, and is the dictionary definition of the word "euphoric."

37. HOT ROD HEARTS [Robbie Dupree; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #15] There are so many hits in the rock era about two teenagers making love in a parked car, from "Night Movies" to "Paradise By the Dashboard Lights," but "Heart Rod Hearts" may be the most daring of them all in its own way: " Ten miles east of the highway/Hot sparks burnin' the night away/Two lips touchin' together/Cheek to cheek, sweatshirt to sweater/Young love born in a back seat/Two hearts pound out a back beat / Headlights, somebody's comin'..." And obviously that last lyric just quoted has a rather sordid double meaning.

36. JUST THE TWO OF US [Grover Washington, Jr. with Bill Withers; 1981; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #2]

This jazzy ballad, with Withers' heart full o' soul vocals, is a soft-jazz saxfest, later spawning Will Smith's cover (about fathers and sons), Bill Cosby's unlistenable "Just the Slew of Us," and, most hilariously, Dr. Evil's duet with Mini Me in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me .

35. MAGNET AND STEEL [Walter Egan; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #8]

Inspired by Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks, who sings backup in it, "Magnet and Steel" is totally yachtriffic, with inspiring heavenly harmonies. A sort of musical snapshot of 1978, this light-rock masterwork is featured in the phenomenal Boogie Nights and the phlegmatic Deuce Bigalow: American Gigolo .

34. WHENEVER I CALL YOU FRIEND [Kenny Loggins with Stevie Nicks; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #5]

One of the great duet tracks on the list, written by Loggins and Melissa Manchester. When first released, because Stevie Nicks is not credited on the original 45 single, this was officially considered Loggins first solo Top-40 hit.

33. GIVE ME THE NIGHT [George Benson; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #4]

Yacht Rock was created for George Benson's jazzy-guitar, cool-funk sensibilities. Although "Give Me the Night" may border on disco, it's not quite there and rests firmly in our beloved Yacht Rock territory.

32. NEVER BE THE SAME [Christopher Cross; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #15]

Love never dies, not even after a break up, not even after you've found someone else; that's what this Christopher Cross song teaches us: " The years go by, there's always someone new/To try and help me forget about you/Time and again it does me no good/Love never feels the way that it should..."

31. TIME PASSAGES [Al Stewart; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #7]

There's a floating, drifting quality to the song, as '70's mellow as they come. The top single of the year on the Easy Listening charts, "Time Passages" has Al Stewart's thin voice singing, " Drifting into time passages / Years go falling in the fading light / Time passages/Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight..." If he had sung about a "yacht" rather than a "train," then this classic might rest even higher on the YR list.

30. REAL LOVE [The Doobie Brothers; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #5]

29. LOTTA LOVE [Nicolette Larson; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #7]

Nicolette Larson sings backup on the Doobie's third biggest hit, "Real Love," and lead on her sweet cover of Neil Young's "Lotta Love." Take the lyric, "It's gonna take a lotta love/To change the way things are..." In Young's version, he comes across as rather somber, yearning, on the verge of melancholia, like it's a wish that he knows can never be fulfilled; Larson sings with a Melanie-like playfulness to a disco-light beat, and in her hands the song becomes life-affirming, vivacious, with a somewhat positive can-do attitude that's not found in the original.

28. I'M NOT GONNA LET IT BOTHER ME TONIGHT [Atlanta Rhythm Section; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #14]

This song's sensibility is all Yacht Rock...that the world is in upheaval, and there are terrors out there waiting to destroy us, but who cares when we can save the worry for another day? This outlook stands as the true philosophy of procrastination found in Yacht Rock: " About all the pain and injustice / About all of the sorrow / We're living in a danger zone / The world could end tomorrow/But I'm not gonna let it bother me tonight..."

27. FEELS SO GOOD [Chuck Mangione; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #4]

The title of this flugelhorn-driven instrumental says it all.

26. ALL RIGHT [Christopher Cross; 1983; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #12]

If you're ever down and troubled, then do yourself a favor: Put on Christopher Cross' "All Right," with MM's patented backing vocals, and watch as the bad times wash away and a smile creeps upon your face. This stands as perhaps the most optimistic song ever written: "'Cause it's all right, think we're gonna make it/Think it might just work out this time..."

25. TURN YOUR LOVE AROUND [George Benson; 1981; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #5]

George Benson + Toto + David Foster + Jay Graydon on guitar + an early use of the Linn LM-1 Drum machine = Yacht Rock platinum status.

24. MINUTE BY MINUTE [The Doobie Brothers; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #14]

Listening to this Michael McDonald marvel of mellowness beats Xanax any day.

23. ONE HUNDRED WAYS [Quincy Jones and James Ingram; 1981; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #14]

What a perfect example of scrumptiously soft soul music with the velvet voice of Mr. Ingram leading the way, singing a litany of 100 things to romance his lady. He's never been better than a moment in this Grammy-winner, when he hits outrageous notes while singing, "Sacrifice if you care/Buy her some moonlight to wear..." To quote Robert Palmer: Simply irresistible.

22. I LOVE YOU [The Climax Blues Band; 1981; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #12]

This surely plays on rotation in heaven.

21. BAKER STREET [Gerry Rafferty; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #2]

Is this the coolest Top-5 hit of the 1970's? With Raphael Ravencroft's searing saxophone riff rivaling anything by Clarence Clemons, the answer must be a resounding YES!

20. FM (NO STATIC AT ALL) [Steely Dan; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #22]

Perhaps the only Top-40 hit where the songwriters dare to rhyme "Elvis" with "yells his" and sing about "grapefruit wine." Recorded as the title song for a little-known 1978 film, FM, the significance of this Grammy-winning Steely Dan song cannot go unnoticed. The year it was released was the first time FM radio (clearer sound, no static at all) superseded AM radio (too much static) in listening popularity. So, if you ran an AM station and had to play a song called "FM" in rotation-a song about your competitor, a radio format that was making you obsolete-then what would you do? In the case of some stations, they edited the Steely Dan track and put the "A" sound from the group's song "Aja" where the "F" in "FM" should be. Their newly fine-tuned tune would be called "AM," even though the repeated phrase of "no static at all" would now make no sense whatsoever.

19. COOL NIGHT [Paul Davis; 1981; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #11]

Paul Davis' ultimate love song, even stronger than his iconic "I Go Crazy." Its boppin' bliss shields the fact that the lead singer is lost: " I sometimes wonder why /All the flowers have to die / I dream about you /And now, Summer's come and gone / And the nights they seem so long ..." But this is Paul Davis, and nothing can bring him down, not when there's a cool night comin' and he invites his love to join him by the fire so that they can bring "back memories of a good life when this love was not so old..." The singer's optimism is so heartfelt, and this being Yacht Rock, we know that these two will ultimately get back together.

18. REMINISCING [Little River Band; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #3]

This slick throwback to a black-and-white Cole Porter world should be on any indispensable wedding reception playlist, starting with a young couple falling in love and ending when they're older, spending their hours looking back at their good times. You would think this melodic pop treasure would be a Paul McCartney fave, but in an interesting twist, it was John Lennon who claimed "Reminiscing" as one of his favorite songs.

17. DEACON BLUES [Steely Dan; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #19]

This slick, sprawling mega-work about a midlife crisis is the most epic of Yacht Rock songs, its jazzy War and Peace , a veritable A la Recherche du Tremps Perdu . If you want to hear a fan of the University of Alabama cheer, then play them this line: "They call Alabama the Crimson Tide/Call me Deacon Blues." Still, the song is so seriously sober in tone that few people, even the most ardent of Alabama fanatics, will be yelling "Roll Tide!" after hearing it.

16. BABY COME BACK [Player; 1977; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #1]

Tranquil and comforting even though it was written after two of the Player members suffered recent break-ups. Pop culture has had a heyday with its infectious hook, with "Baby Come Back" popping up in the Transformers, "The Simpsons," "King of the Hill" and even a "General Hospital" ep featuring the band themselves playing this classic live.

15. AFRICA [Toto; 1982; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #1]

The Gods of Yacht Rock blessed the reign of this "Africa," Toto's sole #1 single that has been hailed by Rolling Stone magazine as "The New 'Don't Stop Believin'." It's been utilized in such works as Stranger Things, South Park and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City . During the funeral of Nelson Mandela, CBS accompanied the footage with this song, raising more than one eyebrow. But if you haven't heard the song in awhile, or have never heard it (who are you?), then please heed the song's advice: "Hurry, boy, it's waiting there for you!"

14. MOONLIGHT FEELS RIGHT [Starbuck; 1976; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #3]

"The wind blew some luck in my direction/I caught it in my hands today..." One of the earliest Yacht Rock ventures on the list, with nods to French Connections, Ole Miss, the Chesapeake Bay, Southern Belles ("hell at night") and 1974 graduates ("a class of '74 gold ring"). According to Casey Kasem on AT-40, it was also the first song to chart that featured a marimba. Wafts along so joyfully, complete with suggestive giggles at the end of a particularly evocative verse.

13. COOL CHANGE [Little River Band; 1979; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #10]

In its own way, perhaps the yachtiest song on the list, a plea for escape, to come to terms with nature, to sail away on the "cool and bright clear water." It's not unlike Thoreau's "Walden Pond" set to music: "Well, I was born in the sign of water/And it's there that I feel my best/The albatross and the whales, they are my brothers/It's kind of a special feeling/When you're out on the sea alone/Staring at the full moon like a lover..." With "Cool Change," we don't need to journey outdoors to escape by emracing nature, to climb mountains or to sail the seas; we have the song itself which, to this listener, becomes the perfect escape without ever having to leave the house.

12. THIS IS IT [Kenny Loggins; 1979; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #11]

"It's not a love song," Loggins once said. "It's a life song." If you want proof of American exceptionalism, go no further than here, because this is it . Although written for personal reasons, the song was needed when America was a bit down and out, "our backs to the corner" so to speak: Long gas lines, the Three Miles Island nuclear catastrophe, the cold war in its iciest state in years, and American hostages in Iran. And this song said it best: "Sometimes I believe/We'll always survive/Now I'm not so sure..." But then he stands tall and proclaims: "For once in your life/Here's your miracle/Stand up and fight!" I look at today, when America and the world once again are down and out (with soaring gas prices, gun violence, Russia invading the Ukraine and extreme tribalism); it's not a bad idea to play "This Is It" at full volume in order to lift our spirits, to help us stand up and fight through these dark days.

11. RIDE LIKE THE WIND [Christopher Cross; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #2]

It's like something you'd find in a Sam Peckinpah film: A murderer of ten people is on the run, escaping inevitable execution (by hanging), chased by a posse all the way "to the border of Mexico." And yes, in "Ride Like the Wind," the bad guy gets away with it in this thrilling ride of a song, both driving and jazzy, with the trumpeting death horns and Michael McDonald's background vocals seemingly chasing the outlaw lead singer. Only recently I discovered that the line in the song is "gunned down ten," not "Gunga Din"; am I the only one who misunderstood these lyrics for most of my life?

