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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)

Top 100 Classic Rock Artists

Gallery Credit: UCR Staff

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top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

The 25 Best Yacht Rock Songs Of All Time

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

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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.

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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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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)'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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)'

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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!

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60+ Best Yacht Rock Songs of All Time

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

Published April 28, 2023

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

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

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

67 Best Yacht Rock Songs List

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

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

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

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

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

The Bottom Line

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

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Lenard Arceo is passionate about the outdoors and South Florida life. He is a professional blogger for several renowned publications and also loves learning how to code in his free time.

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Playlist of the Week: Top 100 Songs of Yacht Rock

Featured Playlist

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

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

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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Top 24 Yacht Rock Songs | Sound Vapors

top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

Yacht Rock Extravaganza – The Top 24 Greatest Yacht Rock Songs

I’ve been wanting to put together a best of Yacht Rock list for quite sometime.  Now that we’re into the month of May – I’m inspired to pull this list together and get ready to jam to these (and others) all summer long.  As an added bonus, recording artist Carly Shea stopped by to talk about her favorite Yacht Rock songs.  She listed her songs during the intermission or halftime on the video countdown below .

As I started writing down names to songs that I felt should be included on the list, I noticed that it was being dominated by Michael McDonald/Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Christopher Cross and America.  So I decide to make some ground rules:

Only one song per band would be ranked with solo projects being treated separately.  Of course that made for even more decisions.  Choosing between the three or four America songs to include on the list was TOUGH.  Same with Seals & Croft.  Summer Breeze or Diamond Girl ?  But then it hit me.  A calmness of floating through a no wake zone, if you will.  Just relax and make your selections and live with it.  At the end of the day, when you are dealing with Yacht Rock – there really aren’t any bad choices.

Speaking of which.  A couple of artists got left off of the list.  I nearly expanded the list to 30 to make room for anyone.  But I decided to keep the top 24.  So Hall and Oates (I Can’t Go For That), Toto (Georgy Porgy), Fleetwood Mac (You Make Loving Fun), Kenny Loggins (This Is It), Dobie Gray (Drift Away) and Olvia Newton-John (Magic) – just missed.  In fact, the first two names I wrote down initially were Hall & Oates and Toto.  It’s a touch business – this Yacht Rock.

Without further ado.  Here’s my Top 24 Yacht Rock Songs .

24.  England Dan and John Ford Coley – I’d Really Love To See You Tonight

23.  Herb Alpert – Route 101

22.  Jay Ferguson – Thunder Island

21.  Boz Scaggs – JoJo

20.  Bobby Caldwell – What You Won’t Do For Love

19.  Looking Glass – Brandi (You’re A Fine Girl)

18.  Player – Baby Come Back

17.  Ambrosia – Biggest Part Of Me

16.  Michael Martin Murphey – Wildfire 

15.  Todd Rundgren – I Saw The Light

14.  Michael McDonald – Sweet Freedom

13.  Ace – How Long

12.  Lionel Richie – All Night Long

11.  10cc – I’m Not In Love

10.  Rupert Homes – Escape (Pina Colada)

09.  Donald Fagen – I.G.Y.

08.  Robbie Dupree – Steal Away

07.  Seals & Croft – Summer Breeze

06.  America – Horse With No Name

05.  Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street

04.  Christopher Cross – Ride Like The Wind

03.  Steely Dan – Peg

02.  Starbuck – Moonlight Feels Right

01.  Doobie Brothers – What A Fool Believes

So there you go.  The songs I consider the greatest Yacht Rock Songs ever.  Of course, with the twist of only one song per act.

Do you have a favorite?  Hit me up on Twitter or Instagram below and let me know which song is your top choice.

-Tommy Marz

You can follow Tommy on  Twitter   and   Instagram  let him know what you think.

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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YACHT ROCK | TOP 100 SONGS

70s + 80s Soft Rock for a day on the boat. Island tunes, chill summer hits + nothing but smooth sailing while jamming to hits from TOTO, Looking Glass, Billy Joel, Hall & Oates + more.

99 Songs, 6 hours, 40 minutes

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Yacht Rock: Album Guide

By David Browne

David Browne

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

Boz Scaggs, Silk Degrees (1976)

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

Steely Dan, Aja (1977)

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

The Doobie Brothers, Minute by Minute (1978)

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

Editor’s picks

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Further Listening

Seals & crofts, get closer (1976).

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

Christopher Cross, Christopher Cross  (1979)

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

Rupert Holmes, Partners in Crime (1979)

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

Steely Dan, Gaucho (1980)

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

Going Deeper

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

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

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Kenny Loggins, Keep the Fire (1979)

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

Dr. Hook, Sometimes You Win  (1979)

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

Carly Simon, Boys in the Trees  (1978)

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

Anchors Aweigh

More smooth hits for your next high-seas adventure.

“BREEZIN’”

George Benson, 1976

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

“WHATCHA GONNA DO?”

Pablo Cruise, 1976

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

“BAKER STREET”

Gerry Rafferty, 1978

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

“REMINISCING”

Little River Band, 1978

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

“WHENEVER I CALL YOU ‘FRIEND’ ”

Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks, 1978

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

“LOTTA LOVE”

Nicolette Larson, 1978

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

“STEAL AWAY”

Robbie Dupree, 1980

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

“TAKE IT EASY”

Archie James Cavanaugh, 1980

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

“BIGGEST PART OF ME”

Ambrosia, 1980

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

“I CAN’T GO FOR THAT (NO CAN DO)”

Daryl Hall and John Oates, 1981

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

“COOL NIGHT”

Paul Davis, 1981

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

“KEY LARGO”

Bertie Higgins, 1981

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

“AFRICA”

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

“SOUTHERN CROSS”

Crosby, Stills, and Nash, 1982

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

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10 of the Best Yacht Rock Songs of All Time

Yacht Rock, a 1970s and 1980s-era subgenre has recently experienced a boom in popularity. Its distinctive fusion of jazz, R&B, and soft rock components has enthralled audiences and created a new fan base. Yacht Rock has evolved into the go-to music for individuals looking to unwind and escape from the rigors of daily life because of its calming melodies, layered harmonies, and catchy hooks.

In this article, we’ll examine in more detail ten of the best Yacht Rock songs that have become timeless favorites. These songs, which range from the comforting melodies of The Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes” to the memorable hooks of Toto’s “Africa,” have withstood the test of time and continue to enthrall listeners. We’ll discuss what makes these songs unique and ideal for those long days spent on the lake or leisurely evenings on the patio, whether you’re a lifelong admirer of the genre or new to it. Take a drink, relax, and join me as we embark on a musical tour of the best Yacht Rock has to offer.

10 of the Best Yacht Rock Songs

1. “sailing” by christopher cross.

An undeniable Yacht Rock classic, “Sailing” won Christopher Cross the Grammy for Record of the Year in 1981. The song’s dreamy lyrics and soothing melody perfectly encapsulate the feeling of being at one with the water. It is the ideal soundtrack for an afternoon spent sailing or simply enjoying the ocean breeze. With its gentle instrumentation and Cross’s calming vocals, “Sailing” transports listeners to a peaceful, sun-drenched world where worries and stress drift away.

2. “What a Fool Believes” by the Doobie Brothers

Written by Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, “What a Fool Believes” showcases The Doobie Brothers’ signature sound with smooth, soulful vocals and intricate keyboard work. Released in 1979, this Grammy-winning song topped the charts and remained a fan favorite for its catchy melody and relatable lyrics about unrequited love. With its polished production and infectious energy, “What a Fool Believes” remains a Yacht Rock staple that continues to captivate audiences.

3. “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille

Captain & Tennille’s 1975 hit “Love Will Keep Us Together” is a quintessential Yacht Rock ballad celebrating love’s power. The song’s upbeat tempo, irresistible hook, and Daryl Dragon’s masterful keyboard playing make it a timeless classic that resonates with listeners today. It’s difficult not to get carried away by this uplifting hymn to love and dedication as Toni Tennille’s sincere vocals flawlessly meld with the song’s infectious tune.

4. “Steal Away” by Robbie Dupree

A prime example of Yacht Rock’s laid-back vibe is “Steal Away” by Robbie Dupree, a smooth and sultry hit that made waves in 1980. The song paints a picture of a spontaneous, romantic escapade with its memorable chorus, funky groove, and Dupree’s soulful vocals. From its breezy synths to its driving beat, “Steal Away” encapsulates the carefree spirit of Yacht Rock, making it a must-listen for fans of the genre.

