EntertainmentMusicYacht rock, music to listen to on your yacht

Yacht rock, music to listen to on your yacht


Let’s face it: you don’t own a yacht. No problem. Radio stations and record labels promoted a style at the end of the seventies to leave behind the problems of day to day and be able to disconnect from concerns. Yacht rock (“yacht rock”) – the term is derogatory – is the solution for those who would like to sail away from obligations and have no way of doing so.

Slightly distorted guitars hidden behind keyboards, percussion at a calm tempo, soulful vocals, simple lyrics of love and freedom, catchy melodies, a saxophone solo and loads of studio arrangements to create the perfect work: 4 radioable minutes of pure and elegant escape. Accompanied by a pina colada, the theme of summer. What does it matter if the lyrics don’t make sense? They are humable! It could be a description of what yacht rock proposes to us.

Also labeled smooth music , it was perfect for listeners who didn’t want to hear anything about the never-ending Vietnam War, political scandals like Watergate, or crises like the Tehran hostage. In addition, yacht rock sounded in the supermarket, at the dentist and at the gas station. It was the invisible soundtrack that accompanied the second half of the 1970s and the 1980s, music that felt good and didn’t require much attention. Rock between 1965 and 1975 had been too deep. It was time to return to simplicity.

It is not easy to distinguish yacht rock from soft rock or adult oriented rock (AOR). Broadly speaking, we could say that soft rock maintains the logic of classic rock in terms of theme but softens the rhythms and melodies completely (‘If You Leave Me Now’ by Chicago or ‘I’m Not In Love’ by 10cc would serve as examples), the AOR is somewhat more powerful and opts for romantic ballads like ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey, 1981) or ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’ (Foreigner, 1984) and yacht rock clearly adopts that social attitude so determined and criticized: that of a life of luxury and carelessness. Yacht rock is soft rock for a certain social group.

Although somewhat more rocky, the following groups could sound at upper-class Californian parties: Boston with ‘More Than a Feeling’ (1976), Toto with ‘Stop Loving You’ (1988), Steely Dan with ‘Reelin’ In The Years’ (1972) or The Police with ‘Roxanne’ (1978). There would also be room for the romantic lyrics of Air Supply or even some reggae songs, such as ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ (in its 1972 and 1993 versions). Anything to disconnect while maintaining a touch of rhythm and animation.

The true exponents of yacht rock are Christopher Cross, Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald. Other fixtures on our yacht playlists must be The Doobie Brothers with ‘What A Fool Believes’ (1978), Bertie Higgins with ‘Key Largo’ (1981), Pablo Cruise with ‘Love Will Find a Way’ (1978) or Hall & Oates with practically their entire repertoire. Also Steve Winwood, who despite starting on the British blues scene in the late sixties, experienced a resurgence in his maturity with the album Back in the High Life (1986), full of jewels to relax and believe that rock is being listened to. , like ‘Higher Love’ or ‘Back in the High Life Again’.

Returning to the masters of empty lyrics, catchy melodies and the good selection of the company in the studio when it comes to producing, it’s time to talk about the kings of the yacht. We start with Michael McDonald, a member of the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan (two of the favorite bands of the white upper class) and soloist author of such classics as ‘I Keep Forgettin’ (1982). McDonald is ubiquitous in the genre at hand, and his voice can be heard on the backing vocals of several songs by Christopher Cross and Kenny Loggins, the other two kings of yacht rock.

Ironically born deep in Texas, Christopher Cross soon left for Los Angeles to record his first album in 1979, a self-titled record that featured the yachting anthems ‘Ride Like the Wind’ and ‘Sailing’ and an iconic cover featuring a flamingo a lame leg That this work snatched the Grammy for Album of the Year from The WallIt is something that does not deserve comment. The false freedom that Roger Waters criticized so much in that masterpiece is exalted and celebrated by Cross with a toast to the Sun on a yacht. In the end freedom was a piña colada while ‘Ride Like the Wind’ plays! Christopher Cross would make history with his self-titled album, lifting all four major Grammys in the same night: Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist. After this presentation, the adopted Californian Texan returned to sound at the most exclusive parties with ‘Arthur’s Theme’ (1981) and ‘All Right’ (1983).