10. LOWDOWN [Boz Scaggs; 1976; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #3]

Here's the "dirty lowdown" (the honest truth) about "Lowdown." Boz Scaggs reinvented himself as the sunglasses-at-night bastion of cool with this soft-funk, discofied killer of a track. It was written by Scaggs and David Paich, their first collaboration; Paich, as you may know, would later go on to form the group Toto. Their creation would be honored with a Grammy win for best R&B song, and Scaggs would become the first white artist to win the award in that particular category. It could have also been one of the great additions to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, which the filmmakers wanted, but Boz's manager nixed the idea. They lost tons of money and popularity by settling for the soundtrack of the trauma-drama, Looking for Mr. Goodbar , where incidentally I first heard the song and wound up playing it over and over again long after it was a Top-10 hit.

9. LOVE WILL FIND A WAY [Pablo Cruise; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #6]

"Shadow Dancing" may have been the #1 song of '78, but it's this Pablo Cruise rollicking heap of pop brilliance that overfilled the radio airwaves that summer the way ivy covers the walls of Harvard. It was everywhere, and you couldn't escape it: "Once you get past the pain/You'll learn to find your love again." Such optimism, such hope, "Love Will Find a Way" became the signature hit of that fun-filled summer. It wasn't deep, but don't worry, it was happy. Pablo Cruise actually exemplifies the YR genre, the positive vibes perfect for summertime paradise by a band long forgotten, now remembered endearingly and, due to the recent adoration of Yacht Rock, justifiably immortalized.

8. ROSANNA [Toto; 1982; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #2]

The ultimate Toto tune and, thus, one of the Ultimate Yacht Rock entries. Named after Rosanna Arquette, the song became the summer anthem of '82, nesting at #2 for five weeks. The song's West Side Story -inspired music video featured Patrick Swayze, a year before The Outsiders, in a small part and Cynthia Rhodes as the title girl. Sylvester Stallone, who was directing Stayin' Alive at the time, saw Rhodes in the video and immediately cast her as a lead in his film. Stayin' Alive turned out to be a bad film, but it's a great story.

7. PEG [Steely Dan; 1977; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #11]

Welcome to L.A. where we're at a questionable photoshoot for an actress/model of perhaps ill-repute named Peg; narrating it is a disgruntle, sarcastic boyfriend who keeps her pictures with him and loves her even more due to her fame or infamy. The mention of foreign movies in the lyrics brings to mind seedier fair for our Pag, perhaps pornography. But any Steely Dan darkness that shrouds "Peg" is eclipsed by the jubilant music, so springy, so animated, so full of verve. Add Michael McDonald's patented backing vocals and Jay Graydon's guitar work, and you have nothing less than a fist-in-the-air triumph .

6. I KEEP FORGETTIN' (EVERY TIME YOU'RE NEAR) [Michael McDonald; 1982; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #4]

The captain of our Yacht Rock, Michael McDonald is everywhere in this 101. If you take only the top 12 songs, his voiceprints can be found somewhere in following: #12, #11, #7, #6, #3 and #1. And this song, his first big solo scribed by both McDonald and Ed Sanford (of the Sanford Townsend Band, famous for "Smoke from a Distant Fire"), obviously typifies the genre as strong as Coca Cola typifies soda. It even boasts the title of an episode of the online video series, "Yacht Rock," which after you've seen it is something you'll never forget.

5. STEAL AWAY [Robbie Dupree; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #6]

Yes, it sounds a little too close to the bubbly beat of "What a Fool Believes." And yes, it's the only time you will ever see Robbie Dupree in a Top-10 list during the modern era. But this is a wonder of Yacht Rocky delight, so shallow, so sweetly stupid, and so infectious to the ear. Listening to it might zap a few IQ points away from you, but the song is so agreeable, so toe-tappingly charming, who cares?

4. BIGGEST PART OF ME [Ambrosia; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #3]

Michael McDonald did not sing lead or backing vocals in "Biggest Part of Me," and he didn't write it, but he does have a footnote in its creation. When Ambrosia's David Pack scribed the song, the lead singer questioned his own lyrics: " There's a new sun arisin' /I can see a new horizon /That will keep me realizin'/You're the biggest part of me..." He wondered if it was too saccharine sweet for what he wanted, so he called the authority of such things, Michael McDonald. McDonald gave the thumbs up and the rest is Yacht Rock history.

3. HEART TO HEART [Kenny Loggins; 1982; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #15]

QUESTION: What do you get when your so-good-it-makes-you-wanna-cuss song features the Holy Trinity of Yacht Rock: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald and David Foster? ANSWER: A masterpiece.

2. SAILING [Christopher Cross; 1980; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #1]

Yacht Rock used to be known as the West Coast style, and "Sailing" is its finest example. Hearing it is akin to being on that yacht, wearing that silly captain's hat, and just chilling as the boat gently rocks with the breeze. Its accolades are many: Grammy Awards for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Arrangemt of the Year and Best New Artist of the Year. Wow. And time has never erased it from our lives. Over the years you could hear the song on "WKRP in Cincinnati," "Family Guy," "Cobra Kai" and Hyundai TV commercials. I don't care who you are or where you are, "Sailing" automatically takes the listener "not far down from paradise." And, like me, you can find tranquility, just you wait and see.

And now for the #1 Yacht Rock song of all time...

1. WHAT A FOOL BELIEVES [The Doobie Brothers; 1978; Chart Position on the Billboard Hot 100: #1]

All right, Mr. and Mrs. Howell, our journey ends here, with this obvious Yacht Rock classic, a song written by our popes of YR, Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, where the stars were aligned upon its creation and everything went right. It hit Number One on the charts as well as winning Song of the Year and Record of the Year Grammy Awards. But it's the delectable beat fusing light-jazz and lighter-funk combined with McDonald's smooth velvet vocals that takes "What a Fool Believes" into the coveted top spot. No one can argue that this is the genre's finest three minutes and forty-one seconds. When it pops up on the radio or on your playlist, the world doesn't seem to be such a bad place, not with sophisticated keen pop like this. You have to turn up the volume. And It rightfully stands tall at the Number One position, the bouncy Citizen Kane of Yacht Rock.

And that's that. Have a great summer!

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Ultimate Classic Rock

Yacht or Not?: Sailing the Seas of Yacht Rock

Louis Armstrong said, “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” Duke Ellington said, “There are simply two kinds of music: good music and the other kind.” Christopher Cross said, “If you get caught between the moon and New York City, the best that you can do is fall in love.”

What do these pieces of wisdom add up to? Music, like love, doesn’t follow rules. Musicians as diverse as Armstrong, Ellington and Cross don’t want to be boxed in by genre. They want to write, record and perform and not spend time deciding if they play bebop or hard bop, blues or Southern rock, funk or disco.

But as temperatures heat up and people think of sailing away to find serenity, yacht rock playlists start to float in on the breeze. And that means drawing boundaries with enough latitude that artists don’t object to being boxed in and  still foster playlists with a sense of meaning, a sense of continuity and depth. Peaks and valleys must be smartly balanced against the total annihilation of a common aesthetic. (Yes, despite a fascination with sailing and pina coladas, yacht rock can be taken seriously!)

And so, much to Armstrong’s chagrin, we have to ask, “What is yacht rock?” If it seems obvious, take a look at Spotify’s recent “Yacht Rock” playlist . Spotify is a global streaming leader with some 350 million monthly users, an army of music experts and cutting edge artificial intelligence, and yet the company filled its playlist with songs such as Tears for Fears ’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me,” Van Morrison ’s “Brown Eyed Girl” and Bruce Hornsby ’s “The Way It Is.”

If somebody wants to create and enjoy a stack of songs that runs from tunes by the J. Geils Band , to the  Police , to Bad Company , to Talking Heads (yup, the company has all these artists on its playlist and even included Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters”), they should do that with gusto! It sounds like an evening full of classic jams and fun left turns so cheers to the endeavor. But if a major player in the music business wants to do that and call it yacht rock, we need to take a step back and consider what is and isn’t yacht.

We know breezes, islands, keys, capes, cool nights, crazy love and reminiscing help define the yacht aesthetic (see works by Seals & Crofts , Jay Fergeson, Bertie Higgins, Rupert Holmes, Paul Davis, Poco , and Little River Band ). But let’s get beyond the captain’s caps and map the waters of this perfect-for-summer style.

Watch Bertie Higgins' Video for 'Key Largo' 

Yacht Rock Sets Sail With Help From a 2005 Web Series

Before 2005, people generally placed Toto ’s “ Africa ” and Holmes’ “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” in the soft rock genre. Maybe if they were getting fancy, they’d call them AM Gold. But in 2005, the online video series Yacht Rock debuted. It fictionalized the careers of soft rock artists of the late ’70s and early ’80s. The cheeky show capitalized on the building renaissance of artists such as Steely Dan and Michael McDonald , who embraced the silliness of the series.

“When it came on I remember watching it pretty avidly,” McDonald admitted in 2018 . “My kids got a huge kick out of it. We would laugh about the characterizations of the people involved. At this point it’s a genre of its own. You’re either yacht or you're not.”

He might be right that you’re either yacht or you’re not. But calling it a genre doesn’t quite work (more on that in a minute).

Listen to the Doobie Brothers' 'Minute By Minute'

Riding the Waters From the Radical ’60s to the Sincere ’70s

By the late ’60s, rock ‘n’ roll had become “art.” The Beatles started as simple teen heartthrobs covering early rock ‘n’ roll, but graduated to the supreme weirdness of the  White Album . Chuck Berry gave birth to the Rolling Stones who gave birth to Led Zeppelin and the gonzo bombast of “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” And all sorts of acts went wild from the Grateful Dead , to Pink Floyd , to Frank Zappa  and beyond. The sunshine of ’70s AM Gold came as a reaction to these wonderful excesses. Singer-songwriters aimed to take rock and pop back to the simple pleasures of tight, light tunes such as Beach Boys ’ classics, Motown hits and Brill Building-crafted songs.

Hippies looking for revolution and Gen X-ers on the hunt for rage, irony and sharp edges bristled at the genuine lyrics of tenderness and heartbreak neatly packaged in finely-crafted Top 40. Where the stars and fans of '60s and ’90s rock wanted arty and experimental music, anger and angst, yacht took listeners on a voyage powered by pure earnestness: think of the sincere and intense conviction of Dave Mason’s “We Just Disagree,” Captain & Tennille's "Love Will Keep Us Together," and “Love is the Answer” by England Dan & John Ford Coley.

(Which is why placing the Police or Talking Heads on any yacht mix doesn’t work.)

Yacht rock embodies the final charge of unbridled, heartfelt pop.

“I think these songs remain so popular because they are unabashedly pop,” Nicholas Niespodziani, leader of the hugely successful tribute band  Yacht Rock Revue , explains to UCR. “They’re not self conscious. You couldn’t write a song like ‘Africa’ now. What are they even singing about? Who knows? But it’s fun to sing.”

Watch Captain & Tennille's Video for 'Love Will Keep Us Together'

Music That’s Jazzy, But Sure Isn’t Jazz

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 of jazz’s influence on rock. Jazz rock started in the ’60s with Zappa, Chicago , Santana and Blood, Sweat & Tears , but slowly simple drums and growling guitars stomped horn lines and rhythmic shifts into the ground. However, yacht rock features echoes of swingin’ saxophones, big band horns and Miles Davis ’ fusion projects.

