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Ultimate Classic Rock

Top 50 Yacht Rock Songs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

47. "Sailing," Christopher Cross (1979)

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

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

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

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

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

44. "Rosanna," Toto (1982)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

40. "Crazy Love," Poco (1978)

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

39. "Suspicions," Eddie Rabbitt (1979)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28. "Africa," Toto (1982)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21. "How Long," Ace (1974)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16. "Dreams," Fleetwood Mac (1977)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. "Lowdown," Boz Scaggs (1976)

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

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

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

2. "Peg," Steely Dan (1977)

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

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

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

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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff

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The 25 Best Yacht Rock Songs Of All Time

Yacht rock isn’t exactly a genre. it’s more a state of mind..

forgotten yacht rock songs

Yacht Rock is the musical equivalent of a mid-afternoon mimosa nap in a nautical location—a balmy lite-FM breeze with the substance of a romance novel and the machismo of a Burt Reynolds mustache comb.

But what exactly is Yacht Rock?

Yacht Rock is ‘70s soft schlock about boats, love affairs, and one-night stands.

Typified by artists like Christopher Cross, Rupert Holmes, and Pablo Cruise, Yacht Rock is not just easy to mock. It’s also deserving of the abuse. There’s a sensitive-male brand of chauvinism that permeates this material—like somehow because you could schnarf an 8-ball of cocaine and sail a boat into the sunset, your indulgences and marital infidelity were actually kind of sexy. Cheap pickup lines and beardly come-ons abound.

And yet, this stuff is irresistible on a slow summer day. It reeks of sunshine and laziness, and couldn’t we all use a little of both?

These are the 25 Best Yacht Rock Songs, in order. Zero suspense. (Sorry if that's less fun for you).

If you would like to learn more about Yacht Rock without getting a sailing license, read on...

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What are the qualifications for inclusion on our list?

So Yacht Rock refers to a type of soft rock, right? But there’s a ton of soft rock out there that doesn’t fit the bill. There’s no room on my boat for Barry Manilow. At the Copa? Sure. But not so much on my boat. So what makes a great yacht rock song exactly?

Ideally, one or more of these themes will be present:

Finding the love of your life;

Having a memorable one-night stand; or 

These features pretty much capture everything that’s great about this milieu. But there's also an important cheese factor at play here. While Steely Dan, Hall & Oates, CSN, and the Doobie Brothers all made songs that might qualify for inclusion here, the artists themselves are--let's just say it--too good to be considered Yacht Rock.

We'll make sure to include them in our deluxe playlist at the article's conclusion.

But in order for a song to be considered for our list, it must be at least slightly embarrassing. Case in point, the top song on our list...

1. "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" by Rupert Holmes

"The Pina Colada Song" is arguably the most perfect embodiment of yacht rock, fulfilling, as it does, all three of the qualifications cited above. Holmes sings about making love in the dunes, attempts to cheat on his wife, then ultimately, rediscovers that his "old lady" is actually the love he's been searching for all along. That's the holy trinity of Yacht Rock themes, all wrapped up in a breezy story of casual adultery.

And at the turn of a new decade, listeners were feeling it. Released as a single in 1979, "Escape" stood at the top of the charts during the last week of the year. Falling to #2 in the new year, it returned to the top spot in the second week of 1980. This made it the first song to top the charts in two separate, consecutive decades. Fun fact: Rupert Holmes never drank a Pina Colada in his life. He just thought the lyric sounded right. Hard to argue that point.

2. "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) by The Looking Glass

Formed at Rutgers University in 1969, Looking Glass topped the charts in 1972 with the tale of a lovelorn barmaid in a harbor town haunted by lonely sailors. It would be the band's only hit. Lead singer Elliot Lurie would go on to a brief solo career before becoming head of the music department for the 20th Century Fox movie studio in the '80s and '90s.

That means he was the musical supervisor for the soundtrack to Night at the Roxbury . Do with that information what you will. And with respect to "Brandy," see the film Guardians of the Galaxy 2 for Kurt Russell's surprisingly detailed treatise on its lyrical genius.

3. "Summer Breeze" by Seals and Crofts

The title track from the soft-rock duo's breakout 1972 record, "Summer Breeze" is an incurable earworm, a bittersweet twilight dream that captures everything that's right about Lite FM. From an album inhabited by Wrecking Crew vets and studio aces, "Summer Breeze" curls like smoke drifting lazily through an open window.

4. "Africa" by Toto

Toto singer David Paich had never been to Africa. The melody and refrain for this #1 hit from 1982 came to him fully formed as he watched a late night documentary about the plight of the African continent. The lyrics touch on missionary work and describe the landscape, as inspired by images from National Geographic , according to Paich's own recollection. Putting aside its self-aware inauthenticity, "Africa" is an infectious, 8x platinum AOR monster.

5. "Reminiscing” by Little River Band

Released in the summer of 1978 and reaching up to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Reminiscing" was guitarist Graeham Goble 's nostalgic take on the swing band era. Not only is it the only Australian song ever to reach five million radio plays in the U.S., but rumor is that it was among the late John Lennon's favorite songs.

6. "Drift Away" by Dobie Gray

Originally recorded by a country-swamp rocker named Jeffrey Kurtz, Dobie's 1973 cover became his biggest hit, reaching #5 on the charts. Though not explicitly nautical, "Drift Away" captures the distinct sensation of cruising at sunset.

7. "Love Will Find a Way" by Pablo Cruise

Pablo Cruise may have the most "yachty" of all band names on our list. And "Love Will Find a Way" is sort of the musical equivalent of a ketch skipping along a glassy surface on a crisp summer dawn. Pablo Cruise was formed in San Francisco by expats from various mildly successful bands including Stoneground and It's a Beautiful Day.

And there is a certain slick professionalism to the proceedings here. Of course, Pablo Cruise was never a critic's darling. Homer Simpson once accurately classified them as wuss rock. Still, they perfectly captured the white-folks-vacationing-in-the-Caribbean energy that was all the rage at the time. Love found a way to reach #6 on the Billboard charts, remaining in constant radio rotation during the red-hot summer of '78.

8. "Ride Captain Ride" by Blues Image

Blues Image emerged from South Florida in the late '60s and served as the house band for Miami's vaunted Thee Image music venue upon its inception in 1968. This gave Blues Image the opportunity to open for ascendant headliners like Cream and the Grateful Dead. The association landed them a contract with Atco Records. Their sophomore record, Open , yielded their one and only hit. The Blues Image reach #4 on the charts in 1970 with a tune about a bunch of men who disappear into the mists of the San Francisco Bay while searching for a hippie utopia.

9. "Eye in the Sky" by The Alan Parsons Project

This #3 hit from 1982 has nothing to do with sailing. But it's infectiously smooth production sheen, layered synth, and dreamy vocals make it a perfect Lite FM gem--one cut from the stone that gave us yacht rock. The "Project" was actually a British duo--studio wizard Alan Parsons and singer Eric Woolfson.

The title track from their sixth studio album is their very best recording. It's also often paired with the instrumental lead-in "Sirius," a song famous in its own right for blaring over unnumbered sporting arena PA systems.

If that tune doesn't make you think of Michael Jordan, you probably didn't live through the late 80s.

10. "Miracles" by Jefferson Starship

Marty Balin was a pioneer of the San Francisco scene, founding Jefferson Airplane in 1965 as the house band for his own legendary club--The Matrix. But in 1971, deeply shaken by the death of Janis Joplin, Balin quit his own band. Four years later, he was invited to rejoin his old mates on the already-launched Jefferson Starship.

He immediately contributed what would become the biggest hit by any Jeffersonian vessel. "Miracles" reached #3 in 1975. Gorgeous, elegant, and open, this is a complete anomaly in the Airplane-Starship catalogue. Listen closely for the NSFW lyrics that have often flown under the radar of some adorably innocent censors.

11. "Sad Eyes" by Robert John

In 1972, Robert John had a #3 hit with his cover of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." And yet, just before recording "Sad Eyes", the Brooklyn-born singer was employed as a construction worker in Long Branch, New Jersey.

In the summer of '79, he would again climb the charts, this time to the top spot. In fact, the charting success of "Sad Eyes" was part of a cultural backlash against the reign of disco. A wave of pop hits swept on to the charts, including this slick soft rock throwback. With his sweet falsetto and doo wop sensibility, Robert John knocked The Knack's "My Sharona" from its 6-week stand atop the charts.

12. "Magnet and Steel" by Walter Egan

Before launching headlong into his music career, Walter Egan was one of the very first students to earn a fine arts degree from Georgetown, where he studied sculpture. The subject would figure into his biggest hit, a #8 easy listening smash from 1978.

Featured on his second solo record, "Magnet and Steel" enjoys the presence of some heavy friends. Lindsey Buckingham produced, played guitar and sang backup harmonies with Stevie Nicks. By most accounts, Nicks was also a primary source of inspiration for the song.

13. "Lido Shuffle" by Boz Scaggs

Of course, not all yacht rock songs are about sailing on boats. Some are about missing boats. Boz Scaggs looks dejected on the cover of 1977's Silk Degrees , but things turned out pretty well for him. This bouncy #11 hit is a classic rock mainstay today.

The band you hear backing Boz--David Paich, Jeff Porcaro, and David Hungate--would go on to form the nucleus of Toto that very same year. Toto, as it happens, is essentially a recurring theme of the genre. Before rising to massive success in their own right, the members of Toto absolutely permeated rock radio in the 70s, laying down studio tracks with Steely Dan, Seals and Crofts, Michael McDonald, and more.

14. "What You Won't Do for Love" by Bobby Caldwell

This smooth-as-silk tune reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 upon its 1978 release. It also reached #6 on the Hot Selling Soul Singles Chart. This is significant only because of Caldwell's complexion. He was a white man signed to TK Records, a label most closely associated with disco acts like KC and the Sunshine Band.

Catering to a largely Black audience, the label went to minor lengths to hide their new singer's identity--dig the silhouetted figure on the cover of his own debut. Suffice it to say, once Caldwell hit the road, audiences discovered he was white. By then, they were already hooked on this perfect groove, which you might also recognize as a sample in 2Pac's posthumous 1998 release, "Do For Love."

15. "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)" by Michael McDonald

Technically, Michael McDonald's "I Keep Forgettin'" is an adaptation of an earlier tune by the same name. In fact, the original "I Keep Forgettin" was conceived by the legendary songwriting duo Leiber and Stoller--best known for iconic staples like "Hound Dog", "Kansas City", "Poison Ivy" and much, much more.