Kenny Loggins was the attractive young guy that women in their forties and fifties needed to accompany their summer vacations. After releasing his first album in 1977, moving away from his folk/country beginnings, Loggins helped Michael McDonald write ‘What A Fool Believes’ (1978). They each recorded their own version (McDonald with the Doobie Brothers), and in 1979 they wrote a hit together again, ‘This Is It’. The Prince of Soft Rock reached international audiences by participating in the soundtrack of movies like Top Gun or Footloose . Some of Loggins’ classic yachtsmen are ‘Heart to Heart’ or ‘I Gotta Try’, included on the album High Adventure (1982).

Fleetwood Mac and Genesis, two of the biggest bands of the 70s and 80s, didn’t take long to realize that they had to evolve from blues rock and progressive rock (respectively) and opt for less complex and catchier music. Christine McVie, keyboardist for the Macs, wrote ‘You Make Loving Fun’ (1977) and ‘Everywhere’ (1987), a must at any upper-middle-class white party. Stevie Nicks, vocalist of the group, would continue with soft rock in her solo career, and would come to collaborate with Kenny Loggins himself on the hit ‘Whenever I Call You “Friend”‘ in 1978.

That same year, Genesis broke away from Peter Gabriel’s progressive madness with the album …And Then There Were Three… , which featured the popper ‘Follow You Follow Me’. Under the leadership of Phil Collins, Genesis adopted a style that was much better received by broadcasters and the general public alike. With songs like ‘That’s All’ (1983) or practically all of Invisible Touch (1986), the British group championed soft rock. Collins put a bit more of a groove on ‘Easy Lover’ (1984) and came of age on the albums No Jacket Required (1985) and …But Seriously (1989), while guitarist Mike Rutherford also had a solo hit with ‘ Over My Shoulder’ in 1995.

The Eagles were also a white-minded group, though their country roots took away some of the “musical elegance” required to sound at California private parties (although ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ (1977) is a good example). from yacht rock). Don Henley, co-founder of the band, began his own path in the early eighties, betting decidedly on adult-oriented rock. Precisely, it was with Stevie Nicks -his girlfriend at that time- with whom he got his first hit, ‘Leather and Lace’ (1981). His biggest hit would come in 1984 with ‘The Boys of Summer’, a hymn to the summery insouciance of the wealthy classes.

Richard Marx’s ‘Right Here Waiting’ (1989) may be too smooth, Lionel Richie’s ‘All Night Long’ (1983) too lively and Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Baker Street’ (1978) too jazzy, but the list of reproduction of our imaginary yacht welcomes any subject with a calm rhythm and that helps to disconnect with open arms. The debate on whether yacht rock is a distinct genre or not is open. So is the mini-bar, so start making margaritas and stop thinking about it: yacht rock wasn’t invented to make you think.

In 2005, the Yacht Rock series premiered , which parodied the lives of some of the most famous soft rock singers of the 70s and 80s, such as Christopher Cross, Kenny Loggins, Hall & Oates or Michael McDonald, whose ‘Sweet Freedom’ served as initial theme. Yacht Rock helped give a name to all that nebula of relaxed rock for adults and its creators even opened a web page with a ranking of the most “yachting” songs. From the beginning the intention of the authors was clear: to ridicule the genre and stereotype its listeners.

White adults, upper-middle class, suburban suburbanites, disinterested in politics or society, freedom lovers, cocaine users, exotic cocktail drinkers, dreaming of living in Hawaii or the Caribbean. Sailing on a yacht. It is the exaggerated image that is related to rock for posh, soft and empty. What music does Christian Bale listen to in American Psycho?

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