Yacht rock is very pop, but legitimate musical talents made those hooks. Chuck Mangione logged time in jazz giant Art Blakey’s band then took what he learned and crushed complex harmonic ideas into the pop nugget “Feels So Good,” which is basically a Latin-bebop-disco-classical suite. (If you dig “Feels So Good,” dig deeper and groove to smooth jazz mini-symphony “Give It All You Got.”)

Nearly every classic from the style features either an epic sax solo or dazzling guitar part. For horn glory, go spin Little River Band’s “Reminiscing,” Gino Vannelli’s “I Just Wanna Stop” or Grover Washington Jr. and Bill Withers ’ “Just the Two of Us." For six-string wizardry as astounding as anything Jimmy Page came up with (and much more economical), try Atlantic Rhythm Section’s “So Into You,” Pablo Cruise’s “Love Will Find a Way” and pretty much every Steely Dan cut.

(Which is why placing Tears for Fears’ “ Everybody Wants to Rule the World ” and Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” on any yacht mix doesn’t work).

Watch the Little River Band's Video for 'Reminiscing' 

A Vibe, Not a Genre or Gender or Demographic of Any Kind

Being a style, a feeling, an aesthetic, a vibe means that yacht rock can pull a song from a wide variety of genres into its orbit. It also means that it’s not just a catalog of hits from bearded white dudes. Yes, Kenny Loggins , McDonald and both Seals and Crofts helped define yacht rock. But quintessential songs from the style came from the women and artists of color, soul singers, folk heroes and Nashville aces.

For every Loggins' tune in a captain’s hat, there’s a Carly Simon track dressed up as your cruise director. Yes, there's Steely Dan's jazz influence, but also  Crosby, Stills & Nash 's folk legacy (“Southern Cross” remains definitively of the style). Yacht rock playlists should also be littered with appropriate R&B gems, such as the Raydio’s “You Can’t Change That” (which features Ray Parker Jr.!), Hall & Oates ’ “Sara Smile” and Kool & the Gang’s “Too Hot.” Likewise, country acts of the era tried to go Top 40 while attempting to retain some twang and managed to make Love Boat music (see Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning,” Eddie Rabbit’s “I Love a Rainy Night,” Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers ’ “Islands in the Stream”).

It’s hard to tell if the Commodores’ “Sail On” is pop or R&B, harder still to know if George Benson’s “Give Me the Night” is pop, R&B or jazz. But they both feel yacht.

(Which is why Santana can do psychedelic Latin music and can do yacht on “Hold On,” and why the Pointer Sisters can do new wave disco with “Neutron Dance” and yacht with “Slow Hand.")

Wishing You a Bon Voyage on the Seas of Yacht

Spotify was right to think about diversity when making its playlist, though the company got the type of diversity wrong. Yacht has some pretty specific sonic parameters, but has no demographic restrictions when it comes to the kind of artists contributing to the style’s catalog. That means when you hit the high seas of yacht, you don’t need to be afraid to fight for your favorites to be included, just please don’t have one of those favorites be “Ghostbusters.”

We began talking about drawing boundaries with enough latitude that artists don’t object to being boxed in. The wide latitude yacht rock affords matters because music comes to define eras and outlines cultural trends (remember that yacht came in reaction to art rock and that says a lot about the swing from the late '60s to the early '80s). Calling Christopher Cross soft rock might feel right, but it doesn't tell us much about where he was coming from and what he was trying to accomplish. Calling Cross yacht rock, now that we know it's not a pejorative, illuminates his aesthetic.

Cross came out of the Texas rock scene that produced blues aces the Vaughan Brothers and guitar shredder Eric Johnson (who plays on a lot of his albums). He loves Joni Mitchell and that shows in his craft. He's jazzy but not jazz (see those horns and guitar on "Ride Like the Wind") with a vibe that's completely yacht -- developed from the scene that took '60s pop, updated it and sheltered it from the trends of punk, metal, new wave and hip hop. The same can be said for Loggins, McDonald, Simon, Lionel Ritchie and so many others.

Spotify needs to tweak its algorithm so it gets this right. Or, better yet, connect with the genre-crossing vibe that makes yacht so unique.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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60+ Best Yacht Rock Songs of All Time

The family vibe on the yacht was outstanding as they enjoyed listening to the yacht's rock song.

Published April 28, 2023

Yacht rock is a subgenre of soft rock. It became prevalent in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and while it’s no longer as popular now, it still continues to be loved by fans today.

It’s best known for the jazzy arrangements, sophisticated harmonies, and lyrics that would often encapsulate the laid-back lifestyle of yacht owners. Needless to say, yacht rock targets a specific niche, and even those outside of that niche can enjoy the songs the genre offers.

If that sounds like you, then you’re in luck. In this post, we’ve compiled a list of the best yacht rock songs of all time, from deep cuts to classics that came out from 1972 to 1990.

67 Best Yacht Rock Songs List

  • “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts (1972)
  • “If You Leave Me Now” by Chicago (1976)
  • “Sara Smile” by Hall & Oates (1976)
  • “What a Fool Believes” by The Doobie Brothers (1978)
  • “Peg” by Steely Dan (1978)
  • “Ride Like the Wind” by Christopher Cross (1979)
  • “Sailing” by Christopher Cross (1979)
  • “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes (1979)
  • “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” by Michael McDonald (1982)
  • “Africa” by Toto (1982)
  • “Cool Change” by Little River Band (1982)
  • “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” by Hall & Oates (1982)
  • “Lonely Boy” by Andrew Gold (1982)
  • “Rock with You” by Michael Jackson (1982)
  • “Slow Dancer” by Boz Scaggs (1982)
  • “Baby Come Back” by Player (1983)
  • “Say You Love Me” by Fleetwood Mac (1983)
  • “All Out of Love” by Air Supply (1984)
  • “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” by Christopher Cross (1984)
  • “Biggest Part of Me” by Ambrosia (1984)
  • “Can’t We Try” by Dan Hill and Vonda Shepard (1984)
  • “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest (1984)
  • “Just the Two of Us” by Grover Washington Jr. & Bill Withers (1984)
  • “Magnet and Steel” by Walter Egan (1984)
  • “One on One” by Hall & Oates (1984)
  • “Private Eyes” by Hall & Oates (1984)
  • “Ride Captain Ride” by Blues Image (1984)
  • “When You Love a Woman” by Journey (1984)
  • “When I Need You” by Leo Sayer (1985)
  • “You Belong to Me” by Carly Simon (1985)
  • “Foolish Heart” by Steve Perry (1986)
  • “More Than a Feeling” by Boston (1986)
  • “On and On” by Stephen Bishop (1986)
  • “Reminiscing” by Little River Band (1986)
  • “We’re All Alone” by Boz Scaggs (1986)
  • “Can’t Hide Love” by Earth, Wind & Fire (1987)
  • “Just You and I” by Melissa Manchester (1987)
  • “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers (1987)
  • “Sweet Baby James” by James Taylor (1987)
  • “The Air That I Breathe” by The Hollies (1987)
  • “Touch Me in the Morning” by Diana Ross (1987)
  • “Give Me the Night” by George Benson (1988)
  • “Lady Love Me (One More Time)” by George Benson (1988)
  • “Time Passages” by Al Stewart (1988)
  • “Do That to Me One More Time” by Captain & Tennille
  • “How Long” by Ace (1989)
  • “I’ll Be Over You” by Toto (1989)
  • “Kiss on My List” by Hall & Oates (1989)
  • “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” by Air Supply (1989)
  • “On My Own” by Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald (1989)
  • “Rosanna” by Toto (1989)
  • “The One You Love” by Glenn Frey (1989)
  • “Through the Fire” by Chaka Khan (1989)
  • “What You Won’t Do for Love” by Bobby Caldwell (1989)
  • “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” by Phil Collins (1990)
  • “Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley” by Will to Power (1990)
  • “Easy” by The Commodores (1990)
  • “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood (1990)
  • “I Keep Forgettin'” by Warren G featuring Michael McDonald (1990)
  • “I’ll Be There” by The Escape Club (1990)
  • “Lido Shuffle” by Boz Scaggs (1990)
  • “Missing You” by John Waite (1990)
  • “Smooth Operator” by Sade (1990)
  • “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra (1990)
  • “Waiting for a Girl Like You” by Foreigner (1990)
  • “We Built This City” by Starship (1990)
  • “Your Wildest Dreams” by The Moody Blues (1990)

10 Yacht Rock-Inspired Songs from the 2010s and Beyond

A group of friends sings yacht rock songs to enjoy and relax on their yacht trip.

While yacht rock is often associated with the late 1970s and early 1980s, there have been some recent songs that were able to capture the yacht rock vibe or sound. They’re now quite popular among fans of this genre. Here’s a yacht rock songs list of these songs:

  • “This Love” by Taylor Swift (2014)
  • “On the Rocks” by The Last Shadow Puppets (2016)
  • “Too Late” by Washed Out (2017)
  • “If You Want It” by Slightly Stoopid (2018)
  • “Feels Like Summer” by Childish Gambino (2018)
  • “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (2018)
  • “So Caught Up” by The Teskey Brothers (2019)
  • “Joanna” by Joji (2019)
  • “Lucky Ones” by Logan Prescott (2020)
  • “Midnight Sky” by Miley Cyrus (2020)

The Bottom Line

Yacht rock has proven to be a timeless genre that has, for decades, captured the hearts of not only yacht enjoyers and owners, but also music lovers in general. Whether you’re a newcomer to yacht rock or a long-time enthusiast of the genre, the top yacht rock songs in this list will offer a glimpse into the melodic, smooth sound that defines the yacht genre.

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From MIDI to MusicVAE —

How yacht fed their old music to the machine and got a killer new album, "i don’t know if we could’ve written it ourselves—it took a risk maybe we aren’t willing to.".

Nathan Mattise - Aug 31, 2019 12:00 pm UTC

  • The band YACHT, named for a mysterious sign seen in Portland around the turn of the century. YACHT / Google I/O 2019
  • YACHT's Claire Evans takes the stage not to rock out, but to talk out the band's new album leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning. Google I/O 2019
  • Album art for Chain Tripping . Here's the Spotify link . YACHT / DFA Records

The dance punk band YACHT has always felt like a somewhat techy act since debuting in the early 2000s. They famously recorded instrumental versions of two earlier albums and made them available for artists under a Creative Commons license at the Free Music Archive . Post-Snowden, they wrote a song called “ Party at the NSA ” and donated proceeds to the EFF. One album cover of theirs could only be accessed via fax initially (sent through a Web app YACHT developed to ID the nearest fax to groups of fans; OfficeMax must’ve loved it). Singer Claire L. Evans literally wrote the book ( Broad Band ) on female pioneers of the Internet.

So when Evans showed up at Google I/O this summer, we knew she wasn’t merely making a marketing appearance ala  Drake  or  The Foo Fighters . In a talk titled “Music and Machine Learning,” Evans instead walked a room full of developers through a pretty cool open secret that awaited music fans until this weekend: YACHT had been spending the last three years writing a new album called Chain Tripping  (out yesterday, August 30). And the process took a minute because the band wanted to do it with what Evans called “a machine-learning generated composition process.”

“I know this isn’t the technical way to explain it, but this allowed us to find melodies hidden in between songs from our back catalog,” she said during her I/O talk. “Here’s what the user-facing side of the model looked like when we recorded the album last May—it’s a Colab Notebook, not the kind of thing musicians usually bring into the studio.”

