Yacht rock is an old genre of music that emerged in the 70s and was one of the most commercially successful genres of that time. Yet, its popularity has failed to define this genre fully, and a concise definition for yacht rock does not exist. Most listeners agree that yacht rock has a feeling and mood to it that you will know when you hear it.
However, there are a few agreed-upon elements that differentiate yacht rock from other genres of music. These elements include a certain fluidity, that emphasizes a melody. Furthermore, this melody is often catchy and easy-feeling. Yacht rock does not focus too much on beat and rhythm like pop and other genres of music and has a completely different feel to it. Let us look more into yacht rock.
What is Yacht Rock?
Yacht rock is essentially a variation of the very popular soft rock that became well-known in the 1970s. Yach rock has existed for years, but the name “Yacht Rock” has come into use pretty recently. Another way to describe yacht rock is that it is adult-oriented rock. A bit more mellow than rock but has the same elements. Furthermore, you can also think of it as West Coast Sound. The style is closer to soft rock, which was popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and it features elements of other genres such as smooth jazz, funk, rock and disco, and even smooth soul.
This genre of music keeps the sound smooth and focuses more on the melody of the music as compared to the beat. Furthermore, on the emotional side of things, it keeps it light. Overall you will find this genre of music to be an escape which is quite apt considering its name.
Best Yacht Rock Songs
If you want to get more into yacht rock and appreciate this genre and all its soulful music, the best way is to listen to many of the best yacht songs of all time. Here are some of the best songs about yachts that will cause you to fall in love with this genre.
I Can’t Go for That
I Can’t Go for That by Hall and Oates is a catchy hit that has an R&B feel to it along with a pop tune. This helps the song sound soft and mellow with a melody that you can’t help but hum along to. This song was co-written by Sara Allen, who adds a special boost to this song in general. John Oates claims that the song is about the music business, and how when you are in the music business, you should stay true to your creativity. He also emphasizes that the big labels, managers, and agents should not rule over your life and that creativity is extremely important. This song was sampled in many popular songs, and many artists have also drawn inspiration from it.
I Can’t Tell You Why
I Can’t Tell you Why by the Eagles is a classic yacht rock song. This song is described as ‘straight Al Green’ by Don Henley. Furthermore, the song has a certain R&B feel to it which is quite common in yacht rock songs as both these genres focus on softer sounds. The song itself is quite soft and reminds you of the open air and the ocean. Something which is quite common in the yacht rock genre.
Waiting for a Girl Like You
Although Foreigner is well known for bigger-sounding songs that are powerful, Waiting for a Girl Like You has a smoother sound. This song was quite popular and one of the reasons why yacht rock became so popular in the time that it did. The romantic feel had made it so that it was played at many weddings. Despite its popularity, however, it did not reach number one on the US charts. It stayed at number two for 10 weeks. You can describe this song as one that brings people together, which is why a lot of people associate it with weddings nowadays.
If you are looking for a song that is the epitome of yacht rock, it has to be Sweet Freedom by Micheal McDonald. He was named the king of yacht rock because of his ability to sing in a voice that was silky smooth. This tone allowed him to sing just about any song and have it fit this genre perfectly. Sweet Freedom is by far his greatest solo song and was used in a movie as well, which made it extremely popular amongst the public.
Nothing You Can Do About It
Airplay is not the most memorable band, and you might have forgotten about it, but Nothing You Can Do About It was an extremely popular song that is still remembered when people make playlists dedicated to their time on the yacht. The song is true to what yacht rock is all about, and it has a soulful touch to it as well, which is quite indicative of the genre. The tune of this song was a cover of a Manhattan Transfer song and became a minor hit when yacht rock was in its prime.
The Boys of Summer
The Boys of Summer by Don Henley is another great song that allows you a look into the yacht rock genre. This song was written with the intention of including it in another album, but Mike Cambell, who wrote the music, sold it to Don Henley, the Eagles singer. He wrote the lyrics and brought the song to its full and final form. The main idea behind this song is the passing of youth and the new chapter and experiences that come with entering middle age. It also tackles oast relationships. Therefore, there are many themes and ideas within one song accompanied by smooth tunes.
Lowdown is more jazz-inspired as compared to the rest of the songs on this list, but it still has all the features that make a song yacht rock. The jazz is smooth and will surely make to smile and sway your head. This song was co-written by Boz Scaggs and David Paich who finalized it The song has a smooth melody to it that is quite jazzy and soft which makes it incredibly enjoyable to listen to and enjoy when you are out in nature.
What a Fool Believes
What a Fool Believes by The Doobie Brothers is quite possibly the defining song of yacht rock. WIth Micheal McDonald and Kenny Loggins’s songwriting, this song was an absolute hit in America. Furthermore, it was one of the very few non-disco hits in a time when disco was the most popular genre. This song tells a story of a man who reunites with an old love of his and tries to rekindle their love. Later he finds out that the romantic relationship he was trying to revive never really existed. Micheal Jackson later claimed that he was also a part of the song but was not credited. Both Micheal McDonald and Kenny Loggins denied it.
Valerie is not the epitome of yacht rock songs but it still fits into the genre despite straying from it quite a bit. You can almost mistake this song for pop rock but it’s still yacht rick. This song by Steve Winwood talks about a man who is mourning a lost love. One that he hopes to find again. This song was quite popular and was also sampled by other artists such as Eric Prydz in 2004. The song was presented to Steve Winwood, who was extremely impressed by it. So much so that he actually rerecorded his vocals just so it could fit the song better.
Does it have anything to do with Yachts?
The name of the genre can be quite misleading and cause those who don’t know about this genre to think that all the songs are about yachts. Rather than the songs being about yachts, yacht rock focuses more on the feeling that you feel when you ride a yacht. It can be better thought of songs that are listened to when you are sailing on a yacht. This is owing to the smoothness of this genre, which is particularly delightful when you are on the bumpy sea with the wind in your face. Additionally, many songs in this genre include nautical references such as sailing, sea, etc. Nautical references are also used in their lyrics, videos, album artwork, and more. Therefore the escape that one feels when riding a yacht is captured in yacht rock.
Yacht rock is a genre that is not as popular as pop-rock or jazz, but it has a certain charm to it. It combines many different music genres such as rock, jazz, and soft rock and adds in more melodies. If you are looking for some music that is melody-based and does not focus too much on rhythms and beats, yacht rock is the way to go. Even though the name mentions yacht, yacht rock is more about the feeling of freedom that one feels when out in the sea. Therefore, it is less about the material things such as the yacht and more about feeling free and unconstrained.