The original recording is by Chuck Jackson and dates to 1962. But McDonald's 1982 take is definitive. If that wasn't already true upon its release and #4 peak position on the charts, certainly Warren G. and Nate Dogg cemented its status when they sampled McDonald on "Regulate". Get the whole history on that brilliant 1994 time capsule here .

Oh and by the way, this tune also features most of the guys from Toto. I know, right? These dudes were everywhere.

16. "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty

To the casual listener, Gerry Rafferty's name should sound vaguely familiar. Indeed, you may remember hearing it uttered in passing in the film Reservoir Dogs . In a key scene, a radio DJ (deadpan comedian Steven Wright) mentions that Rafferty formed half the duo known as Stealers Wheel, which recorded a "Dylanesque, pop, bubble-gum favorite from April of 1974" called "Stuck in the Middle With You." In the same scene, Mr. Blonde (portrayed with sadistic glee by Michael Madsen), slices off a policeman's ear.

At any rate, this is a totally different song, and is actually Rafferty's biggest hit. "Baker Street" is a tune that reeks of late nights, cocaine, and regret. Peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Baker Street" soared on the wings of the decade's most memorable sax riff. Raphael Ravenscroft's performance would, in fact, lead to a mainstream revitalization of interest in the saxophone writ large.

17. "Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang" by Silver

There are several interesting things about Silver that have almost nothing to do with this song. First, bass guitarist and singer Tom Leadon was both the brother of Bernie Leadon from the Eagles and a member of Tom Petty's pre-fame band, Mudcrutch. Second, the band's keyboardist was Brent Mydland, who would go on to become the Grateful Dead's longest-tenured piano guy. Third, Silver put out their only record in 1976, and future Saturday Night Live standout Phil Harman designed the cover art.

With all of that said, Arista executives felt that their first album lacked a single so they had country songwriter Rick Giles cook up this ridiculous, gooey concoction that I kind of love. Let's say this one falls into the "so bad it's good" category. Anyway, the song peaked at #16 on the charts. The band broke up in '78, leading Mydland to accept the deadliest job in rock music. He defied the odds by playing with the Grateful Dead until an accidental drug overdose claimed his life in 1990.

18. "Biggest Part of Me" by Ambrosia

I admit, I'm kind of hard-pressed to make Ambrosia interesting. In fact, they were extremely prolific, and earned high regard in early '70s prog rock circles. And in the 1990s, lead singer David Pack would actually be the musical director for both of Bill Clinton's presidential inauguration concerts.

But this Southern California combo is much better known to mainstream audiences for their top-down, hair-blowing-in-the-wind soft rock from the decade in between. Peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980, "Biggest Part of Me" is the group's best-known tune--a seafoamy bit of blue-eyed soul served over a raw bar of smooth jazz and lite funk.

19. "Baby Come Back" by Player

Player released their self-titled debut album in 1977 and immediately shot up to #1 with "Baby Come Back." Bandmates Peter Beckett and J.C. Crowley had both recently broken up with their girlfriends. They channeled their shared angst into this composition, a self-sorry guilty pleasure featuring former Steppenwolf member Wayne Cook on keys.

Granted, Steppenwolf's edgy disposition is nowhere to be found on this record, but it is pretty infectious in a late-summer-night, slightly-buzzed, clenched-fist sort of way. Player endured various lineup changes, but never returned to the heights of their first hit.

20. "On and On" by Stephen Bishop

Remember that scene in National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) where there's this dude in a turtleneck singing a super cloying folks song before John Belushi mercifully snatches away his guitar and smashes it to smithereens? That guy was Stephen Bishop, who was actually in the middle of enjoying considerable success with his 1976 debut album, Careless .

"On and On" was the album's biggest hit, a vaguely Caribbean soft-rocker that reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in '77. The gentle electric riffs you hear there are supplied by guitarist Andrew Gold--who wrote the theme song for the Golden Girls . (I freakin' know you're singing it right now).

21. "Chevy Van" by Sammy Johns

The classic tale of boy-meets-girls, bangs-her-in-his-van, and brags-to-his-buds, all with backing from the world famous Wrecking Crew studio team. In 1975, a lot of people super related to it. It sold over a million copies and reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. I can't tell you this song is good. But I also can't tell you I don't like it.

22. "You Are the Woman" by Firefall

Firefall's lead guitarist Jock Bartley perfectly captures this song's impact, calling the band's biggest hit "a singing version of [a] Hallmark card." That feels right. The second single from Firefall's 1976 self-titled debut was only a regional hit at first. But it was driven all the way to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 on the strength of radio requests.

As Bartley explained, "Every female between the ages of 18 and 24 wanted to be the woman portrayed in the song, and that caused their boyfriends and spouses to call radio stations and subsequently flood the airwaves with dedications of the song and the sentiment."

23. "Sailing" by Christopher Cross

Arguably, "Sailing" is the single most emblematic song of the Yacht Rock genre. Its thematic relevance requires no explanation. But it's worth noting that the song is inspired by true events. During a tough time in his youth, Cross was befriended by Al Glasscock. Serving as something of an older brother to Cross, Glasscock would take him sailing.

He recalls in his biggest hit that this was a time of escape from the harsh realities of his real life. In 1979, Cross released his self-titled debut. In early 1980, "Sailing" became a #1 hit, landing Cross a hat-trick of Grammys--including recognition as best new artist. Though Cross and Glasscock would lose touch for more than 20 years, they were reunited during a 1995 episode of The Howard Stern Show . Cross subsequently mailed a copy of his platinum record to Glasscock.

24. "Steal Away" by Robbie Dupree

Apparently, this song was perceived as so blatant a ripoff of Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins' "What a Fool Believes" that legal action was actually threatened.

It never formulated. Instead, Robbie Dupree landed a #6 Billboard Hot 100 hit with the lead single from his self-titled 1980 debut. Critics hated it, but it was a dominant presence in the summer of 1980. It even earned Dupree a Grammy nomination for best new artist. He ultimately lost to the man listed just above--Christopher Cross.

25. "This is It" by Kenny Loggins

You didn't think we'd get through this whole list without an actual Kenny Loggins tune. This song has the perfect pedigree, teaming Loggins and Michael McDonald on a 1979 composition that became the lead single off of Kenny Loggins' Keep the Fire.

Coming on the tail end of the '70s, "This is It" felt positively omnipresent in the '80s. I may be biased here. I grew up in Philadelphia, where a local television show by the same name adopted "This is It" as its theme song. But then, it did also reach #11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

And in that spirit...this is it, the end of our list.

But as usual, here's a bonus playlist--an expanded voyage through the breezy, AOR waters of the mid-'70s to early '80s.

forgotten yacht rock songs

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Top 100 Greatest Yacht Rock Songs of All Time

Top 100 Greatest Yacht Rock Songs of All Time

Yacht Rock, a term that has steadily grown in popularity, refers to the smooth, groovy rock music of the '70s and '80s that has been popularized over the recent years. Initially categorized as soft rock or adult contemporary, Yacht Rock places a stronger emphasis on the groove rather than the lyrics, making it some of the easiest and catchiest easy listening music for many rock fans. Interestingly, nearly all Yacht Rock songs were created 35-40 years before the genre was officially recognized as its own distinct style, leaving room for interpretation about what exactly qualifies as Yacht Rock. For our criteria, we analyzed the entire catalog of Sirius XM Yacht Rock Radio alongside Spotify and Apple Music’s Yacht Rock playlists and ranked the songs accordingly. Each song included has been deemed Yacht Rock by at least one of these sources and was scored against all other entries. Some songs may rank higher in a broader rock or soft rock sphere, but here are what we have deemed to be the 100 Greatest Yacht Rock Songs of All Time complete with a playlist of all 100 Songs . For a broader list across at songs across the rock realm, be sure to check out the Top 200 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time .

1. What a Fool Believes - The Doobie Brothers

Deemed almost unanimously as the quintessential Yacht Rock tune by the few publications that have taken the time to dive into this same endeavor , What a Fool Believes  stands out as one of the grooviest rock tunes to ever achieve mainstream success. Featuring the quintessential Yacht Rock vocalist, Michael McDonald, the song topped charts across North America and became one of the most recognizable and frequently played songs of the '70s. Michael McDonald, who joined The Doobie Brothers in 1975, had become the band's primary vocalist by the release of Minute by Minute  in 1978, which houses What a Fool Believes . With this album marking a new sound for the band, especially following the temporary health-related departure of Tom Johnston, the band's new sound was polished to perfection, a dramatic shift from the Toulouse Street  sound of the early part of the decade. Nevertheless, What a Fool Believes  is a serious earworm, a critically "perfect" pop-rock song, if you will, and a song that reinvented The Doobie Brothers.

2. Peg   - Steely Dan

One of the most talented groups on our list, if not the most talented, Steely Dan transcended the typical confines of Yacht Rock during their initial ten-year run. Covering genres from Yacht Rock to jazz rock, progressive rock, and funk rock, Steely Dan captivated audiences uniquely throughout the '70s and early '80s. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen consistently collaborated with the world's finest studio musicians, producing albums of perfectionist caliber. Within the realm of Yacht Rock, Peg  takes their top spot, ranking just behind What a Fool Believes  in the genre. Once again, Michael McDonald provides backing vocals, harmonizing behind Donald Fagen and Paul Griffin. The silky smooth vocals paired with top-notch instrumentals make Peg  a standout track. Furthermore, Aja , the album that houses Peg , is one of the most impressive American albums of all time , beyond its Yacht Rock appeal.

3. Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)   - Looking Glass

Released in 1972, the one-hit wonder by Looking Glass, Brandy , established a much bigger name for itself than the band ever managed to achieve on its own. As one of the smoothest and catchiest songs of the ‘70s, Brandy  consistently appears on nearly every Yacht Rock, adult contemporary, or easy listening playlist available. The song tells a melancholic tale that is open to interpretation, though it is generally understood to describe an attractive bartender based in Northern New Jersey. Featuring catchy harmonies, clean soft guitar, and subtle horn use, what's not to love about this song?

4. Sailing   - Christopher Cross

If it were up to us at Melophobe, the "Yacht Rock Crown" would go to San Antonio’s own Christopher Cross. Although Cross really shined with just his first two studio albums before his later releases (post-1983) fell into obscurity, his early work still grabs all the attention. From his self-titled debut album, Sailing  stands out as a top ten hit that's the epitome of Yacht Rock. Interestingly, the term "yacht rock" itself is often linked right back to this song. His debut album is loaded with iconic tunes in this style, with Sailing  rightfully taking its place at the forefront.