5. “Africa” by Toto

“ Africa ” by Toto, released in 1982, is a beloved Yacht Rock anthem that has stood the test of time. The song’s unforgettable melody, lush harmonies, and captivating storytelling have made it a favorite for listeners worldwide. With its vivid lyrics and soaring chorus, “Africa” transports listeners to a vast, uncharted landscape of adventure and romance. Its distinctive blend of rock and world music elements makes this track an enduring classic.

6. “Peg” by Steely Dan

Jazzy and sophisticated, “Peg” by Steely Dan showcases the band’s trademark fusion of rock, pop, and jazz. Released in 1977, the song’s infectious groove, polished production, and impeccable musicianship have made it a Yacht Rock staple. Featuring Michael McDonald on backing vocals, “Peg” is a prime example of Steely Dan’s knack for creating intricate yet accessible music. With its bright horns, unforgettable guitar riff, and smooth harmonies, “Peg” has earned its place among the Yacht Rock elite.

7. “Baby Come Back” by Player

“Baby Come Back” by Player is a quintessential Yacht Rock ballad that tugs at the heartstrings with poignant lyrics about lost love. The 1977 song’s deep melody, memorable chorus, and longing vocals have made it a timeless classic that appeals to listeners even now. As the song builds to its unforgettable climax, “Baby Come Back” reminds us of the power of love and the enduring appeal of Yacht Rock’s smooth sound.

8. “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” by Hall & Oates

A sultry, funk-infused hit, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” by Hall & Oates, showcases the duo’s signature blend of pop and soul. Released in 1981, the song’s irresistible groove, catchy hook, and Daryl Hall’s smooth vocals have made it a fan favorite. With its irresistible beat and effortlessly cool vibe, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” is a standout track in the Yacht Rock genre that still gets people moving on the dance floor.

9. “Hey Nineteen” by Steely Dan

Another Yacht Rock classic from Steely Dan, “Hey Nineteen,” is a smooth, laid-back tune that perfectly captures the band’s signature sound. The 1980 song’s catchy melody, clever lyrics, and easygoing groove have made it a favorite among listeners.

“Hey Nineteen” is a classic example of Steely Dan’s ability to create timeless music that transcends fads and is still relevant today thanks to its unusual fusion of jazz, pop, and rock components.

10. “Biggest Part of Me” by Ambrosia

Rounding out our list is “Biggest Part of Me” by Ambrosia, a 1980 hit that showcases the band’s trademark blend of soulful vocals, lush harmonies, and smooth instrumentation. With its heartfelt lyrics, soaring chorus, and polished production, the song has become a Yacht Rock classic that still resonates with listeners. As the song builds to its emotional crescendo, “Biggest Part of Me” is a fitting tribute to the enduring appeal of Yacht Rock’s smooth sound.

From sun-soaked afternoons on the water to romantic evenings under the stars, Yacht Rock’s timeless tunes uniquely transport listeners to a world of relaxation and nostalgia. These ten Yacht Rock songs, with their smooth melodies, soulful vocals, and catchy hooks, serve as a testament to the enduring appeal of this beloved subgenre. As more and more people discover the magic of Yacht Rock, its classic tracks continue to sail into the hearts of new fans, proving that this smooth sound is here to stay.

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Jason Butler

Jason Butler is the owner of My Money Chronicles, a website where he discusses personal finance, side hustles, travel, and more. Jason is from Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Savannah State University with his BA in Marketing. Jason has been featured in Forbes, Discover, and Investopedia.

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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 champagne 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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Rock Royalty: Meet the Most Iconic Bands of All Time

H ave you ever found yourself lost in the rhythm of a vintage rock song? Have you ever sung along to "Hey Jude" or bopped your head to "Bohemian Rhapsody"? Today, we'll look at the songs and histories of the top 5 rock bands. Get ready for an amazing trip through the background of rock 'n' roll!

The Beatles

Formation and rise.

Once upon a time in Liverpool, England, four lads named John, Paul, George, and Ringo came together to form a band that would become synonymous with rock 'n' roll - The Beatles. Their journey from playing in dingy clubs to becoming international superstars is inspiring.

Iconic Albums and Songs

The Beatles left us with a plethora of music that transcends time. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Revolver," and "Abbey Road" are all masterpieces that show their versatility and innovation in songwriting. Who can forget songs like "Hey Jude," "Let It Be, "or "Yesterday"?

The Beatles' music continues influencing artists across genres, and their records still top charts. Their profound impact on popular culture and music is undeniable. They're not just a band; they're a phenomenon.

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin, the high-flying English rock band, was formed in 1968. With the powerful vocals of Robert Plant and the guitar wizardry of Jimmy Page, they quickly rose to prominence, creating some of the most iconic rock anthems along the way.

"Led Zeppelin IV" and "Physical Graffiti" remain rock landmarks. Their signature tune, "Stairway to Heaven," is often considered one of the greatest rock songs ever. Other hits include "Whole Lotta Love" and "Black Dog."

Led Zeppelin's influence on hard rock and heavy metal is immeasurable. They're remembered for their creative songwriting, groundbreaking albums, and unforgettable live performances.

Queen, the British rock band, burst onto the scene in the 1970s. They defied norms and revolutionized rock music with Freddie Mercury's dynamic presence and Brian May's unique guitar sound.

"News of the World," "A Night at the Opera," and "The Game" are among their standout albums. Songs like "Bohemian Rhapsody," "We Will Rock You," and "Don't Stop Me Now" showcase their flamboyant style and musical prowess.

Queen's music transcends boundaries and generations. Their blend of rock and opera continues to inspire musicians and captivate audiences. Their performances, especially Live Aid in 1985, are etched in rock 'n' roll folklore.

Pink Floyd, the masters of progressive and psychedelic rock, started their journey in London in the 1960s. Their experimental soundscape and philosophical lyrics set them apart from their contemporaries.

"The Dark Side of The Moon," "Wish You Were Here," and "The Wall" are albums that turned the tide in the world of rock music. Tracks like "Comfortably Numb," "Another Brick in the Wall," and "Money" are considered timeless classics.

Pink Floyd's impact on music is profound. They pushed the boundaries of what rock music could be, introducing concept albums and intricate live shows. They continue to be revered by fans and critics alike.

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones, hailing from London, stormed onto the rock scene in the early '60s. With Mick Jagger's electrifying stage presence and Keith Richards' bluesy guitar riffs, they embodied the rebellious spirit of rock 'n' roll.

Their extensive discography includes gems like "Exile on Main St.", "Sticky Fingers," and "Beggars Banquet." Iconic songs? Think "Paint It, Black," "Angie," or "Sympathy for the Devil."

The Rolling Stones longevity and consistent relevance in the music industry are unmatched. They're not just a band but a cultural institution representing the enduring spirit of rock 'n' roll.

Whether it's the timeless appeal of The Beatles, the hard-hitting Led Zeppelin, the innovative Queen, the psychedelic Pink Floyd, or the ever-rebellious Rolling Stones, these bands have left an indelible mark on rock music. Their stories, music, and legacies continue to inspire, reminding us of the transformative power of rock 'n' roll.

10 of the Best Yacht Rock Songs of All-time

Have you ever been lost in the rhythm of a classic rock tune? Ever hummed to the songs of "Hey Jude" or head banged to "

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The 50 Best Albums of 2024 (So Far): Staff List

Our favorite LPs from a year that's wasted no time getting busy with the big releases.

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Charli XCX, Metro Boomin & Future and Beyoncé

Some years, the release of big-ticket albums is mostly a slow trickle to start. You get maybe one or two every month or so, and elsewhere on the calendar, you look to some up-and-comers, or long-underrated favorites, or you maybe even keep on playing catch up with the previous year. Some years, it feels like everyone is still listening to different new albums at the halfway point. And then some years are like 2024.

In early March, Ariana Grande released her Eternal Sunshine album to Billboard 200-topping, Billboard Hot 100-blanketing returns, as well as widespread critical acclaim and fan approval. In other years this decade, she might have essentially gotten to rule unopposed over pop’s mainstream well into the spring. But this year, within a few weeks, she had to fight for attention and playlist space with new albums from Kacey Musgraves, Beyoncé and Future & Metro Boomin — and then shortly after that, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, J. Cole, Dua Lipa and Future & Metro Boomin (again). Now in June, it can be hard to believe that Grande’s album even came out this year.