A look at YACHT's work with MusicVAE Colab Notebook.

YACHT had long possessed an interest in AI and its potential application in music. But the band tells Ars it wasn’t until recently, around 2016, that the concept of doing a full album using this approach seemed feasible. While research entities had long been experimenting with AI or machine learning and allowing computers to autonomously generate music, the results felt more science project than albums suitable for DFA Records (home to labelmates like Hot Chip or LCD Soundsystem). Ultimately, a slow trickle of simplified apps leveraging AI—face swap apps felt huge around then; Snapchat and its dynamic filters rose to prominence—finally gave the band the idea that now could be the time.

“We may be a very techy band, but none of us are coders,” Evans tells Ars. “We tend to approach stuff from the outside looking in and try to figure out how to manipulate and bend tools to our strange specific purposes. AI seemed like an almost impossible thing, it was so much more advanced than anything we had dealt with… And we wanted to use this to not just technically achieve the goal of making music—so we can say, ‘Hey an AI wrote this pop song’—rather we wanted to use this tech to make YACHT music, to make music we identify with and we feel comes from us.”

Bringing a Colab Notebook to a rock studio

Having the idea to use artificial intelligence to somehow make music was one thing; doing it proved to be something else entirely. The band started by looking at everything available: “We messed around with everything that was publicly available, some tools that were only privately available—we cold emailed every single person or entity or company working with AI and creativity,” as YACHT founder Jona Bechtolt puts it. But no single existing solution quite offered the combination of quality and ease of use the band had hoped for. So, they decided to ultimately build out their own system by borrowing bits and pieces from all over, leveraging their entire back catalog in the process.

One instrument of note

“A lot of these music making tools right now are made by engineers who love music, but they’re made by engineers,” Evans adds. “So they’re often in love with the math in this way that doesn't ultimately take into consideration that the audio output of these tools isn’t objectively very impressive. You can have this incredible piece of tech that uses advanced ML techniques to split the difference between two different sounds, but what if the output sounds like a fart?”

Ultimately, YACHT made it work for them by embracing that, er, fart-iness. (“The NSynth for us, we thought it sucked at first,” Bechtolt admits.) Rather than thinking of the NSynth as something that could replicate or replace a traditional guitar or even synth within a composition, the band embraced its oddity and found more success. Bechtolt notes music has a long legacy of this type of repurposing—the 808 drum machine didn’t sound like real drums, but its unique sound ultimately spawned many new genres. Though the band doesn't see the NSynth having that legacy.

“It’s not good at what it’s trying to do; it’s good at something it didn’t set out to do—that’s what’s interesting,” Evans adds. “It sounds wonky, reedy, lo-fi, and kind of shitty, but in a way that speaks to us as lo-fi, DIY artists.”

“We knew we’d have to base everything on some kind of dataset, so early on, we thought, ‘What if we used our back catalog?” Bechtolt says. “We naively thought it’d be something like Shazam, where we could throw raw audio at an algorithm. That isn’t really possible…”

“Or, at least, not within the realm of our computing capacity,” Evans interjects.

“So we had to notate all our songs in MIDI, which is a laborious process,” Bechtolt continues. “We have 82 songs in our back catalog, which is still not really enough to train a full model, but it was enough to work with the tools we had.”

With that MIDI data, Bechtolt and longtime collaborator (bass and keyboards player) Rob Kieswetter started by identifying small segments—a particular guitar riff, a vocal melody, a drum pattern, anywhere from two bars to 16 bars—that could be looped, combined, and ultimately run through the band’s simplified AI and ML model. The band relied heavily on Colab Notebooks in a Web browser—specifically, the MusicVAE model from Google’s Magenta team—manually inputting the data and then waiting (and waiting) for a fragment of output from this workflow. And that AI/ML-generated fragment, of course, was nothing more than data, more MIDI information. Evans told I/O the band ran pairs of those loops through the Colab Notebook at different temps “dozens, if not hundreds of times to generate this massive body of melodic information” as source material for new songs. From there, it became the humans’ turn.

“It still couldn’t make a song just by pushing a button; it was not at all an easy or fun flow to work through,” Bechtolt says. “So after three days, we were like, ‘OK, I think we have enough stuff.’ By that point we had a few thousand clips between two- and 16-bars, and we just had to call it quits at some point.”

“It wasn’t something where we fed something into a model, hit print, and had songs,” Evans adds. “We’d have to be involved. There’d have to be a human involved at every step of the process to ultimately make music… The larger structure, lyrics, the relationship between lyrics and structure—all of these other things are beyond the technology’s capacity, which is good.”

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Playlist of the Week: Top 100 Songs of Yacht Rock

Featured Playlist

Each week we’re featuring a playlist to get your mind going and help you assemble your favorites. This week we take a deep dive into the soft rock hits of the late ’70s and early ’80s, which have come to be known in some circles as Yacht Rock. The term Yacht Rock generally refers to music in the era where yuppies enjoyed sipping champaign on their yachts — a concept explored in the original web series Yacht Rock, which debuted in 2005 and has developed a cult following. Artists most commonly thought of in the Yacht Rock era include Michael McDonald, Ambrosia, 10cc, Toto, Kenny Loggins, Boz Scaggs, and Christopher Cross. Yacht Rock has become the muse of a great number of tribute bands, and is the current subject of a short-run channel on Sirius XM.

Here is a stab at the Top 100 Songs of Yacht Rock — not necessarily in rank order, with a few more added for honorable mention. We welcome your comments. What songs are ranked too high? What songs are ranked too low? What songs are missing? Make your case. Also, please let us know concepts for playlists you’d like to see — or share a favorite list of your own.

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  • Best Yacht Rock Songs to Play on Your Boat

Best Yacht Rock Songs to Play on Your Boat

Whether sailing the high seas or cruising on a tranquil lake, there’s no denying the magical combination of boating and music. And nothing quite fits the bill like yacht rock songs when it comes to creating the perfect ambiance for your boat party. With their smooth melodies and laid-back vibes, yacht rock tunes are the ideal soundtrack to accompany your nautical adventures. 

Curate the ultimate playlist for your next boat party with these suggestions so you can set sail with style and groove to the sounds of the sea.

What Is Yacht Rock and Why Is It Perfect for Boating?

Yacht Rock emerged in the late ’70s and early ‘80s , epitomizing the era’s smooth, soft rock music. Characterized by its polished production, jazz-influenced arrangements and evocative lyrics, yacht rock often features leisure, escapism and coastal lifestyle themes. These songs would be played aboard luxury yachts, capturing the essence of sunny days, ocean breezes and carefree adventures on the water.

Yacht rock songs for boats’ relaxed yet sophisticated nature make it a perfect complement to any boating experience. As the boat glides through the water, the soothing rhythms of the best lake songs create an atmosphere of tranquility and joy, taking your boat party to a new level of enjoyment.

Crafting the Perfect Boating Playlist

To create the ultimate summer boating songs playlist, we considered various factors contributing to the perfect sailing ambiance. The selected songs boast uplifting beats, catchy melodies and lyrics that evoke images of boats, sailing and the sea. Moreover, we’ve included diverse songs to cater to different musical tastes.

Best Boat Songs of All-Time

With so many options out there, we’re excited to share our top songs about boats and sailing and the best songs to listen to on a boat. 

  • “Sailing” by Christopher Cross: With its gentle guitar strums and Christopher Cross’s velvety vocals, “Sailing” is an anthem for seafarers. The song’s serene melody and poetic lyrics encapsulate the feeling of being on the open water, making it a must-have for your boat party playlist. As you cruise along, “Sailing” will have everyone swaying to the rhythm, embracing the true spirit of yacht rock.
  • “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes: A yacht rock classic, “Escape” brings a touch of whimsy to your boat party. This catchy tale of love and adventure pairs perfectly with the carefree ambiance of boating. The song’s playful vibe and sing-along chorus will have your guests joining in the fun, creating unforgettable memories on the water.
  • “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass: “Brandy” is a timeless yacht rock gem that narrates the tale of a sailor’s love for a barmaid. Its upbeat tempo and memorable hooks make it an essential addition to your boat party playlist. As you listen to the story unfold, you’ll be transported to coastal taverns and endless maritime horizons.
  • “Yacht Rock” by JD & The Straight Shot: The eponymous “Yacht Rock” is a modern tribute to the genre. With smooth instrumentals and polished vocals, this song embodies the very essence of summer boating songs. As you sail into the sunset, “Yacht Rock” will warmly embrace you, ensuring a truly unforgettable boat party experience.

yacht band lyrics

  • “Sail On” by Commodores: Smooth and soulful, “Sail On” by the Commodores is a yacht rock favorite that perfectly captures the essence of sailing. The mesmerizing vocals of Lionel Richie and the mellow instrumentation make it a sublime addition to your boat party playlist. As you sail into the horizon, “Sail On” will evoke feelings of serenity and nostalgia.
  • “Southern Cross” by Crosby, Stills & Nash: “Southern Cross” is a yacht rock sensation that vividly depicts a sailor’s journey and longing for adventure. With its dreamy harmonies and evocative lyrics, this song embodies the wanderlust spirit of boating. As you navigate the waters, “Southern Cross” will ignite a sense of exploration and freedom.
  • “Key Largo” by Bertie Higgins: Set the perfect mood for your boat party with “Key Largo” by Bertie Higgins. This romantic ballad takes inspiration from the beautiful Florida island, offering a gentle and relaxing vibe. As you anchor in tranquil waters, “Key Largo” will fill the air with enchanting melodies, creating a magical experience on your boat.
  • “Into the Night” by Benny Mardones: “Into the Night” is a yacht rock classic that weaves a tale of passion and romance under the moonlight. With its soulful vocals and captivating melody, this song is perfect for setting a dreamy and intimate atmosphere at your boat party. As the stars twinkle above, “Into the Night” will take you on a magical journey through the night skies.
  • “Reminiscing” by Little River Band: As the sun sets on your boat party, let the nostalgic vibes of “Reminiscing” fill the air. This boating playlist gem has smooth harmonies and a gentle rhythm that will transport you back to cherished memories and create an ambiance of camaraderie and friendship. It’s the perfect tune to share stories and laughter with your guests.
  • “Moonlight Feels Right” by Starbuck: “Moonlight Feels Right” is a funky and fun yacht rock song that will have everyone dancing on deck. With its catchy marimba riffs and chorus, this tune infuses your boat party with playful energy and excitement. So, let loose and dance under the moonlit sky as “Moonlight Feels Right” fills the night with joy.

Honorable Mentions

Whether you use them to create a more extensive playlist or keep them on standby for future voyages, these yacht rock gems will elevate your boat party’s ambiance. Let the melodies of these honorable mentions serenade you as you create unforgettable memories on your nautical journey. Here are our best boat party songs: 

  • “Dance with Me” by Orleans: A captivating blend of folk and yacht rock, “Dance with Me” offers a smooth and romantic melody that sets the perfect tone for a slow dance on deck. This timeless classic will create a memorable moment for you and your guests as you sway together beneath the stars.
  • “Cool Change” by Little River Band: “Cool Change” is an introspective Yacht Rock anthem that captures the essence of tranquility and self-discovery. Its calming rhythm and soul-stirring lyrics make it an excellent addition to your boat party playlist, especially during introspection on the open waters.
  • “Steal Away” by Robbie Dupree: The captivating vocals and soft rock style of “Steal Away” make it a must-have on your Yacht Rock boat party playlist. This tune exudes a sense of freedom and adventure, making it the perfect companion as you explore new horizons on your boat journey.
  • “On and On” by Stephen Bishop: Stephen Bishop’s soothing voice and the mellow instrumentation of “On and On” create an atmosphere of pure relaxation. As you glide across the water, this yacht rock classic will add a touch of serenity to your boat party experience.