5. Escape (The Pi ñ a Colada Song)  - Rupert Holmes

The second tune in our top ten that found its way onto one of the three Guardians of the Galaxy  soundtracks—as well as its original LP release—comes from yacht rock icon Rupert Holmes. Escape (The Piña Colada Song)  tells a story that feels more comical today than it might have in the ‘70s, describing a personal ad in search of a like-minded, carefree, fun-loving companion. Beyond the quirky lyrics, the sounds of crashing waves and clean guitars have turned the tune into a timeless earworm, cementing its status as a yacht rock masterpiece long before the term even existed. Guardians of the Galaxy  wasn't just a great series for action lovers; who would've guessed its soundtrack would become almost as iconic as the movies themselves?

6. Lowdown  - Boz Scaggs

Part of the same studio musician collective that worked with Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs hit major commercial success in 1976 with the release of his richly decorated album Silk Degrees . Boz Scaggs found success as one of the few artists to achieve substantial mainstream success in the jazz rock world aside from Steely Dan, with both artists utilizing many of the same studio musicians. Released from Silk Degrees , the standout yacht rock tune is Lowdown , a tightly produced masterpiece. Similar to Christopher Cross, Boz's peak in the mainstream was relatively brief, with his fame primarily anchored to Silk Degrees  and sporadic airplay of his other songs over about a decade.

7. Come and Get Your Love  - Redbone

Yet another tune from the Guardians of the Galaxy  soundtracks to make our top ten is Come and Get Your Love , released in 1975 by the swamp rock band Redbone. While often labeled as a one-hit-wonder, Redbone actually scored another American top 40 hit in 1971 and enjoyed scattered success in the R&B scene throughout the '70s. Come and Get Your Love  has since been celebrated as one of the greatest pop songs of the '70s and also managed to somewhat subtly tap into the disco craze of the era.

8. Margaritaville  - Jimmy Buffett

The question of whether Jimmy Buffett fits into the yacht rock category has stirred some debate lately, with the answer remaining somewhat unclear since the term itself is still relatively new. Most agree that Buffett's music is in a category of its own, but there are still those who argue that his unique sound has a place within yacht rock. Regardless, Margaritaville  and a few other Buffett tunes are staples on yacht rock radio stations, so we've deemed them eligible. Buffett's music embodies a carefree lifestyle that mirrors the feel and attitude of yacht rock. His iconic song Margaritaville  instantly puts listeners in a vacation mindset, a unique characteristic that has garnered it extensive praise and airplay over the years. The passing of Jimmy Buffett, an American legend, touched the hearts of many.

9. Africa  - Toto

The first track from the 1980s to make our top ten is Africa  from Toto's fourth album, aptly named Toto IV , released in 1982. Africa  topped the charts across North America and performed exceptionally well worldwide with its powerful chorus, extensive keyboard usage, and subtle guitar playing. Alongside Rosanna , also from Toto IV , Africa  has become a yacht rock staple, but it didn’t stop there—it transcended the genre to become one of the most iconic songs of the '80s. Today, it's still adored, nearing two billion streams on Spotify. The song has also become a favorite for covers, from bar bands to top-notch acts like Weezer.

10. Baby Come Back  - Player

Player carved out a slice of mainstream success in the late '70s, as soft rock began to resonate with those not taken by styles like punk rock and disco. Their biggest hit by far was the North American chart-topper Baby Come Back . Aside from being a soft rock staple, the song has also gained a new life as a meme across the internet. While yacht rock songs typically shy away from overly heartfelt or emotional lyrics, focusing more on the groove, Baby Come Back  manages to do both masterfully. The song blends notable emotional depth with an undeniably groovy beat, making it incredibly memorable—so much so that it's recognized by just about every American

11. Just the Two of Us  - Grover Washington Jr, Bill Withers

12. Southern Cross  - Crosby, Stills & Nash

13. Take it Easy  - Eagles

14. Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)  - Christopher Cross

15. Year of the Cat  - Al Stewart

16. Hey Nineteen  - Steely Dan

17. Still the One  - Orleans

18. Sharing the Night Together  - Dr. Hook

19. Sister Golden Hair  - America

20. Dreams  - Fleetwood Mac

21. Summer Breeze  - Seals & Croft

22. Guitar Man  - Bread

23. Thunder Island  - Jay Ferguson

24. Lido Shuffle  - Boz Scaggs

25. Give Me the Night  - George Benson

26. How Much I Feel  - Ambrosia

27. Reminiscing  - Little River Band

28. Doctor My Eyes  - Jackson Browne

29. Sara Smile  - Hall & Oates

30. Rosanna  - Toto

31. All Night Long (All Night)  - Lionel Richie

32. I.G.Y.  - Donald Fagan

33. Minute By Minute  - The Doobie Brothers

34. If You Leave Me Now  - Chicago

35. Time Out of Mind  - Steely Dan

36. Kokomo  - The Beach Boys

37. Eye in the Sky  - Alan Parsons Project

38. Sentimental Lady  - Bob Welch

39. Rich Girl  - Hall & Oates

40. What You Won't Do for Love  - Bobby Caldwell

41. Ride Like the Wind  - Christopher Cross

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

43. Lovely Day  - Bill Withers

44. Graceland  - Paul Simon

45. Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes - Jimmy Buffett

46. Time Passages  - Al Stewart

47. One of These Nights  - Eagles

48. She's Gone  - Hall & Oates

49. Silly Love Songs  - Wings

50. Hold On  - Santana

51. Steal Away  - Robbie Dupree

52. Dance With Me  - Orleans

53. Listen to the Music  - The Doobie Brothers

54. How Long  - Ace

55. So Into You  - Atlanta Rhythm Section

56. Diamond Girl  - Seals & Croft

57. Lotta Love  - Nicolette Larson

58. We Just Disagree  - Dave Mason

59. Mexico  - James Taylor

60. Keep on Loving You  - REO Speedwagon

61. Baker Street  - Gerry Rafferty

62. Tender is the Night  - Jackson Browne

63. Love Will Find a Way  - Pablo Cruise

64. You Can Do Magic  - America

65. Key Largo  - Bertie Higgins

66. When You're In Love With a Beautiful Woman  - Dr. Hook

67. Dirty Work  - Steely Dan

68. All Out of Love  - Air Supply

69. I Saw the Light  - Todd Rundgren

70. Let Me Love You Tonight  - Pure Prairie League

71. I Love You  - Climax Blues Band

72. I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)  - Michael McDonald

73. This is It  - Kenny Loggins

74. The Things We Do For Love  - 10cc

75. Say You Love Me  - Fleetwood Mac

76. Biggest Part of Me  - Ambrosia

77. You're the Inspiration  - Chicago

78. Dream Weaver  - Gary Wright

79. Longer  - Dan Fogelberg

80. You Are  - Lionel Richie

81. Just a Song Before I Go  - Crosby, Stills & Nash

82. Right Down the Line  - Gerry Rafferty

83. New Frontier  - Donald Fagan

84. I Love a Rainy Night  - Eddie Rabbitt

85. Cool Night  - Paul Davis

86. Get Down On It  - Kool & The Gang

87. It's Raining Again - Supertramp

88. Vincent  - Don McLean

89. Crazy Love  - Poco

90. Spooky  - Atlanta Rhythm Section

91. Vienna  - Billy Joel

92. Cool Cat  - Queen

93. Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You  - George Benson

94. Hypnotized  - Bob Welch (Also Released by Fleetwood Mac)

95. Casablanca  - Bertie Higgins

96. Think of Laura  - Christopher Cross

97. Fooled Around and Fell in Love  - Elvin Bishop

98. Private Eyes  - Hall & Oates

99. Lonesome Loser  - Little River Band

100. Moonlight Feels Right - Starbuck

All of the picks from this list have been compiled into a streamable Spotify Playlist below entitled Yacht Rock Top 100 .

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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.

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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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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)'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

The Boys Of Summer DON HENLEY(1984) OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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.

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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'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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)'

forgotten yacht rock songs

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').

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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?

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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...

THE 101 GREATEST YACHT ROCK SONGS!

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!

Tampa/St. Petersburg SHOWS


Powerstories Theatre (7/11-7/21)

Straz Center for the Performing Arts (10/01-6/08)

Carrollwood Cultural Center (7/26-8/04)

freeFall Theatre Company (8/09-9/08)

Stageworks Theatre (6/07-6/23)

Carrollwood Cultural Center (6/20-6/20)

Straz Center [Carol Morsani Hall] (1/03-1/05)

Stageworks Theatre (7/10-7/21)

Richey Suncoast Theatre (7/06-7/06)

Jobsite Theater (7/10-8/04)
   

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Unfairly Forgotten Songs

Remembering the songs radio has forgotten.

Unfairly Forgotten Songs

Category: Yacht Rock

Sausalito summernight by diesel.

Diesel is one of those one-hit wonder groups that, when their hit is heard, have many people saying, “Yeah, I remember them!”  For a lot of these groups, Diesel included, this holds true even when their one hit hasn’t been heard for a long time.  Diesel’s big hit on the American charts, “Sausalito Summernight”, is one that hasn’t been played in ages, but still holds a place deep in some music aficionados’ memories.

Very deep, possibly.

Continue reading “Sausalito Summernight by Diesel”

Don’t Want to Live Without It by Pablo Cruise

Talk about the group Pablo Cruise, and one of two things will typically happen:  either someone who listened to top 40 radio in the late 70s will remember about two songs; or someone will ask who you’re talking about.  If you’re reading this blog, you’ll probably remember the two biggest hits from Pablo Cruise.  However, that group had a few more hits besides that.  One of them was not a big hit, but “Don’t Want to Live Without It” did crack the top 30.

Continue reading “Don’t Want to Live Without It by Pablo Cruise”

You Keep Me Dancing by Samantha Sang

If you listened to top 40 or MOR radio in 1977 and 1978, it wouldn’t be long before you found an artist who had some amount of success thanks to the Bee Gees.  One of the most fortunate recipients of the Gibb brothers’ largesse was Australian singer Samantha Sang, who had a platinum hit single thanks to them.  Her follow-up to that song, though, didn’t have the same traction on the charts.  I guess that’s why I’m writing today about “You Keep Me Dancing” on this page.

Continue reading “You Keep Me Dancing by Samantha Sang”

Never Be the Same by Christopher Cross

If someone mentions yacht rock, undoubtedly one of the first people to come to mind for lovers of that subgenre would be Christopher Cross.   I would argue that it was in 1980, when his debut album hit the top 10, that yacht rock hit its peak.  And why not?  Not everyone had signed on to the waning disco fad, and certainly not everyone was listening to new wave music.  Yacht rock filled a void, and Christopher Cross was there to help fill it.