Eternal Sunshine is still one of our top albums of 2024, though, and you’ll also find most of the new sets by those big names in our list below of the best LPs of the year to date. Even as the headlines seem to cycle through another big release every week this year, we’re not moving past some of these huge albums quite so quickly — nor are we letting them totally overshadow some of the less-earth-shaking, but equally rewarding albums from not-as-starry artists who have also made major impacts on us throughout these first six months.

Here are our staff’s 50 favorite albums of 2024 so far — presented alphabetically by artist name — and we certainly hope to have to contend with just an action-packed back half of the release calendar in the months to come.

4batz, U Made Me a St4r

4Batz, "U Made Me a Star"

4batz delivered with his debut mixtape. The mysterious singer out of Dallas does a great job across these 11 tracks of cultivating a sound while telling stories from the heartbroken lover boy perspective. There’s a retro feel to this mixtape that’s reminiscent of the ‘90s, when acts like Jodeci effortlessly blended R&B and HIp-Hop, essentially ushering in the horny, yet stylish version of the male R&B we hear today. He doesn’t sing as well as that group did — but that doesn’t matter because songs like “act iii” and “act v” sound different from anything out right now, AI and industry plant allegations be damned. — ANGEL DIAZ

Ariana Grande, Eternal Sunshine

Grande has described her time in the studio making Eternal Sunshine as having been a therapeutic safe haven amid one of the most turbulent times in her life — something that’s evident in every single note of the superstar’s seventh studio album. Contextualized by the life-rearranging return of her Saturn (essentially astrology-speak for turning 30), each devastating voice crack on post-divorce reckonings such as “I Wish I Hated You” and “We Can’t Be Friends” and ponytail flip on f—k-the-tabloids bangers like “Yes, And?” and “The Boy Is Mine” allow listeners to hear the star heal in real time. It’s a deeply emotional journey marked by sick harmonies and deceptively up-tempo beats. — HANNAH DAILEY

Ayra Starr, The Year I Turned 21

Three years after Ayra Starr documented her Gen-Z coming-of-age journey on debut album 19 & Dangerous , she captures the highs and lows of early adulthood on sophomore set The Year I Turned 21 . Her self-examination is poignant, whether giving thanks to God about where she’s headed in life on the resilient single “Commas,” clutching her heart due to the pain of unrequited love on the Giveon-assisted “Last Heartbreak Song” or grieving her late father on tear-jerking closer “The Kids Are Alright.” While Starr’s deep, rich vocals anchor the album, she diversifies her Afropop/R&B palate by exploring other sounds, as amapiano’s rollicking log drums power the multilingual female empowerment anthem “Woman Commando” (featuring Anitta and Coco Jones) and the joyfulness of highlife music is juxtaposed with melancholy melodies on “Orun.” — HERAN MAMO

Beyoncé, Cowboy Carter

History has not been kind to those who have told Beyoncé what she could not do. The superstar’s sprawling eighth studio album, then, provides her most full-throated repudiation to those gatekeepers:  Cowboy Carter  may present itself as “Beyoncé goes country” but the LP routinely defies its assumed premise to become Bey’s redefinition of American music on the whole, rendered through her singular artistic prism. Over 27 tracks, Bey delivers glimpses into her own life (“16 Carriages,” “Protector”), proposed evolutions on status-quo country sounds (“Riiverdance,” “Tyrant”) and star-studded collaborations, all while maintaining her place as an unquestioned paragon of modern music. — STEPHEN DAW

Billie Eilish, Hit Me Hard and Soft

When Billie Eilish released the title of her third album, none of us were likely prepared for how accurate it would be. The 22-year-old star has created a masterful work of art that is arguably her most accessible to date, and still entirely unique. With 10 songs and clocking in under 45 minutes, Eilish manages to deliver a poignant and personal collection that touches on her growth in dealing with projections on her body (“Skinny”), examining toxic relationships (“L’Amour de Ma Vie”) and exploring her sexuality (just about every other song on the album). Hit Me Hard and Soft brings back the dark and occasionally sinister sound of her two previous albums, but infuses it with a lightness and freedom to make some of the best pop tracks of the year — including the delicious “Lunch” and “Birds of a Feather,” both already certified hits — that could make even the most heart-hardened critic swoon. — TAYLOR MIMS  

Bryson Tiller, Bryson Tiller

Bryson Tiller, "Bryson Tiller"

Nearly a decade removed from Trapsoul , now-veteran R&B hitmaker Bryson Tiller has finally found a sonic pocket that builds on that LP’s storied blueprint without explicitly retreading those grounds, à la 2020’s Anniversary . Featuring the smash single “Whatever She Wants,” the sweaty ode to summer lust “Calypso” and a winning duet in the Victoria Monét-assisted “Persuasion,” Tiller’s self-titled LP is one for the lovers, the singer-songwriter thriving in monogamy and embracing all the emotional peaks and craters that come with it. — KYLE DENIS

Carin León, Boca Chueca, Vol. 1

Only a handful of música Mexicana artists can slip in and out of multiple genres with ease, and Carin León is at the very top of that list. With his signature norteño at the core of the album,  Boca Chueca  is a masterclass on how to dabble in different styles – from pop and R&B to country and even ska – and still yield hits, without compromising your essence. With this set, it’s clear just how versatile León can really be, and that only has us on the edge of our seats for whatever he ends up doing next. — GRISELDA FLORES

Carly Pearce, Hummingbird

Pearce followed her career-elevating post-divorce project  29  (and its expanded Written in Stone  deluxe edition) by further mining her country roots for new set Hummingbird , threading these 14 sharply crafted songs with fiddle and steel guitar, centered by Pearce’s honeyed Kentucky twang. There are more expertly rendered breakup anthems (“Rock Paper Scissors” and “We Don’t Fight Anymore”) here, but as the album unfolds, flutters of hard-fought resilience and healing are also present — notably on the title track and “Trust Issues” — making the album an admirable encapsulation of Pearce’s nearly three-year journey of relationship gains and losses. — JESSICA NICHOLSON

Charli XCX, Brat

From its first track (the synth-forward dance single “360”), Brat doesn’t let you relax for a moment — and the result is her most acclaimed work to date. While it largely remains rooted in Charli XCX’s characteristic proto-hyperpop throughout, the album’s 15 bangers run the gamut from mainstream radio-ready (“Talk Talk,” “Rewind”) to ripe for raving (“Club Classics,” “365”) to keenly self-aware and vulnerable (“I Might Say Something Stupid,” “So I”). It’s catchy, it’s challenging, it’s honest: What more could you want from an established pop star? — JOSH GLICKSMAN

Cindy Lee, Diamond Jubilee

Cindy Lee’s Diamond Jubilee does not exist on Spotify, Apple Music or Bandcamp, but if you are willing to venture outside of those digital service providers — to an unbroken version on  YouTube or to a downloadable or tracklisted stream on Geocities — you’ll be rewarded with one of the most delightfully melodic, confounding albums of the year. Lee is the drag persona of Patrick Flegel, former frontperson of the band Women, and their foggy, two-hour, 32-track project flows from psychedelic meanderings to 1960s girl-group pop to haunting Britpop and back. It’s playful, it’s trippy, and it’s so damn long — but getting lost in its hall of mirrors is an absolute pleasure, and a reminder of how good it must feel to create without boundaries. — CHRISTINE WERTHMAN

Dua Lipa, Radical Optimism

Dua Lipa, "Radical Optimism"

On  Radical Optimism , Dua Lipa’s mantra seems to match  the Dillon Panthers’ : clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. Her arena is romance, of course, and over a brisk 11 tracks, Lipa has her eyes wide open. The album’s three advance singles tell the story: Potential suitors must be supernaturally savvy to pin her down (“Houdini”), Peter Pan-like manchildren need not apply (“Training Season” is, in fact, over), and her rose-colored glasses are retired (“Illusion”). This sure-footed perspective of a grown woman knowing exactly what she deserves in love is soundtracked by some of the farthest-reaching productions the British pop star has employed yet, from the samba-inspired opening track “End of an Era” to the dragging drumbeat of album closer “Happy for You.” Dua Lipa knows exactly what she wants – sonically, and romantically too – and in the face of a dumpster-fire dating scene, she’s still choosing to remain radically optimistic that she’ll find it. –  KATIE ATKINSON