As you set sail on your boat party adventure, let the smooth melodies of yacht rock be your trusted companions. The carefully curated playlist will transport you and your guests to a world of blissful boating, where the worries of the shore are left behind. Grab your sunglasses, feel the wind in your hair and embark on a memorable journey with the ultimate yacht rock playlist for your boat party.

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This Is the Definitive Definition of Yacht Rock

By Timothy Malcolm July 12, 2019

yacht band lyrics

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

Image: Randy Miramontez / Shutterstock.com

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.

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Yachty by Nature

Yacht rock song list, yachty by nature song list…, we are adding new tunes all the time so feel free to send us a message if you’d like to request a song  in fact, here’s a look at us in action on our youtube channel:  https://www.youtube.com/watchv=ozpc561dlcm, song artist, africa toto, ain’t nobody chaka khan, all night long lionel richie, baby come back player, baker street gerry rafferty, biggest part of me ambrosia, brandy looking glass, careless whisper wham, come and get your love redbone, come sail away styx, cool change paul davis, dancing queen abba, don’t go breakin’ my heart elton john/kiki dee, do ya think i’m sexy rod stewart, dreams fleetwood mac, easy commodores, easy lover phil collins/philip bailey, escape (the piña colada song) rupert holmes, fm steely dan, footloose kenny loggins, georgy porgy toto, get down on it kool & the gang, give me the night george benson, good times chic, got to be real cheryl lynn, grease frankie valli, greatest american hero joey scarbury, heart to heart kenny loggins, help is on its way little river band, he’s so shy pointer sisters, hold the line toto, hooked on a feeling blue swede, how long ace, i can’t go for that hall and oates, i keep forgettin’ / regulate michael mcdonald / warren g, i’d really love to see you tonight england dan and john ford coley, in the air tonight phil collins, islands in the stream bee gees, jessie’s girl rick springfield, josie steely dan, jive talkin’ bee gees, just the two of us grover washington, kiss on my list hall and oates, kiss you all over exile, last christmas wham, lido shuffle boz scaggs, lotta love nicolette larson, love will find a way pablo cruise, love will keep us together captain & tennille, lovely day bill withers, lowdown boz scaggs, magic olivia newton john, maneater hall and oates, margaritaville jimmy buffett, more than a woman bee gees, my life billy joel, night fever bee gees, oh what a night (december, 1963) franki valli, one of these nights eagles, peg steely dan, physical olivia newton john, reelin’ in the years steely dan, reminiscing little river band, ride captain ride blues image limited, ride like the wind christopher cross, rock with you michael jackson, rosanna toto, sailing christopher cross, sexy eyes dr. hook, shadow dancing andy gibb, she’s gone hall and oates, silly love songs mccartney & wings, smoke from a distant fire sanford townsend band, smooth operator sade, so into you atlanta rhythm section, somebody’s baby jackson browne, steal away robbie dupree, still the one orleans, summer breeze seals and crofts, takin’ it to the streets doobie brothers, the joker / angel steve miller band, this is it kenny loggins, thunder island jay ferguson, turn your love around george benson, what a fool believes michael mcdonald, whatcha gonna do pablo cruise, you can call me al paul simon, you make me feel like dancing leo sayer, you make my dreams come true hall and oates, you’re so vain carly simon, you’re the only woman ambrosia.

#yachtrocksongs #whatisyachtrock #yachtrock #yachtrockband #yachtybynature

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OMG….I’m fan-girling my ass off Carl. Can’t wait til 4/27 at Back Bay

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YES!!!! I love it! Stoked you can make it!!!!

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You guys are awesome. Thanks Tommy for sharing.

Thanks so much Michelle, you rock! Hope to see you soon 🙂

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Please play wild fire. Or lineal Richie ssiling

Two of our faves!!!!!!! We are on it!!!!!

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Think Out Loud

Portland band yacht experiments with artificial intelligence and music.

yacht band lyrics

Broadcast: Friday, Oct. 21

In 2019, the band YACHT released an album called “Chain Tripping.” Every piece of the album was created by artificial intelligence: the music, the lyrics, the album art and the title. The band members, who come from Portland and Astoria, also made a documentary about the process of creating the album. It’s called The Computer Accent , and it’s playing this week at PAM CUT . Lead singer Claire Evans joins us to explain what AI can do for music, and what it can’t.

Note: This transcript was computer generated and edited by a volunteer.

Dave Miller: This is Think Out Loud on OPB. I’m Dave Miller. In 2019, the band Yacht released an album called Chain Tripping. Every piece of the album, the music, the lyrics, the art, the videos, the title was created using artificial intelligence. The band members, who come from Portland and Astoria, also produced a documentary about the process of making the album. It’s called The Computer Accent, and it’s playing this coming Tuesday at PAM CUT, formerly known as the Northwest Film Center at the Portland Art Museum. Claire Evans is one third of the band Yacht. She joins us now to talk about the promise and also the limits of using AI to make music. Welcome to the show.

Claire Evans: Thanks for having me.

Miller: Thanks for joining us. I thought we could start with one of the songs from the album and we can talk about the making of it. This is Death.

[Song “Death” plays, then fades . . . ]

Why did you and the band decide to use AI to create this album?

Evans: Good question. Well, we’ve been a band for 20 years, and in that time there have been a number of really significant transformative, technology-driven changes in music, like from social media to digital recording to streaming. We’re still here and I think that comes from a willingness to try new things. And AI is one of those things. It promises to be sort of the final boss in terms of industry-wide transformation technologies. So we wanted to get basically a jump on it. We wanted to understand it.

We wanted to find a way to make it our own, so that it could never really displace us and we tend to learn through making things. So the prospect of making an album immediately seemed like a neat, really self-contained way to approach understanding something new. Here’s a way to explore what AI could bring, not only to music composition and writing lyrics and recording, but also the artwork and music videos and typography and photography. You name it. We’ve always felt like an album is kind of a frame that brings all different kinds of creative work together. So it was a really interesting opportunity to kind of assess the state of the art with this tech and and play around with it and see what we could make.

Miller: What were your fears before you started working on the album, or as you were starting work on the album?

Evans: Oh, we didn’t really understand what we were getting into, to be honest. I think like a lot of people our understanding of Ai was heavily influenced by somewhat reductive mainstream media representations of what it is, and decades and decades of science fiction representations of malevolent anthropomorphized, sentient, machine demons. So, we didn’t really know what we were getting into. We had a suspicion that it would take a lot of work, and we felt very daunted about the fact that we didn’t understand how to code, we didn’t understand the math that was under the hood. So we were worried that we would just be too dumb to do it, frankly. We were also concerned that it would be too easy actually, also. It was sort of like either it’s gonna be too difficult, or it was gonna be too easy. We were afraid that if it was as simple as pushing a button and training an algorithm to generate a song then, what would be interesting about that? What would the challenge actually be? Initially, we thought the challenge would be just finding a way to kind of make these robot produced songs our own and perform them in some way that made them feel real. It’s not really until we started working that we realized how far behind the state of the art actually was. I mean, you can’t press a button and make a pop song. You couldn’t when we started working on this album in 2017, you can’t do that now. It’s a good thing, frankly, but it ended up taking just a lot more work, a lot more effort and a lot of human-in-the-loop engagement, which ultimately would make the whole project a lot more rewarding. And I think we learned a lot from it.

Miller: Can you describe the set of rules that you all came up with governing how you would make the album, what you would do with the output from computers.

Evans: We thought it was really important to think of the output not as the end of the process, but as the beginning of a new process. We sort of jokingly referred to the entire recording experience as sort of like a scotch-taped-together recording process. Because like I said, there were no AI tools available that would allow us to produce a full song with verse, chorus, bridge, lyrics. So we had to find different tools for each aspect of the construction of a song. So one for creative lyrics, one for creating melodies, different tools for generating sounds. And they need to take a unique approach to each of those tools and understand each of those tools. But it was really important for us that whatever tool we were working with, it had to be trained on, that is to say it had to kind of draw from our own back catalog and our own influence. So we spent a lot of time making ourselves legible to the machine, like building databases of all our favorite music. So we could teach the lyrics-writing algorithm, the kinds of lyrics we like.

Miller: And you had to actually feed it thousands of songs from your catalog, but you don’t have thousands of songs, so from your favorite artists. So what was that piece of the algorithm? What would it do with the lyrics that you loved or had written in the past?

Evans: Well, we used what’s called a character recurrent neural network. I’m not gonna get too deep into the technical weeds, but basically it’s a system that generates language one letter at a time, based on what it expects from its training with a massive database of text. What it expects the most likely letter to come next is, so you give it an A, it will automatically fill in an N, and a D. Because that’s a word. And you can tweak the parameters, but basically we taught this character-generating model language, but only using song lyrics. So the only context it had for what a word is, or what frequency certain words appear in language, was from this massive database of song lyrics that we put together, I think two million words of songs from all of our favorite artists, from all the music we grew up listening to from the music our parents liked. Everything that we thought might be kind of kicking around in our own heads, we tried to put into this system so it could generate lyrics that felt like us. And it was really interesting. I could talk about this for hours, but the kinds of surprising things that the lyrics generating model was able to generate, like it would tap into these really universal, almost like lizard brain aspects of songwriting. Sometimes it would get stuck in these loops and just repeat things over and over again. But the kinds of things that songs are always about, you know, love and desire and rage like maybe 50 pages of just I want you, I want you, I want you, I want your brain. You just played a short clip of Death . We drew some lyrics for that song from a passage that just said “stab” over and over again. So stab a crash, stab a car, stab your hair, stab a factory. I mean it’s so much fun to play with these models because they generate this deeply surreal material on its own. It doesn’t hold up because it doesn’t have any structure. It doesn’t have any meaning. But our job as artists is to kind of take that material and give it meaning either by putting it together in some way like a puzzle or actually embodying and performing it and projecting all this stuff that we bring to it as performers and as artists. It’s a really fun role to try to fill and step into now.

Miller: Do you have the same emotional connection to the music, and especially to the lyrics, for these songs that you do to songs for which YOU were the human who wrote the lyrics?

Evans: Yes and no. I think meaning is very fluid and there are songs that I wrote, pen and paper from the old style way a long time ago, that I’ve been performing for decades and the meaning of those songs has changed for me over the years. Because life happens and you have a different perspective on things. The way I feel about the meaning of those songs is different than what our fans might feel or what other members of the band might feel. So everyone’s relationship to meaning in the context of songwriting involves a great deal of projection and personal experience. I think with these machine generated lyrics, it’s a little bit more effort to project meaning onto them. But it’s also much more expansive and open ended. And I really love the idea of performing songs that I am still figuring out the meaning of and that I can share that experience with the audience and we can talk about it and we can each share our own interpretations, sort of like a lyrical Rorschach test that we’re collaboratively viewing.