Yet now, almost four decades later, while other music from that time still gets radio airplay, Mr. Cross’s music has seemingly disappeared.  When, for example, was the last time you heard his #1 AC hit “Never Be the Same”?

Continue reading “Never Be the Same by Christopher Cross”

Sexy Eyes by Dr. Hook

Dr. Hook is one of those 1970s groups that a lot of people know by name.  I would imagine, though, that most people don’t remember many, if any, of Dr. Hook’s hits (and they had several).  It’s interesting, though, that a group which had top 20 hits in five out of ten years of the 70s is so easily forgotten.  And, surprisingly enough, one of those forgotten hits was one of the group’s highest charting.

Continue reading “Sexy Eyes by Dr. Hook”

I’m Happy That Love Has Found You by Jimmy Hall

At the end of the 1970s, the Southern rock band Wet Willie had decided to split up (though they still tour occasionally, even now).  Lead singer Jimmy Hall, though, was invited to record a solo album by the band’s then-label, Epic Records.  And while Jimmy Hall’s solo career did not produce a lot of chart success, it did yield one bona fide hit, a song which is, sadly, quite forgotten now.

Continue reading “I’m Happy That Love Has Found You by Jimmy Hall”

This Night Won’t Last Forever by Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson, despite a terribly common name, made that name fairly well known on the pop charts for a short period in the late 1970s.  Even the casual listener of popular music* at the time knew his biggest hit, even if he or she didn’t know the artist too well.  (Your author admits here to misreading the name, upon seeing it on a K-Tel compilation album – on vinyl – in the 90s, as “Michael Jackson”.  Apologies to everyone for that.)

Continue reading “This Night Won’t Last Forever by Michael Johnson”

How Do I Survive by Amy Holland

1980 was, to put it mildly, a year of upheaval in the world of top 40 music in America.  The disco era was ending rapidly, its end having been hastened by several causes, not the least of which was a changing in listeners’ tastes toward music such as “My Sharona” , which had been the previous year’s #1 song.  While some listeners embraced the new wave movement from whence “My Sharona” came, others moved toward a resurgence of a mellower sound.

Continue reading “How Do I Survive by Amy Holland”

How Much Love by Leo Sayer

When asked about Leo Sayer, I would guess that most people would either respond with “Who?” or possibly remember one or two songs of his…or the fact that he once appeared on the Muppet Show .  I personally remember him for three songs.  Two of them, “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” and “When I Need You” , were mainstays on middle-of-the-road radio in my hometown for years.  The third, Mr. Sayer’s 1980 remake of “More Than I Can Say” , was popular after I was old enough to pay attention to what songs were popular at the time.

Continue reading “How Much Love by Leo Sayer”

Get Used To It by Roger Voudouris

Top 40 music in 1979 is probably remembered most for the beginning of the end of the disco era. The end of the year saw a big shift in the direction of pop music, exemplified best by The Knack’s “My Sharona” . However, to think of 1979 that way is way too simplistic. That year was also full of sugary ballads, the perennial hard rock, and, of course, yacht rock. This year featured the one and only chart appearance for one yacht rock artist, Roger Voudouris.

Continue reading “Get Used To It by Roger Voudouris”

Unfairly Forgotten Songs

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100 Yacht Rock Classic Playlist

forgotten yacht rock songs

Yacht Rock Definitive Playlist
Jazz has Smooth Jazz. Rock and Roll has Yacht Rock. It’s nostalgic music, if you are of the right demographic, or like to pretend you are. The phrase was started by J.D. Ryznar, who created a series of Yacht Rock videos in 2005/6. A mix of 70s and 80s ‘Adult Contemporary’ pop, and some accidental grooves from the past, Yacht Rock is a mix of the expected, and unexpected. Add some soft and you’re ready to sail. #yuppiemusic #hipstermusic #noedge
1.I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) – Hall and Oates
2.Ride Like The Wind – Christopher Cross
3.Africa – Toto
4.Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes – Jimmy Buffett
5.Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) – Looking Glass
6.Breezin – George Benson.
7.Yah Mo Be There – James Ingram & Michael McDonald
8.Summer Breeze – Seals and Crofts
9.Escape (The Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes
10.All Night Long – Lionel Ritchie
11.Kokomo – The Beach Boys
12.Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffet
13.What A Fool Believes – Doobie Brothers
14.Moondance – Van Morrison
15.Lido Shuffle – Boz Scaggs
16.Summertime – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
17.Regulate – Warren G Featuring Nate Dogg
18.Maneater – Hally and Oates
19.Key Largo – Bertie Higgins
20.Lovely Day – Bill Withers
21.Baby Come Back – Player
22.Heart of Rock and Roll – Huey Lewis and The News
23.Human Nature – Michael Jackson
24.Rosanna – Toto
25.Boys of Summer – Don Henley
26.FM (No Static At All) – Steely Dan
27.Sweet Freedom – Michael McDonald
28.Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run) – Billy Ocean
29.Dancing in the Moonlight – King Harvest
30.Let Your Love Flow – The Bellamy Brothers
31.Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
32.Southern Cross – Crosby, Stills & Nash
33.Give Me The Night – George Benson
34.So Into You – Atlanta Rhythm Section
35.Baby I’m-A Want You – Bread
36.Lowdown – Boz Scaggs
37.Dancing In The Moonlight – Thin Lizzie
38.I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Cash
39.Sentimental Lady – Bob Welch
40.Hold The Line – Toto
41.Sail On, Sailor – The Beach Boys
42.Hey Nineteen – Steely Dan
43.Steal Away – Robbie Dupree
44.Reminiscing – Little River Band
45.Time Passages – Al Stewart
46.Right On Down The Line – Gerry Rafferty
47.I Can’t Tell You Why – The Eagles
48.Something About You – Level 42
49.Ride Captain Ride – Blues Image
50.Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Grows) – Edison Lighthouse
 
51.It’s Too Late To Turn Back Now – Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
52.Moonlight Feels Right – Starbuck
53.Groovin’ – The Young Rascals
54.Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty
55.JoJo – Boz Scaggs
56.How Long – Ace
57.Don’t You Know – Jan Hammer Group
58.I’m Not In Love – 10CC
59.Lost In Love – Air Supply
60.Do It Again – Steely Dan
61.Horse With No Name – America
62.White Bird – It’s a Beautiful Day
63.Lowdown – Boz Scaggs
64.Everytime You Go Away – Paul Young
65.Year of the Cat – Al Stewart
66.Tupelo Honey – Van Morrison
67.Guilty – Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb
68.Sexy Eyes – Dr. Hook
69.Kiss on My List – Hall and Oates
70.Eye In The Sky – Alan Parsons Project
71.On and On – Stephen Bishop
72.Deacon Blues – Steely Dan
73.Graceland – Paul Simon
74.This Is It – Kenny Loggins
75.Hypnotized – Fleetwood Mac
76.Thunder Island – Jay Ferguson
77.I Keep Forgettin’ – Michael McDonald
78.What You Won’t Do For Love – Bobby Caldwell
79.Cherish – Kool and the Gang
80.Hearts – Marty Balin
81. With Me – Orleans
82.Peg – Steely Dan
83.Diamond Girl – Seals and Crofts
84.Couldn’t Get It Right – Climax Blues Band
85.Heart To Heart – Kenny Loggins
86.Somebody’s Baby – Jackson Brown
87.Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
88.Walkin’ in Memphis – Marc Cohn
89.If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot
90.Rhiannon – Fleetwood Mac
91.Smoke From A Distant Fire – Sanford Townsend Band
92. – Olivia Newton-John
93.Biggest Part of Me – Ambrosia
94.Fooled Around And Fell In Love – Elvin Bishop
95.If – Bread
96.When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman – Dr. Hook
97.You’re The Only Woman – Ambrosia
98.This Time I’m In It For Love – Player
99.Make It With You – Bread
100. Cool Change – Little River Band

Related Stories:

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Williamson Source

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.

ArtistTitle
1Steely DanHey Nineteen
2Herb AlpertRoute 101
3Robbie DupreeSteal Away
4Jan Hammer GroupDon't You Know
5Blues ImageRide Captain Ride
6Toto/Cheryl LynnGeorgy Porgy
7Gerry RaffertyRight Down The Line
8Paul YoungEvery Time You Go Away
9Boz ScaggsJojo
10Johnny NashI Can See Clearly Now
11Daryl Hall/John OatesSara Smile
12OrleansDance With Me
13Olivia Newton JohnMagic
14Seals & CroftsSummer Breeze
15Lionel RichieAll Night Long
16Fleetwood MacYou Make Loving Fun
17Steely DanDeacon Blues
18Christopher CrossRide Like The Wind
19Little River BandCool Change
20Jackson BrowneSomebody's Baby
2110ccDreadlock Holiday
22Dr. HookWhen You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman
23Boz ScaggsLowdown
24PlayerThis Time I'm In It For Love
25Fleetwood MacEverywhere
26Steely DanPeg
27Todd RundgrenI Saw The Light
28Gerry RaffertyBaker Street
29EaglesOne Of These Nights
30James IngramYah-Mo Be There
3110ccI'm Not In Love
32AmbrosiaBiggest Part Of Me
33Terri GibbsSomebody's Knockin'
34Atlanta Rhythm SectionSo In To You
35Boz ScaggsLido Shuffle
36Steve Miller BandWild Mountain Honey
37Michael McDonaldI Gotta Try
38Matthew WilderBreak My Stride
39England Dan & John Ford ColeyI'd Really Love To See You Tonight
40PlayerBaby Come Back
41Kenny LogginsThis Is It
42Michael McDonaldI Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)
43TotoRosanna
44Daryl Hall/John OatesKiss On My List
45The Doobie BrothersWhat A Fool Believes
46Christopher CrossSailing
47Loggins & MessinaWatching The River Run
48EaglesThe Long Run
49Looking GlassBrandy (You're A Fine Girl)
50BreadEverything I Own
51Steely DanReelin' in the Years
52Joe JacksonSteppin' Out
53Jackson BrowneDoctor My Eyes
54Sanford & TownsendSmoke from a Distant Fire
55Bobby CaldwellWhat You Won't Do For Love
56Fleetwood MacRhiannon
57AceHow Long
58Daryl Hall/John OatesRich Girl
59TotoAfrica
60Steely DanDo It Again
61Bertie HigginsKey Largo
62Rupert HolmesEscape (The Pina Colada Song)
63Little River BandReminiscing
64Jimmy BuffettMargaritaville
65Fleetwood MacDreams
66FirefallJust Remember I Love You
67EaglesI Can't Tell You Why
68EaglesThe Best Of My Love
69EaglesTake It To The Limit
70EaglesTequila Sunrise
71ChicagoSaturday In The Park
72Bob WelchSentimental Lady
73AmericaSister Golden Hair
74AmericaA Horse With No Name
75AmbrosiaHow Much I Feel
76Alan ParsonsEye In The Sky
77Air SupplyLost In Love
78Steely DanDirty Work
79Steely DanOnly A Fool Would Say That
80OrleansStill The One
81Stephen BishopSinking In An Ocean Of Tears
8210ccThe Things We Do For Love
83AmericaVentura Highway
84Al StewartYear Of The Cat
85BreadBaby I'm A Want You
86FirefallYou Are The Woman
87George BensonGimme The Night
88Barbara Streisand/Barry GibbGuilty
89Christopher CrossArthur's Theme
90Marty BalinHearts
91PocoBarbados
92Daryl Hall/John OatesI Can't Go For That (No Can Do)
93Al StewartTime Passages
94Jay FergusonThunder Island
95Dr. HookSexy Eyes
96Donald FagenI.G.Y.
97Michael McDonaldGotta Try
98BreadMake It With You
99Pablo CruiseWhatcha Gonna Do
100Doobie BrothersDependin' On You
101Ozark Mountain DaredevilsJackie Blue
102Pablo CruiseLove Will Find A Way
103StarbuckMoonlight Feels Right
104Billy OceanCaribbean Queen
105Linda RonstadtOoh Baby Baby
106Hues CorporationRock The Boat
107Loggins & MessinaDanny's Song
108Rupert HolmesAnswering Machine
109Stephen BishopOn And On
110BreadThe Guitar Man
111Seals & CroftsDiamond Girl
112Air SupplyEven The Nights Are Better
113AmbrosiaYou're The Only Woman
114George BensonBreezin'
115Daryl Hall/John OatesShe's Gone
116Dave LogginsPlease Come To Boston
117Rickie Lee JonesChuck E.'s In Love
118Captain/TennilleLove Will Keep Us Together
119Dr. HookBetter Love Next Time
120ChilliwackI Believe
121Crosby, Stills & NashSouthern Cross
122Climax Blues BandCouldn't Get It Right
123Gilbert O'SullivanAlone Again (Naturally)
124AmericaDaisy Jane
125Beach BoysSail On, Sailor

