It was 15 years ago just this past June that the term “yacht rock” was first born and entered into the lexicon.  What is yacht rock, you ask? It’s a bit tricky to truly define but, generally, yacht rock is a style of music that is commonly associated with a smooth, rolling soft rock sound that incorporates a little bit of jazz, soul, r&b, funk and disco. Largely associated with the popular leisure activity and culture of sailing, it was originally known as either adult-oriented rock and/or as the west coast sound that was prevalent in Southern California at the time. The original peak period of the genre was roughly from about 1975 until about 1984. However, in the past five years it has seen a bit of a revival and renewed interest in it.

Seven Factors That Define Yacht Rock

There are seven factors that best define the very core and true essence of what would be deemed yacht rock.

  1. A high production value
  2. The use of the elite Los Angeles-based studio musicians and producers commonly associated with the genre
  3. Definite jazz and r&b influences
  4. The electric piano is the prevalent lead sound and instrument
  5. Lyrics that are both complex and wry
  6. Lyrics are particularly about heartbreak, foolish men and especially those involving the word “fool”
  7. An upbeat rhythm called “The Doobie Bounce” made popular and owing inspiration from the sound originated by The Doobie Brothers.

My Top Five Favorite Yacht Rock Songs

What A Fool Believes by The Doobie Brothers

Album: Minute By Minute

Find it Now on CD, hoopla or Freegal!

I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near) by Michael McDonald

Album: The Ultimate Collection

Find it Now on CD, hoopla or Freegal!

Africa by Toto

Album: 40 Trips Around The Sun

Find it Now on hoopla or Freegal!

Sailing by Christopher Cross

Album: The Very Best of Christopher Cross

Find it Now on CD, hoopla and Freegal!

Human Nature by Michael Jackson

Album: Thriller

Find it Now on CD or Freegal!

I would also recommend the following compilations for other various songs and artists that best represent this genre:

1.  NOW That’s What I Call Yacht Rock, Volume 1

2.  NOW That’s What I Call Yacht Rock, Volume 2

3. Freegal’s Set Sail: A Yacht Rock Playlist

Now it’s time to kick back and relax while enjoying these dog days of summer with the smooth, soothing sounds of yacht rock!