I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, people love the yacht rock. (Although, Mr. Howell of Gilligan’s Island, a frequent yacht attendee would probably hate it.) An ever growing slew of radio stations with yacht rock programming invade the airwaves. “Ride Like The Wind” by Christopher Cross with Michael McDonald is relevant. Thundercat, bassist extraordinaire, just released the song “Show You The Way” featuring Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald. People love the yacht rock.
Perhaps, yacht rock’s resurgence is like how the successful 1980s TV shows, Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous or Dynasty, gives us an insight to an extravagant excessive way of living that we can only dream of. This would also explain so many of the reality TV shows today, Housewives Of Some Wealthy City In California or Keeping Up With A Bunch Of Silly Spoiled Rich People Who Can’t Cope So Go Shopping.
Yacht rock is a complicated genre of music to define, for it was a term coined in 2005, for music created from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. It was not a conscious movement in music in the way punk music was a reaction to the over-produced prog-rockers and disco cats in 1976. It is merely an observation and celebration of a style of music thirty some odd years later. At the risk of being crude, it is similar to naming food after you’ve pooped it out 30 years later.
Because of how it was conceived, yacht rock is very subjective. One person’s smooth is another person’s turbulent. The one thing everyone can agree on is that Steely Dan is the epitome of yacht rock.
Yacht rock, at its core, is smooth, and the perfect soundtrack choice while on a luxurious yacht. The excessive over-produced sounds combined with the theme of white people problems make it the perfect accompaniment for viewing lakes and oceans. Some may disagree with me, but yacht rock is simply a collective of Caucasian musicians striving to be soulful or Black, or white musicians not competent enough to be jazz.
“The key defining rules of the game seem to be: keep it smooth, even when it grooves, with more emphasis on the melody than on the beat; keep the emotions light, even when the sentiment turns sad (as is so often the case in the world of the sensitive yacht-rocksman); and always keep it catchy, no matter how modest or deeply buried in the tracklist the tune happens to be.”
Matt Colier, AllMusic
It is odd that when yacht rock originally came out, it was so far away from hip in the popular culture. It was the They Might Be Giants or Sum 41 of the day. You would never admit to liking Steely Dan, Hall & Oates or The Doobie Brothers to your peers, in fear of being ridiculed.