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forgotten yacht rock songs

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The greatest Yacht Rock songs of all time

How does one describe yacht rock? The folks at MasterClass did a pretty good job. Essentially, it's a component of soft rock, adult contemporary, and Album-oriented rock (AOR) all rolled into one. Popular in the late 1970s and into the '80s, there are some notable tunes of the ilk (smooth rhythms, light or "breezy" vocals, well-polished and produced) from earlier in the '70s that fall into this category.

In the spirit of easy listening fare, here is our ranking of 22 great yacht rock tunes.

20. "Lonely Boy" (1977), Andrew Gold

The Southern Californian's biggest hit, reaching No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. Yacht rock tracks often tell stories, and "Lonely Boy" is one of the great story songs. Whether it's autobiographical in nature has always been ripe for a casual argument. Though Gold, who passed away in 2011 at age 59, repeatedly claimed this song about a boy who felt left out following the birth of his sister was not depicting his life. The 1970s were ripe for one-hit wonders in the United States, and Gold is not still forgotten. 

19. "I Love You" (1981), Climax Blues Band

"I Love You"  is a sweet, endearing ballad. The kind of song that probably sounded great via that portable 8-track cassette player on a catamaran during an early '80s' summer. From England, Climax Blues Band scored a top-15 hit with "I Love You." Love was a dependable and generally successful topic for artists within the soft/yacht rock genre. In fact, the song is still quite popular on lite rock and adult contemporary radio stations on your FM dial for those who still like to hear their music that way. 

18. "Rosanna" (1982), Toto

Toto rightfully has a place in the yacht rock world, but the band also broke into the top-40, FM radio, and MTV mainstream with the release of 1982's Toto IV . "Rosanna" was a big reason for the album's success, peaking at No. 2 on Billboard 's Hot 100 and winning the Record of the Year Grammy Award. Sure, it's not typical yacht rock fare, per se. It's certainly heavier than other popular tracks on this list, but it's certainly a product of AOR and still routinely played in dentist offices throughout America. 

17. "Love Will Keep Us Together" (1975), Captain & Tennille

There are those historians who believe the first true example of yacht rock came with this popular '70s staple from the "Captain"   Daryl Dragon  and his wife Toni Tennille. Now, Neil Sedaka  wrote "Love Will Keep Us Together" and originally recorded the song two years earlier. Still, the duo's version was  more poppy, with a carefree vibe  that's ideal for FM radio. While Captain & Tennille's cover won a Record of the Year Grammy Award, Sedaka has noted that the Beach Boys were one of the inspirations for the tune. This makes sense since many music critics, professionals, historians, etc.. have credited the yacht rock genre as somewhat of an offshoot from the Beach Boys' collective sound. 

16. "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" (1979), Rupert Holmes

This No.1 Billboard Hot 100 hit for England's Rupert Holmes has achieved a steady cult following over the years. Perhaps, because of the unique title and conjured images of some warm, beach-laden paradise. Yacht rock's association with summer, water, and care-free living, as a backdrop to a romantic story, is one of its appealing aspects. This song is about a couple who ultimately patch up a rough relationship through personal ads . Any time somebody of a certain age sips one of these drinks, ideally at some Caribbean resort with the warm winds off the ocean blowing, "The Pina Colada Song" should come to mind.

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

Formed in Australia, the soft/pop rock and often yacht rock stylings of LRB were a hit in the United States. " Reminiscing " was the band's biggest hit in America, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Like many songs of this genre, "Reminiscing" is paced by the electric piano. Which also happened to be a staple of the Little River Band. Sure, it's not "breezy" like other yacht rock tunes, but Will Ferrell's Det. Allen Gamble is a big fan in The Other Guys (2010).

14. "Africa" (1982), Toto

Yes, more from Toto. If there's one popular Toto hit that whole-heartedly falls under the yacht rock moniker, it's " Africa ." The group's only song to top the Billboard Hot 100, and made a resurgence with Weezer's popular cover in recent years , "Africa," is the proper combination of mellow and poppy. It continues the Toto tradition of shared vocals, while the consistent synthesizer and keyboard presence, though more pronounced than the typical soft rock/adult contemporary vibe. 

13. "How Much I Feel" (1978), Ambrosia

L.A.'s Ambrosia, co-founded by vocalist/guitarist/songwriter David Pack and bassist Joe Puerta was all about the soft rock sound that surfaced in Southern California during the early 1970s. "How Much I Feel," from the group's third album Life Beyond L.A. , might have more of an adult contemporary vibe but certainly falls into the yacht rock category. It was one of the band's biggest hits, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It's remained popular over the years, even being sampled by Kanye West.

12. "Peg" (1977), Steely Dan

Steely Dan was, in its prime, under the direction of celebrated songwriters Donald Fagan and Walter Becker, many things regarding a collective sound. Rock, pop, jazz, blues. Usually melodic, well within the soft-rock category. Songs like "Peg," from the 1977 masterpiece Aja , certainly has a yacht rock vibe, too. Perhaps most notably is that the great Michael McDonald, longtime frontman of the Doobie Brothers and driving singer-songwriter in the soft/yacht rock circles, provides backing vocals on the track. 

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

It really does get more yacht rock than this—smooth , with a flowing rhythm, precise, but not overbearing, harmonies . Not to mention the subtly stellar keyboard work from David C. Lewis. Throw in sessionist Ernie Watts' sax solo, and we have one great soft/yacht offering. It was the second of Ambrosia's two top-5 hits, reaching No. 3 on Billboard 's Hot 100. The version from the 1980s One Eighty  album runs about 5 1/2 minutes long. Talk about pure easy-listening joy.

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

Long considered one of the great "summer songs" ever recorded. And summer-themed tunes from the 1970s tend to lend themselves to the yacht rock moniker. That said, Seals & Crofts were definitely a soft rock outfit, but with elements of folk and pop. "Summer Breeze" peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the 1970s and, again, is notable for being one of the earliest yacht rock offerings. Several other prominent artists, such as Ray Conniff, the Isley Brothers, and a stellar metal version from Type O Negative. 

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

It's safe to say that Christopher Cross is the king of yacht rock. A brilliant songwriter and above-average guitar player, Cross could rock, but it's his definitive soft rock numbers that made him a star with lite-FM, adult contemporary and yacht rock fans. "Ride Like the Wind"  is the first single from Cross' stellar five-time Grammy-Award-winning self-titled debut from 1979. A more upbeat number about an outlaw running from the authorities, the track is less uplifting than other yacht rock tunes, but the vibe is the same. Of note, Michael McDonald provided backing vocals.

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

From John Friesen's steady drum intro to that durably underlaid bass line via Ron Moss to J.C. Crowley's keyboard presence begins the soft-rock brilliance of "Baby Come Back." With lyrics describing the yearning to reacquire a lost love and full-band harmonies, "Baby Come Back" just might be the quintessential offering of the yacht rock genre. It was the biggest hit for Player , the L.A.-based group that featured vocalist and song co-writer Peter Beckett, who was born in England. The tune topped the Billboard Hot 100 and still has a presence with its inclusion in films such as Transformers and  Black Adam.  Plus, various versions in popular TV shows like The Simpsons. American Dad  and King of the Hill.

7. "What a Fool Believes" (1979), The Doobie Brothers

The Doobie Brothers were a rather hard-rocking outfit before Michael McDonald joined up in the mid-1970s. The band was in need of an established songwriter, and McDonald delivered. However, with a more mellow, synthesizer/electric piano-driven sound that produced soft-rock gems like this one. Co-written by Kenny Loggins, who put out a version for himself, "What a Fool Believes" hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 in April 1979. Several critics have cited this as the best song in the vast Doobie Brothers catalog. 

6. "Steal Away" (1980), Robbie Dupree

If you're going to be a one-hit wonder, why not make it count? More than 30 years since its release, " Steal Away " can still be heard in elevators and office buildings throughout the United States -- or in the third season of Better Call Saul . Undeniably yacht rock, Dupree, born in Brooklyn, enjoyed success with the song during the summer of 1980 -- always a perfect time to enjoy the smooth, soothing sounds of a piece within this genre that peaked at No. 6 on Billboar d's Hot 100.

5. "Moonlight Feels Right" (1975), Starbuck

Here's a case where middle-aged and baby-boomer music fans probably remember the song but perhaps not the group who performed the track. That's OK. Atlanta's Starbuck is essentially a one-hit wonder thanks to "Moonlight Feels Right," which topped out at No. 3 on Billboard 's Hot 100. For those who remember this track for its lite-flowing beat, with lyrical references to the ocean, "Baltimore," and 'Ole Miss," and band member Bo Wagner marimba   solo, it might take them back to a simpler, more laidback time in their lives.

