You might be wondering what the hell is Yacht Rock? And to answer that question, Yacht Rock is another name for the “adult-contemporary” musical movement in the late 70’s and early 80’s, it’s sound is a bit of rock and a whole lotta soul, some popular Yacht rockers are Toto, Steely Dan, Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins…catch my drift? So put on your ascots and boat shoes, mix up a tropical drink, grab some ladies…and don’t forget your captain’s hat And sail away with us as we present top 10 Yacht Rock Classics.
10. Grover Washington, Jr. – “Just The Two Of Us” (1981)
We all know that Bill Withers wrote this song and it’s been covered a 100 times over –are you seeing Will Smith and his son in your head, too? ..Oh, just me, oops! This smoothed out version by Grover Washington was all the rage in 81’ and has earned the number 10 spot in the countdown.
9. Player –“Baby Come Back”(1977)
This was the biggest single of Player’s career, it hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 10 on the soul charts in 1978 –it was a biggin’ that everybody was diggin’. Now, the funny thing is that the bass player Ronn Moss ditched the bass and picked up scripts, he’s Ridge Forrester on the daytime soap The Bold and the Beautiful.
8. Hall & Oates – “I Cant Go For That (No Can Do)” (1981)
Hands down Hall & Oates could possibly OWN this category, I mean come on “Private Eyes”, “Maneater” and “Sara Smile” –but I had to be fair, plus this song has a sexy sax solo on it. This song went number one on both the Pop and R&B charts. Rumor has it that it’s been played on the radio over one million times.
7. George Benson – “Give Me The Night” (1980)
This song has had me twirling and two-stepping on many a dancefloor. “Give Me the Night” was written and composed by former Heatwave keyboard player Rod Temperton (the man who has composed/produced hits for Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Manhattan Transfer and more), produced by Quincy Jones, this was Benson’s first single to hit number one on the US Billboard R&B chart.
6. The Doobie Brothers – “What A Fool Believes” (1980)
When I first heard this song, I had NO clue what the hell Michael McDonald was singing, but then again I was roughly 4 years old. Now, as an adult I understand exactly what he’s singing about. Written by Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, the song tells the story of a man who is reunited with an old flame and in his attempts to rekindle a romantic relationship with her that.. umm..never existed –boy, what a fool is he. Everyone from Aretha Franklin to Dionne Warwick to M People have covered the song. Hip-Hop artist MF Doom even sampled this song. Also, rumor has it that the late Michael Jackson claimed to have contributed a backing track to the original Doobie Brothers recording, but wasn’t credited.
5. Phil Collins – “Sussudio” (1985)
Oh how I love a good mistake. The word was created while Collins was improvising lyrics to a drum machine track and “suss-sussudio” worked well, even after trying to find an alternative word, nothing worked as well as ‘sussudio’. And the gospel according to Collins is that the song is about a boy with a crush on a girl at school –yeah, I know it makes just as much sense as the title of this song. I hope there aren’t any girls named Sussudio—one can only hope.
4. Steely Dan – “Peg” (1977)
Steely Dan (Donald Fagen, Walter Becker) have a plethora of songs that fit into this category, but this song from their 1977 album Aja, stands out because of how I love how it blends jazz, rock & soul genres together and did you hear that killer guitar solo by Jay Graydon –of course you did. And lets not forget that Michael McDonald (Yep, him again) is on backup vocals. Also, check out some of Donald Fagen’s solo work.
3. Kenny Loggins — “This Is It” (1979)
Need an inspirational song? …Well, This it it! Loggins penned this song with, yep you guessed it, Michael McDonald (also, on backing vocals). The lyrics were incomplete—the song was supposed to be a love song, but after Loggins had a fight with his ailing father, who had undergone a series of surgeries decided to change his perspective of the lyrics because his father gave him [Loggins] the impression that he was ready to “check out”. So, when Loggins met back up with McDonald, he said, “I’ve got it”. It’s not a love song. It’s a life song.”
2. Michael McDonald — “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” (1982)
After appearing in quite a few of the other songs in this list, finally one of his own songs clocks in at number two in the countdown. As keyboardist and one of the lead vocalists for The Doobie Brothers, McDonald was one of the major players in the California pop scene in the seventies. He stepped into the spotlight when he released this song, which broke in the Top 5 singles chart as well as Top 10 on the R&B charts. Michael McDonald is currently on tour with Donald Fagen and Boz Scaggs trust me go see this show.
1. Christopher Cross — “Sailing” (1980)
Ask your parents about this song, just don’t ask what they were doing while it was playing. Christopher Cross’ hit from his self-titled album tops the list. Released in 1980, “Sailing” won four grammy’s including the Song of the Year award. I think everyone and their mama has covered this song, but my personal favorite is N’sync’s version. Wonder if Cross knew that “Sailing” would be the song that totally defined an entire concept of a sub-genre…
This list is surely one that Patrick Bateman would’ve had in his collection. Of course there were a few songs that didn’t make the list but are definitely worth the honorable mention.
Higher Love –Steve Winwood
Vahevala – Loggins & Messina
Careless Whisper- Wham!
Ride Like The Wind – Christopher Cross
Waiting for a girl like you – foreigner
Dust in the Wind – Kansas
Africa – Toto