Eladio Carrion, Sol Maria

Diverging from his usual trap bravado, Eladio Carrión’s  Sol María  is a stirring homage woven with a sonically richer, more personal thread. Opening with “Bendecido,” the Puerto Rican rapper sets a nuanced tone of gratitude, leading into deeper emotional territories with tracks like “Mama’s Boy,” featuring Spanish wordsmith Nach. Experimentation is key as “TQMQA” introduces Afrobeats, while “Sonrisa” merges Jersey club with dembow rhythms. “Todo Lit” with Argentine superstar Duki further showcases a blend of soft trap beats and boastful lyrics. Throughout the 17-track LP, Carrión balances personal reverence with creative innovation, crafting a musical tribute to his mother, Sol María, that resonates across the board. —  IR

Ernest, Nashville, Tennessee

With more than half a dozen No. 1s on the Country Airplay chart as a writer, Ernest understands the architecture of contemporary hits. At the same time, though, he loves country oldies from the 1940s and 1950s, and he cooly knits the two worlds together on the 26-track  Nashville, Tennessee.  For the old heads, there’s “Why Dallas,” a jolly barnburner with Lukas Nelson where fiddle and needle-point guitar vie for primacy, and “Ain’t as Easy,” a doleful ballad that goes down like a shot of moonshine — smooth until it brings tears to the eyes. In contrast, “Did It for the Story” is a slick, chugging pop song; Ernest can’t help but write radio-ready records. — ELIAS LEIGHT

Fort Romeau, Romantic Gestures Vol. 1

There’s no fat on  Romantic Gestures Vol. 1 , an austere and elegant collection of deep house and handsome techno. The album opens like a floor-filler, as the nasty bass buzz in “Hold Up” gives way to the sweaty throb of “Blue.” But this is a feint — by “Every Man Has Your Voice,” Fort Romeau has locked in to a more contemplative groove, with calm, sustained synth lines and whispery snatches of sampled monologue. This calm propulsion continues through the final track, “Be With U,” which rinses a vocal sample until it becomes a soothing mantra. Shortly after the track’s four-minute mark, though, there’s another energy shift: A new melody wafts in, like sunrise peaking through the windows of a club in the early morning, bathing the end of the album in rich beauty. — E.L.

Future & Metro Boomin, We Don't Trust You

Future and Metro Boomin’s long-anticipated joint album was set to be the blockbuster for the spring, but ended up lighting the fuse to the great rap battle of 2024 (and possibly of all-time) thanks to Kendrick Lamar’s atomic assist on Hot 100 No. 1 hit “Like That” declaring war against Drake and J. Cole. But the album was also much more than a historical footnote: Whether it’s the What A Time to Be Alive divorce or parents wondering why their Gen-Z kids are ending every sentence with “Type Shit,” We Don’t Trust You was a seminal pop cultural event. A chart-topping sequel arrived shortly after, to boot, though the original alone was well worth the price of admission. — MICHAEL SAPONARA

Grupo Frontera, Jugando a Que No Pasa Nada

Grupo Frontera, "Jugando a Que No Pasa Nada"

On their sophomore studio album,  Jugando a Que No Pasa Nada — which loosely translates to “pretending that nothing’s wrong” — the McAllen, Texas-based group primarily sticks to its heartbreak lyrics backed by their signature cumbia, tejano and Norteño melodies. Particularly notable are the star-studded collaborations, including the experimental tribal guarachero “Desquite” with Nicki Nicole; the highly awaited team-up with Morat on “Los Dos”; and the Maluma-assisted “Por Qué Será,” which has quickly become a viral sound on TikTok. Also featured on the album is Frontera’s “Ya Pedo Quien Sabe,” with Christian Nodal, which earned the group its eighth No.1 on Billboard ‘s Regional Mexican Airplay chart. — JESSICA ROIZ

Gunna, One of Wun

Gunna’s artistry peaks when he seems to be letting loose in a care-free zone and having fun. After releasing the pressure valve that came with his first post-trial album, he did exactly that on One of Wun , while running around the country and indulging in his opulent life of luxury alongside the set’s executive producer (and his own personal close friend Turbo). Six-figure wires inspired the ethereal “Whatsapp (Wassam)” and recording at sea off Miami’s coast led to album standout “Neck on a Yacht,” so it’s safe to say adventure time paid off for Wunna. — M.S.

Idles, Tangk

Idles may have dialed back the comical intensity on fifth studio album Tangk , but the euphoric exuberance still shines through on the Bristol post-punk band’s most mature release to date. Leaning heavily on moody synths and pared-back vocals, Tangk is an upbeat record that soars at its danciest moments, thanks to singer Joe Talbert’s chaotic vocal style and his fearless exploration of the limits of love, offering up exquisite songwriting and sharp production from beginning to end. — DAVID BROOKS

J.P., Coming Out Party

“Bad Bitty” brought Milwaukee lowend to the world, and J.P.’s Coming Out Party is his coronation as the Midwest’s reigning rap prince. The 19-year-old’s soulful, jazz-informed vocals add a unique edge to his rapped-sung cadence, while his party-ready lyrics exalt the carefree magic of your late teens and early 20s. With 12 completely solo tracks, Coming Out Party prides itself on its brevity, but these aren’t banal throwaways: Each song reveals a new layer of J.P.’s sonic profile, one that will surely continue to grow as he climbs hip-hop’s heights. — K.D.

Justice, Hyperdrama

A group can always count on their label head to create hype, but when Ed Banger Records founder Busy P  told  Billboard  that  Hyperdrama  was “the best Justice album” ahead of its April release, he might have been right. While anything the French duo put out will always be judged in comparison to its era-defining 2007 debut LP  Cross  and that album’s many classic tracks (along with the other two excellent LPs) if you can listen without expectation, you’ll hear  Hyperdrama  as a sonic leap forward. Its 13 tracks add new levels of warmth, brightness and sensuality to the group’s sound while marking the most psychedelic terrain of the Justice catalog thus far. No skips, no notes. — KATIE BAIN

Kacey Musgraves, Deeper Well

Kacey Musgraves, "Deeper Well"

Though it may not have made quite the same splash as Musgraves’ pristine Golden Hour in 2018, Deeper Well finds the country-pop auteur accessing a softer, holistic side of herself that resonates much more deeply and profoundly than anything she’s ever released before. It’s the sonic equivalent of bare feet on soft grass, sunlight reflecting off gentle ripples in a pond – a serene and thoughtful body of work about embracing a new chapter of life without resistance or fear. — H.D.

Kali Uchis, Orquídeas

As the most  biologically diverse  species of plants, orchids provide some fertile thematic soil for Kali Uchis to till on her stunning fourth studio album.  Orquídeas  takes the topics and genres Uchis has played with throughout her career and blends them in with all new sounds and subject matters to craft a comprehensive look at the Colombian superstar as a cultural curator of the highest order. This Spanish-language opus, with its perfectly placed collaborations (Peso Pluma, Rauw Alejandro) and entrancing production choices, is much like its titular flower: graceful, dazzling and endlessly varied. — S.D.

Maggie Rogers, Don't Forget Me

“Remember the days we used to drive upstate singing indie rock songs in the car?,” Rogers sings over plucking electric guitar strings on “The Kill” — one of several Don’t Forget Me tales detailing a nixed relationship, or one not worth pursuing in the first place. Still, the album feels primed for that exact kind of extended, windows-down journey: Rogers is at her breeziest on her third full-length, despite her standout songwriting trading the overtly sunny, feel-good road trip lyricism for the memories of a few storm clouds atop hazy riffs. Sometimes, it’s a beautiful thing to get caught in the rain. — J.G.