4. "Heart to Heart" (1982), Kenny Loggins

Perhaps more so than the previously mentioned "This Is It," "Heart to Heart" truly has all the requirements of a great yacht rock/soft rock tune. It was co-written by Michael McDonald, who also played the electric piano and provided backing vocals. David Foster, of Chicago songwriting and '80s ballad fame, also helped compose the tune, which features David Sanborn on saxophone. The track is one of Loggins' best-known hits, cracking the top 20 of the Hot 100.

3. "Lowdown" (1976), Boz Scaggs

Co-written by David Paich and featuring Jeff Porcaro on drums -- both of whom who go on to form the aforementioned Toto. One of Scaggs most well-known hits, "Lowdown"  has a bluesy and almost disco vibe. And a number we can imagine being played at some swanky yacht club party where the dance floor is filled, and more than a few people are sporting captain's hats. The song reached No. 3 on Billboard 's Hot 100 and also topped the Billboard Cash Box chart in the United States.

2. "Key Largo" (1981), Bertie Higgins

Yacht rock and one-hit wonders seem to go hand-in-hand. Higgins scored one in the early 1980s with this number that reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Florida native was inspired to write this song about trying to avoid a romantic breakup by the 1948 movie of the same name, starring Humphrey Bogart   and Lauren Bacall, who are referenced in the tune. Though Higgins never enjoyed the same individual success as a musician, the song has had a solid shelf life and remains a definitive moment in the yacht rock genre.

1. "Sailing" (1979), Christopher Cross

Sure, "Ride Like the Wind" is a gem, but the undisputed star of Cross' aforementioned debut album is the Hot 100-chart-topper "Sailing." It might be the definitive yacht rock song, capturing what Cross described, at the time, the "West Coast sound," which was long being composed, produced and performed, but maybe didn't have an appropriate moniker. The song won Grammys for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Arrangement of the Year, and was a big reason Cross earned the same award for Best New Artist.

A Chicago native, Jeff Mezydlo has professionally written about sports, entertainment and pop culture for parts of four decades. He was an integral member of award-winning sports sections at The Times of Northwest Indiana (Munster, Ind.) and Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette, where he covered the NFL, PGA, LPGA, NCAA basketball, football and golf, Olympics and high school athletics. Jeff most recently spent 12 years in the editorial department at STATSPerform, where he also oversaw coverage of the English Premier League. A graduate of Northern Illinois University, Jeff's work has also appeared on such sites at Yahoo!, ESPN, Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated and NBA.com. However, if Jeff could do it again, he'd attend Degrassi Junior High, Ampipe High School and Grand Lakes University

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The 25 Best Yacht Rock Songs Of All Time

Yacht Rock isn’t exactly a genre. It’s more a state of mind. It is the musical equivalent of a mid-afternoon mimosa nap in some nautical location—a cool breeze of lite-FM confection with the substance of a romance novel and the machismo of a Burt Reynolds mustache comb.

But what exactly is Yacht Rock?

Yacht Rock is ‘70s soft schlock about boats, love affairs, and one-night stands.

Typified by artists like Christopher Cross, Rupert Holmes, and Pablo Cruise, Yacht Rock is not only easy to mock, but it’s also deserving of the abuse. There’s a sensitive 70s male brand of chauvinism that permeates this material—like somehow because you could schnarf an 8-ball of cocaine and sail a boat into the sunset, your indulgences and marital infidelity were actually kind of sexy. Cheap pickup lines and beardly come-ons abound.

And yet, this stuff is irresistible on a slow summer day. It reeks of sunshine and laziness, and couldn’t we all use a little of both?

These are the 25 Best Yacht Rock Songs, in order. Zero suspense. (Sorry if that’s less fun for you).

If you would like to learn more about Yacht Rock without getting a sailing license, read on…

What are the qualifications for inclusion on our list?

So Yacht Rock refers to a type of soft rock, right? But there’s a ton of soft rock out there that doesn’t fit the bill. There’s no room on my boat for Barry Manilow. At the Copa? Sure. But not so much on my boat. So what makes a great yacht rock song exactly?

Ideally, one or more of these themes will be present:

  • Finding the love of your life;
  • Having a memorable one-night stand; or 
  • Doing something nautical.

These features pretty much capture everything that’s great about this milieu. But there’s also an important cheese factor at play here. While Steely Dan, Hall & Oates, CSN, and the Doobie Brothers all made songs that might qualify for inclusion here, the artists themselves are–let’s just say it–too good to be considered Yacht Rock.

We’ll make sure to include them in our deluxe playlist at the article’s conclusion.

But in order for a song to be considered for our list, it must be at least slightly embarrassing. Case in point, the top song on our list…

1. “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes

“The Pina Colada Song” is arguably the most perfect embodiment of yacht rock, fulfilling, as it does, all three of the qualifications cited above. Holmes sings about making love in the dunes, attempts to cheat on his wife, then ultimately, rediscovers that his “old lady” is actually the love he’s been searching for all along. That’s the holy trinity of Yacht Rock themes, all wrapped up in a breezy story of casual adultery. And at the turn of a new decade, listeners were feeling it. Released as a single in 1979, “Escape” stood at the top of the charts during the last week of the year. Falling to #2 in the new year, it returned to the top spot in the second week of 1980. This made it the first song to top the charts in two separate, consecutive decades. Fun fact: Rupert Holmes never drank a Pina Colada in his life. He just thought the lyric sounded right. Hard to argue that point.

2. “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) by The Looking Glass

Formed at Rutgers University in 1969, Looking Glass topped the charts in 1972 with the tale of a lovelorn barmaid in a harbor town haunted by lonely sailors. It would be the band’s only hit. Lead singer Elliot Lurie would go on to a brief solo career before becoming head of the music department for the 20th Century Fox movie studio in the ’80s and ’90s. That means he was the musical supervisor for the soundtrack to Night at the Roxbury . Do with that information what you will. And with respect to “Brandy,” see the film Guardians of the Galaxy 2 for Kurt Russell’s surprisingly detailed treatise on its lyrical genius.

3. “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts

The title track from the soft-rock duo’s breakout 1972 record, “Summer Breeze” is an incurable earworm, a bittersweet twilight dream that captures everything that’s right about Lite FM. From an album inhabited by Wrecking Crew vets and studio aces, “Summer Breeze” curls like smoke drifting lazily through an open window.

4. “Africa” by Toto

Toto singer David Paich had never been to Africa. The melody and refrain for this #1 hit from 1982 came to him fully formed as he watched a late night documentary about the plight of those living on the African continent. The lyrics touch on missionary work and describe the landscape as inspired by images from National Geographic , according to Paich’s own recollection. Putting aside its self-aware inauthenticity, “Africa” is an infectious, 8x platinum AOR monster.

5. “Reminiscing: by Little River Band

Released in the summer of 1978 and reaching up to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, “Reminiscing” was guitarist Graeham Goble ‘s nostalgic take on the swing band era. Not only is it the only Australian song ever to reach five million radio plays in the U.S., but rumor is that it was among the late John Lennon’s favorite songs.

6. “Drift Away” by Dobie Gray

Recorded originally by a country-swamp rocker named Jeffrey Kurtz, Dobie’s 1973 cover became his biggest hit, reaching #5 on the charts. Though not explicitly nautical, “Drift Away” captures the distinct sensation of cruising at sunset.

7. “Love Will Find a Way” by Pablo Cruise

Pablo Cruise may have the most “yachty” of all band names on our list. And “Love Will Find a Way” is sort of the musical equivalent of a ketch skipping along a glassy surface on a crisp summer dawn. Pablo Cruise was formed in San Francisco by expats from various mildly successful bands including Stoneground and It’s a Beautiful Day. And there is a certain slick professionalism to the proceedings here. Of course, Pablo Cruise was never a critic’s darling. Homer Simpson once accurately classified them as wuss rock. Still, they perfectly captured the white-folks-vacationing-in-the-Caribbean energy that was all the rage at the time. Love found a way to reach #6 on the Billboard charts, remaining in constant radio rotation during the red-hot summer of ’78.

8. “Ride Captain Ride” by Blues Image

Blues Image emerged from South Florida in the late ’60s and served as the house band for Miami’s vaunted Thee Image music venue upon its inception in 1968. This gave Blues Image the opportunity to open for ascendant headliners like Cream and the Grateful Dead. The association landed them a contract Atco Records. Their sophomore record Open yielded their one and only hit, a #4 in 1970 about a bunch of men who disappear into the mists of the San Francisco Bay in search of a hippie utopia.

9. “Eye in the Sky” by The Alan Parsons Project

This #3 hit from 1982 has nothing to do with sailing. But it’s infectiously smooth production sheen, layered synth, and dreamy vocals make it a perfect Lite FM gem–one cut from the stone that gave us yacht rock. The “Project” was actually a British duo–studio wizard Alan Parsons and singer Eric Woolfson. The title track from their sixth studio album is also their very best recording. It’s also often paired with the instrumental lead-in “Sirius,” a song famous in its own right for blaring over unnumbered sporting arena PA systems. If that tune doesn’t make you think of Michael Jordan, you probably didn’t live through the late 80s.

10. “Miracles” by Jefferson Starship

Marty Balin was a pioneer of the San Francisco scene, founding Jefferson Airplane in 1965 as the house band for his own legendary club–The Matrix. But in 1971, deeply shaken by the death of Janis Joplin, Balin quit his own band. Four years later, he was invited to rejoin his old mates on the already-launched Starship. He immediately contributed what would become the biggest hit by any Jeffersonian vessel. “Miracles” reached #3 in 1975. Gorgeous, elegant, and open, this is a complete anomaly in the Airplane-Starship catalogue. Listen closely for the NSFW lyrics that have often flown under the radar of some adorably innocent censors.

11. “Sad Eyes” by Robert John

In 1972, Robert John had a #3 hit with his cover of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” And yet, just before recording “Sad Eyes”, the Brooklyn-born singer was employed as a construction worker in Long Branch, New Jersey. By the summer of ’79, he would have a #1 hit. In fact, the charting success of “Sad Eyes” was part of a cultural backlash against the reign of disco. A wave of pop hits swept on to the charts, including this slick soft rock throwback. With his sweet falsetto and doo wop sensibility, Robert John knocked The Knack’s “My Sharona” from its 6-week stand atop the charts.