I think that’s really beautiful.

Miller: It’s funny, because on some level, the process of feeding this algorithm thousands of songs, millions of words, it feels really foreign or alien. It seems at first blush like a different way of creating something than the way we think of an artist. But on another, I mean, you as a songwriter or you know, somebody who writes short stories or novels, your people who have been, who’ve taken in all kinds of of other works over the years, they’re all somewhere in your head and it’s I wonder if on some level that the act of creation actually feels similar for a human, that you’re doing a version of what the computer is doing, manipulating all these things that are in your head, and then coming up with something that can’t help but be related to them somehow?

Evans: Absolutely. I think it absolutely is the difference. There are differences of course. These systems are capable of producing material at a scale and volume that is genuinely terrifying. Like, we press the button and print hundreds of pages of lyrics. I mean an amount of lyrics that I could never write in a lifetime I could create with one of these systems in a matter of minutes. I mean of course there’s all this time that goes into training and building it to begin with. But it is daunting to come up against that level of just generative potential.

Miller: It’s millions of monkeys at typewriters. But the monkeys are smart, or sort of.

Evans: The monkeys are not smart. The monkeys are really, really good at really, really specific things. They have no general.

Miller: They’re trained, if they’re not smart without being smart.

Evans: Yes, we are the smart ones. Everything that these systems produce, everything that’s beautiful or interesting that these models can create is because of the artists and musicians who make up the data sets that they were trained on and built with. Everything AI knows about being creative, it’s learned from humans. Without us, it’s nothing. I think it’s really important to remember that, because we very easily get overwhelmed thinking ‘my God that’s so powerful’. But it’s really just the sort of hallucinatory distillation of everything people have made before. And that is a much more exciting prospect I think, the idea of collaborating with hundreds of other artists throughout time rather than just one machine.

Miller: I want to play a scene from this new documentary in which you’re talking with your bandmate, Jona, who has been working on playing as an actual drummer some of the loops or or licks that were given to you all by the algorithm. Let’s have a listen:

[ Excerpt plays from documentary film ]

“So this today started with recording these drum loops that were spit out from a gente and they were so difficult to play. And it made me realize that the way I play drums is all just piecing together different clips that I’ve learned. There’s like certain things that you do on the drums. Like if you’re gonna hit a crash you usually hit the kick to, it sounds silly to hit like a crash in the middle of a pattern without a kick. And this has it just this creating loops that are very weird. It was pretty hard, it was like having to learn drums again. And even though it was supposed to be interpolating between two of our previous patterns in between, there’s some weird stuff that no one has ever done when you’re playing things that are so weird the first time this drum pattern will ever be on an album in the history of time. Yeah, I think that’s safe to say. That’s cool.”

I love that because it shows us what happens when somebody who hasn’t played an instrument before and also doesn’t have, maybe isn’t beholden to the limits of the known limits of instruments. Just says, well why don’t you do it this way? It reminded me of another scene in the movie when Rob and Jona were trying to play the music spit out by a computer. And it was hard because they thought that it was too straight ahead. They wanted to sort of loosen it rhythmically. And then the question was, would that be cheating, going against your own rules that you all had set for yourselves? How would you figure out those kinds of internal debates?

Evans: Yeah, we debated a lot. You can see in the film, there’s a lot of argument about what qualifies as cheating and what doesn’t. I think for us, we really wanted to set these very explicit rules at the beginning of the process that we only wanted to interpolate from or draw from our own back catalog and our influences. Once we’re working with the generated material, we didn’t want to add anything. We wanted to only work with what we had. We could subtract and transpose things and rearrange things, but we couldn’t jam. We couldn’t come up with a harmony. We couldn’t improvise. We couldn’t do any of the things that felt natural or normal or good in the moment. Ultimately we held to that rule, and we couldn’t work with anything that the models couldn’t create. So there was no machine learning model that could generate chords at the time that we wrote this album. So there are no chords on the album, things like that, where it’s probably overly fussy and rigid. But I think for the purposes of really taking this project seriously, understanding this technology, and really seeing what we could do within those constraints, it was important to us.

And I think also, I speak for myself, I think it’s fairly true for a lot of artists: having constraints is a really important part of beginning a major project, otherwise you can get so easily overwhelmed. But it’s true that within those constraints, we struggled a lot to try to figure out how can we make this sound good, or how can we make this feel good, because there’s so much of this material that these models these tools, they don’t have a body, they have no understanding of what feels good to play, they’re not they’re not coming at composition from habit or embodied experience. They’re just generating notes in sequences based on mathematical probability. So when we sit down to play those notes or sing those melodies, they might not be on paper very complex, but they’re just weird. Like they’re just to the left of what something would normally be, and they don’t feel good. So it made us realize how much we were bound to our own sort of bodily experience in history playing music.

Miller: What has all this taught you about the best use, the most useful use, and least destructive use for these tools when it comes to making music?

Evans: Yeah. I think we would never make an album in this way again, but we also never make an album the same way twice anyway. So, on to the next always. There are aspects of this experience that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I think for one it broke us out of a lot of habits, like I was saying physical habits, but also our own patterns of thinking, we knew what a Yacht song should sound like. Once we were playing with these tools, we were open to a lot more subtle melodies, a lot weirder things. I think it gave us an ear for the weird, that we will take with us. I write songs differently. Now my relationship to language is different because I’m not thinking about meaning quite the same way. I’m actually thinking about words as sounds first, rather than things with meaning. And then the meeting kind of comes afterwards now a lot of sort of technical things like that, where it’s, it’s just slightly a sort of broke us and put us together in a new way. But still now, I mean there are still tools that are of interest to me. I think when we get stuck sometimes, it’s really fun to play with a language generating AI model and see what it suggests. Sometimes our reaction is to do the opposite of what it suggests, but sometimes you just need something to bounce off of. So I think there are lots of really interesting uses for these tools. And of course the tools are evolving so quickly. I mean the things that we were using in 2017 which were like cutting edge things. We were working with research scientists, really getting the fresh-off-the-presses mathematical models. Those things are now old hat. They’re archaic, they’re built into a lot of recording software under the hood, they’re frictionless, totally invisible to most. And a lot of these tools are much better at the kinds of things that we wanted them to do back then, in a way that makes them look interesting.

Miller: More interesting and more powerful, and more to talk about in the future. But Claire Evans, thanks so much for joining us.

Evans: Oh, yes! Thank you so much for having me.

Miller: Claire Evans is a member of the band Yacht. We’ll go out with Sticking To The Station from their 2019 album, Chain Tripping. You can hear more about the album and the documentary, The Computer Accent.

Contact “Think Out Loud®”

If you’d like to comment on any of the topics in this show or suggest a topic of your own, please get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter , send an email to [email protected] , or you can leave a voicemail for us at 503-293-1983. The call-in phone number during the noon hour is 888-665-5865.

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Yacht Rock Songs for a Chillin’ Vibes Wedding Playlist

As a reminder: Yacht Rock is a style of music commonly classified as soft rock from the 70s to the mid-80s. You will hear everything from smooth soul, smooth jazz, R&B, and disco.

You can play songs that are the pure definition of yacht rock by artists and musicians like Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers, and Kenny Loggins. However, you will also find a few Nyacht songs (songs that have sometimes been classified as yacht rock but do not fit the definition).

It’s up to you as we are trying to set a mood for a great chill playlist for any event or party.

yacht rock songs list

Yacht Rock Songs for Weddings

Listed alphabetically by artist and then song title.

Ace – How Long Released in 1975 on the album Five-A-Side

Lyrics To Inspire You:

“And you said you was never intending / To break up our scene this way / But there ain’t any use in pretending / It could happen to us any day”

Al Jarreau – We’re In This Love Together Released in 1981 on the album Breakin’ Away

“We got the kind that lasts forever / We’re in this love together / We got a kind that will last forever and evermore”

Ambrosia – Biggest Part Of Me Released in 1980 on the album One Eighty

“Together) We are gonna stay together / (Forever) For me there’s nothing better / You’re the biggest part of me”

Ambrosia – How Much I Feel Released in 1978 on the album Life Beyond L.A.

“How’s your life been goin’ on / I’ve got a wife now / Years we’ve been goin’ strong”

Atlantic Rhythm Section – So Into You Released in 1976 on the album A Rock and Roll Alternative

“From your head to your toe / Gonna love you all over, over and over / Me into you, you into me, me into you”

Bill Withers – Lovely Day Released in 1977 on the album Menagerie

“Just one look at you / And I know it’s gonna be / A lovely day”

Bobby Caldwell – What You Won’t Do For Love Released in 1978 on the album Bobby Caldwell

“But then I only want the best, it’s true / I can’t believe the things I do for you / What you won’t do, do for love”

Boz Scaggs – Lowdown Released in 1976 on the album Silk Degrees

“Got to have a Jones for this, Jones for that / This runnin’ with the Joneses, boy, just ain’t where it’s at, no, no”

Captain & Tennille – Love Will Keep Us Together Released in 1975 on the album Love Will Keep Us Together

“I will be there to share forever / Love will keep us together”

Christopher Cross – Ride Like the Wind Released in 1980 on the album Christopher Cross

“Lived nine lives / Gunned down ten / Gonna ride like the wind”

Christopher Cross – Sailing Released in 1980 on the album Christopher Cross

“Sailing / Takes me away to where I’ve always heard it could be / Just a dream and the wind to carry me / Soon I will be free”

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Kiss On My List Released in 1981 on the album Voices

“Because your kiss is on my list of the best things in life / Oh babe, because your kiss, your kiss is on my list”

David Pomeranz – On This Day Released in 2001 on the album On This Day

“Here I stand, take my hand / And I will honor every word that I say / On this day”

DeBarge – All This Love Released in 1982 on the album All This Love

“Say you really love me baby / Say you really love me, darlin’ / ‘Cause I really love you, baby”

Donald Fagen – I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World) Released in 1982 on the album The Nightfly

“What a beautiful world this will be / What a glorious time to be free”

Doobie Brothers – What a Fool Believes Released in 1979 on the album Minute by Minute

“But what a fool believes, he sees / No wise man has the power to reason away / What seems to be”

Dr. Hook – Sexy Eyes Released in 1979 on the album Sometimes You Win

“Sexy eyes, moving ‘cross the floor, couldn’t want for more, sexy eyes / Sexy eyes, getting down with you, I wanna move with you, sexy eyes”

Earth, Wind & Fire – After the Love Has Gone Released in 1979 on the album I Am

“What used to be happy is sad / Somethin’ happened along the way / And yesterday was all we had”

George Benson – Give Me the Night Released in 1980 on the album Give Me the Night

“A little late romance / It’s a chain reaction / You’ll see the people of the world / Coming out to dance”

George Benson – Lady Love Me (One More Time) Released in 1983 on the album In Your Eyes

“Just let me love you one more time / Feel your heartbeat close to mine / Lady, love me all the time”

James Ingram and Michael McDonald – Yah Mo B There Released in 1983 on the album It’s Your Night

“‘Cause it’s a long hard road that leads to a brighter day / Don’t let your heart grow cold, just reach out and call His name”

Kenny Loggins – Heart to Heart Released in 1982 on the album High Adventure

“Now that we’ve grown apart, oh no / Well, the only way to start / Is heart to heart”

Kenny Loggins – This Is It Released in 1979 on the album Keep the Fire

“Let ’em believe / Leave ’em behind / But keep me near in your heart / Know whatever you do, I’m here by your side”

Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks – Whenever I Call You “Friend” Released in 1978 on the album Nightwatch

“Whenever I call you friend / I believe I’ve come to understand / Everywhere we are you and I were meant to be / Forever and ever”

Larry Carlton – Room 335 Released in 1978 on the album Larry Carlton

This song is a guitar instrumental.