Mannequin Pussy, I Got Heaven

“I’ve got a loud bark, deep bite,” Missy Dabice wails on  I’ve Got Heaven’ s second track, and that pretty much nails this fanged earworm of an album. Mannequin Pussy was ferocious from the get-go, but this album sees the band — frontwoman Dabice is the only original member — making big strides in the melody department without sacrificing its punk roots. The result is a collection of songs that recalls the yin and yang of The Replacements’ ’80s underground rock classic  Let It Be  — especially the title track, “Loud Bark,” “I Don’t Know You” and “Sometimes,” which come on like radio hits then sink their teeth deep and don’t let go. — FRANK DIGIACOMO

Mk.gee, Two Star and the Dream Police

Some might know artist/producer Michael “mk.gee” Gordon as the right hand man of Dijon for his critically acclaimed  Absolutely ; others as the guy from Frank Ocean’s Blonded Radio – the creator behind the sunny, Mac Demarco-inflected “You” (2018).  Two Star and the Dream Police,  however, is his complete reinvention. This time – he’s darker, hazier, shrouded in mystery, crafting a hard-to-place sound that places him somewhere between Phil Collins, Dijon and maybe even Jai Paul. Even Eric Clapton says mk.gee plays guitar “like nobody else,” likening his mastery to that of the late Prince. Amidst a generation of oversharing artists, begging for streams and spilling their secrets on TikTok, mk.gee seems like a time traveler: He rarely uses social media, hasn’t run many ads, and has only done one interview. Yet  Two Star  is still one of the most beloved indie rock albums of the year — proving that if the music is this good, it can still break through the noise. What a relief that is. — KRISTIN ROBINSON

PartyNextDoor, PARTYNEXTDOOR 4

PARTYNEXTDOOR, "PARTYNEXTDOOR4"

The reclusive R&B multihyphenate returns to the spotlight after four years with his fourth studio album, PARTYNEXTDOOR 4. PND thrives when he makes music for the debaucherous late nights that bleed into bleary-eyed early mornings, with the Jamaican-Canadian star sprinkling his signature dancehall flair on the sweltering summer-ready track “For Certain” and toasting to unforgettable nights (you’ll most likely forget) on bottle service walkout anthem “Cheers.” But across the 14 tracks, Party confronts his love vs. lust moral dilemma as he desires a steady relationship where he can go home to his girl – only for him to keep her waiting there and then hit her with “Sorry, But I’m Outside.” Threaded together by skits narrated by a woman who’s fed up with his antics – and covered by controversial NSFW artwork – P4 renews his position as Toronto’s hedonistic hero. — H.M.

Pearl Jam, Dark Matter

For more than 30 years, Pearl Jam has honed its sound into one that’s both signature to the band but malleable enough to weave in and out of genres and styles album to album. In some ways  Dark Matter  feels like it has pieces of each of those eras built into it. There are guitar effects that harken back to  Vs.  and  Binaural ; acoustics that feel more in line with  Yield ; and the types of soaring melodies that Pearl Jam found its stride with on its self-titled LP. The effect is something both new and familiar, of a band that knows how to maximize its strengths and find progress in the process — resulting in its best full body of work in many years. — DAN RYS

Peggy Gou, I Hear You

While she may have emerged from Berlin’s techno scene, Peggy Gou’s debut album is all soft edges and sensuality. The ’90s influence on the 10 house tracks is fused with a balmy lushness and the same sense of cool that radiates from the South Korea-born It Girl (or better, It Woman) herself. And while the music does in moments have a sort of toughness that hints at Gou’s Berghain-ian origins, you also don’t specifically need to be a fan of dance music at all to enjoy what should ultimately be a deeply listenable album for just about anyone. — K.B.

RM, Right Place, Wrong Person

RM’s 2022 official debut solo album Indigo was a promisingly lush and varied entrance in its own right, but this May’s Right Place, Wrong Person is still a massive leap forward for the solo star. While BTS pushed at the boundaries of K-pop for much of the group’s career, RM simply refuses to acknowledge the existence of any such boundaries over these 34 minutes, with 11 songs that careen from hip-hop to jazz to punk to R&B to Fela Kuti-styled Afrobeats — while all still sounding like a coherent and natural artistic extension of one man’s creative vision. Right Place is one of the richest albums released in 2024, and cements RM’s place on the vanguard among similarly genreless artists like Tyler, the Creator, Kali Uchis and WILLOW. — ANDREW UNTERBERGER

ScHoolboy Q, Blue Lips

SchoolBoy Q made some drastic changes in the five years it took him to release his sixth studio album. He got sober and cleaned up his lifestyle, started playing golf competitively and got good enough to land a spot in a Nike Tiger Woods commercial. All good, yeah? Not completely: At the same time, Q’s also had to deal with the loss of friends and family, the reconstruction of his self esteem, and the understanding that his life may not turn out to be what he hoped it would be. The beautiful but sorrowful Blue Lips chronicles all of the above and more. Songs like the excellent “THank god 4 me” flow from tender to boastful and back with an ease that can only come from an artist finally at peace with themselves and their station in life. The near-uniformly praised record didn’t break any streaming records or make chart history, but who cares? As Q asks on the jazzy, smoke-tinged “oHio,” “How much more I gotta prove?” To us: nothing at all. — DAMIEN SCOTT

Scotty McCreery, Rise & Fall

Scotty McCreery, "Rise & Fall"

“Traditional” isn’t a word that often inspires enthusiasm when talking about new music — but dust off your boots because Scotty McCreery made a classic country album, and boy, does it hit. McCreery steers clear of any current Nashville pop trends on Rise & Fall , instead doubling down on acoustic, electric and slide guitars, stomping, sturdy rhythms and a rich baritone that’s been the star of the show since he won American Idol in 2011. He’s got the tender moments (“Love Like This”), the clever wordplay songs (“Cab in a Solo”) and plenty of knee-slappers (“And Countin’”). And if that weren’t enough to make this a well-rounded record, he’s got a “three chords and the truth” thesis to tie it all together in “No Country for Old Men,” which shows that McCreery did his homework — and it paid off. — C.W.

Sexyy Red, In Sexyy We Trust

Between her Hood Hottest Princess bangers and her stellar 2023 feature run, Sexyy Red could already put out a greatest hits collection if she wanted to. Instead, she chose to launch a new project in 2024, dressing up another smattering of rump-shaking, gun-toting bangers in a new MAGA-inspired “Make America Sexyy Again” aesthetic. On “U My Everything,” she gives Drake some space to attempt to reclaim the “BBL Drizzy” beat, while “Fake Jammin” provides more of that idiosyncratic off-the-cuff humor and attitude that makes her music so arresting. — K.D.

Shaboozey, Where I've Been, Isn't Where I'm Going

Easily one of the year’s biggest breakout stars, Shaboozey spends his terrific third LP fashioning the future of country music in his image. Collaborations with Texan rapper BigXThaPlug double down on the hip-hop bonafides he flaunted on “A Bar Song” and his Cowboy Carter features, but with rollicking country-rock anthems (the Paul Cauthen-assisted “Last of My Kind”) and sugary Nashville pop confections (“Annabelle”) in tow, Where I’ve Been is a kaleidoscopic look at country that brings its more fringe sounds into the spotlight. — K.D.

Shakira, Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran

Even before releasing her 2024 album, Shakira had fans locked in with previously released global hits like her blunt Bizarrap Music Session, which inspired the album’s title, and the anthemic “TQG” with Karol G, both included on  Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran . With the full LP – which includes “(Entre Paréntesis)” with Grupo Frontera, her first foray into tejano, and the electro-pop jam “Puntería” with Cardi B – the Colombian superstar creates a soundtrack, powered by profound lyrics, for women who are on a journey of transformation, and turning tears into diamonds along the way. — G.F.

Shawna Virago, Blood in Her Dreams

As a trans woman who began performing music in the ‘90s, Shawna Virago is an under-heralded pioneer – which hopefully changes this year with the release of Blood in Her Dreams , one of the year’s best in the Americana vein. Virago’s attentive, vivid lyrics recall Lucinda Williams, while the ramshackle, pissed-off energy of L.A. punk band X runs through her vocals. Virago told Billboard that “Ghosts Cross State Lines” is about someone coping with the “psychic residue” of an abusive relationship, and as with every song on this LP, Virago spins the story with a keen sense of empathy. — JOE LYNCH

St. Vincent, All Born Screaming

St. Vincent, "All Born Screaming"

“It’s about life and death and love,” St. Vincent told Billboard of All Born Screaming , her seventh album. “And that’s it.” Weighty topics, certainly. But with Annie Clark drawing on her extensive musical palette, it’s a rush of a record — from the playfully funky “Big Time Nothing,” to the clanging electro-rock of “Broken Man,” to the title track featuring Cate Le Bon, which breaks with the album’s predominantly industrial vibe to close things out with a jaunty wink evocative of late Talking Heads. — J.L.