12. “Magnet and Steel” by Walter Egan

Before launching headlong into his music career, Walter Egan was one of the very first students to earn a fine arts degree from Georgetown, where he studied sculpture. The subject would figure into his biggest hit, a #8 easy listening smash from 1978. Featured on his second solo record, “Magnet and Steel” enjoys the presence of some heavy friends. Lindsey Buckingham produced, played guitar and sang backup harmonies with Stevie Nicks. By most accounts, Nicks was also a primary source of inspiration for the song.

13. “Lido Shuffle” by Boz Scaggs

Of course, not all yacht rock songs are about sailing on boats. Some are about missing boats. Boz Scaggs looks dejected on the cover of 1977’s Silk Degrees , but things turned out pretty well for him. This bouncy #11 hit is a classic rock mainstay today. The band you hear backing Boz–David Paich, Jeff Porcaro, and David Hungate–would go on to form the nucleus of Toto that very same year. Toto, as it happens, is essentially a recurring theme of the genre. Before rising to massive success in their own right, the members of Toto absolutely permeated rock radio in the 70s, laying down studio tracks with Steely Dan, Seals and Crofts, Michael McDonald, and more.

14. “What You Won’t Do for Love” by Bobby Caldwell

This smooth-as-silk tune reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 upon its 1978 release. It also reached #6 on the Hot Selling Soul Singles Chart. This is significant only because of Caldwell’s complexion. He was a white man signed to TK Records, a label most closely associated with disco acts like KC and the Sunshine Band. Catering to a largely Black audience, the label went to minor lengths to hide their new singer’s identity–dig the silhouetted figure on the cover of his own debut. Suffice it to say, once Caldwell hit the road, audiences discovered he was white. By then, they were already hooked on this perfect groove, which you might also recognize as a sample in 2Pac’s posthumous 1998 release, “Do For Love.”

15. “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” by Michael McDonald

Technically, Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’” is an adaptation of an earlier tune by the same name. In fact, the original “I Keep Forgettin” was conceived by the legendary songwriting duo Leiber and Stoller–best known for iconic staples like “Hound Dog”, “Kansas City”, “Poison Ivy” and much much more. The original recording is by Chuck Jackson and dates to 1962. But McDonald’s 1982 take is definitive. If that wasn’t already true upon its release and #4 peak position on the charts, certainly Warren G. and Nate Dogg cemented its status when they sampled McDonald on “Regulate”. Get the whole history on that brilliant 1994 time capsule here .

Oh and by the way, this tune also features most of the guys from Toto. I know, right? These dudes were everywhere.

16. “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty

To the casual listener, Gerry Rafferty’s name may sound vaguely familiar. Indeed, you may remember hearing it uttered in passing in the film Reservoir Dogs . In a key scene, the DJ (deadpan comedian Steven Wright) mentions that Rafferty formed half the duo known as Stealers Wheel, which recorded a “Dylanesque, pop, bubble-gum favorite from April of 1974” called “Stuck in the Middle With You.” In the same scene, Mr. Blonde (portrayed with sadistic glee by Michael Madsen), slices off a policeman’s ear. At any rate, this is a totally different song, and is actually Rafferty’s biggest hit. “Baker Street” is a tune that reeks of late nights, cocaine, and regret. Peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, “Baker Street” soared on wings of the decade’s most memorable sax riff. Raphael Ravenscroft’s performance would, in fact, lead to a mainstream revitalization of interest in the saxophone writ large.

17. “Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang” by Silver

There are several interesting things about Silver that have almost nothing to do with this song. First, bass guitarist and singer Tom Leadon was both the brother of Bernie Leadon from the Eagles and a member of Tom Petty’s pre-fame band, Mudcrutch. Second, the band’s keyboardist was Brent Mydland, who would go on to become the Grateful Dead’s longest tenured piano guy. Third, Silver put out their only record in 1976, and future Saturday Night Live standout Phil Harman designed the cover art. With all of that said, Arista executives felt that their first album lacked a single so they had country songwriter Rick Giles cook up this ridiculous, gooey concoction that I kind of love. Let’s say this one falls into the “so bad it’s good” category. Anyway, the song peaked at #16 on the charts. The band broke up in ’78, leading Mydland to accept the deadliest job in rock music. He defied the odds by playing with the Grateful Dead until an accidental drug overdose claimed his life in 1990.

18. “Biggest Part of Me” by Ambrosia

I admit, I’m kind of hard-pressed to make Ambrosia interesting. In fact, they were extremely prolific, and earned high regard in early ’70s prog rock circles. And in the 1990s, lead singer David Pack would actually be the musical director for both of Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration concerts. But this Southern California combo is much better known to mainstream audiences for their top-down, hair-blowing-in-the-wind soft rock from the decade in between. Peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980, “Biggest Part of Me” is the group’s best-known tune–a seafoamy bit of blue-eyed soul served over a raw bar of smooth jazz and lite funk.

19. “Baby Come Back” by Player

Player released their self-titled debut album in 1977 and immediately shot up to #1 with “Baby Come Back.” Bandmates Peter Beckett and J.C. Crowley had both recently broken up with their girlfriends. They channeled their shared angst into this composition, a self-sorry guilty pleasure featuring former Steppenwolf member Wayne Cook on keys. Granted, Steppenwolf’s edgy disposition is nowhere to be found on this record, but it is pretty infectious in a late-summer-night, slightly-buzzed, clenched-fist sort of way. Player endured various lineup changes, but never returned to the heights of their first hit.

20. “On and On” by Stephen Bishop

Remember that scene in National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978) where there’s this dude in a turtleneck singing a super cloying folks song before John Belushi mercifully snatches away his guitar and smashes it to smithereens? That guy was Stephen Bishop, who was actually in the middle of enjoying considerable success with his 1976 debut album, Careless . “On and On” was the album’s biggest hit, a vaguely Caribbean soft-rocker that reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 in ’77. The gentle electric riffs you hear there are supplied by guitarist Andrew Gold–who wrote the theme song for the Golden Girls . (I freakin’ know you’re singing it right now).

21. “Chevy Van” by Sammy Johns

The classic tale of boy-meets-girls, bangs-her-in-his-van, and brags-to-his-buds, all with backing from the world famous Wrecking Crew studio team. In 1975, a lot of people super related to it. It sold over a million copies and reach #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. I can’t tell you this song is good. But I also can’t tell you I don’t like it.

22. “You Are the Woman” by Firefall

Firefall’s lead guitarist Jock Bartley perfectly captures this song’s impact, calling the band’s biggest hit “a singing version of [a] Hallmark card.” That feels right. The second single from Firefall’s 1976 self-titled debut was only a regional hit at first. But it was driven all the way to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 on the strength of radio requests. As Bartley explained, “Every female between the ages of 18 and 24 wanted to be the woman portrayed in the song, and that caused their boyfriends and spouses to call radio stations and subsequently flood the airwaves with dedications of the song and the sentiment.”

23. “Sailing” by Christopher Cross

Arguably, “Sailing” is the single most emblematic song of the Yacht Rock genre. Its thematic relevance requires no explanation. But it’s worth noting that the song is inspired by true events. During a tough time in his youth, Cross was befriended by Al Glasscock. Serving as something of an older brother to Cross, Glasscock would take him sailing. He recalls in his biggest hit that this was a time of escape from the harsh realities of his real life. In 1979, Cross released his self-titled debut. In early 1980, “Sailing” became a #1 hit, landing Cross a hat-trick of Grammys–including recognition as best new artist. Though Cross and Glasscock would lose touch for more than 20 years, they were reunited during a 1995 episode of The Howard Stern Show . Cross subsequently mailed a copy of his platinum record to Glasscock.

24. “Steal Away” by Robbie Dupree

Apparently, this song was perceived as so blatant a ripoff of Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins’ “What a Fool Believes” that legal action was actually threatened. It never formulated. Instead, Robbie Dupree landed a #6 Billboard Hot 100 hit with the lead single from his self-titled 1980 debut. Critics hated it, but it was a dominant presence in the summer of 1980. It even earned Dupree a Grammy nomination for best new artist. He ultimately lost to the man just above–Christopher Cross.

25. “This is It” by Kenny Loggins

You didn’t think we’d get through this whole list without an actual Kenny Loggins tune. This song has the perfect pedigree, teaming Loggins and Michael McDonald on a 1979 composition that became the lead single off of Kenny Loggins’ Keep the Fire. Coming on the tail end of the ’70s, “This is It” felt positively omnipresent in the ’80s. I may be biased here. I grew up in Philadelphia, where a local television show by the same name adopted “This is It” as its theme song. But then, it did also reach #11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

And in that spirit…this is it, the end of our list.

But as usual, here’s a bonus playlist–an expanded voyage through the breezy, AOR waters of the mid-’70s to early ’80s.

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Dave's Music Database

DavesMusicDatabase.com is devoted to ranking, rating, and reviewing music of all genres and eras. The DMDB blog serves up album and song reviews, best-of lists, music history snapshots, and music-related essays.

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Monday, December 5, 2022

Yacht rock: top 100 songs.

’s Matt Colier said the music tends to be catchy, focus more on melody than beat, and keeps the emotions light even if the sentiment turns sad.

30 lists were aggregated to create this list. All those songs which made 4 or more lists are included below.

to see other genre-specific song lists.