Lee Ritenour – Is It You Released in 1981 on the album Rit

“Are you somebody in love? / Show me what you’re doin’ and tell me who you are / Hey, I’m ready for love, for love”

Leon Ware – Slippin Away Released in 1982 on the album Leon Ware

“You ain’t gonna keep on slippin’ away / Somewhere in your mind, I know / You will see that I am on your side”

Lionel Richie – All Night Long (All Night) Released in 1983 on the album Can’t Slow Down

“People dancing all in the street / See the rhythm all in their feet / Life is good, wild, and sweet”

Lionel Richie – Running with the Night Released in 1983 on the album Can’t Slow Down

“We were running with the night / Playing in the shadows / Just you and I / ‘Til the morning light”

Little River Band – Reminiscing Released in 1978 on the album Sleeper Catcher

“I said to myself when we’re old / We’ll go dancing in the dark / Walking through the park and reminiscing”

Luther Vandross – Never Too Much Released in 1981 on the album Never Too Much

“Love is a gamble and I’m so glad that I’m winnin’ / We’ve come a long way and yet this is only the beginnin'”

Marc Jordan – Margarita Released in 1983 on the album A Hole In The Wall

“I step over the borderline / Margarita will you be mine / Oh you think that love’s a game”

Maxus – Keep a Light On Released in 1981 on the album Maxus

“Please keep a light on for me, yeah / ‘Cause tonight I can’t see / Another place that I’d rather be”

Michael Jackson – Human Nature Released in 1983 on the album Thriller

“See that girl / She knows I’m watching / She likes the way I stare”

Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney – The Girl Is Mine Released in 1982 on the album Thriller

“Well I love you endlessly / (Loving we will share) / So come and go with me / Two on the town”

Michael McDonald – I Gotta Try Released in 1982 on the album If That’s What It Takes

“Maybe there ain’t nothin’ left to say / But if our time’s really runnin’ out / Then this is no time to run away”

Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near) Released in 1982 on the album If That’s What It Takes

“I keep forgettin’ we’re not in love anymore / I keep forgettin’ things will never be the same again”

Michael Miglio – Never Gonna Let You Go Released in 1980 on the album Everytime It Rains

“Your lovin’ turns me on / My lonely days are gone / That’s why I’m never gonna let you go”

Nicolette Larson – Let Me Go, Love Released in 1979 on the album In the Nick of Time

“We shared in the fantasy of / Knowing this love in our lives / Is it ever what it seems to be / Oh and if it’s over / Let me go, love”

Olivia Newton-John – Magic Released in 1980 on the album Xanadu

“You won’t make a mistake / I’ll be guiding you / You have to believe we are magic”

Pablo Cruise – Love Will Find A Way Released in 1978 on the album Worlds Away

“You’ll learn to find your love again / So keep your heart open / Cause love will find a way”

Pages – O.C.O.E. (Official Cat of the Eighties) Released in 1981 on the album Pages

“Rushin’ to the future and runnin’ from the past / Intent on getting higher / So knocked out, so real, a hopeless jag”

Patti Austin and James Ingram – Baby, Come To Me Released in 1982 on the album Every Home Should Have One

“Let me put my arms around you / This was meant to be / And I’m oh so glad I found you”

Paul Davis – Cool Night Released in 1981 on the album Cool Night

“It’s gonna be a cool night / Just let me hold you by the firelight / If it don’t feel right you can go”

Philip Bailey and Phil Collins – Easy Lover Released in 1984 on the album Chinese Wall

“Easy lover / She’ll get a hold on you believe it / Like no other / Before you know it you’ll be on your knees”

Player – Baby Come Back Released in 1977 on the album Player

“Baby come back, yeah, any kind of fool could see / There was something in everything about you”

Pointer Sisters – He’s So Shy Released in 1980 on the album Special Things

“Nothin’ has ever felt so right / And I’m so glad I took the time / That I had to take to make him mine”

Quincy Jones – One Hundred Ways Released in 1981 on the album The Dude

“Maybe she has it in her mind / That she’s just wasting her time / Ask her to stay / Find one hundred ways”

Ray Parker Jr. – A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do) Released in 1981 on the album A Woman Needs Love

“So, when you think you’ve fooled her / She just might be fooling you / Remember: if you can do it / She can, too”

Raydio – You Can’t Change That Released in 1979 on the album Rock On

“You’re the only one I love / And you can’t change that / You’re the only one I need”

Rickie Lee Jones – Chuck E’s In Love Released in 1979 on the album Rock On

“But that means that Chuck E.’s in love, my, my / Chuck E.’s in love, love, love, love”

Robbie Dupree – Steal Away Released in 1980 on the album Robbie Dupree

“I caught you glancing my way / And I know what you’re after (no second chances tonight) / Why don’t we steal away”

Roger Voudouris – Get Used To It Released in 1979 on the album Radio Dream

“Get used to it / ‘Cause I’ll be around / Yeah, ya better get used to / All my love, please”

Sanford-Townsend Band – Smoke From a Distant Fire Released in 1977 on the album Sanford-Townsend Band

“I know where you goin’ to I knew when you came home last night / ‘Cause your eyes had a mist from the smoke of a distant fire”

Smokey Robinson – Being With You Released in 1981 on the album Being with You

“I don’t care what they think / If you’re leaving / I’m gonna beg you to stay”

Steely Dan – Hey Nineteen Released in 1980 on the album Gaucho

“No, we can’t dance together (We can’t dance together) / No, we can’t talk at all / Please take me along when you slide on down”

Steely Dan – Peg Released in 1977 on the album Aja

“It sure looks good on you / And when you smile for the camera / I know I’ll love you better”

Steve Perry – Foolish Heart Released in 1984 on the album Street Talk

“Foolish heart, heed my warning / You’ve been wrong before / Don’t be wrong anymore”

The Imperials – Living Without Your Love Released in 1979 on the album One More Song for You

“‘Cause living without Your love / Was like not ever living or existing”

Timothy B. Schmit – Tell Me What You Dream Released in 1984 on the album Playin’ It Cool

“Is it someone else’s arms that hold you tight / Or darling, is it me / Tell me what you dream at night”

Toto – Africa Released in 1982 on the album Toto IV

“It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you / There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do”

Toto – Georgy Porgy Released in 1978 on the album Toto

“I’m not the only one that holds you / I never ever should have told you / You’re my only world”

Warren G ft. Nate Dogg – Regulate Released in 1994 on the album Above the Rim

“It was a clear black night, a clear white moon / Warren G was on the streets tryin’ to consume / Some skirts for the eve so I can get some funk”

Nyacht Rock Hits for Weddings

These are a list of songs that are commonly thought to be yacht rock songs but technically are not. If you have yacht rock enthusiasts, you may want to skip these. Otherwise, they are still great songs that fit the vibe.

10cc – I’m Not In Love Released in 1975 on the album The Original Soundtrack

“Don’t make a fuss / Don’t tell your friends about the two of us / I’m not in love”

Al Stewart – Time Passages Released in 1978 on the album Time Passages

“There’s something back here that you left behind / Oh time passages / Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight”

America – You Can Do Magic Released in 1982 on the album View from the Ground

“You can do magic / You can have anything that you desire / Magic, and you know / You’re the one who can put out the fire”

Bertie Higgins – Key Largo Released in 1981 on the album Just Another Day in Paradise

“We had it all / Just like Bogie and Bacall / Starring in our old late, late show / Sailing away to Key Largo”

Billy Joel – Just the Way You Are Released in 1984 on the album The Stranger

“I said I love you, that’s forever / And this I promise from the heart / I couldn’t love you any better / I love you just the way you are”

Billy Ocean- Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run) Released in 1977 on the album Suddenly

“Oh girl, oh baby, it takes a little time / Then you can love again / But I ain’t got the time”

Climax Blues Band – Couldn’t Get It Right Released in 1976 on the album Gold Plated

“But, I couldn’t see the light, no, I couldn’t see the light / I kept on looking for a way to take me through the night / Couldn’t get it right”

Climax Blues Band – I Love You Released in 1981 on the album Flying the Flag

“Thank you, babe, for being a friend / And shining your light in my life / ‘Cause, oooh, I need you”

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Rich Girl Released in 1977 on the album Bigger Than Both of Us

“You’re a rich girl, and you’ve gone too far / ‘Cause you know it don’t matter anyway / You can rely on the old man’s money”

Daryl Hall & John Oates – Sara Smile Released in 1975 on the album Daryl Hall & John Oates

“And when you feel you can’t go on, I’ll come and hold you / It’s you and me forever”

Doobie Brothers – Listen to the Music Released in 1972 on the album Toulouse Street

“Meet me in the country for a day / We’ll be happy, and we’ll dance / Oh, we’re gonna dance our blues away”

Dr. Hook – When You’re In Love with a Beautiful Woman Released in 1979 on the album Pleasure and Pain

“You want to trust her / Then somebody hangs up when you answer the phone / When you’re in love with a beautiful woman / You go it alone”

England Dan & John Ford Coley – I’d Really Love to See You Tonight Released in 1976 on the album Nights Are Forever

“And I don’t wanna change your life / But there’s a warm wind blowing / The stars are out, and I’d really love to see you tonight”

Exile – Kiss You All Over Released in 1978 on the album Mixed Emotions

“You don’t have to say a thing / Just let me show how much / I love you, need you”

Firefall – You Are the Woman Released in 1976 on the album Firefall

“You are the woman that I’ve always dreamed of / I knew it from the start / I saw your face and that’s the last I’ve seen of my heart”

Fleetwood Mac – Dreams Released in 1977 on the album Rumours

“I keep my visions to myself / But it’s only me who wants to wrap around your dreams, and / Have you any dreams you’d like to sell, dreams of loneliness?”

Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere Released in 1987 on the album Tango in the Night

“We better make a start / You better make it soon / Before you break my heart”

Gary Wright – Love Is Alive Released in 1976 on the album The Dream Weaver

“I’ll try to keep it together / ‘Cause what I say may not happen the same way / Now could be forever”

Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street Released in 1978 on the album City to City

“When you wake up, it’s a new mornin’ / The sun is shinin’, it’s a new mornin’ / You’re goin’, you’re goin’ home”

Gino Vannelli – I Just Wanna Stop Released in 1978 on the album Brother to Brother

“The world ain’t right without you, babe / I just gotta stop / For your love”

Grover Washington Jr. & Bill Withers – Just The Two Of Us Released in 1981 on the album Winelight

“Building castles in the sky / Just the two of us / You and I”

Jackson Browne – Somebody’s Baby Released in 1982 on the album Fast Times at Ridgemont High Soundtrack

“She’s gonna be somebody’s only light / Gonna shine tonight / Yeah, she’s gonna be somebody’s baby tonight”

Little River Band – Cool Change Released in 1979 on the album First Under the Wire

“If there’s one thing in my life that’s missing / It’s the time that I spend alone / Sailing on the cool and bright clear water”

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – Blinded by the Light Released in 1976 on the album The Roaring Silence

“Blinded by the light / Revved up like a deuce / Another runner in the night”

Melissa Manchester – Whenever I Call You Friend Released in 1979 on the album Melissa Manchester

“I’ve never seen such a beautiful sight / Sweet love flowing almost every night / I know forever we’ll be doing it right”

Michael Johnson – Bluer Than Blue Released in 1978 on the album The Dude

“You’re the only light this empty room has ever had / And life without you is gonna be / Bluer than blue”

Orleans – Dance With Me Released in 1975 on the album Orleans II

“The music is just starting / Night is calling, and I am falling / Dance with me”

Orleans – Still The One Released in 1976 on the album Waking and Dreaming

“You’re still the one that I love to touch / Still the one and I can’t get enough / We’re still having fun, and you’re still the one”

Pointer Sisters – Slow Hand Released in 1981 on the album Black & White

“Baby, believe me I understand / When it comes to love you want a slow hand”

Pure Prairie League – Let Me Love You Tonight Released in 1980 on the album Firin’ Up

“Let me love you tonight / There’s a million stars in the sky / Let me love you tonight / I’ll make everything alright”

Rufus and Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody Released in 1983 on the album Rickie Lee Jones

“You knew I could not resist / I needed someone / And now we’re flyin’ through the stars / I hope this night will last forever”

Rupert Holmes – Escape (The Pina Colada Song) Released in 1979 on the album Partners in Crime

“If you like makin’ love at midnight / In the dunes on the cape / Then I’m the love that you’ve looked for / Write to me and escape”

Seals & Crofts – Get Closer Released in 1976 on the album Seals and Crofts

“Darlin’, if you want me to be closer to you, get closer to me”

Steely Dan – Do It Again Released in 1972 on the album Can’t Buy a Thrill

“Then you love a little wild one / And she brings you only sorrow / All the time you know she’s smiling / You’ll be on your knees tomorrow”

Stephen Bishop – On and On Released in 1976 on the album Careless

“On and on / He just keeps on trying / And he smiles when he feels like crying”

The Alan Parsons Project – Eye in the Sky Released in 1982 on the album Eye in the Sky

“I am the eye in the sky / Looking at you / I can read your mind”

With over 7 hours of yacht rock songs to play, you can have your fill any need for background music. Whether you think the songs are Yacht or Nyacht, the songs will set a chill theme for any party.

Thank you to Camille “Rocky” Bourg, Jr. of Music by Request for helping us distinguish between real Yacht rock songs and Nyacht songs!

Do you have a favorite Yacht rock song? Please share your song below in the comments!

If you love this list you most likely like classic rock. Check out our list of classic rock love songs !

yacht band lyrics

DJ, Author, Music Lover

I have always had a love for music and the way it makes you feel. My passion grew for wedding celebrations with years as a wedding DJ. Now, as a wedding music planner, I research popular and unique wedding songs to create personalized playlists for couples and help wedding pros curate crowd-cheering music. Let's get the party started! - Read More About Me


[email protected]

got yacht?


Meet the band, sailing, take me away....

Offering smooth sounds for dancing or easy listening, this mega-talented band plays everyone’s favorites, making your party a unique experience, totally different from the rest.

While everyone else is pulling from the same list of 30-40 ‘standards’, they’re the most versatile yacht rock band in the world, featuring Sony records-signed male and female singers and tight harmonies, second to none; instrumentation by some of the finest yacht rock musicians in the U.S., faithfully recreating all the hits; and outstanding lead vocals that often exceed the originals, including soul influences, disco, beach/reggae, southern rock, 1980s pop and of course, TONS of 1970s yacht rock classics.

Just tell us your vision, and they’ll provide the soundtrack…designing a one-of-a-kind musical ‘voyage’ just for you, while also reading the crowd and taking requests, guaranteed to keep everyone out on the dance floor! Featuring state-of-the-art sound and lighting, they’ll even bring yacht-themed swag for your guests, upon request.

Performing on land or sea, whether it’s a destination wedding on the sands of Cabo, aboard a 200’ superyacht, festivals and concert halls, or ballrooms/resorts for corporate clients, with these highly-acclaimed captains at the helm, it’s always smooth sailing ahead.

So book your musical ‘cruise’ today!

yacht band lyrics

25 or 6 to 4 – Chicago 50 Ways to Leave a Lover – Paul Simon Africa – Toto All Night Long – Lionel Richie Baby Come Back – Player Baby I Love Your Way – Peter Frampton Baker Street – Gerry Raferty Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) – Looking Glass Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison Careless Whisper – George Michael Circles – Billy Preston Cold Heart – Elton John/Dua Lipa Come and Get Your Love – Redbone Cruisin’ – Smokey Robinson Dancing in the Dark – Bruce Springsteen Dancing in the Moonlight – King Harvest Do it Again (Milk and Honey) – Steeley Dan Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart – Elton John/Kiki Dee Dreams – Fleetwood Mac Dream Weaver – Gary Wright Drift Away – Dobie Gray Easy – Commodores Escape (Pina Colada) – Rupert Holmes Fly Like an Eagle – Steve Miller Band Get Down on It – Kool & the Gang Give a Little Bit – Supertramp Higher Love – Steve Winwood How Sweet It Is – James Taylor I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash I Can’t Go For That – Hall & Oates I Just Wanna Be Your Everything – Andy Gibb I Wanna Dance with Somebody – Whitney Houston I Wish – Stevie Wonder I’d Really Love to See You Tonight – England Dan & John Ford Coley If This Is It – Huey Lewis and the News If You Leave me Now – Chicago I’m Alright – Kenny Loggins Jenny – Tommy Tutone Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield Jet Airliner – Steve Miller Band Jive Talkin’ – Bee Gees Josie – Steely Dan Just the Two of Us – Grover Washington Just the Way You Are – Billy Joel Kiss – Prince Kiss on My List – Hall and Oates Let’s Go Crazy – Prince Little Red Corvette – Prince Listen to the Music – Doobie Brothers Long Train Running – Doobie Brothers Love Will Find a Way – Pablo Cruise Love Will Keep Us Together – Captain & Tennille Lovely Day – Bill Withers Low Rider – War Maneater – Hall & Oates Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffett Oh What a Night – Frankie Valli One of These Nights – Eagles Out of Touch – Hall & Oates Peg – Steely Dan Private Eyes – Hall & Oates Reelin’ in the Years – Steely Dan Reminiscing – Little River Band Rich Girl – Hall & Oates Ride Like The Wind – Christopher Cross Rock With You – Michael Jackson Rosanna – Toto Sailing – Christopher Cross Saturday in the Park – Chicago Sara Smile – Hall & Oates September – Earth, Wind & Fire She’s Gone – Hall and Oates Show Me the Way – Peter Frampton Silly Love Songs – Paul McCartney/Wings Sister Golden Hair – America Southern Cross – Crosby Stills & Nash Steal Away – Robbie Dupree Still the One – Orleans Stuck in the Middle with You – Stealers Wheel Summer Breeze – Seals & Crofts Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond Take the Money and Run – Steve Miller Band Takin It to the Streets – Doobie Brothers Use Me – Bill Withers Wake Me Up Before You Go Go – George Michael Watcha Gonna Do – Pablo Cruise What A Fool Believes – Doobie Brothers Who Can It Be Now – Men At Work You Make Loving Fun – Fleetwood Mac You Make Me Feel Like Dancing – Leo Sayer You Make My Dreams Come True – Hall & Oates Your Mama Don’t Dance – Loggins and Messina

Full List/Promo Video: https://musicgardenbands.com/general-bands/got-yacht.html

yacht band lyrics


Great fun…hire this incredible band for your party or event right now! Maryanne, Baltimore, MD

Kept everyone on the dance floor all night. Best wedding band ever! Anthony, Philadelphia, PA Your band performed brilliantly at our daughter’s wedding last Saturday night in Manchester, Vermont. Many people have told us they have never seen such a crowded dance floor at a wedding. Thanks again for a fantastic evening—we’re back home in Chicago but still haven’t returned to earth from the excitement of it all. Robert, Chicago, IL

Nez, the band leader, was a pleasure to work with throughout the entire process. My wife and I’ve never seen a dance floor more packed in our lives. When a band can pull every guest from age 3 to age 97 onto the dance floor and keep them there all night, you know you’ve hired professionals. Katy, Washington, DC Everyone keeps talking about how much they loved our band. They are so talented and were able to keep our guests on the dance floor all night! The band’s leader Nez is very personable and responsive. He went over to check out my venue before we hired them to make sure they could fit in the small ballroom of our venue. He also responded to my countless emails and calls with questions that popped up throughout the planning process. Hire this band! You won’t regret it! Julie, Fairfax Station, VA

yacht band lyrics


Since the early 90’s, Music Garden has become the Southeast’s most recognized entertainment agency. And now we’ve expanded to cover the entire Northeast region as well. Our staff has booked bands and disc jockeys for tens of thousands of successful events including corporate functions and wedding receptions, fundraisers and galas, concerts and festivals, political campaigns and inaugural balls, and countless others.

There are several “online agencies” around that offer discounts because they have no agent expense. The transaction takes place between the artist and the buyer online so there is never a discussion with a responsible agent. Unfortunately, that leaves no agent to help you, the customer, deal with details or problems that may arise, no agent to give advice on which bands to choose (saving you a lot of research) and no “back-up” plan if your chosen on-line band has an emergency at the last minute and can’t make your event. At Music Garden, we have chosen to take the good, “old-fashioned,” “hands-on” approach to customer service, which is people helping people.

Music is the most important element of any successful event, so why take a chance???

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  1. YACHT Lyrics, Songs, and Albums

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    YACHT is a band formed in 2002 in Portland, Oregon, and currently based in Los Angeles, California. The band was originally Jona Bechtolt's solo project. Its name is an acronym for

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    Needless to say, yacht rock targets a specific niche, and even those outside of that niche can enjoy the songs the genre offers. If that sounds like you, then you're in luck. In this post, we've compiled a list of the best yacht rock songs of all time, from deep cuts to classics that came out from 1972 to 1990. 67 Best Yacht Rock Songs List

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    Here are our best boat party songs: "Dance with Me" by Orleans: A captivating blend of folk and yacht rock, "Dance with Me" offers a smooth and romantic melody that sets the perfect tone for a slow dance on deck. This timeless classic will create a memorable moment for you and your guests as you sway together beneath the stars.

  15. 36 Best Yacht Rock Songs You Will Love

    Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) - Looking Glass. Written by the band's lead guitarist Elliot Lurie, pop-rock band Looking Glass is a one-hit wonder thanks to their popular single 'Brandy (You're a Fine Girl).'. The song tells the story of a young "barmaid" in a bustling seaport who brushes off endless propositions as she longs for ...

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  22. Gunna

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    Offering smooth sounds for dancing or easy listening, this mega-talented band plays everyone's favorites, making your party a unique experience, totally different from the rest. While everyone else is pulling from the same list of 30-40 'standards', they're the most versatile yacht rock band in the world, featuring Sony records-signed ...