Taylor Swift, The Tortured Poets Department

“I love you, it’s ruining my life.” The impassioned declaration (from opener “Fortnight”) is the driving force behind Taylor Swift’s  The Tortured Poets Department  — the pop superstar’s latest full-length, letting her unbridled emotions post-break-up run rampant over 16 tracks (31 if you include  The Anthology ). From devastatingly beautiful fountain & quill pen songs (“So Long, London,” “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived”) to slightly more upbeat glitter-gel pen anthems (“I Can Do It With a Broken Heart,” “So High School”), Swift’s songwriting never leaves center stage — fusing the vibrant storytelling of  folklore  and  evermore  with the synth-pop production of  Midnights  and  1989 . After 11 studio albums (plus four  Taylor’s Versions , with two more on the way), Swift’s still got plenty of ink left to write with. — DANIELLE PASCUAL

Tems, Born in the Wild

Given her Nigerian roots, and that most first heard her via Wizkid’s mainstream U.S. breakthrough “Essence,” Tems has often (rather lazily) been painted with an Afrobeats brush. But those who have paid attention to her career so far know that her real trade is in her soulful, distinctive voice and her soaring melodies, rather than any particular style or backbeat. On her debut full-length, she channels the likes of Lauryn Hill, the neosoul tradition of the 1990s and early 2000s, Christian allusions and metaphors — and, yes, Afrobeats and amapiano, through both modern collaborators and classic samples. She sounds like the culmination of a world’s worth of influences: Which is to say, she sounds like herself. It’s a portrait of a woman finding her way in the world with a tunnel vision that no one else could conjure, and is one of the best debuts of a year already full of such major bows. — D.R.

The Last Dinner Party, Prelude to Ecstasy

The Last Dinner Party may have risen to fame on their provocative single “Nothing Matters” (“And you can hold me like he held her/ And I will f–k you like nothing matters”), but the quintet’s debut album showcases an all-you–can-eat buffet of talent. Prelude to Ecstasy is the kind of album best consumed whole, as the listener gets sucked into the haunting world created by the London band. It is filled with highs like the percussion-heavy “Burn Alive” and the anthemic “Caesar on a TV Screen” — as well as the deceptively gentle “Beautiful Boy” where Abigail Morris’ operatic vocals call out “the best a boy can be is pretty.” The whole album feels cinematic, with soaring strings and foreboding wind instruments helping to serve a refreshing, singular alt-pop sound. — T.M.  

The Mavericks, Moon & Stars

The Mavericks are one of America’s great live acts and, as evidenced once more on Moon & Stars , among pop music’s most effortlessly eclectic ensembles. The songs on their 13th studio album, led by the glorious, sonorous baritone of frontman Raul Malo, once more bridge rock, country, tejano and the Latin influence of Malo’s Cuban heritage. The opening track, “The Years Will Not Be Kind,” boasts a co-write from Bernie Taupin, while “Live Close By (Visit Often)” was co-penned by the late K.T. Oslin. — THOM DUFFY

TiaCorine, Almost There

TiaCorine, "Almost There"

TiaCorine is the future. The Winston-Salem, NC artist’s versatility shines on her Almost There EP, as she stands toe-to-toe with Luh Tyler, Key Glock, and Zeelooperz and shows on songs like “Bonnet” and “Burnt” why she’s the queen of switchin’ flows right now.  Tia is also hilarious and witty: Bars like “You a vacuum in my house/ Stupid bitch, you know you suck” and “Frosty, like margarita rim, these hoes is salty” put her sense of humor on full display. — A.D.

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Challengers (Original Score)

Fourteen years ago, Reznor and Ross made their collaborative debut with their groundbreaking The Social Network soundtrack – so it’s fitting that, now with several more scores under their belts, they’ve hit a similar creative peak with their score for another time-capsule film set partly in the mid-’00s, Luca Guadagnino’s taut tennis drama  Challengers . But where S ocial Network ‘s icy material scored dim dorms and sterile boardrooms,  Challengers ‘ relentless rave- and techno-inspired compositions prove a perfect backdrop for the film’s tense matches – and the similarly on-edge lust-filled nights that follow them. For a little over two hours, movie theaters this spring felt like Berghain. — ERIC RENNER BROWN

Trueno, El Último Baile

Further proving that he lives and breathes hip-hop, Trueno thoroughly showcases the generational and cultural impact of the now-half-century-old genre on his third studio album,  El Último Baile  (The Last Dance). On the 13-track set, with no collaborations, the Argentine rapper born Mateo Palacios Corazzina delivers a lot of old-school and nostalgic rap. “Tranky Funky,” for example, brings to life a psychedelic funk-rap fusion à la De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. Meanwhile, he also taps into Afrobeats on “Como Antes,” sensual trap on “Night,” and groovy R&B on his viral “Real Gangsta Love.” — J.R.

Even following up a smash as big as “Water,” Tyla’s stellar self-titled debut album is clearly just the beginning. Over 14 tracks (which include features with Tems, Gunna, Becky G and more), the 22-year-old Johannesburg, South Africa native expands and refines her world of “popiano,” which she initially unearthed in her 2023 breakthrough. From soaring ballads like “Butterflies” to club-ready summer bangers like “Jump,” she effortlessly blends the Amapiano sounds of her home country with pop, R&B and Afrobeats — creating truly infectious melodies for the masses that bring her one step closer to achieving the dream discussed in her March  Billboard   cover story : to become Africa’s first pop star. — D.P.

Usher, Coming Home

Dropping just two days before he headlined Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, Usher’s ninth album could’ve essentially been a victory lap celebrating his return to pop’s forefront after an uncharacteristically wayward decade for the longtime superstar. But while Coming Home feels more like a consolidation of established strengths than a bold step into new territory, it never feels phoned-in: The 20 tracks are simply a master pop entertainer at work, blending styles and collaborators and always having an absolute blast, even when he’s singing about betrayal on the booming “Cold Blooded” or devastating heartbreak on the still-sublime “Ruin.” “You know I do it big,” he testifies on the album’s appropriately titled centerpiece “BIG,” and honestly we’re sorry we ever forgot just how much so. — A.U.

Vampire Weekend, Only God Was Above Us

Vampire Weekend, "Only God Was Above Us"

Vampire Weekend returns to its roots with its incisive and topical fifth studio album  Only God Was Above Us.  After a jam-band-inspired detour with  Father of the Bride,  the now-trio (along with producer friend Ariel Rechtshaid) shows that the musical and lyrical themes of its first three projects can still sound as fresh and pressing as ever in 2024. Always known for sharp, singular lyrics, Koenig gives some of his best lines on  Only God.  In “Classical,” he sings: “How the cruel, with time, becomes classical…It’s clear something’s gonna change/ And when it does, which classical remains?” In “Connect,” Koenig fears he’s lost touch spiritually: “Is it strange I can’t connect?…lately I know once it’s lost it’s never found/ I need it now.” He’s one of the few lyricists who seems connected (and willing to explore) global issues in his music today, including war, isolation and political unrest. It’s a reprieve from the hyper-personal, confessional lyrical style in vogue today and makes VW’s  Only God Was Above Us  one of the defining albums of early 2024. — K.R.

Vince Staples, Dark Times

Vince Staples doesn’t have the career most thought the Long Beach rapper would have when he dropped the masterful Hell Can Wait EP in 2014. In 2024, Staples, now six albums deep, is probably best known as a funny but sobering raconteur; someone who has occasionally struggled transposing that personality onto this music. But with his new album Dark Times , it appears Staples has finally made peace with all that: Reprising the razor-sharp, big-fish-in-a-small-pond POV that first converted fans a decade ago, Staples’s last album is a succinct rumination on how life is going for the 30-year-old. He’s still dealing with problems of the heart (“Nothing Matters”), trying to show his friends from Long Beach a better way to live (“Black & Blue”), and working to make sense of our country’s social justice issues (“Freeman”). Only this time Staples sounds at ease and in full control of powers, sounding fine with the career he’s built for himself. — D.S.

Waxahatchee, Tigers Blood

For many indie-rock fans, Waxahatchee’s 2020 rootsy, relatable Saint Cloud was a quintessential pandemic album – and mastermind Katie Crutchfield followed a similar creative process for Tigers Blood , which like its predecessor was recorded with producer Brad Cook in just two weeks at the Texas studio Sonic Ranch. The result? Another sterling singer-songwriter set in the vein of Lucinda Williams, with perhaps even stronger writing. New this time around: Rising rocker Jake “MJ” Lenderman, whose distinctive guitar and vocal stylings elevate standouts like “Right Back to It” and “Burns Out at Midnight.” — E.R.B.

Willie Nelson, The Border

At 91, Nelson remains as vital as ever. He brings choice covers, new songs and the uncluttered production of longtime collaborator Buddy Cannon to The Border , his eighth new album in five years. At a time of historic U.S. migration from Mexico, Nelson pointedly opens with the title song, written by Rodney Crowell from the perspective of a U.S. border agent. But with deep empathy, Nelson sings of “…the hungry and poor /some to drown at the crossing/ Some to suffer no more.” — T.D.