1. The Doobie Brothers “What a Fool Believes” (1978)
2. Kenny Loggins “This Is It” (1979)

3. Christopher Cross “Sailing” (1979)
4. Christopher Cross “Ride Like the Wind” (1979)

5. Player “Baby Come Back” (1977)
6. Seals & Croft “Summer Breeze” (1972)

7. Gerry Rafferty “ ” (1978)

8. Rupert Holmes “Escape (The Pina Coloda Song)” (1979)
9. Toto “ ” (1982)

10. Boz Scaggs “Lowdown” (1976)
11. Ambrosia “Biggest Part of Me” (1980)
12. Michael McDonald “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” (1982)
13. Steely Dan “Peg” (1977)

14. Toto “ ” (1982)

15. England Dan & John Ford Coley “I'd Really Love to See You Tonight” (1976)
16. Looking Glass “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” (1972)
17. Steely Dan “Hey Nineteen” (1980)

18. Atlanta Rhythm Section “So Into You” (1977)
19. Robbie Dupree “Steal Away” (1980)

20. Little River Band “Reminiscing” (1978)
21. Ace “How Long” (1974)
22. Jay Ferguson “Thunder Island” (1977)
23. Bobby Caldwell “What You Won’t Do for Love” (1978)

24. Pablo Cruise “Love Will Find a Way” (1978)

25. Little River Band “ ” (1979)
26. Daryl Hall & John Oates “Kiss on My List” (1980)
27. Eagles “ ” (1979)

28. Bertie Higgins “Key Largo” (1981)
29. James Ingram & Michael McDonald “Yah Mo B There” (1983)
30. Starbuck “Moonlight Feels Right” (1976)

31. Lionel Richie “ ” (1983)
32. Fleetwood Mac “ ” (1977)
33. 10cc “I’m Not in Love” (1975)
34. Al Stewart “Year of the Cat” (1976)
35. Daryl Hall & John Oates “Sara Smile” (1975)
36. Orleans “Still the One” (1976)
37. Firefall “You Are the Woman” (1976)
38. Bob Welch “Sentimental Lady” (1977)
39. Paul Davis “Cool Night” (1981)
40. America “You Can Do Magic” (1982)

41. Kenny Loggins “Heart to Heart” (1982)
42. Boz Scaggs “Lido Shuffle” (1976)

43. Bill Withers & Grover Washington, Jr. “Just the Two of Us” (1981)
44. Daryl Hall & John Oates “Rich Girl” (1976)
45. Al Stewart “Time Passages” (1978)
46. Ambrosia “How Much I Feel” (1978)
47. Nicolette Larson “Lotta Love” (1978)
48. Steely Dan “FM (No Static at All)” (1978)
49. Steely Dan “Deacon Blues” (1977)
50. Orleans “Dance with Me” (1975)

51. Crosby, Stills & Nash “Southern Cross’ (1982)
52. Jackson Browne “Somebody’s Baby” (1982)
53. Michael McDonald “Sweet Freedom” (1986)

54. America “Ventura Highway” (19720
55. The Alan Parsons Project “ ” (1982)
56. Poco “Crazy Love” (1978)
57. Kenny Loggins with Stevie Nicks “Whenever I Call You Friend” (1978)
58. Chicago “Saturday in the Park” (1972)
60. The Doobie Brothers “Minute by Minute” (1978)

61. Dr. Hook “When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman” (1978)
62. George Benson “Give Me the Night” (1980)
63. Ambrosia “You’re the Only Woman” (1980)
64. Climax Blues Band “Couldn’t Get It Right” (1976)
65. George Benson “Breezin’” (1976)
66. The Sanford/Townsend Band “Smoke from a Distant Fire” (1977)

67. Olivia Newton-John “ ” (1980)
68. Christopher Cross “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” (1981)
69. Fleetwood Mac “You Make Loving Fun” (1977)
70. Air Supply “ ” (1980)

71. Earth, Wind & Fire “After the Love Has Gone” (1979)
72. Michael Jackson “Human Nature” (1982)
73. Gerry Rafferty “Right Down the Line” (1978)
74. Gino Vannelli “I Just Wanna Stop” (1978)
75. Steely Dan “Do It Again” (1972)
76. Blues Image “Ride Captain Ride” (1970)
77. Donald Fagen “I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)” (1982)
78. Chuck Mangione “Feels So Good” (1978)
79. Seals & Croft “Diamond Girl” (1973)
80. Al Jarreau “Mornin’” (1983)

81. America “ ” (1971)
82. Daryl Hall & John Oates “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” (1981)
83. Exile “Kiss You All Over” (1978)
84. Todd Rundgren “I Saw the Light” (1972)
85. Elvis Bishop “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” (1976)
86. Bread “Make It with You” (1970)
87. Dave Mason “We Just Disagree” (1977)
88. Bill Withers “Lovely Day” (1977)
89. Dr. Hook “Sexy Eyes’ (1979)
90. Paul Davis “I Go Crazy” (1977)

91. Firefall “Just Remember I Love You” (1977)
92. Walter Egan “Magnet and Steel” (1978)
93. Christopher Cross “All Right” (1983)
94. Pablo Cruise “Whatcha Gonna Do?” (1977)
95. Andrew Gold “Lonely Boy” (1977)
96. Boz Scaggs “JoJo” (1980)
97. Steely Dan “Dirty Work” (1972)
98. The Beach Boys “Sail on Sailor” (1973)
99. Smokey Robinson “Being with You” (1981)
100. Gary Wright “Dream Weaver” (1975)

101. America “Sister Golden Hair” (1975)
102. Herb Alpert “Rise” (1979)
103. Billy Ocean “Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)” (1984)
104. Toto “Hold the Line” (1978)
105. Benny Mardones “Into the Night” (1980)
106. Gino Vannelli “Living Inside Myself” (1981)
107. George Benson “Turn Your Love Around” (1981)
108. Bread “Baby I’m A Want You” (1971)
109. The Doobie Brothers “It Keeps You Runnin’” (1976)
110. Christopher Cross “Never Be the Same” (1979)

111. Carly Simon “You Belong to Me” (1978)
112. Michael McDonald “I Gotta Try” (1982)
113. Herb Alpert “Route 101” (1982)
” ”

forgotten yacht rock songs

2 comments:

Living in a Dream by Sea Level has to make this list!!!!

forgotten yacht rock songs

Sorry. Of the 30 lists I aggregated to create this one, "Living in a Dream" not only didn't make the minimum cut of 4 lists but didn't show up on any lists.

The Best Yacht Rock Songs (That Don't Suck)

Often dissed as slick, overly-produced music made by white men in the '70s, Yacht Rock actually resulted in some amazing pop music beyond Christopher Cross' "Sailing." Here are tracks that define the genre's rich, jazzy textures and irresistible melodies.

12 Songs, 1 hour, 1 minute

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VIDEO

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  6. Yacht Rock

COMMENTS

  1. Top 50 Yacht Rock Songs

    A look at the very best silky smooth yacht rock songs. ... The best showing Ferguson had after this, however, was the quickly forgotten 1979 Top 40 hit "Shakedown Cruise." (Nick DeRiso)

  2. The 25 Best Yacht Rock Songs Of All Time

    Putting aside its self-aware inauthenticity, "Africa" is an infectious, 8x platinum AOR monster. 5. "Reminiscing" by Little River Band. Released in the summer of 1978 and reaching up to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, "Reminiscing" was guitarist Graeham Goble 's nostalgic take on the swing band era.

  3. Top 100 Greatest Yacht Rock Songs of All Time

    5. Escape (The Piña Colada Song) - Rupert Holmes. The second tune in our top ten that found its way onto one of the three Guardians of the Galaxy soundtracks—as well as its original LP release—comes from yacht rock icon Rupert Holmes. Escape (The Piña Colada Song) tells a story that feels more comical today than it might have in the ...

  4. The 20 greatest yacht rock songs ever, ranked

    Seals & Crofts - 'Summer Breeze'. 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.

  5. Feature: The 101 GREATEST YACHT ROCK SONGS OF ALL TIME for Your Summer

    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 ...

  6. Yacht Rock Archives

    Yacht rock filled a void, and Christopher Cross was there to help fill it. Yet now, almost four decades later, while other music from that time still gets radio airplay, Mr. Cross's music has seemingly disappeared. ... And while Jimmy Hall's solo career did not produce a lot of chart success, it did yield one bona fide hit, a song which is ...

  7. 100 Yacht Rock Classic Playlist

    Yacht Rock Definitive PlaylistJazz has Smooth Jazz. Rock and Roll has Yacht Rock. It's nostalgic music, if you are of the right demographic, or like to pretend you are. The phrase was started by J.D. Ryznar, who created a series of Yacht Rock videos in 2005/6. A mix of 70s and 80s 'Adult Contemporary' pop,… Read More

  8. Welcome to Yacht Rock Week! Here's My Top 100, #81-100

    Yacht Rock Drink of the Day: The Painkiller. Take 4 ounces of pineapple-orange juice, add 3 ounces of Bacardi's Malibu Coconut Vodka, some ice, shake, then sprinkle nutmeg over the drink. Makes a tasty drink for hot days by the pool or ocean while listening to my Top 100 Yacht Rock Songs.

  9. Playlist of the Week: Top 100 Songs of Yacht Rock

    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 ...

  10. Yacht Rock

    Yacht Rock - 100 Best Ever - Top Yacht Rock Songs · Playlist · 112 songs · 584 likes.

  11. My Top 100 "Yacht Rock" songs

    There are many different schools of thought on what "Yacht Rock" really is. Many different artists and songs fall under the wide range of the term. To me, it is what used to be called "soft rock". The term came in to play around 2005. Artists like Christopher Cross, Kenny Loggins, Toto and even some of Billy Joel's music got slapped with this label. They are soft, smooth, songs you would ...

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    20. "Lonely Boy" (1977), Andrew Gold. The Southern Californian's biggest hit, reaching No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. Yacht rock tracks often tell stories, and "Lonely Boy" is one of the great ...

  13. Sailing: The Best Of Yacht Rock

    Sailing: The Best Of Yacht Rock is the ultimate #YachtRock playlist of the smoothest classic rock songs ever written.

  14. The Best Yacht Rock Songs (That Don't Suck) on Apple Music

    Listen to the The Best Yacht Rock Songs (That Don't Suck) playlist by Rolling Stone on Apple Music. 12 Songs. Duration: 1 hour, 1 minute. ... Yacht Rock actually resulted in some amazing pop music beyond Christopher Cross' "Sailing." Here are tracks that define the genre's rich, jazzy textures and irresistible melodies. 12 Songs, 1 hour, 1 ...

  15. The 25 Best Yacht Rock Songs Of All Time

    If you don't love songs about boats, one-night stands, and breezy California nights, you've come to the wrong place. Yacht Rock embodies the singer-songwriter soft rock that dominated FM radio playlists in the '70s. Combine slick L.A. production, earnest singing, and a touch of lite-country songwriting, and chances are, you had a Top 40 hit. These are the best of them.

  16. 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 ...

  17. The Ultimate Collection of Yacht Rock/70's and 80's hits

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  18. Dave's Music Database: Yacht Rock: Top 100 Songs

    Yacht Rock: Top 100 Songs "Yacht rock" is a somewhat loose term referring to the polished, adult-oriented, soft rock from the mid-'70s through the early '80s. The term didn't exist during that actual era, only coming about later as a derogatory term of the kind of smooth music one might stereotypically assume yuppie yacht owners are ...

  19. Top 100 Yacht Rock Songs

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  20. I Keep Forgettin'

    ff This classic track from 1982 is without doubt one of THE smoothest grooves ever recorded and a song...

  21. The Best Yacht Rock Songs (That Don't Suck)

    Listen to The Best Yacht Rock Songs (That Don't Suck) by Rolling Stone on Apple Music. Stream songs including "FM", "Minute by Minute" and more. ... Yacht Rock actually resulted in some amazing pop music beyond Christopher Cross' "Sailing." Here are tracks that define the genre's rich, jazzy textures and irresistible melodies. Song.

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