Young Miko, Att.

Young Miko kicks off her debut album with “Rookie of the Year,” setting a self-aware yet boldly assertive tone right out of the gate. The Puerto Rican rapper elegantly balances revelry (“ID,” “F–k TMZ”) and introspection (“Curita”), crafting an audaciously fun and quintessentially queer narrative. The sequence of tracks is no casual lineup but a carefully curated showcase, from the catchy electro-pop cadences of “Princess Peach” to the pop culture-infused “Tamagotchi” with its clever analogies from the digital pet era. It’s clear that Miko is not just sharing music, but a deeply personal vignette of her life’s most formative chapters, skillfully framed within an intentional sound patchwork. —  I.R.

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top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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The best all-time rock bands from the San Francisco Bay Area

The San Francisco Bay Area has produced some of the most beloved and legendary rock bands of all time. Here's a list our 20 best from the region. Listed in alphabetical order.

Big Brother and the Holding Company

A major product of San Francisco's legendary psychedelic   music scene from the 1960s, Big Brother and the Holding Company is likely best known for showcasing the bluesy, smokey, whiskey-laden vocal brilliance of Janis Joplin. The group's second studio release Cheap Thrills (1968) is regarded as one of the great albums to surface from the northern California psychedelic rock era. Its version of "Piece of my Heart," with Joplin's memorable and bombastic vocals, is one of the most iconic musical performances of all time. 

Certainly the musical happenings in northern California played a big part in Blue Cheer's success — in a heavier way, however. Fusing psychedelic and acid rock with a pinch of punk and experimental, Blue Cheer put that all together for a sound that influenced many heavy metal acts that followed, notably Motley Crue. Rock legends such as Jim Morrison and Eric Clapton also praised this San Francisco outfit, which began turning heads in the mid-1960s and kept playing, in one variation or another, well into the 2000s. Blue Cheer's version of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" should be considered one of the great covers of all time. 

Counting Crows

As time went on, Counting Crows — or frontman Adam Duritz at the very least — embraced the culture and musical vibe of Los Angeles. However, the origin of these 1990s alternative pop/rockers can be traced to San Francisco, when Duritz and guitarist David Bryson hooked up as a musical duo, at first. Then the pair branched out to the eventual Counting Crows ensemble that brought the world three stellar albums right out of the gate with August and Everything After (1993), Recovering the Satellites   (1996)   and   This Desert Life   (1999).

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Friends John Fogerty (and brother Tom),   Doug Clifford, and   Stu Cook met while in high school in El Cerrito, but Creedence's sound spanned all of Americana — and truthfully, whether music fans wanted to listen or not. While CCR liked to sing about lazy, country living, the group was also quite political in its tone, tackling issues of racism, poverty, and oppression throughout its catalogue, which features some of the greatest songs of any rock band in history. Like many acts of the 1960s and '70s, CCR took an anti-Vietnam War stance — perhaps none more prominent than classic rock and pop culture favorite "Fortunate Son."

Dead Kennedys

Widely considered the most influential of the hardcore punk bands in the United States, and led by famed frontman Jello Biafra (Eric Reed Boucher) and guitarist Klaus Flouride   (Geoffrey Lyall) on bass, the Dead Kennedys were formed in San Francisco in 1978. The band made a living with their anti-establishment and government stance. Political preference didn't matter. As time passed, the band — and specifically Biafra — fought censorship, with the brunt of its energy aimed at Tipper Gore's Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). Classics include "Too Drunk to F*@%" and  "Kill the Poor."

The Doobie Brothers

Since coming together just south of San Francisco in San Jose in 1970, the Doobies have been going strong for five decades, perhaps because of the versatility among its various lineups and musical stylings. Rock, country, soul, yacht-rock — it's all there for a legendary career. Showcasing the talents of famed musicians such as Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons, Michael McDonald, Keith Knudsen and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, the Doobies are responsible for such classic rock favorites like "China Grove," "Listen to the Music,"  " Jesus is Just Alright," "Black Water,"  "Takin' It to the Streets" and  " What A Fool Believes."

Exodus formed in the late 1970s in Richmond, Calif., within the East Bay, and co-founded by guitarist Kirk Hammett — who, as we'll see in a bit, went on to earn massive success in another Bay Area metal band. Though these thrashers have never enjoyed consistent commercial success, Exodus has long been hailed one of the true pioneers of the northern California thrash/speed metal movement. Exodus has released 12 studio albums ( with 1989's Fabulous Disaster   still the gem of the collection ), featured several lineup changes, plenty of in-fighting, and its share of issues with drugs and alcohol. Veteran guitarist Gary Holt and singer Steve "Zetro" Souza are the most notable current members of the band..

Faith No More

Alternative rock/funk/metal outfit Faith No More was spawned from the band Sharp Young Men in the last 1970s in San Francisco. From there, the band's unique sound captivated the Bay Area and beyond. The antics and stage presence of frontman Mike Patton made Faith No More a popular live band, which made a name for itself with the 1985 debut We Care a Lot . In the 1989, the band enjoyed more significant mainstream success with The Real Thing , and hit single "Epic."

Flamin' Groovies

Formed in 1965 in San Francisco, the Flamin' Groovies have been quite the influence when it comes to laying the foundation for punk and garage rock, notably in the United States. However, the band, formed by guitarist Cyril Jordan, also excelled in producing what would be an edgier form of power pop. The group's 1971 release Teenage Head   has long been considered its masterpiece. So much so that Mick Jagger is reportedly a big fan of the record. 

Grateful Dead

The Dead is arguably the most recognized and cherished band to come out of the San Francisco area (though technically formed south in Palo Alto). Encompassing rock,   blues,   jazz, bluegrass, gospel, and psychedelia, among other genres, the Dead blossomed from a fun jam band to musical legends. Throughout the late ’60s and ’70s, the Dead never found radio success. Instead, it made a name for itself, and earned acclaim, through playing live . Anybody who ever attended a Dead show knows it’s an experience, from time spent in the parking to the loving community of music and camaraderie once through the gates.

Frontman/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and bassist Mike Dirnt started making music together in high school, located on the northern edge of the East Bay area in the tiny town of Rodeo. Eventually wunderkind drummer Tre Cool joined, and Green Day's road to pop rock dominance truly began. The band earned superstardom with 1994's Dookie , but as its popularity grew, the trio had to defend its credibility against the pop-punk posers label. However, Green Day started showing signs of maturity with albums like Nimrod  (1997) and   Warning  (2000). Then, 2004's conceptual gem American Idiot   merged its political interests with catchy hooks and riffs.

Jefferson Airplane

One of the more celebrated bands of the 1960s San Francisco music scene. Jefferson Airplane's acid/psychedelic rock sound was in step with the usual socially conscious issues of the '60s (anti-government, anti-war, and peace and love). Perhaps the Airplane's most politicized song was 1969's "Volunteers," a shot at the United States government and the Vietnam War. Of course, the trippy "White Rabbit"  and infectious "Somebody to Love" have also mightily contributed to this version of the band's stellar legacy. Meanwhile, there was still much to love about what followed from the re-invented Jefferson Starship of the 1970s, but we won't go into the Grace Slick-led Starship era that begin in the 1980s.

Spawned from Santana (more on that topic in a bit), with ex-members Neil Schon and Gregg Rolie as the driving forces of the San Francisco-based band, the early Journey years from the 1970s featured a steady dose of jazz fusion and progressive rock. However, things truly took off when singer/songwriter Steve Perry joined in 1977, and featured an ode to the city of San Francisco on the rock ballad "Lights." Journey enjoyed extensive mainstream success as an arena rock/Album Oriented Rock (AOR) outfit with 1979's Evolution .  When   keyboardist/guitarist and songwriter Jonathan Cain came aboard following Rolie's departure for the massively popular   Escape (1981) record, Journey's musical direction shifted again to a pop-rock arena sound.

Huey Lewis and the News

Led by harmonica-playing singer Huey Lewis, the News was a creation that spawned from two popular Bay Area bands — Glover and Soundhole — in the late 1970s. With raspy-voiced Lewis as the driving force, the band's early sound was steeped in new wave with a hint of blues rock (   "Do You Believe in Love" and "Heart and Soul"). As the '80s went on and MTV ruled the world, the group took more of a power-pop turn and became one of the most successful groups of the decade thanks to hits like "I Want a New Drug," "The Heart of Rock & Roll," and "The Power of Love." The band often used San Francisco as the setting for its music videos.

Sure, Metallica was formed in Southern California, but it likely would not be the titan of a band it is today if not for relocating to the Bay Area, mainly so Oakland-area bassist Cliff Burton could join the band, then grabbing the aforementioned Kirk Hammett, a San Francisco native, from Exodus. The rest, as we know, is history. Mixing thrash metal with classic rock and punk, Metallica has earned icon status with more than 125 million albums sold worldwide. There aren’t many better career-beginning albums than Kill ‘Em All   (1983), Ride the Lightning   (1984) and Master of Puppets   (1986). Oh yeah, and the band’s self-titled effort from 1991, aka The Black Album, went 16-times platinum and produced one of the great hard rock/heavy metal songs of all time in “Enter Sandman.”

Steve Miller Band

Though Miller formed his first serious rock/blues band in Chicago during the mid-1960s, he soon moved to San Francisco, where The Steve Miller Blues Band was born.  Though some of the band's early sound featured a psychedelic influence, blues rock was still its heart and soul. Fellow legendary guitarist Boz Scaggs was a one-time member, and thanks to string of hits throughout the 1970s, like "The Joker," "Jungle Love," and "Take the Money and Run," and into the '80s, the Steve Miller Band remains a classic rock staple. In fact, the band's greatest hits album continues to span generations.

Hailing from El Sobrante, Primus made a name for itself via a uniquely eclectic sound and entertaining live sets. Led by eccentric and extremely talented bassist Les Claypool, Primus stayed alternative even when the genre went mainstream in the 1990s. Guided by Claypool's slap-happy bass playing, Primus delivered their brand of alternative funk and metal, with progressive tendencies, to critical acclaim, The group has received multiple Grammy Award nominations, while not really caring what the establishment thought. Some favorites include " Jerry Was a Race Car Driver ," "Tommy the Cat," and "My Name is Mud."

The Residents

Though the members of what would become The Residents came together in Louisiana, this unique band didn't fully develop until it headed west and landed in suburban San Francisco in the mid-1960s. Obviously, there was plenty of musical experimentation going on in the Bay Area at the time. The act features a sound that could best be described as avant-garde, experimental and conceptual pop . It also included the introduction of multimedia, notably the CD-ROM, to the production side. Over the years, prominent artists such as George Harrison, the aforementioned Les Claypool, and Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh have been tied to the act, but highly respected musician/composer   Hardy Fox  was the most dominant force for years. Beginning with 1974's Meet the Residents , the band has put out more than 40 studio albums and several live releases.

Born in Mexico, Carlos Santana and his family eventually made their way up to San Francisco, where the legendary guitarist began his legendary career, and formed his band in 1966. The king of the Latin-influenced rock sound, Santana is a player first and foremost. He was experimental thanks to a number of influences, most notably jazz and the blues, a true representation of the musical melting pot that was going on in the area at the time. Santana fused both, along with some heavy African beats and plenty of soul, to form a sound that was groundbreaking in the late 1960s and into the ‘70s. The popular “Black Magic Woman” and “Soul Sacrifice”  are two of Santana’s greatest guitar achievements.

Sly and the Family Stone

Led by singer, songwriter and producer Sly Stone, along with other family members, the band blended an infectious mix of funk, soul and rock, which influenced the likes of The Roots and Aerosmith to take a soulful approach, and add more rock and pop to the recipe. During the early days of the group, which was rooted in the Bay Area, Sly and Co. would tour throughout northern California, which led to critical praise. Songs like “Dance to the Music” and “Everyday People” remain torchbearers for the funk movement. Its performance of “I Want to Take You Higher”  remains a highlight from 1969’s Woodstock celebration.

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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IMAGES

  1. Yacht Rock Song List

    top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

  2. Top Yacht Rock Songs Of All Time Spotify Playlist

    top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

  3. The Top 10 Best Yacht Rock Songs

    top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

  4. yacht rock hits playlist

    top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

  5. 7 Greatest Songs of Yacht Rock

    top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

  6. The Hideaway: YACHTOBER: Hello Loser's TOP 100 YACHT ROCK SONGS OF ALL-TIME

    top 10 yacht rock songs of all time

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  1. Yacht Rock 5 HD

COMMENTS

  1. Top 50 Yacht Rock Songs

    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 ...

  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

    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.

  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

    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 ...

  6. 60+ Best Yacht Rock Songs of All Time

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

  7. Yacht Rock

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

  8. 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 ...

  9. Top 100 Yacht Rock Songs

    Share your videos with friends, family, and the world

  10. 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.

  11. 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 ...

  12. Top 10 Yacht Rock Songs Of All Time

    Of course no Top 10 list, especially one dedicated to such a maligned sub-genre as Yacht Rock, would be complete without a few Honorable Mentions: Top 10 Yacht Songs Honorable Mentions

  13. 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. ... The 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time. 500 Greatest Songs: Vol 10. 500 Greatest Songs: Vol 10. 500 Greatest Songs: Vol 9. 500 Greatest Songs: Vol 9. Featured Artists.

  14. Top 24 Yacht Rock Songs

    Here's my Top 24 Yacht Rock Songs. 24. England Dan and John Ford Coley - I'd Really Love To See You Tonight. 23. Herb Alpert - Route 101. 22. Jay Ferguson - Thunder Island. 21. Boz Scaggs - JoJo.

  15. The 25 Best Yacht Rock Songs Of All Time

    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.

  16. The greatest Yacht Rock songs of all time

    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 ...

  17. ‎YACHT ROCK

    YACHT ROCK | TOP 100 SONGS. Filtr. Preview. 70s + 80s Soft Rock for a day on the boat. Island tunes, chill summer hits + nothing but smooth sailing while jamming to hits from TOTO, Looking Glass, Billy Joel, Hall & Oates + more. 99 Songs, 6 hours, 40 minutes. More By Filtr . Classical: 101.

  18. Yacht Rock: Album, Record Guide

    Yacht Rock: Album Guide. From Steely Dan to Christopher Cross to Carly Simon, these smooth summer jams will take you away to where you're going to. Walter Becker, left, and Donald Fagen are Steely ...

  19. 7 Greatest Songs of Yacht Rock

    Latest Content - https://linktr.ee/martyschwartzPatreon - https://www.patreon.com/MartyMusicWebsite - http://www.MartyMusic.comMerch - https://teespring.com...

  20. 10 of the Best Yacht Rock Songs of All Time

    4. "Steal Away" by Robbie Dupree. A prime example of Yacht Rock's laid-back vibe is "Steal Away" by Robbie Dupree, a smooth and sultry hit that made waves in 1980. The song paints a picture of a spontaneous, romantic escapade with its memorable chorus, funky groove, and Dupree's soulful vocals. From its breezy synths to its driving ...

  21. 10 of the Best Yacht Rock Songs of All Time

    8. "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" by Hall & Oates. A sultry, funk-infused hit, "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" by Hall & Oates, showcases the duo's signature blend of pop and ...

  22. What are your top 10 Yacht Rock Songs of all time? : r/Yachtrock

    Wrong Side of the Tracks - David Roberts. Love You Out of Your Mind - Byrne & Barnes. The Fool in Me - David Loggins. Margarita - Marc Jordan. Can't Be Seen - Dane Donohue. Who's Right, Who's Wrong - Pages. Fool's Paradise - Randy Goodrum. Who'll Be the Fool Tonight - Larsen/Feiten Band. Maleficent-Sleep9900.

  23. The Playlist of the Week: Top 100 Songs of Yacht Rock

    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.

  24. Rock Royalty: Meet the Most Iconic Bands of All Time

    10 of the Best Yacht Rock Songs of All-time. Have you ever been lost in the rhythm of a classic rock tune? Ever hummed to the songs of "Hey Jude" or head banged to " ...

  25. Best Albums of 2024: Our 50 Favorites This Year So Far

    The 50 best albums released so far in 2024, as chosen by our staff. ... (and possibly of all-time) thanks to Kendrick Lamar's atomic assist on Hot 100 No. 1 hit "Like That" declaring war ...

  26. The best all-time rock bands from the San Francisco Bay Area

    Oh yeah, and the band's self-titled effort from 1991, aka The Black Album, went 16-times platinum and produced one of the great hard rock/heavy metal songs of all time in "Enter Sandman."